Introduction

We often hear most people who have been through the interview grind saying, “Job interview is a necessary evil.” Candidates are seen breaking out in a cold sweat at the mere mention of an interview or thought of it. 

It is not easy to crack an interview if you are inexperienced or have never been guided on how to handle one when faced with one. 

There are many questions you will have to answer, both persuasively and carefully. It might be tough to come up with answers that sell your skills. Moreover, you always have friends and the internet that can give misguided advice on interviewing skills.

Job interviews involve an exchange of general questions and answers.

A look at the top five common interview questions on our list. 

94% – Tell me about yourself

91% – What are your strengths?

84% – How did you hear about this vacancy or job position?

82% – Tell me about a challenge you faced at work and how did you handle it?

80% – What are your weaknesses?

(Source)

Here are our top 25 common interview questions and answers- your ultimate guide for Interviews and the best ways to answer them.

 

  1. Interviewer’s favourite – Tell me a little about yourself.

Thinking this is a simple question, most people fail to prepare for it, but it is a very important question. 

How to answer: There is no need to give your entire personal or employment history details. Instead, give a concise yet compelling response that highlights exactly why you are the right candidate for the job. Most career counsellors recommend using the present-past-future formula.

Tell a bit about your current role, significantly the scope and a big accomplishment, then provide the background as to why and how you got there. Also, mention experiences that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Finally, get into why you believe you would be perfect for the job role.

 

  1. “What are your weaknesses?”

What is the objective of your interviewer when asking this question? Beyond identifying major red flags, your interviewer is looking at gauging how self-aware and honest you are.

Example:I can never meet a deadline to save my life” is not the right way to put forward your weakness, and neither is “I have no weaknesses as such. I believe I am perfect!” 

Ensure that you strike a balance by talking about something that you really struggle with and are working on to improve. 

Example: You could be weak in public speaking, and to improve your skills, you have been volunteering to run meetings that will help you enter a comfortable space when addressing a gathering or large audience.

 

  1. “What are your biggest strengths?”

This is a crucial question for interviewers to assess your strengths and how you can add value to the organisation. 

Whenever you are responding to this question, think ‘quality‘ and ‘not quantity.’ In simple words, do not just rattle off a string of adjectives. Talk about one or a few stronger qualities that are relevant to the job role citing examples.

Stories are memorable. So, if there is a story that truly demonstrates your strengths and highlights you as the right fit, this is your chance to illustrate it.

 

  1. “Where do you see yourself in the next five years?”

This is a tricky question, and you must approach it the right way.

Most candidates try to show that they are extremely ambitious (because they think that’s what the interviewer wants to hear) – They might say, “I want your job” or “I see myself in your seat.” 

A few candidates might show their humility by giving a self-deprecating response, thinking that’s what will impress the interviewer – they might say, “There is a pool of talented people. I just want to give my best and see where my work and talent take me.”

The best way to address this question is to be honest and real about your future goals. 

What an interviewer is looking for are

  1. Do you have practical expectations for your career?
  2. Are you ambitious?
  3. Is the position aligned with your goals and future growth?

Think realistically about how this position will add to your strengths or help you learn more and grow.

 

  1. “Why should we hire you?”

While this question may seem forward and intimidating if you are asked, then you are in luck. There’s no better time to sell your skills.

Craft an answer that covers: 

  • You can do the job and deliver results.
  • You are a team player.
  • You are a more suitable hire than any of the other candidates.

 

  1. “How did you know about this job opening?”

Another seemingly irrelevant question, but it gives you a perfect opportunity to stand out and talk about your passion for working with the company. 

For example, if you found out about it through a professional contact, name drop the person, or an article or random job site, mention it and then share why you were excited about applying for the job.

 

  1. “Why do you want this job?”

This is a generic question but steer clear from a generic response.

You may want to follow one of these four strategies: 

  • Do your research about the company, and then mention the relevant points that appeal to you.
  • Mention how you have seen the company grow and change since the time you first heard about it.
  • Focus on the company’s opportunities for future growth and how you would contribute to it.
  • Share what got you excited from your interactions with employees (if you know someone who is a current or past employee).

