Interviews are a daunting experience for all of us. Yes, you are not alone worrying about what to wear, when to reach, what to say and how to say it...we’re all in this together! Though you can’t always predict the flow of an interview, here’s how you can prepare yourself to answer the most common questions interviewers will ask, in the best way possible!
So, breathe in, breathe out and read on!
1. “Why this company?”
The first and foremost basic requirement to answer this question is to know about the company. Read about what they do, why they do it and if at all they have been in the news recently. Then use that knowledge to give your interviewer a few genuine compliments about the kind of work they do. Add to it by telling them how your ideas and talents will be beneficial for the company and vice versa.
2. “What is your biggest strength?”
Whenever answering this question please be honest. Don’t just say something that you think they want to hear because once you have said it, the interviewer will be checking in your next few answers how you actually portray that quality. Don’t say something that has nothing to do with the job, keep the role in mind, if you are a fresher in the job arena then don’t call yourself a leader, call yourself a team player. If you have worked previously, then use examples to explain how you have used this quality as your strength. However, there are a few qualities that work well with almost anyone - hardworking, committed, flexible - use these power words when you can’t think of anything else!
3. “What is your biggest weakness?”
Tricky one, isn’t it? How do you say you are weak at something without giving a negative impression? Here too, try to be honest but know the limit to that honesty. You don’t want to go overboard with information. Do not try to turn positive traits into negative ones because they don’t work well, for example, “I work too hard” is not a weakness nor is “outgoing personality”. Say something like “Sometimes, I feel I am hyper-focused but if someone points that out, I know how to relax and hold my reins” or use a personality trait as your weakness, something that will not affect your job adversely like “I take a little time to open up to my colleagues”, just make sure to say it in such a way that it becomes clear to the interviewer that this does not hinder your work.
4. “Why do you think you are a good fit for the role?”
This question is not as much about knowing your best traits as it is about knowing how well you have looked into the role you are interviewing for. This is your chance to show them that you know what you are talking about. Start by discussing their requirements from you and then talk about how you can fulfil them, with examples wherever possible.
5. “What are your past achievements?”
If you have worked previously and have crossed any interesting milestones then mention them. If you are a fresher then talk about anything you might have done previously that is related to the field you are applying in. For example, if you are applying for a fashion writer’s job and say, you were part of a fashion society during college, run a fashion blog or have contributed to any fashion website or magazine then you should talk about it here.
6. “What are your interests outside of work?”
This question is easier to answer. You can talk about your hobbies - from reading books to dancing to something as simple as listening to music, you can say anything. But make sure you are prepared for any follow up questions. “I love reading books” will most probably be followed by “Who’s your favourite author?” or “Which is your favourite book?” - think about the follow up questions before the interview so that you have a quick reply in mind.
7. “What projects have you been involved in?”
With this question you have to get the skill of summarising right. You want to talk about all your work experience without dragging it for a long time, right? The trick of summarizing is to explain the context, talk about what task you were given, what did you do about it and what was the result. You can even include projects that didn’t work out that well when answering this question, if asked - it will help your employer to know how you deal with adverse situations.
What the answer to this question needs is substance. Don’t just say anything, think about where you want to see yourself in the next five years, it could be developing a business of your own or pursuing further studies or at a higher position and a better role. Just make sure that all this is in a sector related to what you want to do right now. If you are already sure that five years from now, you don’t see yourself in this particular field at all then your employer will have no valid reason to hire you.
9. “What would you like to see differently around here?”
This question judges what you will bring to the table in a more practical way, but be warned, while it is easy to be overly critical and point out all the flaws you might have seen, it is absolutely necessary to not sound negative. Try more to give them a solution instead of pointing out the problem. Go with something like “I really like what your company does and though it is interesting and helpful, I would love if there was more of…” this way you are more constructive and helpful and they’ll appreciate it more.
10. “Do you have any questions for us?”
Though this is usually the signing off question that indicates that the interview is almost done, it is of primary importance because it is here that most of us ask things that might take away any brownie points we might have earned. Asking about your salary or leaves is a big no-no. These are things that you either ask before the interview or find out from someone other than who is taking your interview. What you can ask, though, are details about what your duties would be like or the kind of things the company does and how they function. Ask them questions about the job rather than the outcome of the job.