The Most Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them Well

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The Most Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them_Interview, common interview questions, answers to interview questions, job interviews

Interviews can be nerve-wrecking. Wouldn’t it be great if someone told you exactly what you must say and what you shouldn’t? If you have an interview coming up, here’s some help. Take a look at our hand-picked questions and ways in which you could answer them like a boss! Read this before you step in for your interview and you will thank us later!

1. Tell me/us something about yourself

Aaagghhh! The topic looks easy but is surely tricky. It is most commonly asked by the HR manager, hiring manager and sometimes, also the CEO. Why so much love for it? That’s because it is the perfect ice breaker! While it might look like an invite to tell the other person all about your life – education, family, jobs, hobbies, kids, it is essentially about letting them know your capabilities, regarding the potential opening.

What not to say: I am Emma Tan, and I studied in XYZ school. I have a college degree from ABC. I love baking and if I had a choice, I would love to take it up as a full-time career.

What to say: I am a seasoned writer with over 10 years of experience across multiple sectors. I am currently contributing to the content marketing efforts of XYZ and while I love my present profile, I would like to explore this opportunity that will help me dig deeper into travel writing – one of my top interests. That’s why I am so excited about this.

Of course, you could share some details about your interests, passions and what makes you ‘human!’ Like perhaps, if you enjoy playing an instrument, baking or run an animal shelter, it is great to give that information, as well. Organisations are increasingly hiring people who are a culture-fit as well, and not just task-completion machines.

2. What would you say are your greatest strengths?

This typical HR question can be a nightmare if not answered well. Your focus should be on what skills the job requires and how you can then match them to yours. Avoid being random.

What not to say: Wait a minute, I have written them down as there are too many. We have 15 minutes, right?

Or

Ranting them out like a grocery list, hard work, perseverance, smartness (not!) etc.

What to say: I have been told that I have good communication skills and an optimistic attitude. This was the feedback from the last batch of interns I trained last month (see what we did there!). Or, based on my last successful assignment, I think my greatest strength is managing stakeholders through complex projects. This gives the interviewer some lead in for the next set of questions.

Read more: 5 Career Tips Your Manager Really Wants to Tell You

3. What are your weaknesses?

Trap alert! The HR interviewing you is likely to ask you this question once you answer the previous one. Answering this question is like walking on a thin rope – neither can you over-exhibit your weaknesses here nor can you hide them completely. You have to strike the right balance.

What not to say: Umm..let me think. Nope, cannot think of any. I am perfect.

OR

I am a perfectionist and don’t settle for anything less. That’s my greatest weakness.

What to say: My public speaking skills are not the best. However, to improve them, I am taking a public speaking course. (This can be the great answer where the job profile does not involve public speaking). Always share a weakness you are working on or have taken conscious steps to improve.

4. Why are you interested to work for this company?

This question will be generally thrown at you by all the three – the HR, the hiring manager and even the CEO. They want to know if you understand the job profile you have applied for and have researched enough about the company.

What not to say: For the money!? Well, maybe you will never say that, but even vague answers like, I like what you do, doesn’t show your research or your interest in either the company or the industry.

What to say: Since I started a career in marketing, I have always looked up to the ABC (insert company name) brand and enjoyed watching impact of your innovative marketing campaigns. I really think this profile is perfect for me as I can use my experience to excel and sharpen my skills further.

At this point, if you have come in as a referral candidate, it may be a great idea to talk about the experience of the person who referred you. Companies and managers love to hear about the impact they make on their teams.

Read more: Asked for Too Much Money in an Interview? Here’s How to Recover

5. Where do you see yourself in five years?

With people changing jobs like clothes, your potential employer will want to know if you are ambitious and keen to stick around. While you don’t need to necessarily show that you will be in the same organisation for the next five years (it doesn’t harm to indicate that commitment), but you can draw out a picture highlighting that you will definitely like to be at a more senior position than where you are currently.

What not to say: In your place!

OR

I could be a really famous home baker with my own YouTube channel. Who knows what life has planned for you!

What to say: I will definitely be in content writing and see myself holding a more senior role of an editor, contributing a lot more to the content strategy of the company. Or, I would like to lead crucial projects in product management, that will focus on increasing localization in new markets. These answers show that you have a game plan in mind, things you want to achieve and how you can do them in the current company.

6. Which is that one accomplishment you are extremely proud of?

This question is most likely to be asked by your hiring manager or the CEO. They want to know how much value you will be able to add to your new role and the company in general.

What not to say: I still remember how well I handled myself during a personal tragedy at home. While this sure is great to show resilience, it helps to talk about work projects or challenges and avoid personal ones.

What to say: I am particularly proud of that one time, when the project I was leading in ABC company was selected for XYZ award as we, a team of four, excelled in it and met a tight deadline.

Read more: 3 Common Mistakes Singaporeans Make with Resumes

7. Why do you want to leave your current company?

This question is bound to be asked by the HR and the hiring manager. They want to assess your professional goals, ambitions and judgment.

What not to say: More money!

OR

To escape my horrendous boss. Every day at work is like another movie of the Hunger Games series!

What to say: Since I have been in the firm for over XX years, performed well and learnt a lot, I think it is time to look for more challenging roles. This opportunity seems to be perfect for me at this point in my career.

And Voila! You are set.

Wondering what you must ask your future employer during your next interview? Read these smart questions that will not only give you all the much-needed information, but also impress the interviewer. For more tips on how to ace your next job interview, click here.

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