What is the first thought that comes to your mind, when you hear the word ‘’interview’’? Tension? Sweat? Tears? The fear of answering questions that seem nothing less than grenades being hurled at you… we all have been there. The fear of giving interviews is so rife, we believe it warrants its own phobia name. But that’s a task for the makers of the lexicon. Meanwhile, we are still here, suffering from the barrage of questions and desperately waiting for the misery to end like-
But alas, life is not so good. As much as we may want this satanic ritual to be cast away, it is not going away anytime soon. Interviews will continue to be the most preferred means of selecting candidates to fill up job vacancies and it is a truth we have to digest, at least for now. So if you can’t get away with it, you might as well learn and be prepared to master it like a boss! We are not going to be the interviewers though, so in no way can we give you an exhaustive list of all the questions that are asked or are expected to be asked by different employers. What we can give, however, is tips for you to master the art of giving quick and suitable responses to some of the most common and generic questions asked by many employers. Have a look at what to do, and what not to do!
Q 1) Tell us something about yourself
One of the most common questions. Employers basically try to see how well you know yourself as a person, and what are the foremost traits of your personality that make you who you are. This is because what comes to your mind first is the most conclusive evidence of who you basically are as an individual. No one can fake a mask within a second – hence, by default, what you reply gives away who you are as a person.
1) Never start with something that is already written in your CV. If the employer wanted to know those things, he might as well have just read it from the CV you gave him. Why would he need to ask you specifically? Never state things like ‘’I have done ____ course’’/ ‘’I went to ____ college”, etc.
2) Also, don’t try to be cheesy and over-the-top. Multiple movies show people cracking kickass lines, startling the interviewer and making him say ‘’So, how much salary do you want?’’ Well, life is not a Bollywood movie. So do away with being cheeky like “Well, I am the best!” or “I am the biggest mistake you will make by not hiring me”. It’s the sure-shot way to ensure you walk out that door and never get called in again!
3) Avoid getting too personal. So, you had 3 girlfriends who dumped you/a dog who died/almost got killed in a drunken brawl… well, those are your own personal issues. The employer gets no value or benefits from these responses. If anything, you end up portraying yourself as loose or unprofessional, and no employer wants an employee who goes about nagging team members with his personal life instead of focusing on the work at hand. It is an absolute no-go!
1) Say things about yourself that are not included in the CV – give them an insight as to who you are as an individual. Tell them aspects of your life which in some way or another can prove to be beneficial for the employer’s work. E.g “I am *your name*, a student of _____ college. But that’s already common knowledge – what is not that _____ was my favorite subject there.” Be wise enough to state that subject which is closely related to the job requirement.
2) Also, you can state your previous work experience in a way that highlights your good performances. E.g “I worked at _____ priorly, where one of my tasks was to _____. I achieved that by adopting a unique measure like _____, which is seldom seen in the industry. That unique method did a world of good for me, my colleagues and my boss’s profit chart of course”
3) You can try adding a bit of subtle humor to lighten the mood and ease things with the interviewer. Nothing hard or inappropriate, just light humor enough to make the interviewer smile and have a positive perception of you. E.g in the example mentioned above, you can continue like “…and my boss’s profit chart of course. I got a lot of confidence from it, and not to forget, an extra sick leave which I did exploit! :p” and smile yourself a bit. The interviewer will definitely view it as an acknowledgment of your sheepishness which will be welcome when he knows you provided value for the team. Again, keep it subtle of course!
Also, check out some more answers at UptoWork.
Q 2) Tell me some of your strengths
A more direct question by the employer to know what qualities you bring to the table. Hence, it has to be handled adeptly because if you do not portray your correct strengths, the employer will never know how good you are or could have been. This requires some homework on your part though – a saint-like self-introspection of your personality and behavior. Only then can you answer accordingly.
1) Avoid irrelevant stuff. You may be the fastest eater in your family, but the employee is not hiring you for that. Nor is he looking to see if you have the ability to create 10 different types of sounds from your mouth (unless the job you’re looking for is that of a singer). Again, you run the risk of being called out as unprofessional.
2) Never lay out clichéd jargons like “My biggest strength is me”, or “My family and my friends are my biggest strength”. Yes, they might be for real, but that again adds no value as to what you bring to the table. Also, you’re no God to proclaim yourself as the ultimate source of strength. It all sounds cheeky and kickass, but again, leave that to Bollywood.
1) Bring out those strengths that are clearly relevant in making you fit to be hired. E.g “One of my best abilities is creating friendly bonds with people around and making them comfortable enough, that they can depend on me”, or “One of the things I have noticed about myself is that I don’t really get heated up, no matter how crazy the people are going around me. I like to think of myself as the Dhoni of my team”. 2 things here – not only do you showcase important strengths that are handy later on such as team management, you also do so in a subtle way without coming across as too pompous or boastful.
2) Bring out parts about yourself that are related to your personality, more than skills that are already mentioned in the CV. Thus, saying “I have mastery in SEO”, adds no more information about yourself. Stick to the intangible aspects of your personality that are not visible on the CV but would be felt as you start working for the employer. It acts as 2 pronged attacks on the interviewer – your skills as well as your personality, making you more eligible to be hired.
