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50 Common Interview Questions and Answers

Updated on Apr 19, 2023 4917 views
50 Common Interview Questions and Answers

You’ve submitted your CV with a fantastic Cover letter, and the mail you’ve been waiting for eventually comes in. You are invited for an interview, and you are super excited. After all, this is one more step to getting the job you really deserve. Now comes the next thing, preparing for the interview. What to say, or what not to say. How to say it and how not to say it. All these are necessary things you have in mind, knowing how important the interview is towards getting the job. 

Over the next few minutes, we will show you some interview questions that you will be likely asked during the interview and what kind of answers you should give. 

 

What do companies hope to achieve by scheduling interviews?

The whole idea of an interview is to meet the candidate that would possibly be joining the company. Most candidates do not realize it, but recruiters see right through them during an interview process, because they are not just asking questions but they are also observing. So, despite writing a lot about yourself in your CV and cover letter, they still want to hear you talk.  They want to hear you talk about your previous experiences and how you managed them, why you want to join the team and any other necessary questions. All these help them decide if you’re a good fit or not. Also, candidates can maximize interviews to determine if they want to be part of a company or not. For this reason, it is ultimately necessary to take time to prepare for an interview. 

How to answer interview questions 

While preparing for an interview, it is important to keep this in mind; it is not enough to answer questions during an interview, but it is also necessary that you answer them correctly. While you should know these interview questions and answers, it is important to know that interviewers read your body language a lot while answering questions. Here are some tips you should keep in mind while answering questions:

  • Be confident in your voice and body while answering questions. Any answer you give that doesn’t give off confidence in your voice will seem like you are just regurgitating a crammed response. Be humble, but confident. 

  • Keep a smile on your face and keep your eyes on the interviewer (s). Don’t keep your eyes everywhere else except on the interviewer. Also, keep a smile on your face. It helps you relax and settle in to answer the questions appropriately. 

  • When you do not know the answer to a direct question, be humble enough to point out that you do not know it. Trying to answer a question you do not know the answer to, may have you shooting yourself in the leg. 

Possible interview questions and answers 

There are a lot of questions that can come up during an interview. Now we’ll be looking at those interview questions and some of the answers you should give.

Basic interview questions and answers

Some questions are always expected during interview sessions. These are the basic interview questions which are used mainly to get your general knowledge of the company and why you want to get hired by the organization. Here is a list of them. 

Tell me about yourself

Talking about yourself literally isn’t a difficult thing to do. However, the interviewer does not want you to just talk about yourself. The interviewer is expecting a pitch. So, you must ensure that your answers are relevant to the position you applied for. 

Here’s a good example:

“My name is John Abara, I am a front-end developer with 2 years of experience. I literally stumbled into tech 3 years ago when I watched my brother as a web developer, and I was always amazed at the work he did each time. I decided to start learning here and there, and even though it was a lot of work (smile), I wanted to continue. So, I interned with XYZ Company for 2 years. With my proficiency in JavaScript and React, I have been able to contribute to building and maintaining numerous projects. I worked on websites like tivschool.co.za, southsideafrica.co.za, and some others.” 

 

Another example which could work is: 

"I am Luan Fredrick. I am a content writer with 3 years of experience. I am skilled in different kinds of writing, blog posts, article writing, social media content, email newsletters, and also website writing. In my 3 years, I have worked with different clients on several projects and have created original content that has enabled them to tell the unique stories of their brands. I have also published articles on several websites.” 

 

How did you hear about this position?

This is one way to show your enthusiasm, not just for the job, but for the company as well. If you heard about the position through a friend that works in the company, drop the name of the person. If it was through an article or on social media, go ahead and say it. While doing that, also point out what stood out for you in the job opening and why you really thought it was a good idea to apply. 

For example: 

“My friend Fredrick who is a staff told me about the opening. Having followed the company online and seen the amazing work that is being done here, when I saw the opening, I knew it was a good step to apply.” 

If you saw a job listing about it, you can say,

“I saw the opening on LinkedIn and it caught my attention. I was excited about the description of the kind of team member the company is looking for, and also the work culture listed in the opening. I immediately knew it was a good idea to apply.” 

 

What do you know about our company?

You will most probably hear this during the first stages of your interview. It is expected that you would have made some form of research about the company before coming for the interview. If you do not know anything about the company, you would come off as desperate and someone who would accept any job offer. To scale through this question, have enough information about the company and what industry they are in to give an impressive answer. 