Whichever one you choose, be specific. And if you cannot figure out why you want to work at the company, it definitely indicates that this job is not the right fit for you.

 

  1. “What is your most significant professional achievement?”

This is the time to highlight your skills, achievements, and shine. Don’t shy from mentioning all your contributions and how they have been assets to companies you have worked at.

Follow the STAR method – Situation, Task, Action, Results.

Share the situations and tasks to provide context to the interviewer. 

For example: “In my previous job as an analyst, it was managing the invoicing process, and in a month, I streamlined the process that saved ten man-hours a month and reduced invoice errors by 35%.”

 

  1. “Tell me about the last time you had a disagreement with your co-worker, and how did you handle it?”

This is not a question you might eagerly want to respond to. Conflicts are part of any workplace, and if you are asked, do not pretend that you have never faced one. Be honest about a conflict you had faced without going into the details of it.

Stay calm and be professional. Talk about it as you’d share a story and answer follow-up questions. Focus on talking about the resolution rather than the conflict. Mention what you did or would do differently next time to let your interviewer know that you are open to learning from good and tough experiences.

 

  1. “What is your dream job?”

When faced with this question, remember the three golden words – relevance, relevance, relevance.

The interviewer wants to know if this position is in line with your ultimate career goals. Talk about your ambitions and career goals and why this job would help you get closer to them.

 

  1. “Why do you want to move from your current organisation?”

This is a tough one to crack. 

Keep the conversation positive, frame your response in a way that shows your eagerness to take on new challenges and opportunities, which the position you are interviewing for will offer.

For example: “I’d really like to be part of the product analysis team from beginning to end, and I know this job will give me the opportunity.” 

And if you were let go from your most recent job due to unforeseen circumstances, then mention it and keep it simple.

 

  1. “What kind of work environment do you like best?”

You might be the type of person who loves to work alone, but if you were interviewing for a BPO job, then this answer would do you no good. Ideally, craft an answer that is similar to the job position and company environment and culture. Be specific.

If you are interviewing for a junior analyst position, then respond accordingly and as per the working attributes that are expected from a junior analyst.

Highlight how the culture and environment of the company work well for you.

 

  1. “Describe the hardest decision you had to make in the last six months.”

The interviewer intends to evaluate your problem-solving skills, reasoning ability, and willingness to take necessary and intelligent risks.

Each one of us has had to make tough decisions regardless of our position.

Highlight how you used logical and analytical or reasoning-based decisions to manage the tough situation—for example, wading through massive messed up data to determine the best solution for the department or organisation, keeping the impact on employees in mind.

 

  1. “What is your leadership style?”

Another tough question to crack. 

Share leadership examples. For example:The best way for me to answer this is to give you a couple of relevant examples of the leadership challenges I had faced.” Then share your situation, how you approached it, motivated the team, and worked through the crisis. Explain how this demonstrates your leadership qualities, giving your interviewer a good sense of how you lead and ensure positive outcomes.

 

  1. “Describe a time you differed with a decision. What did you do?”

The ideal way to approach this question is to talk about how you handled a disagreement professionally and also learned something from that experience. 

Pay attention to how you start and finish your response. For example:I learned very early on in my professional career that it is okay to disagree if you can back up your reasons with data.” Have a strong closing statement. Give a one-sentence summary response or talk briefly about what you learned or gained from this experience.

 

  1. “Tell me how you think other people would describe you.”

One of the best responses that you could try out is – “I believe people would say that what you see is what you get. Hence, if I tell a person that I will do something, I do it. If I tell them I will help them out, then I help. I can only speak for myself, but people, in general, will trust a person who delivers what he/she says. So, when I say I will work hard and deliver desired results, then I will.”

Nothing can beat this.

 

  1. “What can we expect from you in your first three months?”

