Most common interview questions

This article describes most common questions asked during a job interview and gives some tips on answering them.

Q: Tell me about yourself. (The interviewer wants to listen to how you talk and gain a first impression of you).
A: This question is asked at almost every job interview to start a conversation. Talk about your qualification, career, skills and abilities. Emphasise your qualifications and skills that are the most relevant for the offered job.

Q: Describe your achievements. (The interviewer wants to know how successful you are).
A: This is another most commonly asked question, so be prepared. To answer it, mention your professional achievements and accomplishments. Identify your knowledge and skills used in a certain situation and list your advantages. 

Q: Are you satisfied with your career? (The interviewer wants to know how happy, positive, ambitious, and self-confident you are).
A: If you feel you are moving too slowly in your career and cannot answer with a confident Yes, explain why it happens this way.

Q: What was the most difficult situation you faced recently and how did you handle it? (The interviewer wants to know how consistent you are, whether you have initiative, and what you define as difficult).
A: This question is a trap. Don't get entrapped and recall a difficult situation that was not caused by you. Explain why and how you solved the problem and tell the interviewer about the outcome. Always end on a positive note.

Q: What are your strengths? (The interviewer wants to understand  what value you can add to the company and whether you will fit in with the rest of the team).
A: This question will certainly come up and there is no excuse for being unprepared. Tell the interviewer about your greatest strengths. Give three or four explanations of how they can yield benefits for your prospective employer. Such strengths include technical proficiency, ability to learn quickly, commitment, positive attitude, interpersonal skills, and teamwork. Give several examples and be ready to confirm them.

Q: What is your biggest weakness? (The interviewer wants to know in which areas you need some help and whether you can analyse yourself).
A: Don't say you have none — everybody does have weaknesses. There are at least two ways that you can answer this question. The first one implies using a professional weakness such as lack of experience in any area that is irrelevant for the vacancy. The second way is to describe a personal or professional weakness that can be turned into a strength. Don't forget to mention how proactive you are in dealing with your weakness.

Q: What kind of decision do you find most difficult? (The interviewer wants to know how decisive you are and how you react to stressful situations).
A: You should sound confident. Emphasise that difficult decisions must be made after careful consideration of all facts and scenarios. This answer will present you in the most favourable light.

Q: Why do you want to leave your current job?
A: Your answer should be straightforward. Tell the interviewer that you are looking for a bigger challenge, responsibility, and new experience. Always try to sound positive when stating the reasons.

Q: How do you deal with conflict? (The interviewer wants to know how strong you are and whether you are able to admit your mistakes).
A: This is another trap question. Demonstrate your ability to listen, introduce changes when required, and be courageous enough to stand up for your beliefs.

Other possible questions:

Field/Position:

  • Why are you interested in this field? Why do you want to work in it? 
  • What sorts of people do you enjoy working with? 
  • What role does your work play in your department or company? (The answer helps to understand the level of your responsibility). 
  • What are your expectations from the company? 
  • What changes at work turned out stressful and why? 
  • What do you think of overtime work or work in weekends? 
  • What aspect of this position seems least attractive to you? 
  • How will this position add to your experience and help you to develop your skills? 
  • Why do you want to work in this field and in this company? 
  • Why do you think you are suitable for this job? 
  • What can this job give you? 
  • Why do you think you would enjoy this job?

Your skills and abilities:

  • Can you meet deadlines and work under pressure? (Give several examples). 
  • How do you deal with criticism? (Give an example, describe the outcome). 
  • What was the most difficult situation you faced outside work? (Give an example, describe the outcome). 
  • How would you assess your performance? 
  • What motivates you? 
  • Why do you think you will be successful in this job? 
  • Can you give an example of a situation when you were not competent enough? 
  • What goal have you failed to achieve yet? 
  • How can you contribute to this company? 
  • What of your skills you would like to improve? (Try to mention the skills that relate to the job you apply for).

Communicating with colleagues:

  • What sorts of people do you find it hard to work with? (Be very careful when answering this question). 
  • Have you had a disagreement with your boss recently? How did you handle it? 
  • Have you ever had problems getting on with colleagues and co-workers? Why? (Give an example and tell how you solved/overcame the problem). 
  • What type of work environment do you prefer? Do you like to work alone or in a team? Why? 
  • Why do you think you will be able to get used to this company taking into account that it strongly differs from your current job? (Probably, it would be tough to answer this question until the interviewer explains what are the differences).

You and your future:

  • What do you expect to be in five years? 
  • Why should I choose you over the other candidates? (Your strengths). 
  • What else should I know about you as an employee? (Your weaknesses). 
  • What do you normally do in your free time? 
  • What will you do if you don't get this position?

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