“I know that your company is one of the leading companies in the media and advertising industry. From what I read on your website, I understand that you have worked with some amazing companies like XYZ, and ABC, in the past. I also know that you intend to grow into the best media company in Africa in the near future. You have a flexible and accommodating work culture to create a thriving room for employees.” 

 

Why should we hire you?

Here, don't generalize. Be very specific about why they should hire you. Put your best foot forward, with your skills, experience and the value you're bringing on board. Every employer wants the value to be communicated. Here's an example:

"You should hire me because I am skilled in content writing and marketing. With my skills especially in SEO writing, I can write content that will help the brand rank online. I also understand the importance of trends and how they can be leveraged to build a social media community. I can work well in a team and understand the importance of time management to a business. This way, I get to do my work with little supervision without hampering the quality of work done." 

 

What makes you unique?

Recruiters always ask this question to find out why they should pick you instead of the other applicants available for the job. So you must concentrate on your key abilities and strengths and emphasize them. You wouldn’t want to answer this question based on what you think other candidates might have, it is not even necessary to bring it up. Focus on you and your value to the company. 

Here’s an example: 

“I am unique because I am one to pay attention to details and meet deadlines. I follow through with deliverables thoroughly and it enables me to avoid unnecessary errors while delivering a task. I meet up with my deadlines consistently, which actually earned me a promotion in my previous job.” 

 

Why do you want this job?

You can have a job anywhere else in the world, but why us? And why this role? This is exactly what the recruiter wants to know. So, you must sound convincing with your specific reasons for why you want the job. Now, whatever answer you choose to give, you must ensure it shows your admiration for the company, which should be a product of good research about the company. 

Here’s how you can answer:

“I want this job because it will help me put my skills in sales and marketing to use. I know that the company is targeting to be the foremost car dealer in South Africa, and I believe I am skilled enough to help the company achieve their goals and plans.” 

Or, you can say,

“Having read about the company, I was excited about the fact that the company’s goals, plans and values are aligned with my career goals and values. I know this job will give me room in the right environment to put my project management skills to good use.” 

 

Why did you leave/are you planning to leave your last/current job?

This is usually a tricky question. Almost all of the time, the employer wants to know what your perception of your last place of work is, to let him decide if he wants you or not. Employees who have terrible things to say about their past/current employers run the risk of not being hired. Never badmouth your employer before a recruiter. Your answer should always be objective. For example:

“Working at XYZ company has been a learning process for me, however, I would like to move on as our goals are not aligned anymore. I want a more challenging environment that will enable me to grow and become better, as I contribute my skills to the organization.”

You can also say, 

“Currently, I’m at a point where I need to grow more in my career and my current role does not create that opportunity for me anymore. I want a more challenging role and responsibility to enable me to hone my skills better and I believe that your firm can help me achieve that, as I also make my contributions towards the growth of the organization.”

Most people make the mistake of not replying the way they ought to. For instance: 

“I’m no longer satisfied with my current employer because the workspace is too toxic and unsatisfying. Moreso, I’m not being paid enough and I want to move on. I want to seek more opportunities to better my income and skills, and also be in a more friendly environment to enable me to work better” 

 

What is your dream job?

The interviewer wants to know what kind of job you want and if you see the job you’re interviewing for as the job for you. He wants to be sure that it is not just a random job to you and that you are excited about it. So, talking about your dream job may not necessarily be about the position but about the company, the work culture available and an environment that can help you use your skills. Here’s a good answer to this question:

“I’ve dreamt of working in an establishment that will give me room to grow and use my skills. This is why I applied for a job here because I believe that the work culture gives room for growth and development.” 

 

What are your salary expectations?

Usually, to answer this question, you can ask for the salary offer of the company. Something like this would work:

“I believe there’s a salary range for this role and I would like to know what the company is offering. That way, I can decide if it’s acceptable for me or not.” 

However, most employers do not tend to reveal what their offer is. This is why it is always advisable to know the salary range of any firm before applying. With this, it makes it easier to negotiate for a good salary based on what the firm pays. Also, you can find out what salary range is applicable to your job role from those in your field before going for the interview.  All of this information will then serve as a foothold for this conversation. 

 

What are your plans for the near future?

