Ultimate Guide To Answering The Common Interview Questions

While some interviewers try to make the recruitment process out of the box by adopting unusual approaches, most of the job interviews usually involve an exchange of the most common interview questions. Here is a comprehensive list of commonly asked interview questions and some suggestions regarding how to approach them. These are not industry-specific questions, but are behavioural inquiries which are asked by most of the interviewers. 

We don't have a canned response for all of these questions. It is better if you don't have too. Take your time with each question, follow our list and craft effective responses that are unique and based out of your experiences. So let's start! 

Most Commonly asked Interview Questions

1) Tell Me About Yourself.

Self-introduction is like an elevator pitch for yourself. It must be short, concise but should give a glance over your professional life. If you are a fresher, convey why you chose this career space, how it will get along with your interests and ambitions etc. For a detailed outlook on this question, take a look at this article for reference. 

2) Why do you want to work with us?

If you are answering this like everyone else, you are missing your opportunity to stand out. Before going for any interviews, do a thorough research on the company. Read about their history, growth, achievements and milestones. Tell them how you want to contribute to their company, how excited you are about the opportunity and why. Try to blend the gathered data along with your answers to give clarity. Even if you didn't get much data on the company history or growth, try to learn about the niche, industry specific details, and competitors; then frame your answer wisely. 

3) Why should we hire you?

This is when you should sell yourself to the recruiter. The question itself is a bit forward. Most of us will feel awkward while answering this. Still, this is the right chance to tell them about your skills and achievements in detail. Always focus on mentioning three key points as the response: 

You can deliver great results.

You're the right fit for the company culture.

You honestly feel that you can do the job (or try to do the job) better than anyone else. 

4) Your greatest strengths?

Here, instead of listing out specific skills, think about your core strengths and speak about it. Share any relevant experiences or achievements you've had because of these core skills. It can be either behavioural or industry-related. The best way to convince your skills is through sharing experiences because storytelling is magic! (works every time). 

5) Your weaknesses?

Handle this question with care. You need to find an apt response which strikes a balance between 'perfection' and 'failure'. Instead of pointing out your mistakes, talk about any of your weaknesses and how you are trying to overcome it. For example, if you are not a "people person", tell them you have slight social anxiety but you are trying to overcome it by trying to spend more time out with friends every week. 

6) What Is Your Greatest Professional Achievement?

Pick one of your best achievements which will get along with the job role. Explain -- your job role, the given task, how you approached it and the results. It is always better to share numerical results and periods if possible. For example, During my career as an immigration consultant for XYZ , I was able to increase the client conversion rate by 30% within 6 weeks. 

7) Tell me about a tough situation you’ve had at work and how you dealt with it?

Be honest and respond to this calmly. You can share a tough situation you had at work and explain what you did to overcome it. Instead of focusing on the conflict, direct the conversation towards resolution and how you managed not to repeat the friction. 

8) Why did you resign from your previous position?

Be positive about this one. Don't rant or spill anything negative about your previous employer. You're not going to gain anything from it. Frame your response slight differently and focus it toward the job you're interviewed for. Start your answer by stating your current job is okay, and you are happy about it. Tell the recruiter that you believe this particular opportunity could help you with your career growth and continue to focus on explaining what made you choose this career. 

9) What’s your current and expected salary? 

In some countries, it is illegal to enquire about the salary. However, in India, this question is one of the most common questions asked. The key to this question is not to lie about your number. When you are demanding a higher salary, you can always point out your skills and experience to convey that you're worth it. There are multiple salary comparison websites online, like Glassdoor salaries. Before thinking about your compensation number, go through such websites and get clarity on the industrial scale. 

10) What do you hate about your previous Job?

Instead of saying what you don't like about the current job, you can rather focus on any growth opportunity that is not available with the current employer.  Bend your conversation in favour of both of the employers. As the 8th question, be diplomatic and positive about your responses for this one. The best way to handle this question is by conveying your interest or concern in that particular sector or opportunity your current employer lacks. You can also explain how excited you are about the role you're interviewed for. 

11) How would other people describe you?

The recruiter or anyone from the hiring team will call the given references on the last round. To be on the safe side, you can frame the response in a funny way like "the person who always leaves late from the office parties" or frame a vague answer like "the person who asks a lot of doubts" etc. Make sure you keep the response short and safe. Your employer might compare your answers with your references. So be honest and share an unbiased and confident answer for this. 

