November 25, 2022

Frequently asked job interview questions and what to pay attention to when answering

Commonly asked interview questions, what they really mean and how to answer them. Job interviews can be a bit awkward if you are not prepared no matter your qualifications. These are some FAQs, what they mean and how to properly answer them.

Hitting the job market can sometimes be quite intimidating and frustrating no matter your qualifications and experience, even more so if it’s your first job. You have to be well prepared for the interview and do homework about the company and position you are applying for. First impressions matter and you want to be as prepared as possible. 

Interviewers usually have a list of questions that they like to ask. Knowing these questions and understanding what interviewers really want to find out will give you a better chance of landing the job. The goal is to be prepared and ready to answer them effectively, however, not by memorizing answers but by being flexible and able to adapt to any question without hesitation.

These are some of the most frequently asked questions, and guidance on how to answer them properly:

1. Tell me something about yourself or guide me through your CV

The interviewer wants to know more about your professional, not personal life. Where you are now in your career and how you got there. It is always a good tip to tell a short story that should be compelling, engaging and complete but also one that makes a clear point. This is the best time to show your communication skills. Talk about your education, qualifications and past experiences. You should talk about your previous positions, titles, responsibilities and what you have accomplished. Think of this answer as a pitch where you are trying to sell yourself. It should be simple but effective. 

2. Why should we hire you?

The interviewers want to know what sets you apart from other candidates. This is where you show them that you’ve done your homework and that you know the main points of the company and the position, and how you, with your skills and expertise, are just the right fit. Find out why they are hiring, to get a better sense of the main duties and then shape your answer around it. What are your best assets that can help them solve their problems? In most cases you won't know the other candidates' experience and their qualifications, it's a bit tricky to compare yourself to them and say that you are a better fit, rather focus on your professional experience and make a statement about how you are the best fit based on your skill set, experiences and accomplishments. 

3. What are your weaknesses?

Be honest. The interviewer wants to see how honest and self-aware you are. But the trick to answering this question is perspective. Pick some common and reasonable weaknesses and explain what it is that you're doing to overcome them. This will show them that firstly, you are aware of your weaknesses, and secondly, you are working on improving them. We all have weaknesses, accepting them and managing them will not make you seem weak, but confident. 

4. What are your strengths?

The strengths and weaknesses go together. How positively do you see yourself? The goal here is not to list all of your qualities but rather the ones most important to the position you're applying for. Remember quality over quantity. Is it your meticulous attention to detail, handling stress well, your mad planning skills, and your great communication skills? Be specific, and make sure that it is relevant to the company.  

5. Why do you want to work here?

The answer to this question shows your goals and intentions. Just be specific. What is it that inspired you to apply for the position? Is it because you are passionate about the company and its products and services, or their work culture? Or you feel that it is your dream job and that you can easily picture yourself there down the road. The interviewers are trying to figure out how well-aligned your goals are with the company’s goals and values. Which has a lot to do with the next question and the way you’ll answer it.

6. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years/ in the future?

In other words- are you a job hopper? Can the company depend on you or will you leave as soon as a better opportunity presents itself? This is an important question because the interviewers want to know how committed you will be and how well-aligned your goals to the company's goals are. Finding new employees and spending time and resources training them just to have them leave you in a short period is definitely not profitable for any company. The lower the retention rate, the bigger the cost for companies. But try to be realistic. For example, you see yourself in the company down the road, or you see room to grow within the company. 

7. Tell me what you know about the company.

How did you hear about the company? Was it through an ad, or from a recruiter or current employee? If so, mention their names. The interviewer needs to know if you showed up randomly or if you are serious about the job. If you’ve done some research about the company, it will be more obvious that you are serious and not wasting their time as well as yours. 

 

8. How well do you work under pressure?

This is an important question because it shows how well you handle stress. Will you be able to work under intense pressure and meet deadlines or will you have a meltdown? It shows how you handle work stress, and the best way to answer this question is by telling a story and explaining how successfully you’ve handled that specific situation. 

9. What are your salary expectations?

Again, do your homework! You don’t want to oversell yourself, but you don’t want to undersell yourself either. Find out what is the salary average of the position you are applying for. You can do that by asking people from the same industry, and find out industry rates by looking it up online on various websites that offer you this kind of info. It’s always better to aim at a slightly higher number leaving more room to negotiate. Also, it’s better to talk about a salary range rather than a specific number because again, it will give you more freedom and room to negotiate down the road. But have in mind that the interviewers have a specific budget for every position, so they too have limitations to what they can offer you. Matching each other’s expectations is key to reaching an agreement.

10. Why do you have a gap in your resume?

It is not uncommon that you might have a gap in your resume for several reasons. Did you have to raise kids, had some health issues, got fired, or simply chose to take some time off? Either way, it is nothing unusual, especially with everything happening with the economy and pandemic. But answering it might be unpleasant and tricky. Note that having some time off doesn’t make you less qualified and unfit for the job. You don’t need to go much into detail about your personal life if you feel uncomfortable. Make a point that you are fit for this job and that you look forward to going back to work.

11. Behavioral questions

Behavioural questions usually sound like: Tell me about a time when… Describe a situation where you… Give me an example of how… These questions are designed to show the interviewer your past problem-solving experiences and how you’ve handled various situations. It also shows your ability to solve problems in the future and your skills in action. The best way to answer this type of question is using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result). By telling a short story of a specific situation and how you’ve handled it and the results you’ve achieved, you will be able to go into detail and prove your skills and expertise. 

These are just some of the most frequently asked questions. As mentioned earlier, your job is not to memorize the answers because the tiniest change in the question formulation can confuse you. But if you understand the point of the questions, you will be confident and able to adapt your answers to every question and have a smoother interview, and in the end, land the job. 

For more tips on everything, you need to know when looking for a job, follow Vanilla HR. We’ll make sure to cover all hot topics that might interest you and more.

Read more about the STAR METHOD to nail on you next jobinterview

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