Employer
Published 16 October, 2020

Acing The Top 15 Most Common Interview Questions (5 min)

It is natural to be nervous in interviews but the challenge is to overcome it & be upbeat and positive with your answers well though out. All we need to do is be well prepared. Technical questions are tentative & variable. However, hygiene questions are common to all & mostly definite; Hence a candidate should try to make the most of the hygiene questions & give their best shot.

Here are a few tips to be kept in mind before appearing for any interview:

  • Start by researching the company and your interviewers.
  • Before you answer any question it's imperative that you try to uncover your interviewer's greatest need, want, problem or goal.
  • Practice your answers to common interview questions. Rehearse your answers and time them but make sure it doesn’t look rehearsed & robotic. Talk with the right expressions & try to keep it concise.
  • Go through the job description thoroughly.
  • Practice mock interviews with a friend.
  • List down your references.
  • Think before you answer. A pause to collect your thoughts is a hallmark of a thoughtful person.
  •  At the last but not the least - Be honest...never lie. 

Use the answers shown here as a guide only, and don't be afraid to include your own thoughts and words. To help you remember key concepts, jot down & review a few key words for each answer.

Question 1  Introduce yourself. 

TRAPS:  Beware, most interviewers start with this question that can make or break your interview. This your chance to build an impactful first impression. You don't want to come across as awkward and lacking in social skills. Rather, you'll want to show that you have the professionalism and communication skills to be an asset to the company if hired.

  IDEAL ANSWER: Answer the question in 3 parts.

  • Past: Tell the interviewer a little bit about your history. How you got there and/or mention previous experience that’s relevant to the job and company you’re applying for.
  • Present: Talk a little bit about what your current role is, the scope of it, and perhaps a big recent accomplishment.
  • Future: Segue into what you’re looking to do next and why you’re interested in this gig (and a great fit for it, too).

This isn’t the only way to build your response, of course, and you can tweak it as you see fit. Whatever order you pick, make sure you ultimately tie it to the job and company. “A good place to end it is to give a transition of this is why I’m here”

Question 2  Walk me through your C.V

Answer: There should be no major difference between the first answer & this one. Keep it same as your introduction. However, you need to structure your introduction in the format of your C.V. A common mistake that candidates make here is: They tend to make the answer very monotonous by simply repeating what’s already there. Instead, the answer should be given in the manner of story telling. Add elements & personal touch to the answer hence making it more interesting.

Question 3  What are your greatest strengths & weaknesses?

TRAPS:  it’s likely that the hiring manager will ask you to describe your strengths at some point. Many candidates probably wonder how to answer what are your strengths & weaknesses without bragging too much or being too humble. As for the weaknesses, you don’t wanna expose yourself & show what you lack thus getting yourself rejected. In such a scenerio this is what you can do:

Tips: You need to first uncover your interviewer's greatest needs & wants before you answer questions. Then, once you identify your interviewer's greatest wants and needs, you can choose those achievements from your list that best match up. 

As far as your weaknesses are concerned, disguise a strength as a weakness. 

Example: “I sometimes push my people too hard.  I like to work with a sense of urgency & everyone is not always on the same wavelength.”

SAMPLE ANSWER:

My strength is my ability to convert negative work environment into positive. At the same time, developing a supportive team. I am also capable of keeping many projects on track and ensuring deadlines are met. As far as my weakness is concerned, I get impatient sometimes in order to get everything done very quickly. To tackle the problem, I am trying to re-consider the to-do list and prioritize the tasks.

Question 4  Tell me about something you did – or failed to do – that you now feel a little ashamed of.

TRAPS: There are some questions your interviewer has no business asking, and this is one of those. Some unprepared candidates, flustered by this question, unburden themselves of guilt from their personal life or career, perhaps expressing regrets regarding a parent, spouse, child, etc.  All such answers can be disastrous.

SAMPLE ANSWER:  As with faults and weaknesses, never confess a regret.  But don’t seem as if you’re stonewalling either.

Best strategy:  Say you harbor no regrets, then add a principle or habit you practice regularly for healthy human relations.

