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Interview Questions and Answers 101

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Interview Questions and Answers 101


Masterskill is all about career growth, and upskilling. Therefore, we have put together a list of the most common interview questions, and answers.

Please note that we do not suggest you go to an interview with specific, scripted answer in mind. Rather, consider these questions and answers as a study guide to help you find the job that is right for you.

Top Interview Questions and How to Respond
What can you tell us about yourself?

This may seem like a basic, easy question, yet most people don’t prepare for it. This question is crucial and shouldn’t be dismissed as “simple.”

Rather than providing your potential employer with a full life history, use this as an opportunity to provide a sales pitch. Your answer should be straight to the point, and compelling, explaining why you are good for the position. Begin by providing 2 – 3 examples of experiences and accomplishments that you want the interviewer to know about, and then explain how this previous experience has prepared you for the specific role you are interviewing for.

What do you know about our business?

It’s very easy to skim through the “About Us” page of a company’s website before heading through to your interview. But remember, your potential interviewer doesn’t want to know if you understand what the business does (obviously you do), they want to know if you care about what it does.

Begin by using one line that sums up your understanding of the business’s mission and goals. Then make sure to give your personal take on this, i.e.: I am drawn to your business mission because…” or “I share your approach to business because…”

Why do you want this job?

Businesses want to hire people who have a passion for the job, this is why you should always have a great answer to this question. And if you can’t think of a great answer, you probably shouldn’t be applying for the position anyway.

Ask yourself what makes this position a good fit for you? For example: if you are applying for a sales position, you may be a great fit because you enjoy interacting with people and building relationships with people.

What are your professional strengths?

When it comes to this question, be accurate, precise, and honest. Tell the interviewer your true strengths, not just what you think they want to hear.

Make sure you identify specific strengths that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Remember to always follow up with an example of how you have used your strengths in a professional environment in the past.

What are your professional weaknesses?

Through this question, your interviewer is trying to measure your honesty and self-awareness. (Of course, they are looking to identify major red flags too.) Strike a balance between putting yourself down too much, and trying to make yourself sound too perfect.

No one is perfect, think of what it is that you do struggle with, and make sure they understand that you are working on improving this weakness.

What is your greatest career achievement?

By having a track record of certain achievements in previous jobs is crucial – so don’t be shy to answer this question – and don’t sell your achievements short. So, how do you answer this without sounding overly confident? Make use of the STAR method. This stands for: Setup up to situation and the task that you had to undertake, and them spend the rest of your time describing what it is you actually did, and what the result/achievement was.

For example: In two months, I managed to streamline the online sales process, saving my team members 10-man hours every month, reducing human error by 60%.

What conflict or challenge have you faced in the workplace, and how did you deal with it?

Your interviewer wants to understand how well you respond to challenges or conflict in the work environment. It is easy to appear pleasant and nice in a job interview, but what happens if you are hired and you handle a conflict with a team member badly?

Again, in this regard, you should use the STAR method. Make sure to focus on how you handled the situation productively and professionally. And end your story on a good note, for example: how you came to a successful compromise or resolution.

If you get asked this question, make sure you are honest about your goals. Also remember that your interviewer also wants to gauge whether you have set realistic expectations for your future, whether you have ambition, and if the position aligns with your ambition.

Think logically and realistically when answering this question. If you find that your answer to this question doesn’t align with the job at hand, this may not be the position for you, and that’s OK too. We all need to find a career that will help us reach certain goals, and by answering these questions you will discover what it is you want, more and more.

Why are you leaving your current position?

This is always a tough question to answer. Make sure to keep your answer as positive as possible, you really don’t have anything to gain by being nasty or negative about your past employers. Plus, this kind of bad mouthing will raise a red flag!

If you did leave your last job on a bad note, frame things to express that you are eager for new, greater opportunities that provide career growth. For example: “I would like to be a part of a strong sales team, that works together strategically to reach and exceed goals, and I feel as if I do not have that support or opportunity for growth, currently.”

If you were let go, keep your answer simple by simply stating “I was let go.” An answer like that is perfectly fine. If they ask you to elaborate on this, be honest and open – and keep things positive. Explain what you learned from being fired, and how you will use this experience as an opportunity to grow in your career.

Why is there a significant gap in your employment history?

If you found yourself unemployed for a period of time, be honest and direct about why this happened. Once you have explained this, and what you did during that period (be it taking classes, doing charity work, or finding yourself), then steer the conversation to how you will contribute to the company and organisation because of this.

For example: “I used this period to discover my passions, and I am now ready to give my all to the business in the following ways…”

What are your salary requirements?

The first rule to answering this question is to do your research! Investigate what people are being paid for this position. Always state the highest number in that specific range based on your experience and education. Therefore, this number can always be negotiated, and make sure the interviewer knows that you are flexible with this number.

By providing a higher number, you are communicating the value of your skills. By stating that you are flexible in this regard, shows that you want to job and will prove yourself in the position.

Do you have any questions for us?

This is standard. You will always have chance to ask questions, helping you figure out if the job is the right fit for you.

So, what do you want to know about the position and the company? What do you want to know about your possible team and the department you will be working in?

These questions should be covered a lot throughout the interview anyway, so have some less-common questions in mind. Try target these questions to the interviewer themselves, i.e.: what’s your favourite part about working here?

Masterskill: Education through Innovation

Masterskill offers a variety of courses aimed at career growth and the interview process, these include:

AXO84-134SG Quality Interviewing, Third Edition
CCT-003-S Behavior-Based Interviewing, First Edition
CCT-023-S Preparing for the Behavior-Based Interview, First Edition
CCT-072-S Preparing for Your Interview, First Edition
COT-SI1-S Interviewing Skills, First Edition
ELK88-676SG Interviewing Skills for Management
CCT-001-S Tips for Recruiting Employees, First Edition
CCT-026-S Recruiting for High Performance, First Edition
CCT-198-S Effective Recruiting Strategies, First Edition
ELK88-899SG Recruiting the Workforce of the Future
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