How To Answer The Most Common Interview Questions

Preparing for an interview after a long jobs search can be one of the most stressful and nerve-wracking times of any jobseeker’s life. Your very first interview is especially scary because you are not entirely sure what questions will be asked or what to expect. Take a breath, clear your mind, and relax. Remember you have already come a long way.  On average, a job advertisement can gain up to 250 different applications, and you are one of the very few people chosen to be interviewed.

Every interview is different, but there are some very common interview questions that are almost always guaranteed to be asked in order for an employer to get the best idea of just who you are and what you can do for the company. The following list of interview questions and answers is a rough guide to what you may be asked in your interview. It pays to be prepared for every eventuality, and sometimes the most obvious and common questions can have the best answers.

1.     What is your greatest weakness?

Nobody enjoys this question in an interview and it can often be the one that a jobseeker can be flustered by. It is not your interviewer trying to catch you out, however. They expect you to say something that is negative about you and not to dodge the question. Be honest without being detrimental to your chances for employment.

You can admit to being impatient, for example, but always let them know how you are working to develop yourself to overcome this in the workplace. Always mention how willing you are to overcome weaknesses and use them to develop yourself and your team. Take a negative and make it positive.

2.     What experiences did you have at your previous place of employment?

The interviewer is specifically asking you to let them know what skills your previous job helped you gain that will be applicable at your new position if successful. Think about what the job description was and what they are expecting of you, and tailor your answer to that. Be honest and don’t tell them you can do more than you really are capable of – you will get found out eventually!

If you have not been employed before, you can amend the answer to this to suit what you have learned from school, college, or university. Always let them know what you have been doing and what the skills you have developed can be used for in their business.

3.     Why do you want this job?

This is your chance to shine and show how much research you have done on the company’s background. Take your time and let your knowledge show. When you read the job description, you should have been able to build a good understanding of what is expected of you. Demonstrate that you know this, be passionate, and show that you have looked further into the company profile.

Employers will want to hire somebody who understands their company’s ethics and has been willing to look into them beyond the job description. Be the candidate who thought outside of the box, impress them, and show just how excited you are to work with a company like theirs.

4.     What is your biggest accomplishment so far?

This could be anything, and many people would be tempted to speak about something personal. The reality is that most employers want to hear about your professional accomplishments, particularly in the workplace. Again, think about the job description and what they are wanting you to do for them. Do you have accomplishments that relate to the job goals? Did you achieve anything in your previous job they would want to hear about?

For example, you could talk about assisting trainees in your job to gain a better foothold in the workplace and how you were an integral part in their development. Anything goes for this question – just make sure it is something relevant.

5.     How would your colleagues describe you?

This is a trickier question for a number of reasons. You are being asked to evaluate yourself not from a personal point of view, but from that of others. You are being asked to be critical of yourself and give realistic, positive attributes. Try not to be cliché – they know that every interviewee will claim their co-workers think they are a hard working who is kind and friendly. Use different phrases that apply to you. ‘Team leader’, ‘high achiever’, ‘leading professional’ – anything that you can back up with a valid story as to why colleagues think this of you would be beneficial.

6.     Why did you leave your last job?

Again, honesty is key, but don’t give too much feeling in your answer. If you did not leave on the best of terms with your previous employers, do not slate them. Be respectful, let the interviewer know that you gained some valuable work experience, but the working environment was not appropriate for you. Nobody wants to hire somebody who could potentially leave and damage their company’s reputation in future interviews, so be polite.

Be Prepared for Any Eventuality

It is impossible to know exactly what will be asked in your job interview. Every company is different. Some prefer a focus on company specific policy, others want to know more about you as a person, and some even conduct busy group interviews with various tasks. At Search we recommend you think about the basics you may be asked. As long as you are able to be prepared for the most probable questions, your interview should be a success.


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