| July 16th, 2006

* interview preparations: 5 common interview questions

Even though, every interview is different, there are some basic questions that are more likely to appear in any interview and job seekers should prepare to answer those questions properly.  We will discuss 5 basic questions today.  While answering any question, we always need to remember the following key points.

  • Highlight your skills, knowledge and expertise.
  • Try to give real world examples, whenever possible, to talk about your success from that example.
  • Always be positive.  Attitude is everything.

Here are some common interview questions and sample answers.

Question #1. Tell me about yourself.

This is a very open question and a great opportunity to showcase your ability. After introducing yourself with very minimal personal information, you may talk about your professional/educational achievements, your qualifications, strengths, etc.  Make sure you relate to the job description and requirements from the posting.  The interviewer really wants to know how well you will fit in the position.  Some people recommend talking about professional stuff first and then end it with a little bit of personal information.  Example of personal information could be something like: I live in Minnetonka, have a husband and a two year old son.  We like traveling.

Question #2. What are your strengths?

By asking this question, they are trying to find out whether you possess the qualities they are looking for.  You need to prepare a list of qualities that you feel comfortable talking about and some supporting details to back them up.  Here are some sample strengths:

  • Planning
  • Attention to detail
  • Time management
  • Handling multiple tasks
  • Honesty/ethics
  • People person
  • Great customer service
  • Leadership skills
  • Great organization skils

If they ask for your greatest strength, find the one that suits best for the position and use some supporting details as well. If you are interviewing for an analyst position, you may say, I have great attention to details. For an administrative assistant position, you may say, I am a people person.

Questions 3#. What is your greatest weakness?

Even though this question asks about weakness, you should not really say something negative about you.  Instead, you should say something that may sound like a weakness but actually makes you even a better candidate.  Here are some weaknesses considered as safe to say.

  • I am a perfectionist.
  • I expect the best out of every team member and some times get impatient with members who do not have as high standards as mine.
  • I like to make people happy and have hard time to say no.  Therefore, I take the high work load and find hard time to relax.

Just be careful about what you say.  If the position needs a team player, you should not say something like you perform better working alone.

Question #4. What would your current/last boss say about you?

Here you need to bring out your abilities and success by focusing on your relationship with your current/previous employer.  Even if you had a bitter relationship with your boss, you should never say that.  Here are some sample sentences.

  • S/he would say I am a great team player.
  • S/he would praise my ability to follow directions, handling multiple tasks while keeping deadlines, integrity and ethics.
  • S/he would praise my measurable success while taking initiative on specific projects.

Question #5. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Even though it is very hard to plan next five years, this is an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to the company.  You may say, Even though it is very hard to predict what exactly are going to happen in next five years, I sure can tell you what my hopes are.  I see myself learning the business very well and make positive contributions to the success of this company.  As opportunity arises, I hope to grow within the company.

There are other types of questions we can predict and prepare. In future we will discuss some behavioral questions and how to handle those.

 

2 Responses to “* interview preparations: 5 common interview questions”

  1. Afrin A says:

    Although I have been through several interviews, I always fumble when questions like this come up. Thank you for taking the time to discuss such an useful issue and help us plan and prepare ourselves in advance. Looking forward to the behavioral questions blog. Body language is another area that we often overlook and needs to be addressed as much as the verbal part of the interview.

  2. Ishret says:

    Afrin,

    Thanks for your comment and suggestions. We plan to address behavioral questions in near future.

    Body language is of course an important area that is often overlooked, you are right. Many people, in fact, do not have clear idea about what it is all about. We sure will try to have a write-up on this.

    – Ishret

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