The employer really wants to know if you intend to work with them long-term or short-term. They want to know if they are in any way part of your future plans, or if you just intend to pass time with them. They also want to know if you see a possibility of growth for yourself as an individual in your career and how the company fits into it. Here’s how to scale through this question: 

“As a writer, one of my major goals has been to grow into brand strategy and communications as a career path. I really intend to pursue it and hone my skills in that area. I strongly believe that being a part of XYZ company will give me an opportunity to grow into that as I sharpen my skills. So, in the near future, I see myself taking on more responsibility that will enable me to grow in this area within the organization.” 

It is important that you let the recruiter know that the company is part of your long-term plan. Be honest about your goals in the future, but let them know how they fit in. And no, they also don’t want to feel like you want to “use them.” Don’t answer the question this way:

“In the near future, I see myself moving up my career ladder and taking on jobs that will enable me to increase my finances. I also see myself going up the leadership ladder and taking on managerial roles in future.”

 

What are your career goals?

Here, you can genuinely talk about what you want to achieve with your career. Every employer wants people that are goal and result driven. Talk about your goals, as simply as you can. While doing that, it will also be important that you let the employer know how the company comes in with you accomplishing your goals. This way, they know that they are definitely not employing a liability. 

 

Do you have any questions?

It is important that you ask questions during an interview. An interview is never supposed to be one-sided. There are lots of questions you can ask the interviewer and it is necessary you prepare for them, but never leave an interview room without asking any questions. It shows that you really want to be a part of the team and are willing to understand better. 

 

Behavioural interview questions and answers

During interviews, recruiters want to understand their candidates better. They want to know their strengths, weaknesses, skills and abilities. They also want to know how self-aware candidates are, and this is why certain behavioural questions are asked. Read to see some of them and how you can answer when asked. 

 

How do you handle pressure?

At this point, the interviewer wants to know how you would respond when the work becomes a lot because it definitely will be a lot. Here's how you can answer this: 

"I believe that pressure is part of every job because there are goals and targets to be met as well as clients to satisfy. So, while I mentally prepare to have work on my hands to deliver, I also know that no one grows in a place of comfort. With this, I am going to learn to pause, take a breath and get back right to the work required of me. Also, if need be, communicate in time if there are issues to completely avoid the need for pressure. Thank you." 

The idea is to communicate that you understand that pressure is a part of work, and you'll be willing to absorb it and make the best of it, no matter how it may come. 

Here's one way NOT to answer this question: 

"I don't think anyone should have to deal with pressure at work. And naturally, I don't do well under pressure. I will ensure to avoid whatever will bring pressure to me, so the work does not suffer at all." 

In as much as this reply sounds like you're considering the work, the underlying tone is that you do not want to be stressed, and no employer wants to hear that. 

 

How has your experience prepared you for this role?

Beyond just having a form of experience, hiring managers want to be sure that something about your previous job prepared you for the role you are coming for. Because ideally, your next job should be adding to your career growth, contributing a layer of experience to the already existing one. To respond, make a list of the most relevant qualification and experience you have, and explain how that experience will come into play if you are hired. You don’t have to memorize your answers, but you must have your accomplishments handy. For example:

“In my previous job, I did a lot of content that focused on brand identity and communication. There were times when something went wrong with the brand’s service and we needed to do damage control via our communication channels. I also handled different campaign projects for the company when new products were being launched. After a while, I began working with the strategy team on brand strategies. All these helped me gain an understanding of how brand communication works and the processes that guide it. This is why I am certain that I will be a good fit for the role of the lead for Brand Communication.”  

 

What are your strengths?

Your strengths are something you can leverage to let the employer know that you are a good fit for the company. Also, while answering the question, focus on strengths and abilities that have a role to play in the job you’re interviewing for.  Don’t casually mention any strengths, let the strengths be aligned with your career path and job role.

“One of my strengths is my ability to learn quickly. Whenever I’m in a new environment, I am always able to observe and learn from people around me to enable me to do well in that environment.” 

Someone going for a managerial role can say:

“One of my strengths is my ability to study/understand systems and structures. I am able to quickly study an existing system and know if it is able to sustain and produce the required outcome, and make changes if need be.” 

 

What are your weaknesses?

