Knowing the necessary preparations and proper attitude during interview is important, but the result of your application still boils down to how well you respond to interview questions. And while you can’t anticipate what exactly are to be asked during interview, fortunately there are some standard questions that most companies use during the process.
Being familiar with the five common interview questions, coupled with serious practice, can help you become more adept and eloquent in your responses. Try these suggested pitches and see your interviewer drop his jaw if not hiring you for the job:
1. TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF. Normally, interviewers use this line to jumpstart the conversation or to break the ice. What’s difficult with this question is that it’s too broad and causes one to ramble around in finding the starting point for the introduction.
Avoid saying or repeating what is already obvious in your resume like your name, address, educational background or work experience (you will have the chance to walk through it later). Try to think outside the box and do away with uttering canned lines like that of the overused career objective: “looking for a rewarding career where you can impart your knowledge and attain professional growth.”
Suggested Pitch: Tell something interesting about you that is beyond your resume. Giving a brief description about your personality and your strongest competency can capture the interviewer’s attention and establish an impression. Whether you are a first-timer or a seasoned applicant, you can cite a personal story about your past experiences that maybe relevant to the job, which can set the tone of the interview and lead to a conversation.
2. WHY DO YOU WANT THIS JOB? Saying that you were just referred by a friend or bumped into the job posting but doesn’t know anything about the job is definitely not the best way to go. Sure you’re badly in need of work to augment your finances, but don’t focus only on your personal needs.
Suggested Pitch: Concretely express your personal expectations from your target career and persuade the hiring manager that their company is the kind of company you have been looking for and wanted to be in. But even more importantly, emphasize how the company can benefit from you by highlighting your competencies that can work for their advantage. Say if they need a marketing person to increase their sales, delve into your interest in people or the networks or connections you have; or your problem-solving skills in dealing with difficult situations.
3. TELL SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR MOST CHALLENGING EXPERIENCE. This is quite a tricky question as it can vary from different aspects of your life –personal, academic or professional. Whatever experience you want to share, be careful with your answers as it can reveal the kind of person you are, your beliefs, outlook and approach to certain situations. And try not to be emotional when spilling out your lines!
Suggested Pitch: Though the safest answer would be something about work, you can also tread on to the greatest obstacle you experienced in the past such as flunking your subject during college, shifting to another course or having to resign from your previous work. Describe the situation but don’t get yourself fixated with the problem itself. Specify the things you had done to get through it, your personal realizations and how it had made you a better person you are today. After all, we all learn by experience!
4. WHAT’S YOUR EDGE TO THE OTHER CANDIDATES? The more direct question for this would be “Why should we hire you?” Don’t try to downplay other applicants by saying things that you think they don’t have. Instead, focus more on what your uniqueness and why you deserve to be hired for the position.
Suggested Pitch: Highlight your skills and downplay your weaknesses. Review the skills requirement of the position in the advertisement and emphasize the strongest competencies you have that match with the said requirements. Cite your professional achievements, your unique work management style and the experiences you have acquired through the years.
5. HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS? This question is congruent to how long you plan to stay with the company. While companies are concerned about retention, don’t try to make a false impression by saying that you can stay there for the rest of your life (believe me, even the hiring manager doesn’t have plans to do so). Don’t even say something that can make the interviewer think that you just want to make the company a stepping stone to working abroad or for a company that’s considered their competitor, which can post a conflict of interest.
Suggested Pitch: Be honest with your plans but at a certain extent. Say something that puts the company in the picture like you plan to grow in your career and be financially stable, which you think you can attain by working with this company. Tell something about your plans for personal growth such as getting promoted to a lead position in the future and enumerate action plans you have to achieve this goal.
Remember that these are just some of the basic questions. They can be peppered with follow up questions based on your responses so always be ready. And remember to be consistent with your answers and avoid contradicting thoughts that may spark doubt from your interviewer.
You’re just at the doorstep of your dream job, so relax and let it flow. Good luck!