How to Answer Common Job Interview Questions

By Camilla Patten

So you have been invited to a Job Interview? Well done! You are halfway to finding your dream job. The next step in the job hunting process is preparing for the interview itself. After being invited to a job interview candidates need to knuckle down and practice ahead of time to knock the interview process out the park.

Questions?It is vital that you have prepared answers for frequently asked questions that you may be asked to answer. Frequently asked job interview questions are used to establish whether or not the job seeker does indeed possess the required skills set and experience relevant to the job vacancy.

Familiarise yourself with typical job interview questions as well as prepare appropriate answers to these questions in order to secure the ideal position. Common interview questions are also asked for further insight into your personality, ability to integrate into a new team as well as your business ethics and values. There is no specific structure in which such questions are administered, be sure to go though the following list of frequently asked job interview questions and answers to best prepare for your job interview.

INTERVIEWER QUESTION: Tell me about yourself? Job Seeker Response:

Although your first instinct might be to start by describing your interests and hobbies, remember where you are. You are in a job interview with the sole purpose of being hired. The information that you should detail when asked this question is to begin by describing yourself in a work situation. Prepare a summary of your work experience as well as your career achievements. Briefly detail your education accomplishments as well as any other accomplishment or transferable skills that are relevant to the job vacancy. Only once you have discussed information that is specific to the available position, should you then give a short explanation about your interests and character traits.

INTERVIEWER QUESTION: Describe your working experience?

Job Seeker Response:

Study your CV prior to your job interview and identify areas of your work experience that is specifically relevant to the job that you are being interviewed for. Search the job advert itself for hints and traces of details about what it is the employer is hoping to find in the ideal Job Seeker. Your answer should be concise and relevant; the recruiter has already seen your Curriculum Vitae and already has a good idea of your experience. Try to get the recruiter to specify what areas they would like you to discuss so as to avoid digressing off the topic with long winded explanations. The reason why the recruiter is asking this question even after having seen your CV application is because they want to hear how you would describe your experience verbally and to ensure that your verbal explanation is consistent with the information detailed in your CV.

INTERVIEWER QUESTION: What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Job Seeker Response:

Although this question may seem as though you should answer with a positive answer for your strengths and a negative for your weaknesses, try to give two positive answers. When discussing your strengths highlight roughly three positive attributes or strengths that specifically apply to the available post based on what you consider to be the recruiter’s specific requirements. When indicating your weaknesses, never detail a character defect or poor performance areas that have no opportunity to be improved on. Rather, try to explain where you identified a problem area where you were able to remedy this and explain how you did so.

JOB SEEKER RESPONSES: Most common and typical job interview questions

How do you deal with conflict or criticism?

Always answer this frequently asked question with a positive approach. Explain where you may have experienced conflict in the workplace in the past and how you dealt with it. Explain in a positive light, how you managed this conflict and what you learnt from the experience. The job interviewer is looking to identify areas where you may experience a problem when working with difficult personalities and how well you handle negative situations and reverse them into positive ones. Never say never and always be open to the idea that you are willing and able to learn from each working experience – whether positive or negative.

What do you know about our company and why do you want to work here?

You will need to prepare for this typical job interview question far in advance in order to ensure that you are comfortable discussing the employers company. Don’t be a know it all, you are talking with someone who may have been part of the company for several years and will know greater detail that you will. Never argue about details and be open to correction should you have interpreted research information incorrectly. When answering the reason for you wanting to join their establishment specify what interests you about the industry or company and how you feel you could contribute to its longevity. Express admiration and respect for the company and include an explanation as to what value you feel you will be able to bring to the company that other candidates may not be able to. Try to get a good understanding of the company’s objective as well as their vision and mission and how you plan on sustaining this or improving on it, based on your relevant skills and attributes.

Describe a short term goal you have set for yourself and how you intend on achieving this goal?

A short term goal generally falls within a one to two year delivery period. The goals that you describe should be career focussed, based on areas where you would like to improve on a skill or achieve a qualification that will boost your career growth. When answering to how you intend on achieving these goals to the employer, never leave a door closed. Opportunity and drive is your number one objective in order to achieve any goal and this is why your explanation needs to be realistic and attainable within this short period. By displaying your enthusiasm and desire to succeed, this will indicate to the employer that you are a motivated and inspired employee.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

When answering this typical job interview question stay focussed on career goals and aspirations. Potential employers don’t want to hear about your plans to ‘Take over their company’ nor your desire to become a pro golfer. Keep these career aspirations realistic and attainable within a 5 year period. Discuss ways in which you anticipate attaining your career goals as well as steps you have already taken to reach these career goals.

What are you looking for in a job?

This may seem like an easy common interview question to answer, it is in fact a tricky job interview question. While the interviewer is asking you what you are looking for in a job, in actual fact they want you to answer with what they are looking for from you. Again when preparing for this question, be sure to have the job ad close at hand in order to assess in precise detail what the recruiter is looking for in a candidate. Answer this question the way you think the interviewer wants you to answer it, by describing desires that the job you have applied for will be able to deliver to the candidate.

What are your salary requirements?

Prepare ahead of time prior to your job interview on how you intend on answering this question. A good place to start is to research the industry standard or market related salary that employees in similar roles are earning. Generally this information can be found on the internet or alternatively recruitment agents will be able to give you a good indication of your market related salary. In your interview, try not to discuss exact figures but rather give a ball park figure that you will be able to negotiate on later on should the employer makes you an offer. Never discuss your salary goals unless asked by the interviewer.

Do you have any questions?

When asked if you have any questions about the role or the organisation, always have a few questions prepared to ask the interviewer. By asking the interviewer well thought out and relevant questions, Job Seekers display eagerness and a keen interest in joining the organisation. As with the other typically asked job interview questions, research and prepare some typical interview questions for the recruiter. You will find tons of content and guidelines to assist in preparing ahead of time to ask the interviewer and display your interest in the company as well as joining the team.

As mentioned before there are no set structures to any job interview and every interview will be completely unique and different to your last. Preparing in advance and familiarising yourself with frequently asked job interview questions will give you the confidence you require in order to outshine any other candidate by emphasising your skills and accomplishment relevant to the job. Try to relax and remember to be yourself and the very best of luck in securing your dream job.

Copyright (c) 2008 Camilla Patten

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