Business Monday: How to answer the most common interview questions


It is very important to be prepared for a job interview. No matter how experienced you are, it is normal for the nerves to jangle as you face the dreaded hiring panel. It is natural to have butterflies in your stomach; but if you take the time to prepare for the job interview, it would make things easier to answer effectively and finish successfully.

The Top 10 Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Experts recommend you have a prepared answer for the most common interview questions so you can deliver a consistent answer. Fortunately, the majority of interviewers stick to a tried and trusted questioning formula. Let’s go through the most common interview questions here:

1. “Tell me about yourself”

This seemingly innocuous icebreaker sets the tone for the entire interview. Some candidates make the mistake of offering their life story when in reality; the hiring manager is looking for a handful of key points about you that are relevant to the role.

For instance, talk about your qualifications, skills, and experience and outline how it can help the organisation but keep your answer below two minutes in length.

2. “Why do you want to work for this organisation?”

No matter what, do not say “Because I want a job” even though that is clearly the case. Also, don’t say anything negative about your current employer or else it will seem as if you just want to leave any way you can. The interviewer is trying to determine if you will accept the job if offered and if you say ‘yes,’ whether you will you stay for any length of time.

Recruitment is an expensive process, so hiring managers are under pressure to pick the right candidates. Learn about the company culture and the role so when the time comes, you can provide a convincing answer. For instance: ‘I admire your innovative campaigns and I look forward to becoming a part of a creative team.’

3. ”What Are Your Weaknesses?”

You CAN state your weakness. Sometimes, we fail to provide a consistent answer because we are afraid of not getting the job for being too honest or too fake. It is good to keep it real; mentioning a real answer will be reflected in your attitude during the interview.

Second, add your context and a specific moment of how this trait has occurred in your professional life and how you managed to resolve it and got a positive outcome from it.

4. “What Are Your Strengths?”

Most candidates make the mistake of listing a bunch of generic traits such as ‘hard working’, ‘diligent’ and ‘team player.’ Anyone can make such claims, and they don’t impress hiring managers. To stand out, list three things you do well and offer examples that show how your strengths tie in neatly with the role.

For instance, if you possess excellent organisational skills, talk about a project where you were a team leader and outline how you ensured everything ran smoothly.

5. “Name 5 of Your Greatest Weaknesses”

Every hiring manager in the world has heard answers such as “I work too hard,” and it drives them crazy! The best answer involves listing three genuine weaknesses and then talking about how you intend to improve. When you are honest about your deficiencies and show that you’re not only aware of them but are trying to get better, you show a keen work ethic and problem-solving ability in one fell swoop.

6. “Why Should We Hire You?”

Experts say that you should answer this question in three parts. First, clearly state that you believe you meet all the requirements of the role. Secondly, provide examples of how you demonstrated each skill. Finally, show that in the past you identified problems and actively sought out solutions. If you can show you’re someone with initiative, you greatly increase your chances of getting the role because few candidates have the ability to showcase their talent in this manner.

7. “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 years?”

As we already mentioned in the second question, hiring and training employees cost time and money, so interviewers only want candidates likely to remain on board for a long time. Also, they want ambitious staff intent on learning more and climbing the career ladder. Find out what a reasonable 5-10 year plan is for someone in the role. While you want to seem enthusiastic, you don’t want to appear like you’re already looking past the job.

8. “What are Your Salary Expectations?”

This is a potentially awkward question if you haven’t done your homework. While you must never bring up the subject of money yourself, there is no escaping it if the interviewer asks the question. Find out the average salary for someone in the position with a comparable level of experience and a similar set of skills. Negotiating your salary on an interview is something that will be useful for your entire job seeking process. Remember that this is only the interview stage, so you haven’t been offered the job. The best tactic is to offer a broad salary range but be prepared to back it up if necessary.

9. “What is Your Greatest Accomplishment?”

You need storytelling ability to answer this question effectively. You can’t simply say you saved your company X amount of money and move on without further explanation. The age-old STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is an excellent way to frame an answer.

Begin by describing the scale of the challenge, focus on the obstacles you overcame, outline what you did and provide the result. Your story seems more impressive if you can show that you endured a major struggle to get the desired result.

10. “Describe a Situation where You Led (or Worked In) a Team.”

Once again, the STAR technique can come to your rescue here. When describing an occasion when you acted as a team leader, show that you are a good listener, strategic and extremely knowledgeable in your field. A good leader understands the differences between each member of the team and delegates accordingly.

When discussing your role as a team member, talk about the situation, your individual role, and the overall group task. Describe the problems that arose and how you helped the team tackle it.

11. “Do You Have Any Questions?” (Bonus Question).

‘No’ is unquestionably one of the worst answers! Always have two or three questions prepared in advance as this is your opportunity to discuss an element of the role or aspect of the organisation that wasn’t covered during the interview. It is a wonderful chance to show your genuine enthusiasm and suitability for the role. Solid questions include:

Can you tell me more about the team I would be part of?

What are the company’s plans for the future?

What are the biggest challenges facing the organisation/industry right now?

Although there is no guarantee that the questions above will be asked during your interview, several of them probably will because they are the most commonly asked queries in interviews. Of course, you should perform further research and learn a few more; the better prepared you are, the less likely you’ll be stumped at the worst possible moment!


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