To summarize, your answer should follow this format:

  • Briefly describe the mistake/failure.
  • Pinpoint what went wrong.
  • Explain what you learned from the experience.
  • Detail how you've improved or how you're working toward improvement in this area.

Question 5  Why are you leaving (or did you leave) this position?

TRAPS:  The general rule here is that you should always be leaving to move toward a better opportunity. You should never position it as fleeing from a bad opportunity. Your interviewer wants to feel like her company is wooing you away from your current employer. Never badmouth your previous industry, company, board, boss, staff, employees or customers.  This rule is inviolable:  never be negative.  Any mud you hurl will only soil your suit.

SAMPLE ANSWER: I have been at my company for 3 years now & have learned a lot from working with some amazing salespeople.  I worked my way up to regional sales manager 18 months ago & my region has beat our sales projections by at least 25% each quarter since. However, I am starting to feel like I need some new challenges. This position really appeals to me because it would allow me to manage a bigger team & sell more innovative products.”

Question 6  The “Silent Treatment”

TRAPS: Most unprepared candidates rush in to fill the void of silence, viewing prolonged, uncomfortable silences as an invitation to clear up the previous answer which has obviously caused some problem.That’s what they do – ramble on, sputtering more and more information, sometimes irrelevant and often damaging, because they are suddenly playing the role of someone who’s goofed & is now trying to recoup.  But since the candidate doesn’t know where or how he goofed, he just keeps talking, showing how flustered & confused he is by the interviewer’s unmovable silence.

IDEAL ANSWER:  Like a primitive tribal mask, the Silent Treatment loses all it power to frighten you once you refuse to be intimidated.  If your interviewer pulls it, keep quiet yourself for a while and then ask, with sincere politeness & not a trace of sarcasm, “Is there anything else I can fill in on that point?”  That’s all there is to it.

Whatever you do, don’t let the Silent Treatment intimidate you into talking a blue streak, because you could easily talk yourself out of the position.

Question 7  Why should we hire you?

TRAPS:  Believe it or not, this is a killer question because so many candidates are unprepared for it. If you stammer or adlib you’ve blown it.

IDEAL ANSWER:  This is an opportunity to reiterate your most impressive strengths and/or describe your most memorable selling points, tailored to align with the top requirements in the job description. Your 3-4 bullet points could include a combination of the following:

  • Industry experience
  • Experience in performing certain tasks or duties
  • Technical skills
  • Soft skills
  • Key accomplishments
  • Awards/accolades
  • Education/training

Question 8  Aren’t you overqualified for this position?

TRAPS:  The employer may be concerned that you’ll grow dissatisfied and leave.

IDEAL ANSWER:  When answering the question, talk about your most pertinent skills, traits and experiences that qualify you for the position. Talk about how your previous experience has prepared you to handle situations that you will likely face if hired. Relay the personality traits you exhibit that make you a good fit.

Sample Answer

A great answer to the tough over-qualification question might go something like this:

This opportunity is very attractive to me, and although some might look at my past experience & think I am over-qualified, I think I am perfectly qualified. You can rest assured that I will dedicate the same amount of effort to this position as I would dedicate to any higher-ranking position.

Question 9  Where do you see yourself five years from now?

TRAPS:  One reason interviewers ask this question is to see if you’re settling for this position, using it merely as a stopover until something better comes along. Or they could be trying to gauge your level of ambition.

If you’re too specific, i.e., naming the promotions you someday hope to win, you’ll sound presumptuous.  If you’re too vague, you’ll seem rudderless.

IDEAL ANSWER:   Reassure your interviewer that you’re looking to make a long-term commitment…that this position entails exactly what you’re looking to do & what you do extremely well.

Sample answer: “I am definitely interested in making a long-term commitment to my next position.  Judging by what you’ve told me about this position, it’s exactly what I’m looking for & what I am very well qualified to do. In terms of my future career path, I’m confident that if I do my work with excellence, opportunities will inevitable open up for me.  It’s always been that way in my career, & I’m confident I’ll have similar opportunities here.”

Question 10  Describe your ideal company, location and job.

