Common interview questions and how to answer them

Gulp. The interview is looming. How can you make sure you get the job? One way is to be ready with winning answers to common interview questions.

You’ll do better if you understand the psychology behind these questions. They’re designed to tease information out of you about:

  • Who you really are
  • What you can do for the organisation
  • Why you’re switching jobs
  • How much you expect to be paid

In this article we outline the top 10 most typical interview questions and how to answer them:

  1. Tell me about yourself?
    Don’t you just hate this one? The employer doesn’t want to know what level you have reached on Candy Crush or your boyfriend. What the employer really wants to know is your experience, your skills and, if you’re new in the workforce, your education. Keep it short and sweet. 

    Read more about how to answer: So, tell me about yourself.
  2. What interests you about this job?
    This question weeds out people who just want any job. This is your chance to shine. Try: “there is a greater scope for me to use my skills” – which you then outline.
  3. What did you like and/or dislike about your current/previous job?
     The interviewer wants to find out whether your cup is half full or half empty. It’s best to focus on what you liked. Talk about the culture and the organisation and post it in a good light.
  4. Why are you leaving?
    This question can give a lot away about you. Focus on the opportunities available to you if you take the job.
  5. What do you know about our company?
    This question uncovers candidates who haven’t taken the time to find out about the organisation. If you’ve done your homework you should be able to talk about the products or services, opportunities or difficulties in the market, and some recent news.
  6. Why do you want to work for us?
    Employers want someone who’ll be committed, not someone who just needs a job. If you can link your skills to what the company or organisation does you’re on the right track.
  7. What are your strong points?
    We know you’re perfect. But this could work against you if you brag. Think of three or four good points and give examples of how they have benefited previous employers

    Read more about identifying your workplace strengths.
  8. What are your weak points?
    If you’re counting on your fingers, stop now. Only ever give one weak point – which you can shed in a good light. Have another up your sleeve in case you’re pushed. 

    Read more about how to talk about weaknesses in an interview.
  9. What have you learned from your mistakes?
     Everyone has made mistakes. If you’re honest about one or two mistakes you’ll come across as more believable and trustworthy than someone who denies all. Focus on the take outs from these mistakes.
  10. How much do you think this position pays?
    Most employers expect to talk about salary expectations during the recruitment process.The are often trying to understand your expectations, and whether they align with the role on offer. 

    Read more about when to talk money in an interview. 

Whatever you do: practice, practice, practice when it comes to job interview questions. Have an answer to every common question, that focuses on the positive.