Irrespective of the job that you’re trying to acquire, the job interview stays the same. They all occur in the same pattern, and with time, you can see yourself getting worn out by the same questions. The most common job interview questions include “What do you know about us?” or “Why do you want this job?” and when you answer these questions distinctively and accurately, you will make the cut.
But the key is to not embellish such questions as well. You have to be careful about giving straight warm-up answers during the interview mode, and you should make sure that they are succinct to the questions.
Even when you think that an interview you have given went extremely well, it’s the trickier job interview questions that you should cover as they require a different thought process. While you have your own answers for such questions, we have also answered them for you to compare your answers with ours. We recommend you to go through these questions and answers to shift your perspective that has been stagnant for a long time. Instead of actually attacking the questions, we here have given preparation for categories for you to excel in.
The content and the wording will vary from one interview to another, but that shouldn’t bother you. By focusing on the general topics and doing what’s needed, you will be ever ready for whatever that’s coming your way. By thinking in big picture terms, your answers might come across as controversial and believable terms; that is better for everyone. Here are 10 big questions that you should consider before speaking out:
• Tell me about yourself.
• What’s your biggest personal achievement?
• What are your strengths and weaknesses?
• Describe a challenge that you have faced, and how did you deal with it?
• What gets you out of bed every day?
• Do you have some questions for me?
• Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
• Do you want a change from your career path?
• How and why are you interested in this industry?
• How do you evaluate success?
#1 Tell me about yourself
This is the most basic question that you will be confronted with. Don’t answer it based on what you want to say but what they want to know about you. This might seem like an easy answer at first glance, but you need to point your compass North and pull it off to land it rightly. The interviewer doesn’t want to know if you love your flea markets or if your dog is named Sherlock. He doesn’t want to know that you want to protect the environment or is a vegan.
The question is about your personality, and it relates to the job. Start thinking of five relevant adjectives that describe you, your experience and your professional values. Tell the interviewer sentences that are formed on them and give real-life examples of how you have embodied those adjectives. Make sure to throw off a hobby or an interest in the explanation, mostly if they are relatable to the job.
#2 What’s your biggest personal achievement?
Choose an achievement or two. You don’t have to turn boastful even if you have accomplished so much. Your humility reflects your confidence and self-containment. When you try to be non-discrete, it might make you seem desperate and take away the opportunity of having endless opportunities. The example that you choose can be something that’s not generic and can’t be widely applied.
Do not mention graduating from college as an achievement as it is one of the most claimed accomplishments. Choose something that sets you apart like organizing a drive for animal shelters or raising $10,000. An interesting thing about achievements is that you can quantify them without exaggerating them. It’s all about adding details that you can, like the deadlines, the budgets and the number of people that you have collaborated with.
#3 What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Of course, you’re not the only one who dislikes this question. But it is one of the fun questions that anyone can ask. It is an opportunity to showcase your creativity while telling people that you have introspected yourself for a longer duration now. You need to be critical to yourself than the employers can be, to win their impression. If you know yourself very well, tell them when you’re most productive, what motivates you, what sets you off, what you will need to function well and what’s your maximum capacity. The employer should believe that you know yourself better than anyone.
Coming to the weaknesses, people get stuck while assessing them because of turning them positive. While it's true that you shouldn’t tell weaknesses to your potential employer, you shall keep them distracted. You can tell an interviewer about things that reduce your capacity but along with that, attach remedies as well. Mention how you have worked on your weaknesses by setting a schedule so that you don’t have to do them before lunch or before dinner. Demonstrate and display your drive of bettering yourself as a USP to them.
#4 Describe a challenge that you have faced, and how did you deal with it?
Your employer shall understand that you work well under pressure, resolving all the conflicts. It is important to have a story where they reacted less ideally towards an issue. You can mention an appropriate issue among them to make your case stronger than what it is. You can also make up an example that didn’t happen in your real life and describe it with a solution. Get as creative as you can.
Choose an incident that made you extremely frustrated, but where you overcame an emotional turmoil where you were asked to make a sacrifice that didn’t jeopardize your productivity. The intention behind this question is to know if you are willing to compromise if you can stay cool headed and candid, so highlight these qualities in your answer.
