Most common interview questions and how to respond to them

An interview can be a dreaded affair for some candidates, as it may include certain complex processes to check out their skills and capabilities. Thus, giving a thought beforehand to the interview and having the right preparation can help the candidate master the same.

A few questions typically asked in an interview are mentioned below:

‘Tell Us About Yourself’

Although it is a frequently asked question, some candidates may overlook it while preparing for an interview. Through this question, an interviewer wants to know the characteristics that make up an individual’s personality.

While answering this question, candidates either narrate their complete professional history or divulge their personal details. However, some may start pitching themselves as the ideal candidate for the job which is best left to a later part of the interview.

The best way to respond to this question is sharing a little information from one’s professional front, including a few skills and some personal details. These should relate to the passion that drives the individual, and hobbies and activities they undertake to upgrade their skills and to develop their personalities, such as reading and volunteer work. The answer must be short while revealing enough information to keep the interviewer interested.

‘What are your strengths?’

Another question that interviewers usually have on their list is asking the interviewee about their strengths. This helps the interviewer match the candidate’s skills to the job profile and select the person who will excel the most in the position.

Instead of being genuine with their replies, some candidates may try to give some false information that they think will impress the interviewer. Exaggeration is not recommended while answering this question.

The ideal way to reflect upon one’s strengths is giving examples of situations wherein the person had tackled challenges by relying upon their skills and experiences. Discussing two or three core strengths is better instead of blurting out every word that comes to their mind.

‘What are your weaknesses?’

A tricky question to answer in a job interview is divulging the weaknesses one thinks he or she has. When it comes to weaknesses, some candidates may try to hide these and give an impression of being the best, reflecting the fact that they either are not self-aware of their weaknesses or they don’t want to acknowledge them.

The candidate should remember that everyone has their own weaknesses. Being genuine and expressing them while also mentioning how they are learning to improve upon their weaknesses are some of the right ways to respond to this question.

 ‘Why should we hire you?’

This question gives the candidates the freedom to sell themselves to the interviewer. The answer to the question should be in the context of why the candidate thinks they are the best for the job. One must reflect that they possess the requisite skills required for the position and they already have proved themselves in their previous jobs, if applicable.

‘Why are you interested in this job?’

The prime motive for asking this question may be to identify the candidates who are passionate about the job and will love to face the challenges and responsibilities accompanying it.

Without researching the job profile and skills associated with it, it may be hard for the candidate to answer this question; as they may not know if the job description matches their skill set. Hence, a prior research is necessary for the candidate.

While answering, the candidate must express what they are passionate about and how it can motivate them to excel at the job. Mentioning the value, they will bring to the company may increase their chances of getting the job.

‘Where do you see yourself in the next five years? / What are your future goals?’

A candidate may be asked about their future goals to ascertain if they are ambitious, have well-defined career goals and if the job is right for their career. It also helps determine if they will work with the company for a long duration or if they will leave after finding a better opportunity.

Some interviewees may focus on their own personal growth instead of demonstrating that their goals and the company’s objectives are aligned in the same direction. However, the right way to respond to this query is highlighting how the job and the organization will provide a good opportunity to the candidate to fulfill their short-and long-term career goals. They should also explain how their career path and the company’s objectives are concordant.

‘How well do you cope with stress?‘

This question helps determine how well the interviewee can cope with stressful situations, maintain their bearings and work efficiently while meeting deadlines.

Stress is a common element of the modern corporate world. Replying that one never feels stress is a wrong approach and will make the candidate less trustworthy to the interviewer.

If the interviewer is raising a point repeatedly or disagreeing with something though the candidate is right, it might be an effort to try to get under the skin of the candidate. The best approach is to be calm, persuasive, patient and assertive; and stick to what they believe in. If the question has been asked directly, a response may include a demanding situation that the candidate had faced before and how they overcame it, if applicable.

‘Do you have any questions?’

An interview usually ends with this question. It helps the interviewer measure the level of seriousness and interest of the potential employees.

Not raising any question or politely declining implies that the interviewee was either not prepared for the interview or has not researched the background of the company.

Performing research beforehand can help the interviewee come up with a few questions regarding the vacant position or the company. It may be concerned with the future direction of the company or responsibilities accompanying the job. Raising questions that are not typically asked may provide a better opportunity for the candidate to make a good impression on the interviewer.

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