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Woman is thinking about good answers to interview questionsWe put together a list of fifteen most common interview questions, to help you prepare for your interview. Practicing your answers should help you to relax, and to feel more confident on the big day.

 

 

Question nr. 1: Can you tell me something about yourself?

Typically the first interview question, and your chance to make a good first impression. Good answer and a silent approval in the eyes of the interviewers will help you to feel better right from the start.

You should focus on work related things in your answer. What you do, and did for living, what you excel at, what you try to achieve in your career, etc.

You can briefly mention your personal life and hobbies, but recruiters aren’t really interested in those things.
Anyway, you should spend less than two minutes answering this particular question. It is just an ice breaker, a first question, so try to compose a simple and work relevant answer.

 

“I like to manage people and to work on challenging projects. I have been working for IBM for the past six years, but I am looking for a new challenge right now. I like to do sports, especially athletics. I spend my free time with wife and kids.

 

Question nr. 2: Why did you apply for this job?

Interviewers try to understand your motives. It is perfectly all right, and actually good for you, since you can convince them that it makes sense to talk to you.
Try to speak about their company, not about your personal goals. You should actually browse their website prior to the interview, study the job description carefully, and try to find points of interest and reasons for your application.

Man is preparing for his interview“I really like the job description, and the working duties. I believe to be a good fit for the job, and a potential asset for your team. That’s why I submitted my application. On the top of that, I have the right working experience.”

 

“I decided to apply because I really like the vision of your company and the career growth possibilities you offer. I hope to use my full potential at this position, and help your company grow and prosper.”

 

Question nr. 3: Why did you leave your last job? / Why are you planning to leave your present job?

Life’s a change. However, employers want to understand the reasons behind your (planned) career/job move.
It is crucial to stay positive, and not talk negatively about your past employers and colleagues. Try to focus on the future, not on the past. Let me show you some good answers.

 

“I didn’t feel challenged in my last job and I wasn’t motivated to wake up to work anymore. I got along with my colleagues and boss, but I simply couldn’tt keep myself motivated anymore. This role would be new to me, and with all the new challenges and responsibilities, I hope to get my motivation back and deliver my best every day.”

 

“Similarly to many people from financial department at my past employer, my contract had been terminated. New owners brought their own people on board, and the old crew had to leave. However, it is the past. I am ready to use the knowledge and experience I gained there to start my new career, possibly in your corporation.”

 

“I have been with the ABC company for the past seven years. We achieved great results and I helped them to become the leader on the market. However they never offered me a raise or promotion, even though I demanded it, and definitely deserved it. That’s why I want to leave my job.”

 

Busy discussion before an interviewQuestion nr. 4: Can you tell me something about your education?

MBA and other prestigious degrees will open you some doors to interesting job contracts.

However, if you do not have a degree, you can still give a good answer to this question. Try to focus on the knowledge you gained, not the names and institutions….

 

“I have studied at ABC University. I acquired knowledge of statistics, project management and process management. I was active during my studies, always seeking opportunities to put the lessons to practice, taking part in projects and competitions. My practical experience and internship prepared me for a job of a project manager, at least I believe so.

 

Question nr. 5: Can you tell us something  about your working experience?

You should always talk about the relevant experience. Many job seekers spend twenty minutes answering this question and that’s a mistake. If you interview for a role in marketing, they won’t be interested in your experience flipping burgers at McDonald’s. You should pick just one or two relevant roles, and briefly describe what you did, and what you learned. Of course, should you have one previous job only, talk about that one. Relevancy doesn’t matter in such a case.

 

“I have done a lot of things in my life. It helped me to gain a good overall understanding of business. From 2001 to 2004 I worked like a project manager for Siemens. We were working mostly on smaller energetic projects, water plants. I hope to use my knowledge and contacts I gained there in your company. I learned to lead projects them from scratch to success. From my other jobs I can mention my role of marketing manager in CDE, from 1998 to 2001, and my freelancing experience from 2005 to 2009. Would you like to hear more details about one of these roles?”

 

Question nr. 6: Why should we hire you?

This is one of the most difficult interview questions. However, if your answer is good, it can actually convince the employer to hire you!
You should try to identify your USP (Unique selling point), showing the employer something special, something other candidates can not offer. General phrases will not help you. You simply need to find something unique, and present it in the right way in an interview.  Following answers should help you.

 

Man is doing well in his interviewI had the very same job with one of your main competitors. My experience can come handy, as I can show you what they did better, and what you do better.”

 

“I am a nice guy and always try to build good atmosphere on the workplace. This helps, especially nowadays, when many people are negative about their lives and jobs.

 

Question nr. 7: What are your strengths?

Questions about strengths and weaknesses are typical for many interviews. All you have to do is to pick the strengths that are relevant for the job you apply for.

 

“I am very responsible and always do my duties on time.”

 

“I am pretty organized, and I’ve probably never been late in my life.”

 

“I have good communication skills, and people generally enjoy talking to me.”

 

Question nr. 8: What are your weaknesses?

You should describe how you try to improve on your weaknsess. This is what the employers want to hear from you. They are interested in your attitude first.
What’s more, try picking weaknesses that are not that important for the job you apply for.

 

“I am not very patient. That’s obviously bad. But I am working on it, trying to control myself, and stay tolerant to the others. It’s not easy, but I have definitely made some improvements in the recent years.”

