Interviews can be frustrating but it doesn’t have to be. It all depends on how well you prepare yourself for this important opportunity that could change your career. As they say, preparation is the key to success. While there are many interview questions out there, many of them are variations of a few key themes and we examine the top 10 job interview questions here.
The following are the top 10 job interview questions and some tactics as to how you can ace the job interview.
1. Introduce yourself
One of the first questions you are likely to be asked is this classic, open-ended interview question. This is the most common question there is for any interview, and it is still the toughest for most people. Of all the questions that needs preparation, this is the one. The answer should be a snapshot of who you are, in 1.5 to 2 minutes. Keep this introduction mostly if not entirely professional, focusing on your achievements, qualifications and experience. Structure the answer clearly and keep it succinct. This is an introduction and not a deep dive into your life story.
2. What made you leave your last job?
This can be a tricky one depending on your specific situation. If you are currently still employed, it is best to focus on the benefits of joining the new employer and the development opportunity it offers you. Be clear how the move develops you as a person, or how it represents a career move that enhances your skillset. Always keep your focus on development and not on the salary. This is usually not the right time to have a salary discussion.
If there were other situations that affected your job such as a retrenchment exercise, then it is best to be honest about it. Stay factual about the situation and at all costs, avoid tearing down your previous employers. Most new employers and recruiters have no issues with hiring someone who has been retrenched, but they will be cautious of taking someone who spins negativity about their past employer.
3. How would you describe your strengths?
A very common job interview question. When structuring your answer, you need to be clear what the job role you are interviewing for is asking for. While you do not need to blatantly go point by point on every job role requirement, angle your delivery towards pointing out what makes you a good candidate for the job. The interviewer will be looking for skills and experiences that demonstrate your suitability for the role. Describe how you qualify for the job and what makes you stand out from the other candidates.
4. How would you describe your weaknesses?
This is still a question that you can expect at many job interviews. Preparation for this question is key as the choice you make on which weakness you will present is crucial. Balance being sincere and honest and yet, be mindful not to sabotage your own interview by naming a key requirement of the job role you are interviewing for. This is why preparation and interview coaching is key – to strategize your responses and take control of the interview.
Stay factual on your weakness and keep it professional and provide a counterbalance to every weakness.
5. Do you have any knowledge about our company?
There are many variations to this question, but by and large, in every interview there will be questions that test your knowledge about the company. To answer this question, it is crucial to research the company before you attend an interview.
6. What makes you want to work for us?
Anyone who is hiring would want to know what your motivations to join them are. This question sounds simple, and straightforward, but good interviewers can differentiate those with true sincere passion to those who are just trying their luck. Refrain from repeating the company’s vision and mission and just saying that you belief in the same. Dig deep into your reasons and explain how the company fits your goals, and your personal development and how you can contribute the company as well.
7. How can we benefit from hiring you?
Anyone who buys something always wants to know what they are getting in return for their investment. Your job interview is no different. It is a chance for the employer to figure out what they are getting or buying from you. In your response, cite your strengths and your previous accomplishments. The more relevant it is to what the employer is looking for, the more value you bring to the table.
8. How would you describe your ideal work environment?
Be sure that your answer fits the job. In the event that part of your job involves locking the lab doors and working alone, you might indicate that you're comfortable acting as a team player when needed but also enjoy working independently when needed.
9. What has been your greatest achievement?
This is where your confidence needs to be at its best and you need to choose your key highlight of your career carefully. Make wise decisions as to which achievement you wish to highlight. Look at the choice from the employer’s perspective as well. Does your achievement add value to who you are for the purposes of this particular company and role? If not, is there another achievement which may demonstrate your value better?
10. Where do you envision yourself in five years?
Job interviews have come a long way but this is still a common question. This job interview question can cause a lot of stress as it sits very uncomfortably for most people, who are naturally humble or who simply do not know what it will be in like in 5 years. There is no hard and fast rule here. If you have a very clear plan, you can roll it out and present it. Do remember that the real question here is “Will you still be here in 5 years? Is this a sufficient challenge for you? Are you realistic about your goals here?”. If you are unable to present a clear picture, and you can focus more on your mindset and your journey, rather than the ultimate destination. For example, “Five years from now, I hope that I have learnt enough and honed my skills in this area, such that I am able to contribute back by leading others, and maybe managing them too, if the opportunity arises”. A good candidate needs to be able to show that they have a positive mindset in their development plans and opportunities, even if they may not know their ultimate destination.
Having a proper plan of attack can help you to calm nerves when preparing for a job interview. Many interviews will fall back on these classic questions and are largely variations of these classic job interview questions. Do your preparation, keep these in your arsenal, and you will be one step closer to nailing that interview.
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