Congratulations! You have finally landed an interview for your dream job! How would you feel if you knew the answers to the interview questions your potential employer will ask you? I’m sure you’ll walk into the interview room feeling on top of the world – confident! That’s the feeling I want you to have in your next interview, and that’s precisely why I wrote this. Are you ready to wow your hiring managers with your wit, charm, and wealth of experience? Let me show you how!
Most interviewees are usually nervous as hell before an interview. Well, they have all the reasons to be nervous? Even after scaling through the initial processes of the job application, it is rare for any job applicant to feel confident. According to Forbes, less than 20% of job applicants get called for an interview. So lucky you for being among the top 20th percentile! But in a few hours, you’ll be talking to the hiring manager – someone you’ve probably never met before.
So, right now, you’re probably on your bed wondering what preparations you should make and what could go wrong. The thing is, you most probably don’t know what they are going to ask you. You have probably read every information you can find on their website and more. Or you don’t even know what to read or where to start from. Although every job interview has its quirks and other job-specific questions, I have some good news for you! There are some set of questions that almost always pop up on every hiring manager’s list.
Knowing this, you can prepare yourself how best to answer these questions and reduce the inevitable anxiety. Drawing from my years of experience with hiring managers and companies,
On this note, here are the answers to the five most asked interview questions! Face your interview with confidence and land your dream job!
- Tell Me About Yourself
If there is one simple question that has made many interviewees go blank, it is “Tell me about yourself.” This is more of a demand than a question and comes as innocently as it looks. This question, usually asked with a smile on the face, is the world’s hardest softball.
There’s a reason why this question causes the skip of a heartbeat or two. Most applicants panic, become short of words and begin to stutter. Halfway through their unorganized rumblings, they say something they never wanted to say and perform poorly in the rest of the interview.
Most applicants may even be tempted to ask, “what EXACTLY do you want to know about me?” Would you like to know where I was born, where I schooled, what my best food is, or if I have a pet? This question looks so friendly and informal that most candidates fail to prepare for it. Most candidates give an unsatisfactory answer and bore the hiring manager with irrelevant information.
To answer this question satisfactorily, you need to:
- Know about the company and what they stand for
- Know what the company needs in an employee
- Know the requirements for the job opening
- Highlight what your skills and abilities can do for the company
- Choose 3-5 of your most vital points
- Resist the temptation to ramble on and on about yourself
- Relax as if you were on a date and getting to know one another
Here are some expert tips to help you with this question. Note that:
- The interviewer doesn’t want to hear your life story
- The interviewer wants to hear what VALUE you can bring to the company
- The interviewer wants to know what PROBLEMS you can SOLVE for the company
- You should be your BEST self while being authentic
- You should tie every statement you make to what’s in it for them
The secret code to remember is The Three S’s:
- Success: Here, you talk about your success but without bragging. Let them know how successful you’ve been at what you do and for how long. Remember to use facts and figures for a more concrete answer. Tell them some of the clients you’ve worked for and how you helped their company grow. You can start with any of these templates “I have been…” or “My background is…”.
- Strength: Here, you’ll talk about what your strength is. Your strength could be knowing exactly what a company’s audience wants. With the use of speech softeners, you can state your strength without coming off as cocky. Start with “My strength is…”, or “I have always been told that my strength is…”, etc.
- Situation: Here, you’ll state how you can apply your past successes and strength to the current situation – what the company needs. You can use this template – “What I’m looking for is…”. For example, what I’m looking for is a company that I can add value to in… The end with a question: “Is this what your company is looking for?” Remember, he who asks a question controls the situation.
My final piece of advice is that you REHEARSE your answers to this question repeatedly before D-day. If you do this, it will sound so natural when you answer it, and you wouldn’t have to stutter like a car without fuel.
- What Do You Bring to This Role That Other Candidates Don’t?
This is another question that you can rephrase to mean, “Why should we hire you?” Since the hiring manager has interviewed other applicants, he/she wants to know WHY they should CHOOSE YOU. So, your selling point should be what you have that other candidates don’t. In answering this question, you should describe your top-selling points relevant to the job and focus on how suitable you are for the company.
If your experience does not apply directly to the job, you should state how the SKILLS you have learned – such as problem-solving, organizational ability, etc., can help the company. Then state how you’re ready to translate your skills to become an asset for the company.
If you have little or no experience, your strong point should be how eager you are to learn the ropes and how enthusiastic you are to work for the company. It all boils down to what you can do for the company and what values you can add. You have to answer this question with confidence that you’re the best fit for the job.
