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How to answer the 5 most commonly asked questions in a job interview!

Updated: Jan 20, 2022

Recently, I posted a video on my YouTube channel where I tell you how to answer 5 of the most commonly asked questions in interviews.

While most of us might be really good at the work we do and might have all the relevant skills for a job, acing an interview is not just about all this. Even while we can answer most job-related questions with ease, a lot of us struggle with answering unstructured questions during an interview. Sounds familiar? In this blog, I try to answer 5 of the most common questions asked in interviews. Make sure to stick around till the end because that last question is where you get a chance to hit gold and you really do not want to miss it.

The first and perhaps the most common question that interviewers ask is:

"Tell me about yourself."

This might feel like the time to talk about yourself, what you have studied, and your hobbies, and whatnot. But, you cannot forget the objective of this conversation. The interviewer is trying to assess you, right from the first question. So, it is important that while you answer this question as honestly as possible, you also need to be relevant. This is your first impression, your first pitch.

One of the first things to do while even considering applying for a job is to tailor your resume using the job description. This is also how you must prepare your answer for this question. Use the job description to know which of your experiences to highlight and what skills to focus on. Use this to create an engaging story that the interviewer would be interested in listening to.

The next commonly asked question is:

"What are your strengths and weaknesses?"

I often find this the most difficult question to answer mostly because I feel like what I perceive to be my strengths and weaknesses are very subjective and it might not be really true. Again, keep the objective of the interview in mind and try to be as humble as possible, no matter how proud you are of your strengths.

When you are listing your strengths, it would do you good if you can cite relevant experiences to add context to why you think a particular skill is your strength. You should also focus on strengths that would show the interviewer why you would be a value add to their company.

Contrary to what it might seem like, asking about a person’s weakness is the best way to understand what strengths that person might bring to the table. It shows who the person really is. So, be your authentic self and show them that you are not afraid to accept your imperfections and to learn and grow through them. This really gives you a lot of brownie points. If you want to list your weaknesses, make sure to stay clear from skills that are relevant to the job because you might just be cutting it too close otherwise. But most importantly, tell them how you manage your weakness. That is what they are most interested in knowing.

This next question is something that always makes me feel awkward because I have always felt like there is no good way to answer this.

"Why do you want to leave your current job?"

This question can feel a little tricky. We might have many reasons for wanting to leave a job. It could be our personal feelings about our current job, company, and people or it could be a very strategic move for a better salary or position. Whatever be the case, when interviewers ask you this question, they are trying to understand your motive.

You must answer this question positively because it is a reflection of your attitude. Even if you’re having problems at your current workplace, this is neither the place to talk about it nor the person to talk about it. If you go on to discuss your bad experiences and complain about where you are, it generally indicates a bad attitude and no skill set is enough to compensate for that. So, the best way to answer this question is to focus on your ambitions and goals and to talk about your aspirations. Tell them how you see this current opportunity with the new company as a step closer to your aspirations.

This last question is perhaps the most important in the interview as far as the interviewee is concerned. This is the question that opens the platform for you to ask any questions you might have for the company. This is really important for you to understand the company's culture and know a little more about the opportunity. You might have already guessed the question:

"Do you have any questions for me?"

Most often, by the end of the interview, we are glad the interview is over and we do not want to jeopardize the impression we might have built by asking questions. (remember Chandler?) But, this is the best time for you to ask any questions you might have about the company and the role specifically and to understand the company a little better. So instead of telling them that you do not have questions, probe them a little more about your role some of the challenges in the role. This helps them understand that you are excited about that role or and most often they would be interested in taking that conversation further. It also shows them that you are engaged and genuinely interested. You could also ask them industry-relevant questions to understand the position of the company in the current state of things. You could also ask the interviewer questions about their career path/ growth within the organization. This would help you understand the company's growth prospects and help you form a bond with the interviewer and leave a lasting impression. Just make sure you don’t discuss salary at this stage unless specifically asked for because that is not the objective of the interview and most probably the person interviewing you might not even be equipped to answer that question.

I hope I was able to help you figure out how to answer some of the most commonly asked questions that we usually struggle with during interviews. Let me know what other questions do you struggle with, in the comments below! Also, don't forget to follow this blog and subscribe to my YouTube channel for more such content!

See you soon!

- Neeraja

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