Q 3) What are some of your weaknesses?
It is pretty much on the lines of the previous question, except that it is trickier. With interviews being all about what you can do, this is the question where the employer is prompting you to highlight negative aspects yourself so as to make you dig your own grave. The trick is to not let him.
1) Don’t end up divulging your dirty secrets! You may be a lazy panda who hits snooze 10 times, ends up missing the crucial 8:32 train and ultimately walks in 30 minutes late to the destination – but this secret has to die with you and your family. Never say critically important stuff that can potentially jeopardize your chances of getting hired. So no blurting stuff about drinking addictions, heavy tempers, etc.
2) As mentioned before, no cheeky clichés. No words like “My biggest weakness is me”, or “My friends/family are my biggest weakness – I cannot see them suffer…”. Let Karan Johar do his job.
There is just answer to it – bring about those aspects that are not exactly relevant enough to jeopardize your chances, but just enough to keep the interviewer interested and intrigued to find out the results if you overcome them. E.g “I am a little too sympathetic in the sense that I end up helping others more than I should to myself… so it does hurt sometimes thinking others may be taking advantage of my nature. It’s something I have been working on but part of it still remains”. Not only do you portray yourself as someone who would go the extra mile if needed to complete a task, it also shows that you’re aware of the problem and are taking steps to improve it.
Q 4) Why should we hire you?
Interviewers behave lazily themselves by asking this question, don’t they? After all, it is their job to think why to hire people – why should you be made to do it? You will obviously have just one answer in your mind – “Because I’m unemployed, idiots! Take me! I’m sick of sitting at home killing mosquitoes!” Folks, there’s a very important reason interviewers ask this question – it is to let you into their shoes, making you think what sets you apart from the hundred others vying for the same position. This is a dilemma that gives employers a migraine! So what do you do to get the job? Be the antidote to their suffering of course!
1) Do not just repeat what all you said in the “strengths” question. Interviewers purposely ask this question after the SWOT questions so as to flummox you into thinking you have nothing left to say about yourself. By repeating your strengths, you hereby certify that you have nothing more left to say, thus falling right into their trap.
2) Re-iterating again – do not try being cheeky or flashy. Sentences like “I believe you should be asking yourself why you shouldn’t hire me” solve just one purpose – making the interviewer cringe!
The trick is to link the strengths you previously mentioned, with the job requirements that the employer must have put out in the vacancy posted on their website/newspaper. It follows a simple, logical process of demand-and-supply. For instance, if you need a burger, what do you do? Get yourself a burger, simple. No salad will quench that desire for a burger. Similarly, they will a have specific demand for the role they are interviewing you for. You may be a very delicious salad but if you want to be hired, you need to prove how great a burger you can be to satiate their desires! So what you basically need to come up with is something like “The role I am applying for requires a certain level of expertise in the area of ____, which was closely related to my area of specialization in college/was the field I worked on, through various tasks at my previous office and so I believe my experience/interest in that area can go a long way in doing justice to the work expected to be done.” Create and flaunt your USP!
Q 5) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
As prompt as you may be to answer “in your seat”, you know that is not the answer. No employer wants to know his position is under threat! Jokes apart, this question is strategically very important. This is the question where it’s your chance to proclaim your expectations from the employer you wish to join. Negotiating it well ensures both employer and employee stand on the same page at the end of the interview, with both knowing what to expect from others.
1) Don’t be too flamboyant. It is one thing to show ambition, but just daft to go beyond reason. So, an answer like “the CEO of the company” is just plain absurd. No one achieves such high managerial positions of a company after just 5 years of experience! By setting such high standards, you don’t come across as ambitious. You end up portraying yourself as someone who doesn’t think practically; a useless dreamer than a logical realist.
2) Don’t make it all about the money. Yes, it is everyone’s secret desire to earn millions and be rich, but making you rich is not why the employer would hire you, right? So answers like “earning 7 digit figures” only make the employer think you’re in it for the paychecks and not providing value to their brand.
1) Try to envisage a scenario that would work out well for both you and the employer. A future where both can be profiting from hiring you is the biggest reason why employers would look to have you on board. So the most fruitful reply would be like “On a personal front, I see myself as a much more improvised and perfected self of who I am today. I will have learned and developed a lot more and will be handling projects that are of immense strategic importance to both me and my company. I aim to be the right-hand man of the company because what’s more of a job satisfaction than knowing I’m irreplaceable because of the value I provide to the company. I also hope I will be in a position to inspire and mentor my juniors the way I was guided when I started. Oh, and of course, finally being able to afford that Lamborghini without worrying about loans would be nice! :p”. Again – subtle humor, not taking the focus away from the main answer, the answer that they are looking to hear.
There are a hundred other questions that every company can come up with. Now if it relates to technical aspects about a specific skill, then it is on you to have mastery over that skill to be able to answer it efficiently. The generic questions, however, can be sorted. Just one thumb rule – never try to get too fancy/cheeky/clichéd/over-the-top. Employers can see through the façade you try to put up there. Instead, let the work and skills speak for themselves. Also, you can visit various other websites like Shiksha.com, careerride, etc. Also, check out this video –
Good luck, nail that interview! Remember to be yourself (but not too much!).