5 common job interview questions and how to tackle them

Job interviews can be pretty daunting. A few people sit across from you and ask you a series of questions that ultimately decides your professional fate. Yep, no pressure.

Every interview process is unique, but there are common questions that tend to be asked in most interviews. Hence, it’s worthwhile to reflect on these commonly asked questions and think of talking points beforehand.

Here are 5 common job interview questions and how to tackle them:

1. Tell us a little about yourself.


Ah yes, the much dreaded “Tell me about yourself” question. You have the qualifications and experience required for the job. So, where do you start?

First and foremost, keep in mind that the interviewer likely has seen or at least has a copy of your resume. As such, avoid repeating exactly what’s on your resume – where you went to college, your job experience, and accolades.

Instead, talk about what’s not included in your resume – what you learned in college and from your previous jobs, how they led you to this position, and what you hope to achieve professionally.

Touch on important experiences that have moulded you into the person you are today. Explain the lessons you learned from these experiences and how they relate back to this job. The interviewer wants to know more about you as a person, but ultimately they are looking for someone suitable for the position at hand.

Though details such as where you’re from allow them to know you better, they don’t necessarily tell them why you’d be suitable for this job. But if you explain further, for example, growing up where you did allowed you to pick up a different language that may be useful at the workplace, this provides interviewers with valuable information about you as a potential candidate.


2. What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths

Identify your strengths that would be especially useful in this job. Provide examples and elaborate on experiences that showcase your strengths in action. Though people are often uncomfortable to blow their own horn, this is one occasion where it’s quite necessary!

Don’t be afraid to use phrases such as “I’m good at…” or “I’m a skilled…” Market your skills confidently and back them up with evidence.

Weaknesses

I think it goes without saying, avoid answers such as “I don’t have any weaknesses!” Everyone has their weaknesses. Identify one and tell the interviewer about it. Emphasize less on the weakness itself and more on how you’re working to overcome said weakness.

For example, perhaps public speaking tends to make you nervous. Tell the interviewers that you’re working to improve yourself in this respect; maybe you’ve started attending Toastmaster sessions or volunteered for speaking roles in your previous job to improve on this skill though it scares you.

Don’t lie about these things, of course. Reflect on your areas of weakness and invest some time to better yourself. Interviewers aren’t looking for candidates who are perfect; there is no such thing. However, they do want candidates who are willing to learn and improve themselves.

3. Why should we hire you?

Take this opportunity to highlight the skills that you bring to the table which you’ve not touched on before. Read up about the company beforehand – their core values, their major achievements, and future projects. Relate your skill set to the company’s needs and objectives to convince the interviewers that you would be a valuable hire and an asset to the company. Again, provide evidence of what you can do for them, given the chance.


In reality, we don’t know the other applicants, so don’t waste your time trying to convince the interviewers that you’re better than the others. Instead, tell them what expertise and skills you have to offer and how it can be useful for the company.

Statements such as “No one is as passionate as I am” are nowhere near as convincing or persuasive as “I understand that company XYZ is working to establish a greater presence on social media. I have the skill set required to help you do that. I’ve helped other brands such as…with their social media strategies, and they’ve seen some great results…”

Always relate back to value-added services or skills you can offer and back it up with past experiences!

4. Why do you want to leave your current job, or why did you leave your last job?

Let’s face it, sometimes we leave our jobs due to toxic work environments, difficult bosses or colleagues. But when asked this question, it’s best not to mention these things. It can come off as unprofessional.

If you’re moving to another company within the same industry, highlight that you’ve learned a lot from your existing company and you’re eager to learn and grow further. Explain how moving to this company can help you achieve this.

If you’re moving to a different industry altogether, explain how you came to realise that your passions lie elsewhere and how your experience could be valuable for this company.

5. Why do you want to work with us?

Sometimes we apply to certain companies because, well, they’re hiring and the company is driving distance from where we live. But that’s not what you want to tell your potential employer!

Read up on the company before your interview and talk about some things that you find interesting. Perhaps your values align with the company’s core values, or you’re impressed by the way the company gives back to society and you wish to be part of a socially responsible organisation.

This is your chance to show interviewers that you’ve done your research and you’re truly interested in joining the team.

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Yes, job interviews are daunting. But with a little research and preparation beforehand, you can put your best foot forward and ace that interview!

For some pointers on what to wear for your job interview, check out Essential skills every adult should know.

All the best and go rock that interview!

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