You will agree with me that if getting a job is difficult, preparing for interview questions and answers is a far greater challenge than that.
The kind of impression that you create at the job interview goes on to decide the future of your career.
Often more than academic excellence or professional recommendation, it is your performance at the interview that goes on to decide the course of your career.
Some of the common interview questions and answers can help us to understand an individual’s character and ability to respond to situations and think out of the box.
The trend with interview questions and answers is all about being unconventional today and testing unchartered territories.
Several top companies today are known for the completely unexpected and unconventional questions that they ask their interviewees and these range from the total number of cows in Canada to estimate the net windows across New York.
The possibilities are huge, and the stake is very high.
Surprisingly, a lot of studies have revealed that this fear of handling interview questions and answers efficiently often come in the way of an individual’s career growth.
They are so apprehensive of tackling these questions and answers all over again that they rather prefer to continue with the same job and even deal with a certain amount of dissatisfaction.
Therefore, we decided to bring you some of the top interview questions and answers.
We want to help you prepare better for the interview and tackle tricky questions in a way that can help you get the maximum leverage and edge over many others who might be appearing for the same interview.
Some Common Interview Questions and Answers
Let’s say that you need a Google or Amazon to come up with wacky interview questions and answers like total windows in New York.
However, there are a set of questions which most interviewers ask and you need to be prepared for.
1. Tell Us about Yourself?
Whether you appeared an interview 30 years ago or preparing for it today, this is one of the top interview questions and answers and one of those that you need to be prepared at all times.
It is not just a description of who you are but one of the best opportunities that you can get to sell yourself and convince the management that you can be one of the most valuable assets for the company.
It is a simple but also a tricky question at the same time.
The fact that this is a rather broad question means an interviewee might easily tend to ramble or go overboard trying to explain.
The biggest outcome of that can be the interviewers get utterly bored and lose interest in the entire interview process as a result.
We feel the best way you can answer this question and let it work towards your advantage is by avoiding anything very generic.
You should add more of your personal experiences and don’t let it appear rehearsed and pre-decided.
The more fluent and eloquent you are, the better grip you would have on the overall content and concept of the entire question and its complete purpose.
But even when you are narrating your own experiences, never ramble.
Think about how a story progresses.
There is a clear beginning, climax and then eventual end.
Try and weave your narration with master storytelling skills.
It should be answered in a way that the interviewers would pause at every break and ask and then?
So, the trick is at no point in time should you let the interviewers lose interest.
Also, consider yourself the hero of the story that you are narrating and use this narrative to your advantage.
There are times in life where modesty does not pay, and this is one such moment.
End it in a way that you can link it with applying for the new job.
Perhaps you can finish the answer saying, “and that is why I want to join your firm,” etc.
2. Why Do You Want to Work with Us?
Though this one too is one of the top interview questions and answers that you need to be prepared for, this is also one of those that you can slip really hard and lose out an opportunity to make a strong profit.
You can stick to a conventional line like the XYZ company that you are being interviewed by is the market leader, and you want to gain from their superior exposure.
But the problem with this kind of answer is it is a rather old school approach replete with signs of boredom, artificiality and incredibly annoying undertones if they are not presented appropriately.
On the contrary, you could answer it quite simply saying you were badly in need of a job and theirs was the first call you received.
Don’t be afraid thinking what kind of an impression the management might form.
They might actually appreciate your honesty and encourage your pragmatic and candid approach.
Many times companies want their employees to be straightforward and honest to take forward the same values in their overall working philosophy and performance parameters that help you move forward.
A good answer to this question would be all about connecting your goals and dreams with the overall working of the company that you might set to join.
So instead of trying to appease anyone with your answer, try and showcase your understanding, proficiency and intellect in a way where the interviewer would be convinced that you can meaningfully contribute to the firm.
This is a very important consideration whenever you are preparing common interview questions and answers.
Remember more than your actual answers, the interviewers are trying to assess your overall approach and thinking capability along with troubleshooting abilities.
3. What Are Your Strengths?
Another popular interview question and answer, this question often has some serious associated meaning to it.
Often the interviewer is trying to assess the interviewee’s overall proficiency for a job.
You must understand that mere academic qualification or professional experience is not always enough to justify your recruitment for a certain job.
Often it is a person’s approach or the manner in which you handle that is important.
In many ways, the management uses this question to assess a person’s understanding of their own abilities.
We know by nature some people would brag more and some will say less than what they deserve.
While there would be many others, who would be rather fair in assessing their strength and abilities.
So the safest option for you, in this case, is that sell you but within the limit.
Don’t go for overkill.
When you start to answer one of these top interview questions and answers, select a few 3-4 strengths that are relevant to the specific job that you are applying and then expand on those points.
Instead of just bragging about your abilities, it is much better to relate examples and instances to the interviewers and let them make their own assumption.
