Top Ten Job Interview Questions and Answers You Should Expect
Can you tell me something about yourself?
This is typically the first question in a job interview. If you answer it well, you will make a good first impression, feel better and logically have better chances to succeed and get a job.
You should focus on work related things in your answer. That means, what you do and did for living, what you are good at, what you are looking for in your career, etc.
You can mention your personal life and hobbies briefly, but it is not what the recruiters are interested in.
“I like to manage people and be involved in interesting projects. I have been working for IBM for the past six years, but I am looking for a new challenge right now. I like to do sports, especially athletics. I spend free time with my wife and kids.
Why did you apply for this job?
Interviewers try to understand your intentions and motives. It is perfectly all right and actually good for you too! If you prepare a good answer to this question, you can convince them right in the beginning that it makes sense to talk to you and to spend their precious time interviewing you for a job.
The key is to speak about the company, not about you (this will be described in detail later). You should definitely spend some time reading their website and the job description, so you know what to answer to this question. Here are good examples:
“I really like the job description and the working duties on this position. I believe to be a perfect match for the job and a potential asset for your team. That’s why I submitted my application. I have similar working experience too…”
“I decided to apply because I really like the vision of your company and the career growth possibilities. I can use my full potential at this position and help your company to grow and prosper.”
Why did you leave your last job? / Why are you planning to leave your present job?
Change belongs to life. However, employers want to understand the reasons behind your decision to make a move, to change employment.
It is crucial to stay positive and to not mention negative things about your previous employer or colleagues. You should simply focus on the future, not stay locked in the past. Let me show you few good answers to this question.
“My last job was not challenging enough. I was not motivated to wake up to work anymore. I liked my colleagues and boss, but I simply can’t keep myself motivated anymore. Based on the job description I really believe that I can find new motivation and challenges in your company.”
“There was a downsizing in our company. Similarly to most people from financial department, my contract was terminated. However, it is the past. I am ready to utilize all the knowledge and experience I gained there to start my new career, possibly in your corporation.”
“I have been with ABC company for the past seven years, achieved great results and helped them to become the leader on the local market. However, they never offered me a raise and I was never promoted, although I asked for it. I believe that the results of my work can be rewarded better somewhere else. That’s why I want to leave.”
Can you tell me something about your education?
For some employers and on certain positions, your education is very important. Employers inquire about it. Degrees like MBA are prestigious and many employers prefer candidates with a degree to other applicants.
However, if you do not have a degree, you can still offer a good answer to this question. Try to focus on the knowledge you gained,not on the names and labels of the institutions.
“I have studied at ABC University. I acquired knowledge of statistics, project management and process management. I was active during my studies and took part in practical projects and courses too. Overall my studies were pretty practical and I believe to be ready for job of a project manager.
Can you tell us something more about your working experience?
You should always talk about the most relevant experience. Many job seekers spend twenty minutes answering this question. That’s a mistake. Employer is not interested in your experiences from McDonald’s, if they are interviewing you for a job in marketing… So, you should pick just one or two from your previous jobs and briefly describe what you did there and what you learned there. Of course, if you have had one job only, you should talk about it, doesn’t matter if relevant or not.
“I have done lot of things in my life. It helped me to gain a good overall understanding of business. From 2001 to 2004 I worked like a project manager for Siemens. We were working mostly on smaller energetic projects, water plants built on rivers. I believe that I can utilize the knowledge and contacts I gained there in your company. I learned how to budget the projects and lead it from the scratch to completion and success. From my other working experience I can mention my role of marketing manager I hold in CDE from 1998 to 2001 and my freelancing experience from 2005 to 2009. If you want, we can discuss it in detail.”
Why should we hire you?
This is one of the most difficult interview questions. However, if your answer is convincing enough, it really has a power to convince the employer to give you a job! So, what to say?
You should focus on your USP (Unique selling point). It means to show the employer something special, something other candidates can not offer as employees. General phrases will not help you at this place. You simply need to find something unique you can offer. Following answers and help you with your inspiration.
“I have a relevant experience and I am strongly motivated to work for your company, as it has always been my dream to work there.”
“I fulfill all the job requirements. However, I am sure some other applicants do fulfill it too. But I am a nice guy and always try to create a good atmosphere on the workplace. This helps, especially nowadays, when people are stressed and negative about everything.
“I believe that I bring success with me. All the companies where I worked were prospering. It is good to have such a worker in your team, isn’t it?”
What are your strengths?
Questions about strengths and weaknesses are typical for many job interviews. All you have to do is to pick one or two strengths relevant for the job.
“I am very responsible and always accomplish all my duties on time.”
“I am pretty organized, what is strongly reflected in a quality of my work.”
“I have good communication skills. I believe that communication skills are crucial in every job, but especially in this one.”
What are your weaknesses?
The most important thing is to define how exactly you try to get rid of your weakness, or at least improve on it. This is what the employers want to hear from job applicants with right attitudes to work and themselves.
Secondly, you should choose weakness that is not important for the job you are applying for. This is pretty straightforward and you should manage to do it right. Here are some good examples.
“I am not very patient. That’s obviously bad. But I am working on it every day, trying to control myself and be more tolerant to the others. It’s not easy, but I definitely made good progress in recent years.”
“Sometimes I struggle to concentrate in job. However, I practice every day and my concentration has improved over the years. I try to eliminate other thoughts and focus purely on my job.”
“I trust people too much. It is nice to live with such feelings, but it caused me many troubles in the past. However, as I am getting older, I can much better distinguish friends from foes.”
What are your goals in five years horizon?
Every responsible person has some goals. Employers know this. When recruiters ask you about your goals and dreams, they simply want to hear that you have some.
However, one can make a mistake at this place. Some people love to dream about running their own business. This is not a good answer. Companies do not want to hire people who leave after two years to start their own business and get freedom.
Therefore, you should either talk about personal goals, or connect your career goals with the company where you apply for a job. Let’s have a look at some good answers to this interview question.
“My goal is to become a better manager and to help my employer to achieve exceptional results as a company.”
“I want to start a family and have a good job. That’s all I want. I believe that your company is a right place to start realizing my goals.”
“I would like to have a really good job in five years time. However, I understand that firstly I need to learn a lot and I believe that this position is a perfect start for me.”
What are your biggest achievements so far?
Achievements are more important than experience. This is a fact. Other fact is that everyone of us has some achievements. We just sometimes do not realize it, or are unable to talk about it.
Recruiters can be impressed with both tangible and intangible, working and personal, achievements. For example, if you were a heavy smoker and were able to quit, it would show that you have strong determination and will. Think about it…
Our life is full of achievements. You just need to choose some for your answers to interview questions. Just like other job applicants did.
“I ran marathon under three hours. I trained for it very hard and it strengthened me both physically and mentally.”
“When I hold Sales Manager job at ABC Inc., the sales grew by twenty percent every year.”
“I became a better person over the years. I learned to listen to the others and see the good in people. I consider this as the biggest achievement of my life.”