Everyone has weaknesses, including the recruiter. Your employer does not want to see you acting all smart and different like you don’t have weaknesses. He only wants you to know if you are self-aware and also how you manage your weakness. Also, do not make the mistake of doing a “fake humble brag.” Don’t say that your weakness is that you never want to make mistakes, that you’re a perfectionist or that you always give yourself so much work. Talk about a weakness that is real, but also talk about how you are genuinely working on it. Here’s what you can answer:

“One of my major weaknesses is in public speaking. I find it hard to address the public or a crowd. However, I have volunteered in my reading club to teach something new I learn weekly. I believe that talking to a group of 20 persons weekly will start me on my journey to overcome this weakness.” 

Another good answer could be:

“I usually am not able to know when my team members are overloaded with a lot of work and can’t keep up. I sometimes get so carried away with the level of work to be done that I tend to forget to know their state. To combat this, I always develop a system of weekly check-ins to help teammates talk about their workloads and how they are faring with their work.” 

 

What is your leadership style?

If you’re going for a leadership or managerial role, it is necessary that you answer this particular question well. The employer wants to know that you are able to find the balance between getting company work done and having the employees at their best. Here’s what a good answer should look like:

“I believe that leadership is very crucial to the achievements of team members at all times because everything rises and falls on it. This is why I adopt a leadership style of paying attention to people. I am a firm believer that when people are motivated rightly, they can do their jobs excellently. So, I ensure that my team is motivated always to enable me to have the best of them for every task that they need to do. I also create a system where people know that I am open to receiving feedback from them at all times. I do this to ensure that everyone is well-understood and any challenge is well-communicated. It helps me be on the same page with all team members.”  

 

Would you describe yourself as a team player?

To this interview question, your answer should always be yes. Even if you’ll get to work alone in your department, you’re still part of the company’s team and your abilities as a team member will always be required of you. So, here’s how you can answer this:

“I’m better working in a team than working alone. So, whether I’m leading the team or following in it, I tend to bring out my best in creativity, consistency and communication to ensure the team is at its best.” 

 

What motivates you?

Don’t think the interviewer is being too prying with this question. The aim is simply to make sure that you are excited about the role and that the things that get you motivated are things that are aligned with the values of the company. The best approach will be to answer that you are self-aware and ready to work. 

For example:

“I’m always motivated when there’s an opportunity to learn new things. Activities that expose me to learning and putting my skills to use are things that make me motivated at all times.” 

 

What should I know that is not on your CV?

Here, the interviewer wants to know other interesting things about you that are not included in your CV. They could be hobbies, skills, projects you’ve accomplished that may not even be related to work or anything else that comes off to you as interesting. The idea is to know what other skills and abilities you have and to be sure you have a life outside of work. Here’s an example of a possible answer:

“I love pets a lot and I have two dogs at home as pets. I also love eating vegetables and so I have a small garden at the back of my house where I grow little vegetables. It helps me eat healthily and stay fresh all the time. And it also saves me cost! (Smiles)” 

 

How would your former boss and colleague describe you?

You may have had a wonderful experience with your former boss and colleague, but don’t go showing off or exaggerating it. Remember that the employer may decide to reach out to them to find out about you and they may not be able to keep up with your exaggerations. A simple and direct answer will suffice to this interview question:

“My former colleagues and boss will describe me as a detailed and effective team player. I was one to always pay attention to details, and I hardly ever missed my deadlines. I was always ready to do my bit to contribute to the growth of the team and was diligent to ensure that I do not drop the ball.” 

 

How do you handle conflict at work?

Getting a job would require more than just your hard skills. It would also involve possessing some soft skills, and being able to manage conflicts is one of them. To answer this question properly, you’d have to use an example of a conflict with a client, colleague or supervisor and how you managed the situation. While answering the question, it is important to mention what you learned in the process of handling the conflict and how it has helped you subsequently. 

Here’s an example: 

“While working as a project manager on an IT project, I had a technician on the team that was constantly finishing tasks late. When I approached him about it, he was defensive. I tried communicating that the deadlines were challenging and asked how I could assist to improve his performance. He later calmed down and told me that he was involved in another project that also took his time. After a meeting with some internal stakeholders, we came to a conclusion that reduced the technician’s workload, and for the rest of the project, he delivered great work. I learned that you may not always know what others are experiencing. It has helped me navigate conflicts better over time.”

 

How do you handle success?