 

“Sometimes I struggle to focus on my duties. However, I practice every day, trying to eliminate other thoughts. My concentration has improved over the years.”

 

“I often trust people way too much. It is nice to live with such and attitude, but it caused me some troubles in the past. Getting older, however, I’m learning to recognize whom I can trust.

 

One on one interview in a big companyQuestion nr. 9: What are your goals in five years time?

Every responsible person has some goals. When recruiters ask you about your goals and dreams, they simply want to hear that you have some.

Some people love to dream about running their own business, or about traveling the world. But those would not be good answers. Companies do not want to hire people who will leave them after one year–to start their own business, or to pursue their travel dreams….

Therefore you should talk either about personal goals, or you should try connecting your career goals with their business. Let’s have a look at some good answers.

 

“My goal is to become a better manager, and to help my employer to achieve exceptional results.”

 

“I want to start a family and have a good job, the one where I will deliver an actual value. That’s all I want. I believe that your company is a right place to start realizing my dreams.”

 

“I would like to have a managing role in five years time. However, I understand that I need to learn a lot, and I believe that this position is a perfect starting point for my career dreams.”

 

Question nr. 10: What have been your biggest achievements so far?

Achievements matter more than experience. This is a fact. Other fact is that everyone of us has achieved something in their life. We just sometimes do not realize it, or we struggle to talk about such things.

Tangible or intangible, working or personal, all kinds of achievements can impress the recruiters. For example a former heavy smoker who managed to quit smoking recently shows strong determination and will.
Our life is full of achievements. We just need to remember them, and choose the most relevant for our interview answer.

 

“I ran marathon under three hours. I trained very hard, and it strengthened me both physically and mentally.”

 

“When I hold Sales Manager  job at ABC Inc., the sales grew by twenty percent every year. No other person in the company achieved such results.”

 

“I became a better person over the years. I learned to listen to the others, and to see the good things in people. I consider it my biggest achievement so far.”

 

Question nr. 11: What characterize a good boss/ colleague from your point of view?

Friendly hand shake in an interviewYou won’t work alone. Interviewers try to understand if you’d fit the company and if you would get along with new colleagues. The most common mistake is mentioning something specific.
E.g. to say that you prefer older (or male) boss would be a huge risk… If the boss was young (or female), they would hire someone else. That’s why you should choose a neutral answer, saying that you can get along with practically anyone. Let’s have a look at good answers.

 

“I can get along with everyone. All I want to be sure about is that they are qualified for their job.”

 

“Ideal boss doesn’t exist, and it doesn’t even matter to me. I want to focus on my job, and my duties in work, and I try to avoid any conflicts with other employees. Everyone is different, and I respect the individuality of each person.”

Question nr. 12: What motivates you? / How do you motivate the others?

You need to convince the employer that your motivation comes from inside, and that you do not need special incentives to work hard. The best way to do this is showing enthusiasm. If you show it, every answer will be good enough. . . .

 

“Meaningful purpose of this job motivates me. I would be proud to have this job and I would work hard to become a better teacher every day.”

 

“I simply love to work with people. If I was not strongly motivated to do this job, I would never apply for it. I could not work only for money.”

 

Interviewers are talking to an applicantQuestion nr. 13: What are your salary expectations?

If the recruiters start talking about the salary, it is a good sign–they consider hiring you. On the other hand, you should not initiate this discussion on your own–just wait for their question.
While answering, or negotiating, try to emphasize that the salary is not the most important thing for you. And if you have a number in your mind, it is good to have some statistics to back it up.

 

“It’s not about salary. I really like the job description and want to get this job. I’m sure you’ll make a decent offer.”

 

“I would accept an average salary for this position, something between $45,000 and $60,000, according to the latest statistics from salaries.com website.”

 

 

Question nr. 14: When can you start?

Companies have their plans and ideas, and in most cases, they will be happy to see you on board as soon as possible. But if you can not avoid abiding the notice period, or have another reason to postpone your start, you can still come up with a good answer that will show right attitude to work. Let’s have a look at some answers.

 

“I am ready to start as soon as possible.”

 

“I could possibly start tomorrow, but I want to finish the project I currently work on. It would be unprofessional and irresponsible if I left now. I need two or three weeks to finish the work, and train my colleagues to take it over. Then I can start working here.”

 

Talk of two candidates prior to their interviewQuestion nr. 15: Do you have any questions?

You will get a chance to ask some questions. It is good to ask one or two questions, or possibly even more, as it shows that you care, that you still want the job at the end of the interview.

You should definitely not inquire about something that was already discussed in the interview, or explained on the job description. Let’s have a look at some good questions:

 

“What are the next steps of the interviewing process?”

 

“Can you tell me something more about your working environment?”

 

“What are the goals of your company (sales department) in one, five, and ten years time?”

 

What to say at the end?

Congratulations! You read answers to all fifteen most common interview questions. You did more than 90% of all job seekers do to prepare for their interview. But if you want to go one step further, you can have a look at an eBook that will show you brilliant answers to 177 interview questions.

And if you believe that your behavior and impression you make during the interviews matters (and if you struggle with making a good impression), you can have a look at I Will Get a Job, an audio recording from Matthew Chulaw, author of this article. You can read more about the author of this article, and the story of Interview Penguin, in our About Section.

 

 

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