Common Interview questions & their answers: Part 1

Common Interview questions & their answers

Wouldn’t it be simply great if you knew precisely what recruiters would be asking you in your next interview? Well…Even though you can’t really predict what you’ll be asked, the presence of certain questions is unavoidable. While some are easy to answer, there are the few unpredicted ones can make you stumble and give your self-confidence a knock!

While unfortunately we are not adept at reading the minds of the interviewers, here’s our pick of some of the most common interview questions with their answers to help you in your interview.

Tell me about yourself?

This question is typically the ice breaker and is used to initiate the conversation! But the interviewer is certainly not looking for your life history- you need to simply choose few important things about yourself which are relevant to the role. This could include the summary of your education and professional history, your skills and your passion for your area of expertise. But keep your answers brief! Just provide an overview; they’ll ask if they need details.

Tell me about your strengths.

Your opportunity to toot your own horn – but make sure you do it tastefully! This question allows you to sell yourself as the perfect candidate for the job and put across your unique selling points. For instance, interpersonal skills, team player, problem solving skills, reliability, leadership etc can all be cited as strengths! Include examples of when you used them and connect them to the job.

Talk about your weaknesses?

This question can trip up a lot of candidates. After all it’s not easy accepting your shortcomings in front of anyone. The trick here is to state a strength camouflaged as a weakness! A better strategy could be to pick a weakness and describe the actions you took to overcome it. For instance you can say something like “It was difficult for me to handle criticism in the past but now I have learnt to solicit and value this input. This has also improved my overall work performance. Never say that you don’t have any weakness – everyone has weaknesses and if you refuse that you don’t, it will make you sound arrogant, deceitful or lacking self-awareness.

Why did you leave or are leaving your present job?

Now this one’s a toughie! Talk positive—you’ll gain nothing by saying negative things about your ex-employer. Instead, answer in a way that shows that you are excited to take on newer opportunities and that the job you’re interviewing for is a better suited for you than your existing position. Some sample answers could be:

  • If still working: “In my current organization I don’t have room to grow so I’m ready to move on to newer challenges and take on more responsibilities.”
  • In case of Downsizing: “Regrettably, the organization’s biggest client went out of business which badly affected the revenues. Subsequently, they had to remove some positions and I was amongst the few freshly hired in our division. I loved the work I did there, my reviews also talk about several accomplishments and my previous manager is my strongest reference. “
  • In case you got fired: This one’s tricky! If you were fired for some reason, you should try and highlight the lessons learnt from the experience. The aim here is to convince the interviewer that it was an isolated occurrence and that you wouldn’t be a bad hire. You can say something like, “Post some organizational changes, it became apparent that the new marketing head had newer expectations for the role that didn’t actually mesh with my strong points. Ultimately, they got onboard someone with more marketing experience. However, the experience taught me that my real strength is in sales and I would thrive in a role which is about chasing numbers.”

Why do you want to work for this company?

Fight the urge to say “Because I want a job!” Your interviewer is assessing whether you’ll take this job if offered and whether you’ll stay for any length of time. If you look uncertain, they will be hesitant in hiring you.” Empty statements like “this looks like a great place to work” won’t reassure them. So do your research in advance. Browse the company’s website to know about their services, products and work culture that appeal to you and excites you to work for them. Talk about some of their innovative campaigns and how you would love to be a part of their creative thinking. Convey this with confidence and drive.

How do you handle conflicts/ challenges at work?

By asking this question, your interviewer wants to get a sense of how you’ll respond to conflicts and issues at work. Again, it would be a good idea to talk about a relatively recent example and choose a problem that you could possibly face in the job you’re interviewing for. Next, describe the actions you took and the steps you completed to resolve the issue. The end result is the most significant part of your reply as an effective outcome proves that your actions were successful. If doable, detail figures or numbers that highlight the scale of your success. You can also talk about the positive feedback you got and what all you learnt and how the learning will help your professionally.

Describe your management style?

The greatest managers are strong but flexible and your answer should reflect exactly that. Share few of your finest managerial moments, like how you raised your team from 5 to 20 or how you coached an underachieving employee to become the team’s best sales guy.

By knowing and preparing answers for the common interview questions asked by employers, you’re dramatically increasing your odds of success. So before you face your next interview, do everything you can to prepare yourself for the approaching interrogation. Read part 2 of this article to know more of such common yet tricky interview questions and their answers to help you stay fearless in the face of fire.

About the Author

Sonali Dheri is an experienced writer, blogger who writes on a wide range of educational topics. She uses her creative forces to write informative content on all the latest study programs, institutes, and educational trends.