Answering the Most Common Interview Questions

Preparation is the key to nailing a job interview. To help you prepare, we have put together answers to some of the most common interview questions. These answers should be adapted to a candidate’s situation and are not set in stone.

  1. Tell us about yourself

Often, this is the very first question that interviewers ask. Because you will most probably be nervous responding to your first question, you might be tempted to list off positions from your resume, this is likely to bore your audience and create a not-so flattering impression of you. Instead, talk about your career interests relating to the position. You should also point out your past undertakings and how they have prepared you for the position. A great answer to this question should speak to:

  • Who you are
  • Expertise: Key achievement ( give an example that relates to the position)
  • Wrap up by talking about why you are interested in the position.
  1. Tell us about an accomplishment that you are most proud of?

This is one of those questions that you should practice answering before you head in for the interview. Be honest and prove to the interviewers that this is your story and that you are proud of the achievement. This means that you need to own the story and tell it in a way that shows that you are excited about it. The accomplishment should reflect qualities required for the position you are interviewing for and should demonstrate leadership and resourcefulness. Remember to let interviewers know your reasons for choosing the particular accomplishment and to give credit to anybody that supported you.

  1. Tell us about a challenge you have faced and how you overcame it.

When responding to this question, stay away from personal stories. Refer to a challenge that is similar to one that you might experience in the position that you are interviewing for. For example, you could talk about a challenge you had working with a colleague or meeting a target. Also, remember to tell the interviewers why you think it was challenging for you. Keep it short- four minutes at most, and avoid very long and dramatic stories.

  1. What are your salary requirements?

You do not have to give a specific figure when asked this question, you can however give a range. It’s advisable that you do a simple market research to get a good understanding of what other people holding similar positions earn before your narrow down on the specific amount. You should set realistic expectations and show that you are flexible and the range you give is not set in stone. Also, remember that how much a company/organization is willing to pay is dependent on your qualifications, experience, and location, among other factors.

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

Interviewers ask this question to understand whether the position will help you to realize your career goals. It is important that you take time to draw a career plan that spells out the kind of growth you want to achieve in the next five years or more. If you are signing a five year contract, you should indicate the kind of skills that you will acquire and how they will position you for better career prospects within the company/organization after the contract expires. You do not want to come across as someone who will run off after a year. Companies spend considerable amounts of resources on recruitment drives and would not hire a candidate who gives the impression that they cannot stick around for a good number of years.

  1. Why are you leaving your current job?

Let’s be honest, many of us have left one job or another due to pay related issues, although there are always other issues such as failure to grow professionally. You do not want to sound opportunistic and all about money when you respond to this question. Try to link your pay issues to your professional growth and the working environment. Desist from badmouthing your former bosses and stick to what your needs were vis-à-vis what the company or organization was willing to provide.

  1. What do you do in your free time?

My answer to this question usually rotated around reading and writing— I needed to sound intelligent. By asking this question, interviews want to know which extra-curricular you are interested in that can help you succeed at work. Consider activities that help you relax or deal with stress, and any volunteer activities that help you grow professionally. This is not a time to talk about how much you love betting, wild drinking parties or how you conduct an illegal business on the side. Remember that you are trying to make an impression that you are a well-rounded person who makes wise choices.



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