Commonly Asked Questions During an Interview and How to Respond

There are several questions that are most commonly asked by a recruiter during an interview. That being said, there is no excuse for not being prepared for regular interview questions. Always research the position, the firm, and the industry you are applying for in order to  to get a general idea of what the recruiter might ask. Listed below are examples of some commonly asked questions and advice on how to answer them.

TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF?

This is perhaps the most commonly asked question in an interview. The recruiter wants you to talk about yourself in the context of the job, so summarize yourself and avoid gossip or anything too personal. Your work and academic history is already presented in the resume, so try expanding upon that and focus on the details you want to highlight rather than going over everything. Feel free to talk about your ambitions and goals and try to give the recruiter an insight into who you are and how you would fit into the organization.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST STRENGTH?

This is a tough question to answer, as the first thing that might come to your mind is probably something along the lines of “bold”, “hardworking”, “driven” etc. Avoid vague adjectives to bolster yourself and come up with solid examples to illustrate your strengths. For example, if applying for an accounting position, talk about your strong background in numbers and your skills with spreadsheets or any other financial matters. In addition to that, follow up on each skill with a relatable story that lets the recruiter picture your strength in a real world example.

WHAT IS YOUR WEAKNESSES?

This question trips many people up, since you cannot say that you don’t have any weaknesses. On the other hand, listing them off like a grocery list perhaps isn’t the wisest choice either. Likewise, avoid giving yourself a backhanded compliment like you “work too hard.” Discuss areas where you may need improvement and share the steps you have taken, or plan to take, in order to overcome your weakness. For example, if applying for an editorial position, mention how you are not familiar with online formats and websites but that you are currently learning softwares that will improve that particular skill. This shows that you are willing to adapt and that you are constantly looking for ways to better yourself.

WHAT MAKES YOU QUALIFIED FOR THIS POSITION?

Use your resume as a prompt when discussing some of your achievements in terms of relevance to the position. Research the role before the interview and relate particular requirements for the position to experiences and skills you have. Try explaining how past experience in a particular field will help with the position and how you believe that it may give you the edge over other candidates. Avoid begging for the position or giving empty promises, such as “I will work as hard as I can” or “If hired, I will…” etc. Stick to your strong suits and maintain a confident outlook.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF FIVE YEARS FROM NOW?

This is an opportunity for you to show how ambitious you are and that you aren’t afraid of aiming for a higher position. Avoid talking about joining other companies or how you only see the position you’re applying for as a stepping stone. While it’s OK to talk about progressing to higher positions, don’t try and short-sell the position you’re already applying for. Recruiters are generally more inclined towards individuals who are ambitious and are willing to work hard in order to make an advancement in their company.

WHAT MOTIVATES YOU?

Motivation is a personal matter, and you might have to drop your armor and speak a little more on the personal side. Avoid talking about the industry in general and specify key things about the company that piques your interest. Talk about how the firm plays to key things that motivate you, such as it provides a structured career path or how it plays to your field of interest. Motivation is an important factor for several hiring firms as they always want to maintain a well-motivated and content workforce. Try to avoid keeping your motivation superficial and explain how it appeals to your interests.

WHAT IS YOUR EXPECTED PAY?

Research the industry and the related positions in other firms to get a general idea of what the position may offer. Glassdoor is a free website that offers salary predictions. Don’t lowball your estimated figure in order to appear humble, and try giving your answer in ranges rather than a specific figure. For example try saying “between $45,000-$50,000 annually.” This question is not particularly asked on the first interview, but if they do ask don’t hesitate or appear taken back.

DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?

Recruiters are always expecting a question or two from the applicant, and this is an excellent opportunity for you to make any queries or ask any questions that you felt weren’t satisfactorily explained. Even if you don’t have questions, thank them anyway and explain how the interview helped clarify some points you may not have not known prior to it. It’s a learning experience and by showing that you grasped what they were offering is a strong sign that you are fully aware of what’s going on.

 

– Published by Talha Nadeem. Nadeem is a Communications Intern with the SCDC and a Staff Writer at the Ticker. He is majoring in English with a minor in Psychology. He is an avid book reader with his favorite genres including science fiction and detective noir. (March 13th, 2018)
– Edited by Harrison Anastasio. Anastasio is the Marketing Assistant at the Starr Career Development Center

 

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