TRAPS:  This is often asked by an experienced interviewer who thinks you may be overqualified, but knows better than to show his hand by posing his objection directly.  So he’ll use this question instead, which often gets a candidate to reveal that, indeed, he or she is looking for something other than the position at hand.

IDEAL ANSWER:  Describe your ideal company with positive, general language; think advancement opportunities, tight-knit family-style work atmosphere, etc.

Emphasizing your flexibility and access to transportation to illustrate that commuting is a non-issue.

If the job you're applying for isn't your exact ideal, explain how it still relates to your interests & fits into your career plan.

Focus on your job skills & why you'd excel in the position to reaffirm your commitment.

Sample Answer

The firm, its culture, Working environment, Scope of growth, location, industry, work life balance are some things that I would keep in mind while choosing my ideal company. & from whatever research I have done about your renowned organisation, I can tell that this is exactly what I’m looking for right now.

Question 11  Why do you want to work at our company?

TRAPS:  This question tests whether you’ve done any homework about the firm.  If you haven’t, you lose.  If you have, you win big.

BEST ANSWER:   This question is your opportunity to hit the ball out of the park, thanks to the in-depth research you should do before any interview.

Sample Answer:

I firmly believe in taking a collaborative approach to each project so when I saw a position with your company to join the production team I knew I had to apply. I've seen your work in theatrical production, and your behind-the-scenes video really inspired me because I saw the teamwork in action. I love working with a team to achieve a common goal, & I know my background in production has prepared me for this role. I look forward to becoming a valued contributor to this phenomenal team.

Question 12  What are your career options right now?

TRAPS:  All the interviewer really wants to know is, “How desperate are you?”

IDEAL ANSWER:  Prepare for this question by thinking of how you can position yourself as a desired commodity.  If you are still working, describe the possibilities at your present firm and why, though you’re greatly appreciated there, you’re looking for something more (challenge, money, responsibility, etc.).  Also mention that you’re seriously exploring opportunities with one or two other firms.

If you’re not working, you can talk about other employment possibilities you’re actually exploring.  But do this with a light touch, speaking only in general terms.  You don’t want to seem manipulative or coy.

Sample Answer

This is a question which can throw you off-guard in an interview. Remember to remain poised and consult this example as a starting point:

I’ve received callbacks from two other companies that are in need of an experienced programmer, although this job is the one that interests me the most. I know I could always go back to database management as well, which there is currently high demand for, but programming is what really engages me the most.

Question 13 Why have you been out of work so long?

TRAPS:  A tough question if you’ve been on the beach a long time.  You don’t want to seem like damaged goods.

IDEAL ANSWER:  You want to emphasize factors which have prolonged your job search by your own choice.

Sample Answer:

I have taken some time to further my education and improve my skills in order to contribute more fully to the company I will work for. I have spent some time volunteering and making contributions to local organizations in order to support my community. I feel that I have gained valuable skills from this experience that will help me further the interests of the company.

Question 14      Tell me honestly about the strengths & weaknesses of your boss/company/management team, etc.

TRAPS:  Skilful interviewers sometimes make it almost irresistible to open up and air a little dirty laundry from your previous position. Tip: DON’T 

IDEAL ANSWER:  Remember the rule:  Never be negative.  Stress only the good points, no matter how charmingly you’re invited to be critical.

Your interviewer doesn’t care a whit about your previous boss.  He wants to find out how loyal and positive you are, and whether you’ll criticize him behind his back if pressed to do so by someone in this own company.  This question is your opportunity to demonstrate your loyalty to those you work with.

Question 15  Any particular book/books that you have been reading lately? Tell me something about them.

TRAPS:  As in all matters of your interview, never fake familiarity you don’t have.  Yet you don’t want to seem like a dullard who hasn’t read a book since Tom Sawyer.

IDEAL ANSWER:  Unless you’re up for a position in academia or as book critic for The New York Times, you’re not expected to be a literary lion.  But it wouldn’t hurt to have read a handful of the most recent and influential books in your profession and on management.

Consider it part of the work of your job search to read up on a few of these leading books.  But make sure they are quality books that reflect favorably upon you, nothing that could even remotely be considered superficial & you’ll pass this question with flying colors.

Best of luck for your interview!

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