What are the most common interview questions?
These are the ten most frequently-asked interview questions that you can expect to face:
- What can you tell me about yourself?
- Can you list your strengths?
- What weaknesses do you have?
- Why should I consider hiring you?
- Where do you see yourself five years from now?
- Why do you want to work here?
- What is your salary expectation?
- What motivates you?
- What makes a good team player?
- Is there anything that you would like to ask me?
It is fair to say that you might not be asked every one of these questions at an interview. You may even be asked other, more bizarre ones, like ‘if you were an animal, which would you be?’
Such questions are designed to see how good you are at thinking on your feet so you cannot truly prepare for them. Just relax and say something sensible. For the other common interview questions, consider how you might answer them before you get face-to-face.
1. What can you tell me about yourself?
Talk about yourself in summary and avoid rambling. Your detailed work history can be found on your CV, after all, so focus on elements that you want to highlight rather than going through everything.
It is okay to discuss your personality and what ambitions you have. Ideally, you will give the interviewer a positive insight into how you would fit in as an employee.
2. Can you list your strengths?
An exhaustive list of adjectives, such as ‘capable’, ‘hard-working’ or ‘diligent’, won’t really portray you well because anyone can make such claims about themselves. Instead, think about three things that you do well and give concrete examples.
If you are a strong organiser, for example, then talk about a project that you coordinated, or a new procedure that you formulated. If you are good with numbers, then talk about your skills with spreadsheets or financial matters.
3. What weaknesses do you have?
Never say that you have no weaknesses. Everyone who does this comes across like they have simply not prepared for the interview. Likewise, avoid giving yourself a back-handed compliment, such as, ‘I work too hard.’
Remember that being able to identify a weakness is a strength. Focus on an area of your work that needs to be improved. You might have been trained in something that you’d like to take to the next level, for example. Point out that this is a weakness, but something you have identified and are focusing on resolving. Interviewers want to understand that you have the ability to be honest about yourself and to seek self-improvement.
4. Why should I consider hiring you?
If you are highly qualified for the job you are applying for, then you should point this out, but don’t forget that other people being interviewed may match or exceed your suitability. In such cases, focus on what else you can bring to the job, perhaps with your soft skill set, like being able to integrate well with existing members of the team, for instance.
Don’t give up on an interview if you´re not fully qualified for the job. Appeal to the interviewer’s desire to hire someone with drive. If you are not the finished article, then point out how keen you are to learn and be mentored. Accentuate the positive aspects of what you can do now and how quickly you will be able to progress with what you don’t know if hired.
5. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
This is your chance to talk about your wider ambitions and goals. It is okay to say you’d like to progress on from the position on offer in most cases. Bosses want to hire people with determination so don’t be shy about sounding ambitious or hungry for success. Ideally, try to contextualise your ambitions within the organisation that you are applying to join because this tends to go down better.
6. Why do you want to work here?
This is your chance to show that you have researched the company you are applying to work with. Avoid saying anything negative about your current employer which makes it seem you are simply after any job at all.
Typical things you might say are that the company operates in your chosen sector, that it provides a clearly structured career path and that the organisation has a good reputation. Don’t simply trot these ideas out, though. Do your research!
7. What is your salary expectation?
This is one of the most troublesome questions for many interviewees. For some people, however, it causes no bother at all. It will depend on your personality as to how you feel talking about salary expectations. That said, there are some tips to help you deal with the question.
Firstly, it is okay to talk about pay in terms of ranges and not to be specific about a particular number. It is also okay to include other benefits, like healthcare, pensions and time off within the context of salary. Make sure you have looked at other, similar jobs being advertised in other organisations so that you have an idea of the pay rate in the market.
8. What motivates you?
Motivation is personal, so there is no wrong answer that you can give. It might be down to your desire to succeed and build a career, but it might also be because you want to provide for your family – both perfectly good answers if you choose to give them. In some professions, caring or vocational motivations might be worth mentioning, too.
9. What makes a good team player?
Many people say in their CV that they are good at working cooperatively or are team players, but few say what this actually means. Think about examples from your past that demonstrate your ability to build bridges, form networks or simply get on with people. This needn’t be from your professional life. You could cite any examples from clubs or organisations to which you belong.
Answering this question well is especially important for people who want to be team leaders or to manage a department.
10. Is there anything that you would like to ask me?
Always have at least one question prepared in advance. This is your chance to drill down into an area of the business that might not have been covered in the interview. Alternatively, you may simply like to ask for feedback on how you have done in the interview.
A good tip is to pick up on something that has been mentioned in passing by the interviewer about the job. Ask him or her to expand on this. Not only does it make you appear interested, but it shows that you have been listening attentively to what has been said. It should leave the interviewer with a good final impression of you.
These ten questions are certainly not the only ones that can be posed, but they are the most common ones. Remember that you don’t need to answer all questions at an interview if you feel they are too personal or you are not comfortable with them. Getting yourself prepared for common questions is necessary prep work before attending an interview.
Don’t make the answer come across as rehearsed; rather, just remember the gist of your answer and then let the sentences flow freely during the interview, which gives the interviewer a much better impression of you. Good luck!