The biggest enemy of great is good, and every recruiter wants his employee to succeed at his job. Your success ultimately leads to the success of the organization. With this question, the interviewer wants to know what you think about succeeding and how you are able to manage it so that it does not hamper your growth. It is important to highlight that success does not hinder your growth in any way. 

Here’s an example:

“Success to me is incremental. As someone who is always open to new challenges and growth activities, I never want to find myself in a position where there is nothing new to learn. So, I always bring success back to the amazing team that did the work, but I also quickly shove it and move ahead, knowing that whatever we may have achieved, cannot be the end.” 

 

How do you handle failure?

Everyone gets to encounter failure from time and time, and it will be no different for you as an employee. Your answer will let the recruiter know how you will cope with failure when it comes. It will also show him what you think about adversity and how you can overcome it. Keep in mind that it is so much about what you do, but your attitude towards it. 

This is an example of an answer that works:

“I am aware that failure is often a part of success and no one is immune from making mistakes. My approach will be to take responsibility for the outcomes and reflect on what could have led to it to avoid further occurrence in the future.” 

Here’s another approach:

“Failure is first about how you deal with it than whatever may have happened. To handle this, I remind myself that it is an opportunity to learn and grow so it doesn’t happen again the way it did. So, rather than sulk, I take a step back to understand what went wrong and how I can improve and do better.” 

 

What are your pet peeves?

This question might seem tricky because you are expected to talk about things that annoy you. It is usually easier to navigate this question when you know the interviewer is asking. Most likely, he wants to ascertain how you’ll thrive in the company and handle conflict. So, avoid things that contradict the work culture of the organization, but still, be as honest as possible. 

For example:

“I’m always concerned when feedback is not received on tasks. I believe that feedbacks help employers and teammates understand the level of work they have done and also where they need to make corrections. I try to give feedback as often as I can and I also expect them in return to help the work I do.” 

You can also say:

“I’m not quite certain I have a particular pet peeve. I’m sure my daughter and my husband would have different responses to this if they were to say my pet peeve. However, whenever something bothers me, I speak up about it and move on.” 

 

What will you do if you don’t get this position?

If you’re interviewing for a promotion in a company you’re already working in, the interviewer will most likely ask this question as it will be necessary. He will like to know what your reaction will be if you don’t get the promotion and how it will affect the company moving forward. Here is an answer that could suffice:

“I am committed to the organization and its growth. So even if I do not get the position, I would support whoever gets it and work with the person. However, I think my experience in the department makes me the best candidate for the position.” 

If you’re not already an employee within the organization, here’s a way to answer it:

“While I believe that my experience should get me this role, I would not be stuck if I do not get the position. I may still be on the lookout if there are other opportunities in the future for me to become a part of the team.” 

 

Are you overqualified for this job?

When interviewers are conducting an interview, especially for one who has a plethora of experience, he wants to know if you consider yourself overqualified for the job. Think of your answer as a way of letting the interviewer know why you really want this role, and in their company. Recruiters also often use this question to differentiate those who really want the job from those who are simply trying their hands on several jobs. This could be a good approach:

 

“As you have noted, I have worked in several organizations, but this job is simply what I need. Your company offers the values that are aligned with my career values at this time and I’ll be delighted to be a part of your team.” 

 

How would you describe the pace at which you work?

When asked about the pace at which you work, don’t be quick to say fast. Here, faster may not always be better. Most employers will rather have employees who do steady but quality work. Quality will beat speed in most organizations any day. Also, do not in a bid to mention that you’ll rather do quality work, and express a tendency to be too slow at your work. You should then find the balance between doing fast work and quality work. To answer this, here’s a good approach: 

“I always work at a steady and consistent pace. However, I’m always able to break down my work into small deliverables per time which helps me deliver on my tasks when due. I believe that quality work is necessary at all times, so I break down my tasks into smaller deliverables. This also helps me pay attention to tiny details and be sure that I am missing nothing.”

 

Situational interview questions and answers

Alongside your skills, recruiters want to know how you’ll react in different situations and circumstances. That’s the goal of situational questions. They are not always yes or no answers, but your ability to impress the interviewer with your answer will help them decide if you should get hired or not. 

 

Tell us about any project you worked on recently and you truly enjoyed

This is one other way to sell yourself to the recruiter. Your ability to talk about projects you’ve done in the past and especially what you achieved with those projects is one way to tell them to hire you without necessarily saying it. This is a good example:

“Recently, I had to manage the invoicing process for my organization. It was an important task seeing that the system available was not effective and so much time was spent on collating data. So, I came up with an automated system that enabled us to save each person about 5 hours of invoicing work, while reducing error chance by 15%.” 