For example, if you are applying for the post of a beat reporter in a news channel, you can easily say that I can communicate and connect with people quite easily so as a result, I can quickly establish contacts and use them as a potential news source.
A company can instantly relate to it.
A seasoned journalist would know how important it is to maintain contacts and extract news from sources.
Therefore, the management can quite easily relate to the strength that you are alluding to and take a call on whether to recruit you.
Use the strength that you allude to sell your position and indispensability in the overall game plan.
4. What Are Your Weaknesses?
With strength comes weakness and your ability to understand, accept and work on your strength can often be your greatest asset as an employee.
In many ways, this is one of those interview questions and answers that interviewers use to understand how well or how badly you deal with your failings.
In the professional world, this is a very important quality.
You must understand none of us is perfect, but what makes some of us better is the fact that we are aware of our failings and can deal with it in a constructive manner.
Therefore, your strategy in dealing with this specific answer is extremely crucial.
Your choice of flaws has to be considered strategic.
There are ten thousand things about you that you might not like about you or which you consider as possible weaknesses.
But that does not mean you would talk about all of them.
It is always better to avoid any fundamental fallacy about yourself.
What will be important is you choose a fallacy that does not make the interviewer form a negative opinion about you, but at the same time, you can highlight it in a constructive fashion.
You need to show that you are not just aware of the fallacy, but are taking constructive steps to improve on it.
In fact, you can choose a fallacy that is not directly linked to your profession.
For example if you are being interviewed for a post of a literature professor, you can say that your mathematical skills need improvement and you are working on it.
It instantly gives the potential employer an insight on two aspects about you.
You are not ashamed of your weakness and looking to improve them, and at the same time, your weakness has no direct bearing on your efficiency or ability to discharge your responsibilities successfully.
5. Why Are You Interested in the Position?
This one too figures prominently in the list of top interview questions and answers.
Invariably candidates try too hard to project how well the role fits into their career plan or how they can mold their career to make this role relevant.
Most veterans would tell you that this kind of an answer can be actually suicidal in an interview.
A much better approach would be line your answer in sync with the long-term goals of the company.
Let’s face it; every company hires fresh talent with a hope to add value to their existing structure and profitability.
Therefore, it is a good idea to read up a bit about how the company plans to grow and then base your response along with those lines.
This will help in two ways, firstly the company always looks at how an employee can value add to their long-term growth plans and your response will provide just the right kind of impression.
Moreover, when the interviewer realizes that you have invested that much of energy in understanding the company’s vision and worked towards it, they will value your commitment and can even use this as the key deciding factor when selecting a single candidate from a list of prospective ones.
Also, your fluency and eloquence are extremely important when you are handling these common interview questions and answers.
Often even if you are speaking the truth, but your speech is staccato, it can project an inaccurate picture of you and the level of efficiency that you might be capable of.
6. Why Did You Leave Your Last Company?
In the list of interview questions and answers, this is a rather tricky question.
Most candidates would shudder to think about the prospect of having to face them and then how to come out of it with dignity is the challenge.
After all, none of us want to accept that we were wrong or at fault and we could have done something that proved detrimental to our career prospects.
It is hard but at the same time, you must understand that to bad mouth one company in front of the management of another company will not help you either.
So then how do you deal with it?
– If Fired:
If you have been fired by your previous company, it is very important that you are pragmatic when you try to answer one of these common interview questions and answers.
Without becoming spiteful and trying to shift the blame, just keep a neutral stance.
Explain the circumstances under which you were let go and try and convince the interviewer how you have learned from the past mistakes and taking meaningful steps to improve your efficiency and overall performance scope going forward in future.
– Victim of Downsizing:
In case you have been subject to the downsizing exercise taken in your previous company, don’t be shy to accept it.
Without taking sides or justifying any specific set of people, be practical in your explanation.
Tell them how you understand that the situation was tough, or how you understand that the previous company was in a difficult situation and had to resort to downsizing.
Also, convince the interviewer how you don’t want such incident to demotivate you, and you have again gathered your strength to get back to the working mode and get over the past experiences.
– Better Pay:
It could also be possible that while everything else about your previous company remains fine, it was not a great paymaster.
For the same amount of work, you would be perhaps paid relatively more.
You don’t have to be shy about it.
You can be quite honest in accepting the fact.
But how you place it would be crucial.
Don’t crib about the lack of pay but rather accept that you feel better value for the same amount of work in the new company and therefore, would like to accept this offer, join the company and move ahead in your career.
The whole idea about keeping a positive stance here is solely dependent on the factor that an interviewer will see the grievances you have as the potential behavior that you might harbor about them in future too.
On the contrary, your positivity will help the potential employer appreciate your commitment, rationale and poise even in the face of unpleasant circumstances.
The biggest advantage is that interviewer would be convinced that you will be as understanding towards the company as every employee expects its employer to be towards them.
Therefore, it starts off the whole employee-employer relationship on a positive note.
