An interview involves various questions, starting from the classic “Tell me about yourself” to the specific “What makes you think you’re up for the job?” Throughout this article, we will give you an understanding of some amazing answers to Common Interview Questions that you can make use of.
- 1. Tell me about yourself.
- 2. Why do you want to work for [company name]?
- 3. Why do you want this job?
- 4. How did you hear about this job?
- 5. Why should we hire you?
- 6. Do you have prior experience?
- 7. Do you prefer working independently or on a team?
- 8. Tell me about a challenge you’ve faced at work, and what you did to solve it.
- 9. Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership skills.
- 10. When you’re handling multiple tasks, how do you keep yourself organized?
- 11. Where do you see yourself in five years?
- 12. How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?
- 13. What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
- 14. What are your salary expectations?
- 15. Do you have any questions for me?
We will cover answers to various common questions that can appear during an interview. It’s good to practice ahead and know what is expected but know that spontaneity will be required. There might be questions you do not expect, specific follow-ups, situational-based questions related to your job, and so on. Your answers should appear authentic and natural.
1. Tell me about yourself.
While this question appears quite generic, your aim should be to relate it as much to the job description as possible. Typically, you’d want to talk about how you got here. This includes major educational qualifications, work experience, and other accomplishments. Adding personalization to this might give you a good start.
“I’m a graduate of California State University, where I majored in computer science. I have had a lot of training since then, and worked for around 5 years, which has given me ample experience in working with hardware. I love the work I do and believe that I’d be a good addition to your team.”
2. Why do you want to work for [company name]?
The answer you give here should indicate that you have a good knowledge of the company. This is also an opportunity to speak positively about the company. Be as specific as possible and do not give answers that obviously appear fake. For example, if you’re applying for a company simply because it offers a good salary compared to others, then don’t lie that your primary motivation is something like service or contributing to humanity. Instead, frame your material motivation better and add the value part as an adjunct.
“I have witnessed the incredible growth of this company from when it first appeared in the magazines as a start-up. I believe that being a part of this fast-growing culture will help me grow greatly. The incentives offered by the company are quite appealing as well, to be frank. That will surely be greatly motivating when I work with you. I also feel a personal connection with the values of integrity and excellence that the company stands by so would be delighted to contribute to that.”
3. Why do you want this job?
People hiring you would ideally want someone who likes working in their role. Express how passionate you are about what you will be doing.
“I have always enjoyed working with computers ever since I was a kid. Previously, I have operated on the hardware that your company manufactures and I can tell the quality of work that goes into it. I would love to be a part of the team that manufactures these top-notch products. By far, the job description of this role really feels like something I would like to get up to and spend my day on.”
4. How did you hear about this job?
This is another opportunity to speak well about the company and how you’re attracted to it. Feel free to mention the names of any well-known people who’re already a part of the company if you heard it through them or by coming across something related to them.
“I first heard about your company when it first appeared in the magazines. The project seemed interesting so I have been following your company ever since. When it recently dropped a job requirement on [platform name], I just thought ‘This is it.’”
5. Why should we hire you?
Here, you’ll need to sell yourself by indicating how you’re perfect for the job role and company. Try to add unique experiences and skills that will set up apart from other candidates. You can also add how you will fit in well with the company culture and values.
“I’m highly motivated since I’m working in a role I enjoy working in, and I also tend to be very efficient in the work I do, which I believe is needed when working in this industry. Having worked with your hardware before, I’m acquainted with the build and have done prior research that will help me adapt quickly when working with it. I’m quite creative which will also help me develop products that can help the company stand out in the competitive arena.”
6. Do you have prior experience?
You might have talked a bit about this in the “tell me about yourself” question, so you can just briefly add those sections and then elaborate more. Make sure to add the growth outcome for every experience (i.e., how it helped you grow professionally).
“As I mentioned earlier, I have worked for 5 years in this industry. The role involved hardware engineering and I was part of a team of four that worked with [specific job responsibilities] so I am quite used to these responsibilities. Before that, I had done internships in software and some coding work as well, just to have a border understanding of the field I was delving into.”
Even if you do not have the proper job experience as a fresher, you can mention other relevant experiences that have provided you with skills that are relevant to this job.
“As a fresher, I haven’t had the opportunity to work in the industry yet. But what I have done is acquire various important skills through my coursework. I’m confident in being able to work with hardware designs, troubleshooting, building new hardware based on industry standards, and so on. I have also completed some certifications for these skills, as depicted in my CV. Of course, I am also very passionate about this role and would take an active role in upskilling myself to match and go beyond the standards required for this role if I am lacking anywhere.”
7. Do you prefer working independently or on a team?
Aim to be honest while also keeping the job description in mind. If a job typically requires working in a team, the recruiters would doubt if you can do a good job if you said you prefer working independently, unless you give a good enough reason for it. Typically, it would be a good idea to show how you can do both.