 

Tell us about a challenge you faced recently and how you dealt with it

We all face challenges in our roles at different times, so saying you have not faced any challenges will definitely not be right. So, in this situation, it is necessary, to be honest about the challenges you’ve had and how you managed them. The employer is looking out to see how you thrive in the face of setbacks and ensure that challenges won’t keep you or the work at the backside of the company. Here’s an example:

“I recently had to work with a colleague on a project that required extra commitment from us. He was not forthcoming with his side of the work and his energy was not encouraging. It was quite challenging as we had deadlines to meet to satisfy the client. It took extra time of listening to realize that he was having a rough time at home. I quickly opted for another colleague to join the project to reduce his workload, while also taking extra work off his plate to ensure we meet up to the deadline.”

 

Tell us about when you made a mistake.

Mistakes obviously do not make us look good, especially before someone we are trying to impress. However, your prospective employer knows you must have made mistakes at some point in your career, as no one is immune to them. He only wants to know how much attention you pay to yourself and your career, and how quick you are to recognize a flaw and loophole and deal with it. One thing you should be sure never to say is that you have made no mistakes. 

Here’s an instance of a good answer: 

“Sometime in my career, I missed a deadline when delivering a job for a client. Obviously, the client was angry and didn’t hide it. The first thing I did was to ensure that the work I delivered at the time had no errors in it to avoid further aggravating the client. Next, I sent an apology to the client, explaining why the deadline was missed, and in the next job, I made sure I over-delivered on what the client requested to calm him down. I later reflected on why I missed the deadline and realised I did not dedicate as much time as I should have to that particular project. I took note of that and deliberately worked on it, allocating appropriate time to every task assigned.”

 

Why is there a gap in your career journey?

For different reasons, people can experience career gaps in the midst of their careers. While some careers tend to have career gaps often due to their nature, some other factors contribute to this coming up in anyone’s career. Be it hunting for a new job, taking care of a child, upskilling or anything else, you should be honest about why you have a career gap, but be careful not to give out too much information that can jeopardize your chances. Here’s what you can say:

“After working for a couple of years, I realized that I needed to upskill to move to the next level of my career. This made me take a step back to afford me ample time to learn. In that period of one year, I took some professional courses and training as you can see on my CV. these are the things I hope to start implementing in my next phase of growth.” 

Here’s another guide to it:

“In the past 2 years, I embraced a new aspect of my life as a mother. I needed to take a step back to give my child the attention he required at the time while creating systems to enable him to cope while I’m away at work seeing that I was going to return to work soon. I also deliberately maximized the time to the relevant skills needed currently to thrive in the workspace as seen in my CV.”

 

What did you like about your previous job?

Don’t be reluctant about what you liked about your previous job. Actually, every employer wants to know that you enjoyed your stay at your last job, as it becomes an indicator of the kind of experience you can bring to the team if you were to be hired. So, be honest about it. Don’t say more than is required, but say the things that ought to be said. For instance:

“In my last job, I really enjoyed the training that we had every quarter. It always left us wanting to get better with our skills and we always looked forward to it. I also liked the sense of responsibility everyone had towards work. Everyone was a team player and it made work so much easier and faster.” 

 

What did you dislike about your previous job?

In as much as you should be as honest as possible, it is also important that with this interview question, you give a discreet answer. You should say just enough to let your employer know that you do not regret working in your last place of place, but you also look forward to joining the company. For instance, you can say:

“In my previous job, I was not very comfortable with the flow of communication. On some occasions, it was not quite clear what was expected of us, and it ended up making us make mistakes at different times because we didn’t really know what was required from us for different tasks.” 

 

Are you considering other openings in other companies?

This is always a tricky question for candidates during an interview, because you may be wondering how much information the interviewer should really have. You do not want to say an outright yes as that could communicate that you’re not passionate about the company. On the other hand, saying no completely could also communicate that you may be desperate and it gives the company an upper hand in salary negotiation. The trick, therefore, is to find the middle between the two, so you do not miss it with your answer. For instance:

“I have interviewed with ABC company last week, and I also have another interview with XYZ company two days from now. However, I am more inclined with settling with this company if everything goes well because I admire the work being done here and would love to be a part of it.” 

