(Another) 10 Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
Following up on of this article, we’ve compiled another list of ten more common interview questions and how you can answer them in a way that will impress your job interviewer.
While we don’t encourage graduates to have a scripted answer for any interview question (in fact, we discourage it!), it is important to gauge the kind of questions you’ll be asked and what recruiters are looking for in your answers.
1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?
This question can be deceivingly simple. Some graduates make the mistake of regurgitating biographical information about themselves (e.g. how old they are, where they live), which the recruiters already have access to from their job application forms.
Instead, you should deliver a compelling pitch that highlights why you are the right person for the job. You can start with two to three strengths or experiences that are most valuable and relevant to the employer and role.
2. Why do you want this job?
Recruiters typically ask this question to gauge your level of enthusiasm and interest for the job. No employer would want to hire someone who is not particularly interested in the position.
To reassure employers that you are in fact enthusiastic about the job, you should link the key qualities needed for the role to your interest or strengths. For example, a good response can go like this – “I want the writer’s role because I enjoy creating meaning with words and making an impact with the message I translate in my writing”.
Go the extra mile by also mentioning the employer and why you want to work for them specifically – for instance, “Fashion has always been a passion of mine, and this company has produced many inspiring and critical pieces on the different fashion trends around the world. I believe my writing skills and fresh perspectives can benefit the company, and I want to bring my passion to greater heights”.
3. Why should we hire you?
Some hiring managers get straight to the point and ask you this question to find out why you think you deserve the job instead of other competing applicants.
While this question can be intimidating, the formula to answering this question is quite simple. It’s also the perfect setup for you to sell your skills and personality.
Your response should convince your recruiters of why your skills (both transferrable and technical skills) and experiences make you a good fit for the role and how you can deliver the results the employers are looking for.
You should also touch on how you will not only do the job and perform well, but also how you are a good fit to the team’s and organisation’s culture. It goes without saying that you’ll have to do plenty of research in order to be able to do this. So, make sure you walk into the interview room prepared.
4. What other companies have you applied to?
This question is quite tricky, but recruiters have reasons for asking this question. One common reason is to find out if you are truly serious about the industry you are applying to.
If the companies you mention are within the same industry, it’ll show that you know what your direction is and you are determined to land a job in the same line of work.
Hence, don’t worry about telling the truth about applying to other companies.
5. What type of work environment do you look for when searching for employment?
A good way to answer this question is to describe a work culture or environment that’s similar to the environment of the company you are interviewing at.
How do you find out about the work environment and the organisation’s culture?
One way to do it is to go through the company’s social media pages, press releases and news articles about them. What are the keywords that tend to pop up a lot? Innovation? Teamwork? These usually point to the kind of work culture they value.
Also, you can reach out to your school's alumni network or contacts from your own network who are former or current employees of the company. You can ask them about what it’s like to work there and what are the core principles that make up the company's culture.
6. Where do you see yourself in three to five years?
Typically, when interviewers ask this question, they want to know 1) if you have ambition and if you have seriously considered the future of your career; 2) if your ambition and expectations are realistic; and 3) if the job on offer aligns with those.
The best way to answer this question is to think about where this position could lead you, and respond along those lines. If the position wouldn’t exactly give you a direct route to where you want to be in three to five years, that’s okay.
You can talk about how this job and the experience will equip you with the relevant skills that will help you reach your goals. It’s completely fine to say that you’re not sure what the future holds – you’re a fresh graduate after all.
However, make sure you know what you want to get out of this job, and you need to demonstrate to your interviewers how these fit into your long-term aspirations.
7. What do you do in your spare time?
This question may seem irrelevant and strange, especially if it comes from a hiring manager during a job interview.
Indeed, the question is unrelated to the job on offer – but interviewers usually ask this question to see if candidates will fit into the culture of the company. As cultural fit has a lot to do with your personal values and traits, this question is an opportunity for employers to catch a glimpse of your personality.
Hence, you can go ahead and display your personality by sharing what makes you tick. Do keep things semi-professional though.
It’s fine to talk about your passion for kickboxing, for instance – but sharing about how you’ve learned moves to win random fights with people who’ve crossed you is definitely a bad idea.
8. Now, let’s talk about your remuneration package. What are your salary requirements?
Your expected salary is almost always a tricky topic to discuss with a prospective employer. For starters, you should make sure that what you expect is realistic, even before you apply for the job.
As a general rule of thumb, you should do your job market research based on the industry and role you are applying to. Also consider that graduate positions are usually on the lower side of the pay scale – but this also depends on the kind of role and industry you are applying for.
Find out what the reasonable range is based on your research, and use it in response to this interview question. What follows would usually entail a negotiation process between you and your interviewer regarding your compensation package. Be sure you are prepared for that as well.
9. What do you think about our company and what do you think we can do better or differently?
This is another difficult one that may catch you off guard.
The trick to answering this question is to showcase that you’ve done your background research on this company while showing that you have what it takes to bring something new to the table.
Head to your interview with new ideas – it’ll demonstrate your enthusiasm as well. For example, you can talk about the new features or products you think would bring in more revenue to the company. Or marketing strategies that the company can adopt to make themselves more competitive.
Try to keep your ideas relevant to the job you are applying for. More importantly, show how your skills and strengths will allow you to execute these ideas and benefit the company.
10. Do you have any questions for us?
This is when the tables are turned and you get to grill your interviewer. Remember – a job interview is a two-way conversation between you and the employer, so don’t be afraid to ask your recruiters questions if you have any.
In fact, it is the perfect opportunity to really find out if the company, its culture and the nature of the job itself are the right fit for you.
You could also ask about the future plans that the company has in store for its employees, which can be useful information for you when evaluating which job offer to accept (if you receive more than one offer) and which can lead you to a successful career path in the long run.