7. Why Do We Hire You?
Though this is a rather oft-repeated option in the list of common interview questions and answers, almost everyone gets stumped by this question.
So when your interviewer asks you the question, why should we hire you?
What should be your answer?
Should you detail all your great strength and try convincing the interviewer how amazing an asset you might be to the company?
Well, if you ask industry experts and veterans, almost everyone would be unanimous in asking you to avoid any such self-indulgence in any manner.
A much better way to deal with this situation is that keeping a calm poise, but at the same time, highlighting your positive personality traits.
You must acknowledge that you have no idea about the rest of the candidates, but you can add a certain amount of value to the company with the help of the various skills that you might have.
This is that crucial juncture in the interview where you can highlight the myriad soft skills that you have and how well your qualifications complement the role in question.
Talk about real life examples where you have brought about meaningful growth in the previous company with the help of the various special qualities that you have.
The idea is to make this opportunity your hall of fame but is careful that you do not undermine the ability and efficiency of any other candidates who might be appearing for the same interview.
Remember that the idea is not to show how inferior the others are.
You need to keep harping on the key fact that you can become a major asset for the firm.
But in trying to portray this, do not in any way undermine someone else’s capability.
That might project negatively and put you in a bad light.
8. Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?
As we try to zero in on the most popular interview question and answers, it is important to remember one basic fact about job interviews and the entire hiring.
Why do companies hire?
Why do they recruit additional talent, pay huge salaries and take pains to maintain a certain quality of life for their employees?
It is primarily because most businesses want to add value to their current operation, they want their profits to increase, and they want to perform better than their peers.
Often in the race to excellence, it so happens that companies, corporates realize that they must use the intellect and understanding of someone else who could be an expert in a specific field.
So using your expertise and hard work, the company aims to enhance its profitability.
In return it is paying you a reasonable salary that justifies the hard work that you are putting in and the results that the company is enjoying.
Your hard work, dedication, commitment is what the company is banking upon to channelise its growth forward in a constructive and sustainable manner.
How You See Yourself Growing or What Your Long-Term Plans Are
It is therefore only natural that the company would be interested in knowing how you see yourself growing or what your long-term plans are?
But the problem is how you should answer one of the most popular and common interview questions?
Balance is a very important factor here while answering this question.
In case you sound very aggressive, the interviewer might get worried that you are here to claim their job.
But at the same time, if you sound too mild, the interviewer could conclude that you do not have the drive to move forward and do better in lives.
Instead, a much better response is you sync your growth plans along with the 5-year projection for the company.
For example, if you know the company discussed plans for inorganic growth, you can always say you want to gain experience or get exposure.
Be passionate about the specific elements that you might be wanting to pursue and leave no stone in explaining your growth avenues and how you plan to take it forward.
It is also extremely important that you are able to put a timeline to each of your short-term and long-term goals that you might have.
This gives the interviewer a better idea about your commitment.
9. Why Was There a Gap in Your Employment?
Let’s say you took a two year break between two jobs and tried a new business.
The business did not work out as planned and in the end, you decide to wrap it up and join a 9-5 job again.
If that is the case, you can almost be sure that this will be amongst the top interview questions and answers.
The point is should be worried about how you are going to answer it.
Do you hide these crucial facts about your career or should you come out in the open?
Well, we suggest that you must come out in the open.
So what if you failed in your mission, at least you had the guts to try out something new, get out of your comfort zone and put your resources in trying something news.
The fact that you are ready to go ahead despite uncertainty and then pragmatic enough to accept failure and move ahead highlights a great personality trait in you.
This will often give your interviewer faith that you will be committed to the job 100% and also have the courage to overcome failure.
10. What Are Your Long-Term Career Goals?
This is one of those common interview questions and answers that are asked and discussed in all possible permutation and combination.
Essentially most interviewers want to be very sure about the levels of commitment and dedication of a potential employee before hiring them.
As an interviewee, these interview questions and answers are opportunities that you must cash in on.
The idea should not be about you but predominantly the company that interviewing you.
List out your goals and aspiration in relation to the situation that the company might be in.
Link your growth with that of the company and highlight how you can help the company stay on track.
Purpose of the Interview Questions and Answers
Therefore it can be easily concluded that the interview questions and answers most times serve a double purpose.
Do not just go by the superficial knowledge that they impact.
Go to the deepest core of the matter and understand how the interviewer is using these as means to understand and gauge your overall efficiency levels.
Whatever might be the relative level of excellence that you must aspire to gain at interviews, it is important to understand these common questions and answers have survived the perils of time on the basis of the relevance they have every time.
Reflect on your past experiences and think about the ways in which you might have faltered in any of these questions.
Don’t get disheartened by failure, use it as the stepping stone to reach new heights.
Make these top interview questions and answers road to reach professional success and constructively use your experience to ensure a better tomorrow.