How To Answer 10 of The Most Common Interview Questions

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How to answer the most common interview questions

Thorough preparation is the key to feeling genuinely confident in an interview. When you are well-prepared, it's much easier to manage the stress during an interview and present yourself in the best possible light. By preparing, you equip yourself to answer the most common interview questions confidently and clearly. Recruitment Consultants, interviewers, and potential employers appreciate a calm, confident candidate who demonstrates a clear understanding of the job, company and interview process. 

Some of the top tips from our team of Recruitment Managers are to research the company and position you have applied for before going to the interview. Consider your past achievements and experiences and see where these could be relevant to the job requirements. Apply for jobs that align with values based on what you know about the company, your experience, and your skill set.
Interview questions are becoming more role-specific and competency-based. However, some common questions are still generally asked in interviews. Here are some of the most common interview questions that will help you prepare, whether the interview is via video or in-person.

1. Tell me about yourself.

This question can be tricky, as you do not want to come across as arrogant or too humble. The purpose of this question is often to allow you to calm your nerves and speak about what interests you. It’s a perfect opportunity to stand out from the crowd by talking about something that will make you memorable.  Here, you should discuss your values, main positive attributes (framed as what others say about you), interesting achievements and passions/hobbies.  
You can ask if they would like you to talk about your qualifications and career history. Any good interviewer would not require this as they would have read your CV.  If you talk about this, emphasise those skills relevant to the job on offer and what makes you uniquely qualified for this position. This is not the time to tell your life story in detail - keep it short and positively memorable.

2. Tell me why you applied for this job.

Be honest about what attracts you to the job. Is it a skill-set fit, industry know-how, admiration for the company, a growth opportunity, or a need for more financial stability? 

Avoid dragging the potential employer into your personal life saga. Too much drama will put them off. Employers want to know that you are serious about working for them and will be an asset that adds value to their business. 

3. What have been your greatest achievements thus far?

Think of something fairly recent and work-related. Your latest sporting achievement is worth mentioning as it displays discipline and a goal-reaching mindset, but always add a work achievement with a non-work related achievement. 

Talk about the quantifiable benefit for the company, and identify the skills you used in achieving the result.  Being a head prefect in high school is important when starting out in your career, but becomes less important as you progress. 

4. What skills do you have that will contribute to our company?

List your learned skills and experience to support what the job requirements are. Always include soft skills that you have which will support your hard skills on the job. For instance, honesty and attention to detail are excellent attributes to highlight if you apply for a senior accounting job.

5. Give me an example of when you have resolved a conflict situation.

A good method to use to help you answer this question, is the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result). This method ensures your answer is clear and concise, covering all aspects of the situation.

  • Situation: Briefly describe the context or background of the conflict.
  • Task: Explain what your responsibility was in that situation.
  • Action: Detail the specific actions you took to address the conflict.
  • Result: Share the outcome of your actions and how the situation was resolved.

By structuring your response this way, you demonstrate your problem-solving skills, leadership abilities, and willingness to take responsibility in challenging situations.

6. Give me an example of when you had to overcome a difficult obstacle.

The aim of the above two questions is to find out whether or not you can approach problem-solving logically. Explain how you defined the problem, what the options were, why you chose the one you did and what the outcome was, always ending positively. 

7. What are your career objectives for the next couple of years?

This gives the employer an idea of how you see your career progressing. Steer clear of titles, the title you are chasing might not be available within the company structure. Rather streamline your goals with the company goals.

8. Why do you want to leave your current employment?

Never bad-mouth a previous employer. Find a positive way to state a negative situation. For example, because the company is so large, it takes a long time for decisions to be made.

9. What salary are you expecting?

Market research is key here. Don’t ask for too much, but also don’t sell yourself short. See what the industry standard is for your position and level of experience. Avoid discussing salary in the first interview but still have an idea of what your salary expectation would be for the role.  

10. Do you have a home office and a reliable internet connection?

If you are applying for a remote or hybrid position, this is a key question that will come up. Employers need to know that your WiFi connection is not going to be a let down for important meetings or for you to conduct your responsibilities and that you have back-up power in the event of load shedding.
Aside from having a solid connection, is your home office set up in the correct way? You will need to ensure that your desk, chair and computer setup will be good enough to get the work done within the job spec. 

Be sure to have questions ready at the end of the interview of what you want to know about the company.
Remember, the interview is not just to see if you have what it takes to do the job, but also to see if you and the company are a good fit. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t get the job.

Visit our blog for working moms to find resources to guide you through your job search journey.