Interview Questions - Top 15 & How to Answer Them

I have been interviewing candidates for job placements for a couple of years now. I do this alongside my colleagues at The Learning Edge Ltd. Many people are not prepared for the interview questions we ask them.

In this article, I have offered professional advice on how to answer 15 of the most popular interview questions. Everyone who wants to pursue a career will need to study these and prepare themself over time with the questions.

Now, let’s study the interview questions one after the other.

Interview Questions 1: Tell us about yourself

They do not expect you to talk about your genealogy here. Some candidates mess things up by telling the panel what is already on their CV/resume. When you are asked this question, it is another way of saying “tell us what is not on your CV.” They expect you to talk about your core competencies, your strengths, relevant skills that show you can do the job, and so on.

Example: My personality trait profiling shows that I am a Sanguine. That makes it easy for me to connect with people and hence a good sales person. But with this great quality and more, are the weaknesses that plague all Sanguines. An example of such weakness is shying away from the details. However, with the help of meditation and self mastery exercises, I have been able to overcome that and become a better person. I started selling at the age of 13 when my mum taught my siblings and I how to double money. The last time I worked as a sales  bla bla bla…

Interview Questions 2: How did you know about this vacancy?

Tell them how you got to know about the vacancy. If there is a story behind it, tell it. People love stories. But don’t make up any stories. If there is no story, just state how you got to know about the interview. If it is through an insider information, you may want to simply say “I somehow got the information from …” then pause and hesitate. Then continue: “I am signed up for so many job alerts that it is difficult to keep tabs. But I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to be speaking with you people right now.” You don’t want to put that insider in trouble.

Interview Questions 3: Why are you leaving your present job?

The most popular answer is always “I think its time for me to seek out new challenges.” It’s not bad. But people have told me before that they are leaving their present jobs because their boss is a bad person. Don’t be like that. NEVER bad-mouth your past or present employee to an interview panel. It will make you look like a bad person. No one wants to employ a snitch.

Interview Questions 4: Why should we employ you and not the other candidates?

This is one of the interviewer’s favorite questions. When you are asked this question, concentrate on your unique capabilities. This how to do it. Let us assume the firm is trying to fill the position of “Sales Manager”. As should be expected, the other candidates know and understand how to use terms like prospecting, closing and so on. Instead of using only the words, tell the panel something different. For example, if you are also very good in digital marketing, let them know by demonstrating knowledge in it. It is also necessary to let them know that the knowledge will be beneficial to the firm because it will reduce the amount of money the firm spends on promoting and selling itself on the internet. Remember that this is only applicable if the candidate in our example is actually good in digital marketing. Find something unique about you. Let it be something a little more than ordinary.

However, if you are actually a good digital marketer, don’t just say “I can do digital marketing.” Say something like “Apart from the fact that I am excellent at client needs assessment, prospecting and closing; I am also very good in creating opportunities for online sales through my rich knowledge of digital marketing.” See that? Talk about what you can do that others might be able to do too. Then emphasis on something that is beyond the job description that is also extremely useful.

Interview Questions 5: Why do you want this job?

Or why do you want to work with us? Tell the interview panel some things you have studied about the firm that you like about them. Is it their culture? Recent industry leadership awards? Their excellence? Use whatever (point that) shows that you have done your home work on studying about the firm; that can at the same time fan their ego while making a valid reason for you to want to work for them. Another approach will be to talk about how it has always (if it has) been your dream to work in that job function. Speak passionately but calmly.

Interview Questions 6: If you could right away, what would you change about yourself?

They are trying to know what weaknesses you have discovered you have and what you will do (or are doing) to change that weakness. Don’t be tempted to say “I do not have any weakness.” Every one of us do. Pick a weakness you have actually studied about and are actually doing something about. Do NOT wait until the interview to work on this. I think it is on the porch of a temple in Delphi, Greece that it is written “O man, know thyself.” That is probably one of the best counsels one can heed to. I have met many professionals who have never carried out a SWOT analysis on themselves. If you have ever taken time to do this, I can bet that you will be able to ace this question without issues. I know me. I know that I am a sanguine. I know all my strengths and knowing them has helped me to take advantage of them and use them to the fullest. I know my flaws and while I am working on myself, I also explore them whenever the need arises. Know YOU!

Interview Questions 7: What is the title of the personal development book you read last?