 12) Tell us how you manage stressful situations at work?

One of the best ways to answer this question is to talk about your 'soothing' or 'go-to-strategies' for stress relief. For example, you can say -- "I meditate or I listen to soft music for relaxation, and will try to sort this out when my mind is clear". Sharing any such experiences from life can also work out.  

 13) Tell us about your future plans/ Where you’ll be after 5 years?

The hiring manager or the recruiter is certainly going to compare your ambitions and goals with the job role. So when you're answering such questions, make sure your answer will also align with the role. For example, you can say -- "I want to become a content curator and want to lead projects of my own" or "I'd be leading teams hopefully" etc. And if you have any other personal plans like quitting your job and starting something of your own, traveling etc, make sure you convey it positively. 

 14) What are the other companies you’ve applied for?

Companies might ask this question to see if you're serious about this job. If you have applied somewhere else, don’t try to cover it. Tell them you've applied for a similar job with some other company hoping for better opportunities. Also, add two-three lines on how the applied job role would help you grow professionally. 

 15) What are your interests outside of work?

Be honest and keep the answer short. Specifically, mention something you love to do during your off-time. You shouldn't end up sounding like you have extra hobbies that would slice up the working hours. You can also focus on -- other activities you like to do, skills you're trying to learn, brushing up old skills etc. 

 16) Do you have anything to ask us?

Never answer 'No' to this question. Asking questions shows your enthusiasm and willingness to know more about the company. This is an easy one and you can ask about -- the team, new projects, company culture, company's growth, management structure, or even about work from home policy! Try to have a healthy conversation with the recruiter instead of a debate. 

 17) What kind of work environment do you prefer?

Maybe you are a person who likes to work alone. If you are interviewed for a team-based position, this answer might backfire. Always learn about the work culture at a firm before applying. When you are answering similar questions, make sure you don't hurt the recruiter's expectations. Be neutral on the role aspect and if you're a person who can't stand working with a team in any manner, be truthful about that too. 

Be honest and let your personality shine. Recruiters are always looking for people with versatile personalities, who can take up responsibilities, who are truthful and can be trusted with responsibility. Keep this in mind and try to answer each of these questions individually before going for the interview. Proper preparation will help you handle other out-of-the-box questions too. 

Hope you find our comprehensive list helpful. If you think we missed out any topics, feel free to reach out to us or give us a shout in the comment section below. 

18) Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

This one is a toughie for obvious reasons — you thought it was done, but it wasn’t. What should you do then? First of all, you shouldn’t panic because it’s not at all a trick question.

Instead, use this opportunity to close the conversation on a high note. You could mention something extremely relevant that you forgot to mention before. 

If you cannot think of anything, you can quickly summarize your candidacy and qualifications. For instance, you could say something like: “From what I have gathered so far, you’re on the lookout for a professional who can get into the swing of things. And with my qualifications <Mention your qualifications>, work experience <Mention your work experience> . and achievements <Mention your achievements>, I believe I’m the right person for the job.”

19) Are you open to travel/relocation?

When you think of this question, it's a matter of answering it with a simple yes or no. However, it’s often more tricky than that. 

One of the simplest scenarios for something such as this is one where you’re totally open to moving to a new location or travelling. In other words, you want the job badly so you are ready to uproot yourself from where you are.

Conversely, the answer can be a no — you cannot say for certain that you can move now, but there is potential in the distant future. In such a case, although it’s a plain ‘no’ for now, you can shore up interest in the role, share your enthusiasm and share why you can't — perhaps responsibility towards your family etc. 

But do offer an alternative such as working remotely or out of a local office. Despite what you say, sometimes your answer might not be definite, and that is totally fine. You can always say why you can’t for whatever the reason. But reiterate the fact that for the right opportunity, you would be willing to relocate or travel. 

20) How soon can you start?

Another tricky one that befuddles most. But don’t stress out when asked; you need only understand that your objective here will be to set realistic expectations that satiate your needs, and that of the company.

Your specific situation will dictate the expectations you will set. For instance, if you’re unemployed and desperately in need of a job then you could say that you can start within the week.

However, if you’re employed then do not hesitate to tell the interviewer that you will need to serve notice before joining. Employers will understand your predicament and get a sense of your responsibility towards the employer — that you want to close things on a good note, ethically, without leaving any loose ends.