This could also be a good answer;

“Not yet, I am not interviewing with other companies yet. I’ve been more concentrated on honing my skills for a while now, but when my friend Luan mentioned it, I thought of applying.” 

 

How do you feel about working on weekends or overtime?

Here, you want to be careful. You may be too forward to make the commitment of working during weekends, but that may not be a very smart thing to do. First, try to understand if it’s a normal occurrence to keep staff overtime or make them work weekends. When you’re done with that, you can simply say:

“I’m sure that if it’s necessary to put in extra work hours, I will be able to find my way around it.” 

 

Are you willing to relocate?

While this may seem like a simple yes or no question, it’s usually not that simple. If you’re open to relocating, then it may not be much of a challenge for you at all. However, if relocating is not something you’re considering, then you can also say so while offering alternative methods of working like remotely or working from a local office. Don’t make the mistake of making a promise of relocation that you will not be able to keep. For instance:

“I really love staying in Alice and would love to continue staying here. However, if it becomes necessary, I can relocate for the right opportunity.” 

Or:

“I’m not quite sure relocating will be very easy for me right now due to XYZ reasons. Is it possible for me to work remotely from where I am till I am able to relocate?” 

 

How well do you assimilate into a new environment?

The recruiter may be concerned about how you will adjust to the new work environment and work culture after spending a particular length of time with another employer. It is up to you to do a good job of making them understand that you can adjust to the demands and uniqueness of your new role. This is how you can answer:

“Being in a new work environment required lots of adjustment and changes to fit in. however, I am able to adapt quickly because of my openness and willingness to network with people and collaborate with them. I’m quite certain that adjusting won’t be so much of a challenge for me.” 

 

Would you rather be liked or respected?

Recruiters will definitely try their hands on as many questions as possible to determine if you’ll be a good fit for their organization, and this is one of them. This question is geared toward understanding your thought process and leadership style. It also shows them how you’ll interact with colleagues and coworkers without them having to ask the team player question. 

Here’s an approach that works: 

“As a manager, I’ll rather be respected. While it is a nice idea to be liked, I understand that sometimes, a manager can have unpopular demands that the team may not respond to if I am just liked. Overvaluing being liked may hinder me from ensuring the team is effective and productive when the chips are down.” 

 

Which parts of this job are most challenging for you?

With this question, the recruiter accesses your abilities and competencies to be sure you are a good fit. He wants to know if there are loopholes in your skill set and if it is something the organisation can work with while you grow in that area. Be honest about your answer, but do not rule yourself out as a candidate. Also, be quick to share possible ways you can deal with it if you’re recruited eventually. For example:

“One of my biggest challenges will be adjusting to a new workflow and working on new types of reports for clients. To combat this, I would ask my colleagues as many questions as necessary and probably get a colleague to review it before sending it in.”

 

Tell me something you would have done differently in your previous workplace.

This is one of the tricky questions you could be asked during an interview. While you want to be honest, you also don’t want to cancel yourself out. The recruiter wants to know your ability to self-reflect and see where you may need to do better, but it’s also a need to be cautious about what you say. You can say this for instance:

“Early in my career, I was opportune to have to lead a team of my colleagues as the manager of the project. I was a bit scared about it and I declined and passed it on to my colleague. In retrospect, I realize I would have taken the opportunity as a challenge to grow my managerial skills. I later took on management courses to help me grow in that area.” 

 

Describe your ideal boss.

In determining if you are a good fit or not, interviewers may want to know how you respond to authority. They want to know if hiring you will cause a disruption in the system and if you’ll be submissive or not. Whatever experiences you may have had with superiors before now, you must ensure to answer the question correctly. Emphasize your adaptability but don’t say too much. Here’s what you can say:

“I’ve worked in organizations with different management styles. I have had superiors who encourage so much independent work, and I’ve also had superiors who prefer hands-on supervision. Whichever I find myself in, I adjust. I also appreciate communication and feedback within the workspace as it enables me to know what and what not to do.” 

While answering this question, be careful never to criticize a former boss, and if you have done multiple jobs, try to focus on one or two former bosses. You don’t want to seem like a job hopper.

 

What do you see yourself doing in the first 30/60 days on the job?