This is one of my favourite questions. If you are asked this question and you give an answer like “10 Ways to Find Your Dream Husband”, you need a psychiatrist. Find books that enhance your competencies as a person and as a professional. Books that help to enhance your self awareness are the kinds of books we are referring to here. Examples of authors to watch out for here are Jack Canfield, Brian Tracy, Mark Victor Hansen and so on.

Interview Questions 8: What is your work style?

Many candidates do not know how to answer this question. Your working style is actually how you organize yourself for work with respect to time, planning, patterns and how best you work with people. Some people like to work after they have planned and ran a few parameters through their boss and team members. Some people are loners, preferring to only speak with others after achieving some sort of deliverables. Some others are in-between. Some people like to work very early in the morning. We can’t exhaust this all here. Hopefully, you understand the drift. I should do a detailed post on this soon. Watch out. Tell them your working style and let them know that you have the ability to adjust to whatever systems the firm may have in place to make work more productive.

Interview Questions 9: If your boss asks you to do something you know is wrong and would hurt the company, what would you do?

This question is to test your character and loyalty at the same time. Answer it as honest as you can.

Interview Questions 10: What do you like the most about your last job?

Look for something very positive about your last job that you really liked and tell the interview board. It will be nice to use a story that will be beneficial to you. A story that is beneficial to you has 3 characteristics. 1. It is easy to tell. If it is true, you have told it many times before that it won’t be difficult to tell it again. If it is a lie you must have told it many times as well that your subconscious now almost sees it as true. I don’t encourage that you tell a lie during interviews because experienced interviews will know just by observing your body language. But if you must tell one be good at it. 2. Your competencies were in demand and were used in resolving a situation. 3. It is verifiable. If the interview panel needs to follow up on your claims, there should be a few persons who can verify your claims. However, if you do not have a story, just state what you like most about the organization. (IDEAS: 1. Your team, 2. Your superior, 3. The trainings or learning & development programme, and so on). HINT: Find what you like the most about your last job that will demonstrate that you improved as a person while working there. If you can’t find any that matches that criteria, just state what you like most about the last job. Is it the cafetaria? Is it the trips? But be careful. Whatever the new firm cannot provide that you like a lot about your last firm might make the new firm not to give you an offer. That’s clear, right? So if you really like this new job, avoid tangibles like staff vacations, training abroad, free lunch, and so on! The answer you give for this question always lead to another question. So be ready.

Interview Questions 11: How did you explore it?

If the question that comes after the above is “how did you explore what you liked most about your last job”, you need to know what to say. For example if it is more specifically “why is your boss the one you like the most about your last job”, you may want to say something like “I like the way she ensured we were always improving as individuals. She insisted we read at least a book every 2 weeks.” I am not asking you to say that. Give your own verifiable reason.

Interview Questions 12: What do you hate the most about your last job?

This is a tricky question. And you do not have to answer it. If I were in your shoes, I’d say something like “nothing really. ‘Hate’ isn’t really the word I would use. I would prefer to use the word ‘dislike’ and there are many of them.” They will ask you to expatiate. Examples: downtimes in our network, the day armed robbers came visiting, when the power back-up is down during servicing of our main power source, and so on.

Interview Questions 13: What did you do about it?

Sometimes, this might be a follow-up question to the one in #12 above. The interview panel wants to know what you can do, the quality of decisions you can make and the stance you would take whenever you are faced with unfavourable conditions. Here, you want to articulately state how you used your competencies, personal values, leadership or a combination of all these and more, to save the day or to save yourself and the organization.

Interview Questions 14: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

Many unmarried ladies I asked this question told me that they see themselves in their “husband’s house” in the next 5 years. That is not what we are interested in. We want to know if you have a vision for your life. We want to know if you have goals. Being a goals person is a big deal to us! We also want to know if based on your goals, it will be a waste of the company’s time and resources to train and induct you. In a nutshell, the interview panel wants to see if your goals remotely align with the goals of the recruiting organization.

Interview Questions 15: What challenge have you faced at work recently and how did you surmount it?

This is a very beautiful question. It is because it gives you the oportunity to flaunt some of core competencies and your problem solving skills. If you have been useful in your last or present job, this question will be very easy to answer alongside the follow-up questions. Any challenge you choose to discuss with the panel should be an interesting one that will bring about more dialogue. Even if the challenge you faced in the past is no longer a challenge to you, share it as long as it will bring about a great conversation that will endear you to members of the interview panel.

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So there they are! The 15 of the most popular interview questions you will likely be asked. Kindly leave a comment or questions below.