If you are asked this question, follow this general framework:

  • You will work hard.
  • You will ensure your job creates value.
  • You will stay busy doing the right things.
  • You will focus on doing your best by bringing skills that you will apply to make things happen.
  • You will focus on building long-term professional relationships with customers and other employees.
  • You will bring enthusiasm, commitment and teamwork.

Then, layer all the specifics that apply to the following framework aligned with the job.

 

  1. “What do you like to do outside of work?”

Many organisations believe in a work-life-fun balanced culture. They like to incorporate fun activities in their day-to-day functioning to help ease stress among employees.

This question is a way to determine how you will fit into their team.

Focus on activities that indicate self-growth, skills you are learning, and goals you aim to accomplish. Weave those with personality traits. For example:I am raising a family, and hence, most of my time is focused on that, but I am using the spare time in between to learn how to play the guitar.”

 

  1. “What was your salary in your former job?”

You want to be honest, but this is a tricky question that companies ask to open their hallway in salary negotiations. You might want to say that, at present, you are focusing on positions in the salary range of 9-10 Lakhs per annum, and if the salary of the position is in that range.

You might or might not get a response. But if you are being pressed for an answer, then this is when you would have to decide whether you want to share or shy away. 

Your answer won’t matter much since you will either accept or won’t, depending on what has been finally offered to you and if you believe it is a fair deal.

 

  1. What other companies are you interviewing with?

This question is a way of the interviewers wanting to know how serious you are about this role or if they are competing with the others to hire you.

You might want to express your enthusiasm for this job, but at the same time, you don’t want to give the company the impression or leverage that there are no other companies in the running. 

Depending on your position, you can talk about applying to or interviewing various companies for a similar role. Then mention how and why this role seems like a better fit.

 

  1. “Do you have any questions for me?”

Never waste this opportunity. Ask smart questions.

Remember to ask:

  • How does the company invest in its employees?
  • Do they believe in promoting a healthy working culture?
  • What are their future growth plans?
  • What are the interviewers’ reasons for working there?

 

  1. What do you think we could do better or differently?

This question is on you. How do you give an answer without insulting the company?

Use the sandwich technique. Start with something positive about the company or about a product you have seen. Then move on to your constructive feedback, giving context and background on the perspective you are bringing to the table. Explain why you suggested the change (with some experience or other evidence). And end with how your suggestions will be a positive move for the company and its growth trajectory. 

Try:Did you consider these approaches? I’d love to know more about your plans and processes.”

 

  1. Are you willing to relocate?

While this may sound like a simple question, it isn’t. 

A simple response would be to indicate that you are open to moving and would be willing to do so for the opportunity arises. But if you say no, then ensure that you reiterate your enthusiasm for the role, and briefly explain why you cannot answer this at the moment and give an alternative like you are open to working remotely.

You can mention the reason why you cannot relocate, citing relevant reasons, but are willing to reconsider for the right opportunity.

 

  1. What are your salary expectations?

Be prepared for this inevitable question. 

  • Always figure out your salary requirements ahead of the interview. 
  • Do your research on the salary scale for similar roles.
  • Always take your education, work experience, skills, and personal needs into account.
  • Give a salary range while keeping the bottom of your salary range toward a mid or high point of what you are hoping for.
  • Flip the question. Ask, “That’s a good question. It would be helpful if you could share what the pay range is for this role.”

 

  1. When can you start?

Set realistic expectations that will work for you and the company. If you can start immediately or are unemployed- you could offer to start within a week. If you need to give notice to your current employer, mention it. Your interviewer will understand and respect that you plan to wrap things up the right way.

It is also okay to want to take a break between jobs, and you might want to say you have scheduled commitments to attend to but try to be flexible if they really need you to start a bit sooner.

 

Takeaway

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking. But they also offer a lot of learnings that not only develop us professionally but personally too. So we can conclude that interviews are just a normal part of our lives. 

Comment and share with us your best interview experiences. So our readers and we can learn something new from your experiences. 

 

References: