How to answer the most common interview questions

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How to answer the most common interview questions

The ticket to genuine confidence in an interview is all about being prepared. When you are prepared it is much easier to minimise the stress during an interview process and show up with your best foot forward. Prepare and you will be able to answer the interview questions with confidence and clarity. Recruitment Managers, interviewers and potential employers love to see a calm, confident candidate who knows what they are talking about. 

One of the top tips from our team of Recruitment Managers is for you to do some research on the company and position you have applied for. Think about your past achievements and experiences and see where these could be relevant to the job description. Apply for roles that align with what you know about the company, your experience and skill set.

Interview questions are becoming more role specific and competency based. There are, however, some common questions which are generally still seen in interviews. Whether the interview is virtual or in-person, here are some of the most common interview questions that might help you prepare.

1. Tell us about yourself.

Here you should list your main attributes, qualifications and career history. 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.

2. Why do you want this position?

Be honest but be careful not to bring the potential employer into your personal life saga. Too much drama may put them off. Employers want to know if you are serious about working for them or if they are taking a risk to employ you.

3. What have been your greatest achievements thus far?

Think of something fairly recent and work-related. Identify the skills you used in the achievement and quantify the benefit it had for the company.

4. What skills do you have which can be used in this position?

List your learned skills and experience to support what the job needs. Always include soft skills that you have which will support your hard skills in the job. For instance, if you are applying for a part-time bookkeeping job, attention to detail would be an excellent skill to highlight.

5. Give me an example of when you have had to resolve a conflict situation.

Always tell the truth. Be honest with the interviewer if you have never had to resolve a conflict situation. If you are a parent you will have many examples to cite, but try to keep it within your professional role.

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. Mention a work situation not caused by you. Explain how you defined the problem, what the options were, why you chose the one you did and what the outcome was, always ending on a positive note.

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. Can you work in the office?

If the job is a hybrid or in-office role, are you prepared to go into the office premises to conduct your work? This includes access to transport and various resources you would need in place to leave home and be in-office for a certain period of time. 

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

If you are applying for a remote 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. 

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. Always be honest with your answers to the interview questions. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t get the job.


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