You will be totally in the right too if you ask for some time before joining because people do take time off when switching employers. You should let the interviewer know that you have a few personal commitments, scheduled much in advance, that you must keep. Having said that, try to be flexible and work with the employer if they really need you to begin sooner.

21) Is there something you think we could be doing differently or better?

Now, this is a question that can really hoodwink you into saying something that will leave the interviewer enraged or result in you insulting the company. You want to have an answer, significant and to the point.

You should start off by being calm and reserved. Take a breather, organize your thoughts and lay down the positives about the company or the situation — service or product — that you have been asked to comment on.

Constructive feedback — that’s all there is to it. When you’re ready to give it, you need to reinforce your point of view and the transformation that you are suggesting with experiences and learnings from your previous work experience. Was there anything similar that you faced before? How did you tackle it? Draw the parallels and back them up with evidence as much as possible. 

You can even make the entire experience all the more interesting for the interviewer if you end your answer with a question. Reel them in with a question so that they realize that you’re interested in the subject being discussed and open to suggestions. 

You could say something like: ‘I’ve faced something similar at <Mention your current/previous employer> where <Mention the problem and how it was similar to the one being discussed>. We <Mention what you (or your team) did that was groundbreaking> which <Mention the positives of the approach>. What do you think — is that something that we could do here at <Mention the company interviewing you>? It'd be great if you could tell me a bit about your approach so that I can understand what will and will not work.’

22) Is there anything I should know that’s not on your resume?

Don’t be mistaken — interviewers are masters of their trade. They read candidates, their personality, character, traits, weaknesses, strengths and sniff out any oddities effortlessly. But they always want to know more about you, more than you put on display in your resume and during the interview.

You shouldn’t sweat if they ask you something like this because it’s often a good sign. They have looked at your resume and know that you might be a possible fit for the organization, but just want to know that little something “extra” about you.

If this question is directed at you, there are definitely ways to manage your response in such a way that they will welcome it. For instance, you could briefly explore a story in your life that resulted in many positives, or try talking about one of your positive traits. And while you’re at it, speaking highly about the company, your excitement about the role or the work they do, and your personal goals is more than welcome. In fact, it will be music for the recruiting manager’s ears.

23) Can you give me a glimpse into what your first few weeks/months will be like in this role for which you’re being interviewed?

The recruiting manager asking you this question (or whoever that has put him up to it) has already a fair bit of idea about your date of joining. But this question will be asked to know if you’ve done your homework, as in, whether you have looked into how you will get started in the new job. And whether you’re geared up for taking an initiative as soon as you begin.

The first few things you’ll have to do in the new job if you’re hired is familiarizing yourself with your responsibilities, how things are done in your team/department, and getting to know your immediate team members, supervisors and auxiliary peers. And these details are exactly what you have to include in your response.

Since you’ll be clued in about your duties from the job description, your profile, and the expectations of the employer, you can even speak about a project or a task that you’d want to lift off from day 1. Throwing some light on your plans in the role will impress the employer as they would know that you want to contribute early and hit the ground running without wasting any time. 

Bear in mind that your potential plans may be modified, postponed, or even kept on hold come d-day. Be that as it may, it’s essential that you chalk out your plans so that it reflects interest, excitement, and seriousness about the job.

24) Why should we pick you over others?

This question will definitely do a number on you. The fact behind why a question such as this is even asked is because they (the employer) genuinely want to know what makes you unique.

The fact of the matter is that you’re not the only potential candidates they’re actively scouting for the vacant role. In such a situation, the key is to gain an edge over the competition by keeping your answer relevant and in line with the role you’re applying to. 

You should speak about your talents that other candidates might not possess. Of course, the only way to find out what you will say that they want to hear is by exploring your previous experiences.

Find out what are the key patterns in feedback that were given to you in the past and try to understand why your peers and colleagues sound out for your inputs or help. You can always ask your colleagues and people who understand you well to get to the bottom of it.

When answering, keep just one or two points central and always back up your claim with hard facts.

25) What is your dream job?

At the end of the day, the numerous, hard-hitting, gut-wrenching, mind-bending questions thrown at you by the interviewer is not to discourage, but to explore if the vacant position aligns with your career objectives.

Although you could give in to your excitement and say “a covert spy for the government” which might raise a few eyebrows or garner some chortles, you should stick to your career aspirations, goals, and objectives and explain how the job you’re being interviewed for will get you that much closer to them.

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