Modern organizations operating in a cut-throat business environment are increasingly looking towards their human resource to obtain a competitive advantage. Recruitment and selection have become more intense, with organizations willing to pay the right remuneration for employees they think can bring something to the table and help the organization move in the right direction.
Your interview is the best medium through which your potential employer judges your ability, attitude, professionalism, and motivational level, among other things. The most common interview questions, as such, always involve a few behavioral questions.
Here in this post, we’re going to walk you through the most common questions you will encounter in a job interview and the answers to help you ace the interview. Let’s get started.
Here's what you will learn
1. Tell me a little about yourself
When you are asked this question, talk about your previous jobs, experiences, and your rapport with the team members there. Convey clearly why you took specific jobs and what made you look for a new job. Talk about your extracurricular activities and what you got out of the experience. An essential thing to note here is that you should be clear in communication so that the interviewer finds himself in a comfortable position to amply comprehend what you have done so far, but more importantly, why you have done what you chose to do.
2. Can you handle pressure?
With this question, the interviewer wants to assess whether you are used to working towards targets and according to deadlines. Stay on the lookout for evidence in your CV that suggests an excellent work ethic and composure during stress. Mention projects that were hard to adapt to or those which had multiple impromptu changes while they were underway. Mention your daily habits and office routines that you use to calm yourselves under stressful situations that help you deal with pressure at work.
3. Do you have the ability to multitask?
The company is keen on knowing whether you are comfortable juggling numerous tasks at once and can organize your own time as well as others. However, this is largely viewed as an extremely positive and crucial skill that helps maximize productivity. But, multitasking is, at the end of the day, a talent and can’t be mastered by everyone to the point it is advantageous.
If you’re not built for multitasking but want to learn that skill, be clear and tell your interviewer that. Not being good at multitasking or being a novice at it can do you more harm than good. Besides, it’s not the only method to increase efficiency, tell your interviewer what your scheduling habits are and your way of getting things done, and you’ll get acknowledged for your originality.
4. Are you a team player?
When the interviewer uses terms such as ‘cross-functional team,’ ‘teamwork,’ and ‘team player’ several times and asks, “why should we hire you?” (directly or a subtle hint towards the question) answer with your experience and familiarity with teams. Mention and emphasize how you adapt and your ability to relate to groups to create a collaborative environment.
Outline the following in numbers and precise figures:
- number of teams you’ve worked with
- average member per team, and
- goals achieved in each group.
5. Why do you want to leave your current company?
Stay on the alert for generic, cliche answers! Even if your reasons for leaving your job are cliche, present it in an original, memorable story that makes the interviewer take an interest. Explain the problem with your current or previous role (in case you’ve already left) and what exactly made you leave. Be precise, don’t mention too many details, and keep it concise and professional unless the interviewer reacts casually.
6. Do you think extracurricular activities are important?
Talk about your interests or dislikes in extracurricular activities and what you like to gain from the experience. Companies prioritize cultural fit, and they use outside interests as a way to determine how you will fit into a team and the company as a whole. Be clear about what you like, however random it may be, you never know what will strike a chord with the interviewer. Start broad, like movies and music, then go deeper into the interests slowly like thrillers and alt-rock music.
7. What are your biggest weaknesses?
This is a staple question of every interview, and the answer is pretty much along the expected lines, which makes it slightly stale for the interviewer. Just pick any theoretical weakness and magically transform that blemish into a blessing in disguise.
Unfortunately, it seldom works that way. “My biggest weakness is that I get so absorbed in my work that I lose all track of time and belongings.” So your “biggest weakness” is that you are not going home unless the work is complete. Viola! How convenient for everyone. It is better if you take a different approach to this question.
8. How will you deal with failures?
“To err is human, to forgive divine,” so no one is impeccable here. The best way forward as such is to choose an actual weakness and show the interviewer that you are aware of it and, more importantly, working to improve. Be open about it. It shows your honesty, transparency, and your willingness to assess yourself honestly and seek ways to improve.
9. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Do not try to show that you are over-ambitious or too humble. The best answer is that you, with so many talented people around and so much to learn, will be in a stronger position to leverage my strengths to take the company and work forward. Don’t say “where” you see yourself, instead answer with “what” you’d be like to be doing and the type of company you’d want to be working with by that time.
10. Out of all the other candidates, why should we hire you?
This is more of a paradoxical riddle than an interview question, and it’s as common as momos in Delhi. The interviewer will typically ask this question in some lingo or the other, sit back, and cross their arms and wait for you to beg for the job through the answer. How do you tackle this? You don’t. You respond with an equally confusing question: “what do you think the other candidates know or can learn that I don’t know or can’t learn?”
You haven’t met these people, the other candidates, and judging them on the basis simply because they’re your competition can be harmful and ignorant. Don’t put yourself above other applicants and ask your interviewer how this self-assessment will help them make a better decision.
