Top 3 Common Interview Questions and Best Answers

          Going on a job interview is always an unnerving experience.  Most job seekers dread the idea of facing interviewers and fear the possibility of giving the wrong answer to the questions they may ask.  Fortunately, most companies use a standard set of interview questions and knowing these common questions allows you to practice how best to answer them.  If you go through the questions and answers in your head even before you step inside the interview room, you will have a better chance at giving the best answer and ultimately getting the job. 

          Here are some of the most common job interview questions and the corresponding suggestions on how to answer them.  Remember that your answers to these questions should be spontaneous, so you don’t risk sounding as if you memorized your replies on your way.

Question number 1: Tell us something about yourself

          What makes this question very difficult to answer is that it’s too broad.  The question also sounds disarmingly informal which throws a lot of job seekers off balance, enough to lose their concentration and begin rambling in their answers.  Most recruiters and employers often use this question both as an icebreaker and as an opportunity to get to know you beyond what’s in your resume.

Suggested Answer: Highlight your Unique Selling Proposition or Personal Branding Statement

          This is your opportunity to capture the interviewer’s attention by providing a short “synopsis” of your unique selling proposition or personal brand.  Give a one to two sentence description of who you are followed with a statement on your strongest personal strength and how the company can benefit from the strength you have mentioned is an ideal structure to wrap your answer around. 

          Add more value to your answer by incorporating a monetary value to the strength(s) you bring to the table.  You are most likely to get a follow-up question probing the scenario behind your answer so be prepared to talk about the details of your response.

          If done correctly, your answer will pique the employer’s attention and they would want to know more.  This will help increase your “recall” value that will also increase your chances of getting considered or possibly hired for the position.

Question Number 2: Why do you want this job?

          Interviewers are looking for a compelling reason about why you want the job and why they should give it to you.  Answering this question correctly helps move the interview forward as the question of how much you want the position is already answered.

Suggested Answer : Come Up with a Great Sales Pitch

          The Undercover Recruiter shares four key steps in selling yourself into the job.

Step 1:  Flattery Will Get You Somewhere

          A little bit of flattery will get you somewhere.  Start your answer with a short statement on why you’d like to work with the company and what you really like about it.  The only way you can answer the question without sounding insincere is when you research about the company prior to the job interview.  Use the internet to find out as much as you can about the organization, the culture, and the people working for the company. 

Step 2: Share Your Insights About the Job Posting

          Impress the interviewer by sharing what you know about the job posting.  This shows that you are genuinely interested in understanding the dynamics of the position and are willing to embrace the requirements of the job posting. 

Step 3: Relate Your Previous Achievements to the Job Posting

          Interviewers and employers alike will appreciate your efforts to relate your achievements to the job posting you are applying for.  This indicates you won’t have problems going through training, seminars and other activities you may need to attend to do the job well.

Step 4:  Prepare a Rebuttal Statement

          Expect follow-up questions that may question your suitability to the job and be ready to fend off concerns about why you’re perfect for the job.  Always wrap your answers around the fact that you are genuinely excited to be working with them and that the skills you have fit perfectly with the job requirements.

Question Number 3: Tell us about your Strengths and Weaknesses

          Recruiters, hiring managers, and employers ask this question to assess job seeker skills and assets that will prove most valuable to the company once hired.  The question also allows them insights to job seeker traits that may be problematic for the organization in the long run.

Suggested Answer: Highlight your Strengths while Downplaying Your Weaknesses

          Emma Charnock, Hays Hong Kong Regional Director suggests highlighting the skills you are good at and demonstrating a competency relevant to the job applied for, such as report writing, time keeping or your ability to get things done on time. Review the job advertisement for information on the skills required for the position and focus on these areas by using examples that demonstrate these skills.

          With weaknesses, Charnock suggests talking about things you find difficult doing and putting a positive spin to it. For example, you are very thorough which can take time, but you’ve also found this means the quality of your work is always high.

Sample Answers:

          “My greatest strength is my ability to multi-task without sacrificing the quality of my work.  I do this by keeping a daily calendar of the things I needed done for the day and sorting them according to priority.  I also make sure to follow-through with the schedule as much as I can and in case I am unable to complete them that day, I make sure they’re first on my list the next day.  My greatest weakness is my tendency to over-think. I sometimes find myself taking too much time strategizing on how to go about a certain task and testing several solutions before settling on something which was in fact one of the first things I thought of.”

          “My greatest strength is my ability to work in a highly-organized manner.  I like to plan my strategy from start to finish making sure to anticipate any hiccups or roadblocks that I may encounter along the way. My <greatest/biggest> weakness is related to my greatest strength, I am very organized to a point that when things don’t go according to plan, I begin to worry and can be a bit inflexible.”

          These are just some of the most common interview question job seekers are likely to encounter in the course of the job search process.  Stay tuned as we answer more question in our next article.

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