An interviewer has the difficult task of discovering and assessing what kind of person you are and how well you will fit the job and the company in a very short period of time. Therefore, you may be faced with fairly common or standard interview questions.
You should ensure that you listen carefully to the questions and tailor your responses accordingly, answering truthfully without exaggerating. Communicate in a clear and logical manner, not speaking too loudly or too fast.
Whilst it is a good idea to be prepared for some of the common questions, your responses should not appear rehearsed. Following are some of the more common questions and some ideas about what the employer may be looking for and suggested ways to respond.
Q. Tell me about yourself
This question may be used to learn about your personality, communication skills and ability to think on your feet. You should talk about your skills and experience, focusing on work related factors. This should include your interests and experience as it relates to the job, past working experience, training/education/qualification and a summary of your career. You should always try to link your experience to the position.
Q. Why do you want to do this job/work for this company?
The interviewer is looking to see if you will be satisfied with your job and want to stay. You should demonstrate your knowledge of the company and highlight why you are interested in the role and company. Re-emphasise your suitability for the position.
Q. What do you think you have to offer this company?
This is an opportunity for you to talk about yourself and your achievements, concentrating on the skills you have that are required for the position. Describe without exaggerating, but ensure you provide enough information to show your strengths and successes.
For example: “I have strong sales skills which is evident in my achieving 150% of my sales targets last year. I am a good team player and am keen to be involved in the new division you are establishing to work the Asia region.”
Q. What do you enjoy most about your current / last job?
The key to this question is to respond with what you have enjoyed about work that strongly relates to the key competencies and requirements of the position you are applying for.
Q. Where do you see yourself in five years time?
This question is designed to assess your aspirations, ambition and career planning. You should demonstrate that your long term goals are appropriate for the position being discussed and your commitment to them.
Q. Do you work well under pressure?
Ensure you give a specific example when you were under pressure and how you resolved the situation.
Q. Why did you leave your last position?
People leave jobs for many reasons and you should clearly explain reasons. Some common reasons for leaving jobs include:
The company was retrenching
It was part time and you were / ideally looking for more hours
It required too much travel away from home
You had gone as far as you could career wise in that company
The company was taken over by another
Q. Why should we employ you instead of someone else?
You should list your skills and attributes you have that show you will make a valuable employee. You may have mentioned them before but this is like a summary for the interviewer – a snapshot if you like.
At all times you should appear professional, confident and enthusiastic. Try not to sound like you have been practising your answers. Always relate your answers to practical experiences and show how those experiences are valuable to the position for which you are being interviewed. Finally, if you don’t understand the question, do not hesitate in asking for it to be repeated.