11. How did you learn about the opening?
To show that you are interested, tell them that you learnt of the opening through a colleague, a current employer, or by visiting the company’s website. In case you found out about the opportunity through a job board and applied online, mention that as well. Don’t speak for too long. The interviewer expects o a one-line or one-word answer.
12. Why do you want this job?
Now go deeper. You should be clear in communication so that the interviewer finds himself in a comfortable position to amply comprehend what you have done so far, but more importantly, why you have done what you chose to do.
MIT career counselor Lily Zhang recommends to do the following when questions regarding the new job or company come up:
- do your research and point to something that makes the company unique that appeals to you
- talk about how you’ve watched the company grow and change since you first heard of it
- focus on the organization’s opportunities for future growth and how you can contribute to it
- or share what’s gotten you excited from your interactions with employees so far.
13. What kind of work environment do you like best?
Do your research about the company before you sit down for the interactions and highlight the points mentioned in their culture that you like. Also, give your honest preferences that could act as a suggestion for the company to adopt as part of its environment. There will almost always be things which you want to have at work but aren’t present in the company you apply to. Instead of being taken aback, the interviewer will appreciate your awareness about the company and your constructive criticism.
14. Tell me about the toughest decision you made recntly
Formulate your answer to highlight crucial things like your ability to handle pressure, your problem solving, reasoning ability, and judgment before telling them the actual decision. Give your explanation for why that decision was tough for you and how it affected the team because what may seem like a tough decision for you, may not be perceived as severe by the interviewer.
15. What is your leadership style?
Give examples that demonstrate your leadership styles and acumen. Tell the interviewer about how you motivate your team, resolve a crisis, etc. in hard and challenging times. Share your experience through the professional crisis and how you dealt with it. Be specific about how you approach team-related problems and how you feel it can improve.
16. Tell me about a time you disagreed with a decision. What did you do?
Try not to be negative and show that you highlighted your difference of opinion in a positive way. Be straight and confident about why and how your disagreement took place. Disputes within a team are common and a sign of a healthy and inclusive workplace where feedback is welcomed and taken into consideration.
No workplace can function without back and forth from employees, and if you had one that you were able to see through, talk about how composed and objective you were.
17. Tell me how you think other people would describe you?
Be honest and tell how you behave in the office and with other teammates, and your thoughts on how others feel is mostly irrelevant. You can only do what you think is necessary and how people see it is not your responsibility. The only thing you can do is be courteous and decent, even if others aren’t.
18. What can we expect from you in your first three months?
Your recruiter is interested in the primary productivity you can offer, and the time you’ll take for settling into your role. Be straightforward, simple, and ask what all you are expected to deliver in the initial period and what responsibilities exactly you will be given. This is not to intimidate or put you in a fix, but to clarify in how much time can the company expect your actual contribution to start.
19. What was your salary in your last job?
This is the rough figure off of which your CTC will be decided for the role in the new job. Try not saying the numbers you were being given there. Tell them the expected compensation from your end, and if the interviewer insists, tell them a range of your overall annual compensation and try not to say the exact numbers. This will give you the ability to hold a salary discussion later in detail.
20. You are sitting here on the second floor. How many stairs did you climb?
These types of questions are gaining a lot of popularity these days. Answer confidently as the interviewer isn’t necessarily looking for the right answer but rather tasting your reasoning abilities and general awareness.
21. What questions do you have for me?
This is an excellent opportunity not only to show your smartness but also to find whether the company is a good fit for you. Ask them about your reporting officers, the immediate plans of the business, and the policies that were introduced during or before your interview.
22. What are your biggest strengths?
The primary objective of this question is to determine your problem-solving abilities and your skills in helping the organization dealing with its weak and vulnerable points. The interviewer wants to see what you think are your strong points and will probably base further questions based on this answer. So, make sure you’re confident in the things you say and don’t make up anything on the spot.
Not everyone will have every quality that the company is looking for, like some sort of combo package. They will be more interested in what you feel are your strong points and how you think it can help you. Make sure to mention how things you perceive as strengths, help you in the everyday office work, and increase overall productivity.
23. Are you a good problem solver?
If you’re a great problem solver, prove that with few pertinent examples that are on your CV. Show how you can help grow the company’s reputation and help it build the business. Explain how you will get to know and understand the organization’s clients and their problems, and how you can fix them.
Interviews are essential for the interviewer and the interviewee as it helps them accurately assess each other. It is an opportunity for the interviewer to determine how closely your skills and knowledge are aligned with the organization’s needs. As a candidate, it helps you get a better hang of the company’s work culture and environment and puts in a better position to decide if the job is the right one for you. Prepare yourself for the interview and so that you can do an excellent job of convincing the interviewer that you can make a meaningful contribution towards the organization’s goals and objectives.