7 Common Interview Questions And How Best to Answer Them

7 Common Interview Questions And How Best to Answer Them
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 24 May, 2022

While the job-hunting landscape may have changed throughout the years, the interview is still one of the most vital parts of every hiring process. A conversation between the applicant and the employer, an interview helps both parties learn more about each other and ultimately decide if the role and the prospective employee are a good fit.

Every job applicant, new or old, will experience different kinds of interviews. It always helps to prepare beforehand; think about the common questions asked and how best to answer them so that you’re ready to face that interview confidently.

Common interview questions you need to prepare for

Here’s a guide to help you answer some of the most common questions asked in every job interview.

Tell me about yourself.

Everyone loves a good story, especially a riveting one with a great ending. However, it’s vital in job interviews to make your tale relevant. Aim to pitch yourself as the best candidate for the role by telling a story about your work experience, skills, and how you can be a great asset to the company. Make your exposition informative and fascinating to make sure that the hirer listens to you. This question is usually the first one in most interviews, so best to charm them right off the bat.

Why did you leave?

Your future employer will be curious about why you’re looking for new opportunities. Whether you’re fired, laid off, or moving on for career growth, you must retain a positive outlook when sharing your reasons with the interviewer. Even if you left your previous employer on a sour note, avoid badmouthing them in front of other firms. The hirer might see this as unseemly behaviour on your part and will think that this is how you will act with them in the future. Focus your answer instead on seeking change because you want to grow as a professional. You can also add how this potential role can help you achieve that.

Why do you want to work for us?

This will test how much you know about the role and the company that you’re applying to. Make sure to spend enough time before the interview to read up on the company, its culture, and its industry. The more you familiarise yourself with the company, the easier it will be for you to see your potential role in it. This will help you formulate a thoughtful answer that will best describe your capabilities and contributions to the company.

In what kind of work culture/environment do you do your best work?

Again, researching the company beforehand will help you when answering this question. The interviewer would like to know if you understand how their culture works and if you would be satisfied working in such an environment. Your answer should be somewhere along the lines of how your working style and the company’s culture align (and if it doesn’t, perhaps it’s time to reassess -- this job may not be the right fit for you).

What’s your weakness?

When asking about your weaknesses, the employer wants to know how you deal with challenges. They want to know if you can recognize your shortcomings and deal with them accordingly. Avoid saying “I don’t have any,” because everyone has weaknesses and the interviewer will see right through you. Instead, focus on weaknesses that you can turn into positives, weaknesses that will not be a deal-breaker for your employer, or weaknesses that you were able to improve.

How do you handle stress?

Similar to the question about weaknesses, this question wants to find out how you deal with difficulties. Specifically, how do you react to high-pressure situations? Ideally, you would want to show that you stayed calm because having a calm disposition can enable a clear head, which is very helpful when dealing with stress. Recall a time when you stayed on top of things despite the pressure, and share that story with your interviewer. If it’s a skill you haven’t gotten the hang of yet, be honest and tell the hirer. But make sure to mention that you recognize the importance of levelheadedness and that you are taking steps to improve yourself.

What motivates you?

This question aims to delve deeper into your personality. Your potential employer wants to know why and how you achieve goals and what drives you to succeed. To prepare for this, try to reflect on your work experience as a whole. What were your favourite days at work? When did you look forward to going to the office? What are the success stories at work that you love to share with friends and family? This question has no right or wrong answer, it is entirely up to you.

How the pandemic may have changed the job interview

The pandemic has impacted every aspect of our lives, so it should come as no surprise that job interviews nowadays will be affected, as well. Aside from an increased amount of video interviews, expect some pandemic-related questions to come up during your conversation, as well.

Here are some possible pandemic-related questions:

What mode of working do you prefer?

The employer might be curious about whether you prefer to work from home, work onsite, or a hybrid of some sort. After all, many workers today have experienced that they like the change in the work atmosphere. Our Decoding Global Talent report found that 74% of respondents in Singapore prefer a combination of remote and onsite working modes, the second-highest in Asia. Whatever you choose, be transparent with your preferences so that the hiring manager knows what to expect from you right from the start.

What are the work challenges you went through over lockdown?

Your interviewer will want to know how you coped during the most stressful times of the pandemic, as this reveals how you deal with difficulty. Be honest and make sure to offer a comprehensive answer. Use the STAR (situation – task – action – result) system to help you craft a well thought out response.

How did you spend your time during the lockdown?

This question would refer to self-improvement over the pandemic. Did you enrol in training sessions and professional development programs that would have helped you upskill during the pandemic? Sharing these with your potential employer can show them that you have initiative and are always looking to improve. If you didn’t take these on during the lockdown, that’s okay too – you can discuss hobbies you may have learned during the pandemic instead. It still shows an eagerness to grow, which is always a plus in every company’s book.

Cliché as it sounds, practice truly does make perfect. The more you prepare for a job interview, the more confident you’ll feel during the real thing. The ability to answer routine questions in a thoughtful and self-assured manner will make the interviewer more interested in listening to what you have to say, boosting your chances of landing that dream job.

For more interview prep, check out our interview drills here. Check out our Career Resources page for more job interview tips. It also offers expert insights and advice that could help you in your job search. You can also download JobStreet’s app available on the App Store and Google Play.

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