With the typical employer interviewing 6-10 candidates, who go through at least 2-3 rounds of interviews before receiving an offer, it is crucial to be prepared. In order to help you prepare, this post aims to summarize eight of the most popular interview questions, and how to answer them.
Why it is important to be prepared…
Theres no two ways about it: finding a job is tough.
Getting through to the interview stage is a big achievement. But, it is nerve racking and sometimes stressful. Employers will fire many carefully planned questions at you, some which you won’t expect and can’t answer.
Like with anything in life, preparation is the key to success. If you have a rough idea of most employers favorite questions, you can prepare some strong answers that will blow them away.
So without further ado, here are the most popular interview questions, and how to answer them.
1. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Employers want to see if the position you’ve applied for fits in with your goals.
If you’re applying for an admin role but want to be the CEO of your own company, living somewhere exotic in five years, although its great to strive to be the best, it’s not financially beneficial to them. You may want to think about how you position that so as to connect it to the company’s goals.
The best way to answer this is to provide a general idea of the skills you want to develop and the roles you would like to be in. However, make sure this aligns to the job you are applying for and that the skills you aim to achieve can be developed from that role. You don’t necessarily need to give a specific job title or salary you are aiming for – rather, focus on the skills you wish to build, the talents you want to develop, and the impact you want to make five years into the future.
2. What achievements are you most proud of?
Employers ask this question to find out what you consider important and whether you’ll fit in at the company.
To answer this, don’t just recite obvious work achievements. Everyone does this, it’s not particularly unique. Instead, focus on the activities you do outside of work that make you interesting. For example, organizing a fundraiser or winning a sporting event. Of course, don’t pick anything that isn’t related to the role (i.e., things that don’t show organization or leadership skills) and don’t pick something that isn’t really a very big or impressive achievement.
3. What motivates you?
Your answer to this will demonstrate whether you have enough self-awareness to know what drives you. Employers will look out for someone who can give a natural answer, as these people are likely to be self-starters and know how to motivate themselves.
Employers are also looking to ensure that your sources of personal motivation align with the role. For example, if you are working in sales, you should share a motivation for deadlines, growth and working at a fast-pace. Whereas, those in more empathetic roles (e.g., nurses or teachers) should show motivation in helping others.
4. Why do you want to work for us?
Employers ask this because they want to make sure that you like them specifically. Understandably, it is far more valuable to employers to hire people who value the same things as them, opposed to those who are just applying for 100’s of jobs.
To answer this, be sure to have done your research before. Check out their goals, key challenges, major competitors and their culture and values. Use these things to enthusiastically answer the question. For example, if their company culture is focused on diversity, talk about how passionate you are about equality and diversity.
5. What are you biggest weaknesses?
Although a very uncomfortable question to answer, this shows that you are self-aware and that you know where you need to develop.
The best way to answer this question is to be honest. If you’re easily stressed, then say so. But, always say what you are trying to do to improve this. For example, have you started meditating in the mornings? Do you know when to take a 10 minute break when you feel it’s all getting too much? Or, have you joined a support group?
A manager is used to hearing about problems. Anyone can point out a problem. But the employee who points out a problem and accompanies it with a solution is the employee who gets promoted. Or hired in the first place.
6. How do you handle conflict at work?
Employers will ask this question to get an idea of how you work with others and whether to can collaborate well as part of a team. One mistake many people make is that they insist that they’ve never faced any workplace conflict. This is most likely to not be true… we’re not perfect!
The best way to answer this question is to give an example of a conflict you’ve faced, however big or small it is, and describe what you did. Of course, if you lost your head and starting screaming and shouting, don’t say this. Employers will look for those who explain remain calm, respectful and work to solve the route of the problem. For an additional bonus point, add in what you would do differently if faced with the same conflict again. This shows high levels of self awareness and self-reflection.
7. What can you bring to the company/the team?
The employers want to know what your unique selling point is. This, again, boils down to research. Ensure that you know what skills, experience and competencies the employer is looking for and demonstrate how you have these.
You can gain a good idea of the skills employers are seeking by looking at the job description. Another excellent way is to look on the LinkedIn profiles of people previously, or currently, in the role to see what skills they pride themselves on.
8. Do you have any questions for us?
Ironically, since you’re the one in the interview, this is probably one of the most important questions you will ever be asked by prospective employers. It is asked to see how much you want the job and how excited you are about the role.
Ultimately, your answer to this question shows how much you’ve been researching the company and job description – you know what hasn’t been covered and what else they should be telling you. If you’ve done a lot of research, you likely will have very specific or strategic questions to ask.
The company isn’t just interviewing you, but you are also interviewing them.
Your goal in an interview shouldn’t just be getting hired – you want to make sure you come away from the interview with an understanding of the company and the position they are looking to fill. So treat your interview like a two-way interview. The company isn’t just interviewing you, but you are also interviewing them. In many cases, by taking this more active role you’ll not only get more out of the conversation yourself, but you’ll make a better impression as a “go-getter”.
So, there you have it: the most popular interview questions and how to answer them.
As always, let us know what you think in the comments section below. Have you ever been asked one of these questions, and how did you answer it?