- Describe a Difficult Work Situation or Project and How You Overcame It
Yes! It’s time to put your narration skills to work! There is no wrong or right answer to this question. This question is a behavioral question, and all the hiring manager wants to know is your behavior in times of great difficulty or stress. Will you freak out or flare up when there is a problem, or will you handle it diplomatically. Past behaviors are a strong prediction of what you’ll most likely do in the future in similar circumstances.
Here are some tips for answering this question and leaving a good impression of your behavior:
- Choose concrete examples of a situation or project that was the most difficult
- Focus on how the situation was critical to the company
- Then discuss what you did in that situation to solve the problem
- Prepare the best story, be specific, and show positivity
- Highlight how your determination to solving the problem was crucial for actually solving it.
Let’s consider a brief example:
I once worked in customer service for a water company that was getting to become well-known. On one Friday, about 15 minutes before our closing for the weekend, a customer called. An old lady claimed she had problems with the water heater she got some months ago. Seeing it was winter, I knew it would be particularly difficult to survive the weekend without a water heater. The engineer assigned to her district had to leave early because his three-year-old daughter was quite ill and in the hospital. Other engineers were not ready to go there, mumbling something like they were busy on other projects.
Knowing how a bad review could cause problems for the company in the future, I communicated the problem to the manager. I offered to take a reputable contract engineer over to the old lady’s house. My manager agreed to my offer, and off we went to fix her water heater. I did all these so she wouldn’t be forced to shower in cold water all weekend. Luckily, she left a warm review for the company, and the manager was glad at my initiative!
- What Professional Achievement Are You Most Proud Of?
It is typical of employers to ask candidates about their professional achievements, especially those they are most proud of. The purpose of this question is to determine what you contributed professionally to your previous jobs. In answering this question, you need to select a relatively recent professional achievement relevant to the job at hand. The achievement should be one that employed the skills required by this company. Let this be your guiding light.
The hiring manager may require achievements where you showed your problem-solving skills, attention to detail, sales skills, and so on. Here are some tips to help you ace this common interview question.
- Discuss your achievement confidently but without bragging
- Highlight skills where your hard work, intelligence, or strategic planning come to play
- Don’t talk bad about other people’s slip-ups
- Acknowledge the role that others had to play and give them so credit.
Here’s an example:
“I was the head of the design team for the Tesla Model S SUV. We worked very hard on getting the perfect car with speed and space. It required a lot of discipline and perseverance because we had to turn in the design in less than 24 hours. I had to keep the team motivated while we worked all night. I was glad we could complete it in 20 hours.”
- Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?
This is a question you should expect in almost every job interview. It can come in different shades, such as “what are your goals for the next X years” or “how you would like to grow within the company.” This question helps you demonstrate your focus and motivation to the recruiter and how long you’re willing to stay on the job.
How do recruiters expect you to answer this question when you don’t even know what you’ll have for dinner tonight? You don’t own a crystal ball, so how would you know where you will be in 5 years?
In answering this question, note that:
- You cannot precisely predict what your job will look like in five years
- You can only answer this question generally, so avoid giving specific job titles or time frames
- It would help if you focused on how much you hope to have contributed to the company
- It would be best if you focused on how the job will help you grow and be pivotal to your success
- You should explain what reward and success means to you
Interviewers ask this question for two major reasons:
- They want to know how long you’re willing to stay in your new position
- They want to know your long-term goals and see if they align with the company.
However, here’s what interviewers don’t want to hear:
- How you will be the one on the other side of the table
- Detailed schemes about your promotion within the company
- That “It’s hard to say” or that you don’t know
- How you’ll be going back to school, own a business, become famous, etc.
Here’s a guide to what recruiters want to hear when they ask you where you want to be in five years.
- State that you want to have completed the internal training program for your position, if any. (Check the company’s website to confirm if any internal training program exists. Reference that and tell them how cool you think it is).
- That this job will put you on the right track to other positions (which is your top career goal)
- That you can also help them work abroad, or in new branches especially if they need people for that (do your research to know if they are looking for people like that)
Give the hiring manager the impression that you’re contented with the position as it is. However, also express your enthusiasm about how you aim to develop yourself (be realistic). Don’t forget to show the hiring manager how your career goals align with that of the company. Let it sound like you’re a match made in heaven!
You made it to the end! Congratulations! Now you can handle your next interview with confidence!