#5 What gets you out of bed every day?
Your answer to this question is not as important as other questions in the list. What's important is what has been implied – employers do not care if you like painting or jogging; they just care about your dedication, punctuality, personal values and well-roundedness. You can either choose to answer this with a work-related task or just pick a hobby. You can say that you love music, and it gives you peace of mind to listen to Bowie music, every day in the morning.
Add why it makes you tick and also be prepared for follow up questions like what's your favorite Bowie song and why you love him so much or his type of music? If you can’t spontaneously answer them, try googling the most related questions and prepare for them.
#6 Do you have some questions for me?
This might look like a throwaway, but it is important. Remember that this is not a rhetorical question and don’t let your guard down. They want specific things from you when you pose this question to see if you are able to multi-task or pay attention. There’s a lot of information that’s thrown at you throughout the interview, and the interviewer wants to know if you have processed it all or not.
You should try asking three questions at the end of the interviews but make sure they’re important. Go through the details of the company in advance and ask specific questions. If your head is not active in the interview, you can refer them and ask them so that they will at least know that you did the research. It doesn’t hurt to ask questions about what you want from the role. An interview is all about deducing if you are good for the position or not – which means you should know what you want from it.
Sometimes, even when you think you will get it, you will not because of this answer. Make sure to ask questions like, why did the last person leave this role, what’s the biggest challenge of this role and whether I’d have to work on a daily basis? Try to relate all the answers and decide how good you’re for this role. With fewer expectations, memorize and regurgitate the answers and based on your genuine interest, you can either take it or not.
#7 Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This is a tricky question for the millennials. In 2015, the tenure given for workers aged between 20-24 was shorter than 16 months. For those who are aged between 25-34, it is three years. Even if you’re 100% positive at the time of the interview, and think that the job is right for you, that doesn’t mean that you should stick to it for the next 5 years of life. Don’t pay lip service if you’re not sure about it.
Talk about things that you do not want to do long term – expand the knowledge through profit and loss, marketing analytics, executing strategies and setting visions. Talk about the passion that you have for the work. For example, “As a manager, I would want to fulfil the dream of executing business strategies from the market conceptualization. The business plans are what I want to do, for the rest of my career”.
Apart from statements like these, you can also talk about your personal goals of owning a house, supporting the family, managing multiple teams and procuring a diverse portfolio. Use discretion while discussing the potentiality of the job. Talk about how it helps you in succeeding what you want to do, in the industry.
#8 Do you want a change from your career path?
Your employer wants to know if taking you into their organization is the right step with this answer. Even if you were committed to one direction and are not feeling it anymore, make sure to explain it to them in a cavalier way. Give them proper explanations than just concluding them with sentences like "It wasn't suiting me". Tell them why it is not the right fit by giving the parts that you got right and the parts that did not get you right.
You can include that you want challenging projects, more responsibility or if there's a lack of career growth/advancement. Know all the reasons, stick to them and do not apologize. The reason why you're interviewing is that you want something better and you might as well make clear about it.
#9 How and why are you interested in this industry?
You need to spend proper time in researching about your dream companies and desired industry – whose work comes handy later. If you have a story about what sparked curiosity about this industry or the job, make a good story out of it. Use your story weaving skills and explore the possibilities.
Pick a moment in the timeline where you have felt a strong inclination to the work that’s going on, to explain the feelings. If possible, refer to something that just broke during that time in the industry.
#10 How do you evaluate success?
In reality, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. It has a lot to deal with the existential crisis, but you can’t let your emotions overwhelm you. Be cognizant of the job that you are applying, with this answer. If you are aiming for a larger organization, your emphasis shall be on the bottom line. If you are applying for a non-profit, place importance on the social impact.
If you are applying for a start-up, talk about the influence and the media presence. Make the answers personal to you – including improving performance, furthering the mission, making a positive impact, maintaining the best quality of work and keeping the morale high—stress on the reliability and accountability. Do not give long answers; rather keep them short and precise.
By following these answers, you can prepare yourself for the interviews and be nonchalant about them.