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Top 10 Common Interview Questions: An Answer Guide!

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

Common questions for job interview

No matter whether you are an experienced employee, a fresh graduate, or a student in search of an internship, interviews can cause a huge deal of interview anxiety. Familiarizing yourself with popular interview questions and how to answer them will help you make the most of the job or internship opportunity. We have compiled a list of top 10 common interview questions that are asked regardless whether you are a fresh graduate or a mid-career job seeker, whether it is a full-time position or internship position, etc. Be sure to bookmark this page for your next job interview preparation!

Top 10 Common Interview Questions:

1. Tell me about yourself.

Usually, this is the first question asked. Yet, a simple question like this causes many candidates to stutter. How do you approach this question? Try to focus on career-oriented answers and share how it links back to your personality and passion for this role. This question lets you take control and set the course for the interview. Most interviewers use it as an icebreaker – a way to warm you up for the interview and to know how you see yourself.

Tip: Here are some routes that you can take:

· Relevant working experiences

· Relevant achievements (tailor to the role that you are applying for)

· Passion for the industry

· Interests that showcase your values and personality

2. How do you overcome challenges?

All of us go through challenges of different scales and intensities, but the focus here is how did you overcome it and what did you learn from it? Interviewers are looking at your ability to bounce back and solve the issue. There are no fixed answers, each individual deals challenges in their own way.

You can share about work-related or life challenges that you faced. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge one. Focus on the process and traits displayed when overcoming it. Starting with a background of your situation, relate the challenge faced, articulate your role, direct your emphasis to how you troubleshoot. Even if you are not asked for this question, volunteer the information. It is a bonus if you can show your ability to bring yourself and the company through a trial when encountering one.

Tip: Choose a story to showcase a relevant trait. Finish strong with your takeaway point from this challenge to make an impression.

3. What is your greatest achievement?

This question is a great opportunity to show your worth and capability, a time to talk about your track record of achieving amazing results in your previous career. If you pioneered a project or achieved something that none of your colleagues was able to, that’s even better! Tell the hiring manager how the task came about, the action taken, and the results achieved.

Tip: Relate it back to the role that you are applying for and share how you can use your experience to add value to the company. Through this, interviewers can see a lot more than what you have achieved, you allow them to understand your thought process and way of doing things.

4. Why are you leaving your current job?

This can be a tricky interview question. Every reason is valid, but how you phrase it is very important. Are you leaving because you have reached a glass ceiling? Looking for different functional/ industry exposure? Or due to structural changes of the company? While it may be tempting, this is not a time to talk bad or complain about the boss or company. To do so will reflect negatively on you as an employee, especially if you come off as judgmental.

Tip: The key is to tell the truth, but at the same time, be diplomatic. Here is a sample answer: instead of saying “My boss’s focus in handling [example issue] was terrible”, you can say, “My values differed from my previous employer’s. I appreciate and respect the management’s goals and values; however, their beliefs did not fully align with mine. I made sure that my work was always in-sync with my previous company’s goals, but I am excited to explore this opportunity with your company as I see a stronger alignment with my personal values.”

5. Why are you applying for this position?

“Of all the other companies in the same industry, why did you choose us?” – That’s what they are really asking. They are testing your knowledge and understanding of their company, and what makes them stand out from the rest that you want to be a part of what they are doing.

Tip: Research on the company, understand their vision, values, and goals. This information should be readily available on their website. If you know about the job through a recruiter, be sure to ask them about the hiring company and important things to look out for at the interview. Share with the interviewer how you can contribute and bring the company forward, a step closer towards their goal.

6. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Interviewers may ask this as a combined question or as two questions.

When you are talking about your strengths, speak about the quality of a trait/skill and how it is a great fit to the role you have applied for. Think quality and not quantity. Pick one or two and expound on it and aim to position yourself as the most qualified candidate. Illustrate them using examples (i.e. – stories, past experiences).

How you answer about your weaknesses shows the interviewer if you’re self-aware. You can only seek to improve yourself if you are aware of the areas you are weak in. Depending on what you share, the interviewer will be able to assess your development area.

Tip: It’s all about how you phrase your answers. For instance, instead of saying “My weakness is that I am a perfectionist”, say “I tend to get caught up in the small details and forget to look at the bigger picture.” It is also good to tell the interviewer what you are doing to overcome this weakness. If you are prone to making careless mistakes, what steps are you taking to check for errors and focus better?

7. Why should we hire you?

What do you bring to the table that others don’t? It requires a thorough grasp and familiarity of the business and how your skills and experience could fit in to bring the company forward. Choose 2-3 relevant skills you possess that is related to your job scope. Share with them how you can put it to good use and replicate the success that you have achieved previously and do it even better.

Tip: Share what’s in it for them if they hire you. An open position implies a gap in the company and here’s your chance to show how you can fill it. Additionally, statistics of your past achievements can help to quantify your competencies – e.g., an increase of 50% sales during a recession.

8. What is your ideal job?

“Ideal” job speaks of 3 elements – role scope, people & environment. Firstly, a role scope that allows you to hone the skills that you have. Mention why this gives you the opportunity to put your strengths into play.

Next, colleagues and supervisors are an integral part. They are one of the key reasons why employees choose to stay or leave. Coming from different backgrounds, goals and values, people work differently. From goal-oriented to task-oriented, it is a huge difference of how the company culture is like. Share your preference.

Lastly, share how the environment is crucial to your personal/professional development. There must be an alignment between your personal values and corporate values. It helps you to sustain your continuous growth in the company.

Tip: Make sure to study the job scope and responsibilities. You can also share your goals for your future career development, and how you think working in this role will help you achieve your goal.

9. What motivates you?

Skills and experience are great. Showing your hiring manager that you’ve got the drive to keep going, brings you to the next level. They want to know that it is not just a short burst of energy. The real reason (either push/pull factor) behind what you’re doing is far more important. Sharing with them your motivation allows the hiring manager to see if you’ll be happy, engaged and be a productive worker.

Tip: It does not always have to be a goal that is big and specific. It could be a something as simple as “learning”, “coding”, “customer/client satisfaction”. When you are answering this question, be honest and your passion will shine through your non-verbal communication!

10. Do you have any questions for me?

Never say “No” to this question!

This is a chance your chance to reciprocate your interests for the role you applied for. Ask thoughtful questions to better understand your potential future workplace – e.g., what is expected 90-day action plan, how you would define somebody who is successful in this role, etc. Ask more specific questions, so that the interviewer would be able to see your interest and share with you further insights.

Tip: A great question that you can ask would be “What are the values that the company hold to and why?”. Value alignment is the foundation to achieving goals and helps you assess if you will be a cultural fit to the company.

Quick Summary...

Cheat sheet for Top 10 Common Interview Questions
Click to expand and download to prepare for your next interview!

We hope that this list helps! Remember that an interview is not a one-way street, but an open conversation. It is also a chance for you to learn about the company and listen to what the interview panel shares and find out if this is the right company for you. Lastly, we at ScienTec Consulting wish you all the best for your upcoming interview, a new adventure awaits!

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