“I love team projects because great results tend to come through when diverse ideas are blended and collective brainstorming happens. But I also recognize that some work would require me to work entirely on my own, and I make sure to equip myself with all the skills that will allow me to do so.”
8. Tell me about a challenge you’ve faced at work, and what you did to solve it.
This should involve a story on how you were able to solve an issue through proactive effort rather than how you got stuck with something and never figured it out. Do not have a complaining attitude, be understanding while highlighting the crux of the issue. Aim to also add what you learned and will do differently next time.
“In my last job, I was working in a team of four. We were a small group and that meant each of us had to do our part right if we wanted to deliver. But naturally, there can be hiccups from anyone’s side while others are doing perfectly fine. We had a short deadline and one of our team members was very late with their part of the work. I worked with him to make sure things fell together on time and made sure he had everything that was needed. It also made me realize how important it is to keep following up with the team on how their work is doing so we’re not surprised later”
9. Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership skills.
This question can be surprising for some, especially because the role they’re applying for might not even require leadership skills directly. However, it’s still common to get this question because you may need to lead a project anytime, and some companies might want to see a recruit potentially being promoted in the future to handle leadership tasks in their role.
“In my last role as a hardware engineer, I was confident in my team’s quality of work but they had no experience with a consumer-oriented presentation. I took it upon myself to hold meetings with them where we discussed what they were apprehensive about, and then held mock sessions and provided feedback to each other. I realized how important it was to have a sense of team spirit back then, rather than just being a leader who gives out commands.”
10. When you’re handling multiple tasks, how do you keep yourself organized?
This will involve very specific things you do to keep yourself organized. Add an example with relevant work experience where that helped.
“I am quite familiar with project-related tools and use them actively when handling any task at all. I use Notion to chart out the progress on various tasks and set reminders for what I need to look into, along with all the resources I will need for it. One thing that’s definitely been of help with being organized is keeping some buffer time for my reminders so that even if I am not able to do it at that particular time, I can follow it up a bit later without having to panic about deadlines.”
11. Where do you see yourself in five years?
First, make sure to know what the interviewer might want from you. Are they looking for long-term employees? Then you can talk about how you’re looking to get promotions and work in that organization for a while, having achieved substantial goals. Make sure you’re realistic when describing yourself. Some companies will appreciate ambition as well, so look into that.
“I see myself as a senior executive in my department, taking part in all the important projects. I would also have a greater idea of what I plan to do in the long run. Most importantly, I would have grown professionally and be in a space where I am more knowledgable and wise in my decisions.”
12. How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?
Be realistic. Much as many of us like to just be able to not have emotions and pull through whatever life throws at us, this does not happen in reality and we struggle with a lot of things. Workplaces will have some of these scenarios and the recruiters want to know you can handle that stress and have some mechanism in place for it.
“I always aim to be cool-headed but I recognize this is not always possible. When things get very stressful, I like to take a step back for some time and then evaluate what needs to be done with a fresh mind. I also find that it helps to take others’ suggestions into account when it’s too stressful, just to get a more objective viewpoint.”
Related: ever worry if you’re going to get rejected because you appear too nervous during an interview? Check out this article.
13. What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
Aim to be self-aware and reflective by highlighting an actual weakness and how you’re working on it. Do not twist a strength into a weakness as this can appear very dishonest.
“It can be difficult for me to work with teammates who do not follow the standards and instructions that are given to the whole team. As it affects our final outcome, it bothers me that the whole appraisal including mine will be affected because someone else did not do it right. Of course, I am currently working on this and finding ways to make sure the inconsistency is less and also being diplomatic in dealing with it when it does occur.”
14. What are your salary expectations?
You’ll need to have done your research for this one. The company will typically try to hire you with as little cost to them as possible and you’d want to maximise your income. Make sure to know what the typical salary for that position is. Take into account your current experience, as it’s a common reason for salary to be reduced when it’s not enough. Do not be unreasonable because they have a budget to consider as well, but keep it fairly high so the employer can negotiate if needed.
“Considering my skills and previous experience in the role, I am looking at [range]. ”
15. Do you have any questions for me?
Always remember that you’re still being evaluated at this point. You can ask about their expectations, the recruiter’s experience in the company, the work pressure, how long they’ll take to get back, or anything else you found necessary to ask during the interview. You can also prepare a list of questions beforehand, this article will provide you with some ideas if you want to ask about job security.
“If I am selected, what are the goals I’ll need to accomplish in my first month?”
Need some motivation? Consider this:
The article covered answers to various common interview questions. Tips were provided along with a sample of what an answer could look like. Keep in mind that just having the right answers is not enough. Things like your body language and confidence matter a lot. Check out this article for more on body language.
Hope this was helpful to you. Public speaking is a great way to improve your interview skills as well, check out public speaking coaching to know more.