This question lets the manager know how well you will blend into the job when you begin. It could also be a way for them to know if you can understand where the company is at, and what may be required of you to pay attention to immediately after you get hired. This is also where you demonstrate how you’ll put to good use the knowledge you have about the company and show initiative. A good way to answer would be:

“I’ll spend the first 30 days learning and understanding the culture of the company. I’ll also ask my colleagues lots of questions to learn a lot about goals and methods applied in achieving them. I’ll then dedicate time to completing tasks assigned to me in the next days which will give me a better grasp on the job role and deliverables.” 

 

When can you start work?

Employers often ask when you can resume work, especially if the job is one that requires urgent filling. The most common time frame after one has accepted a job offer is two weeks. However, depending on the conversation with the employer, it could be a bit flexible and adjustable. Also, be careful about how you answer this question. If the recruiter perceives that you are leaving your current employer high and dry, he could get worried that you’ll do the same to him in the future. Here’s a simple answer:

“In my current job, I have to give a two-week notice before leaving the position. I can start the next working day as I am eager to meet to rest of the team and begin work.” 

If it’s a situation where you are currently unemployed, you can communicate that you’ll begin right away. 

“I can begin right away if that is okay by you. Do I get to meet the team immediately?”

 

Describe a time your workload was heavy and how you handled it.

Everyone must have experienced a time in their career when their workload was a lot to handle. This is one of the questions the employer uses to determine if you are a good fit or not. The interviewer simply wants to predict how you’ll handle an issue based on your performance in the past. You can use this answer as an approach:

“When I was with ABC company, we had a time when a client needed a campaign launched in a short time. Due to my role in the campaign, I was saddled with a lot of responsibilities at the time. I quickly had a brief meeting with the campaign manager to develop a workable plan with specific deliverables that were time-bound. This enabled us to break down my workload into tiny bits and deliverables and made it less overwhelming for me.” 

While giving an answer, never present yourself as one who would shy away from responsibility because of an increased workload. 

 

What were your expectations for your previous job and to what extent were they met?

With this question, the interviewer wants to know if you are one that has realistic expectations from your job and employers. This will help them know if you can fit into the organization or not. While it is okay to be cautious, it’s also important, to be honest. Even if your expectations were not meant, still communicate the good things and benefits you gained from the role. For instance:

“In my previous role, I expected that I would have to create a different Mathematics curriculum for the lower classes but with the help of a colleague. When the help was not forthcoming, I decided to do it alone. It was more tedious for me, but I literally how to stay on a task till it is completed, despite how I feel or what I think.”

 

How does this job fit in with your career aspirations?

The interviewer wants to know how this role fits into your long-term plans. This will go a long way to determine if you’ll be staying long at the job or not. No employer expects you to commit a lifetime to the organization, but a job that is consistent with your career aspirations will definitely keep you for longer. You can say:

“I have always been interested in exploring social media in the education space. Having to work in a school currently will enable me to grow that interest and allow me to tell the stories of educators. I believe that other educators like me are doing amazing things, but only need someone to tell their stories online.” 

 

What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make?

Employers use this question to know what you will do in the face of a difficult situation. Actually, there are no right or wrong answers. You can use examples of difficult situations you’ve handled to explain what you will do when in such a situation. Here’s a good example:

“I have had to make some tough decisions at work. Sometimes, these decisions are harder because it requires deliberate and clear communication among members of the team. I was once working on a project with my team and we had a limited budget. We needed to make the most of what we had. Since all of us were involved, we learned how to communicate well and eventually utilized the budget well across different deliverables of the project.” 

 

Why weren’t you promoted at your last job?

When being interviewed, the recruiter will want to know why you were not promoted at your last job, especially if you are applying for a role higher than the one you are currently doing. He wants to know your strengths and weaknesses and how they can come into play in your new job. This is a way to approach the question:

“At the company XYZ where I worked, the organisation is small, and the structure is quite flat. It was helpful to me at the initial stage of my career, but seeing that I want to grow, I have to seek more opportunities that will enable me to grow, especially in my leadership and managerial skills.” 

 

Once you are able to master these questions and how to answer them, you are fully prepared for an interview. Remember that you are to tailor your answers to your career path and journey, and while answering the questions, keep your confidence handy! Most often than not, they speak louder than the words you are saying.

Best of luck with your next interview! 



 

Staff Writer

This article was written and edited by a staff writer.

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