Preparing for a new job interview? Taking the leap with new employers is an often nerve-wracking experience, though with the right practice and preparation – you’re bound to impress your recruiters all the way to a job offer.
Below, we discuss the five most common interview questions for those seeking a new job, and how training with Upskilled may help.
What are the most common interview questions?
Can you tell us about yourself?
Nearly every job interview starts off with this icebreaker – a chance to sell your “elevator pitch” to potential employers. Though it can get easy to ramble on about your interest and accomplishments over the years, try and keep your response concise, relevant, and tailored to what they’re looking for in a candidate.
It may help to prepare this pitch beforehand, as this gives you time to structure the “selling points” of your career experience in a structured and comprehensive manner. Be sure to discuss your current position, how you’ve gotten to where you are, and why you’d be a great fit for the company.
What are your strengths/weaknesses?
Every employer wants to know what a candidate can bring to the table. When asked about your strengths, be sure to mention those that align with what the position is after. For example, if you’re applying for a job in software development, and you’ve got notable skills in database management, debugging, and a variety of programming languages – then be sure to mention these. Try and keep it a mix of both technical and soft skills
, however, as the best candidates typically possess both.
As for weaknesses, take care in mentioning those that aren’t a significant hindrance to the job, and can very well be worked upon. It’s a chance to showcase your self-awareness, as well as your willingness to improve.
What made you apply for this role?
Regardless of whether you’re truly invested in the company or are simply seeking financial stability, be sure to answer this question in a way that expresses a genuine interest for the role. Research and preparation will come into play here, as employers will seek out an answer that indicates you’ve done your homework.
When you can, try and mention how their values, their mission, and their current goals align with your career desires. Then, be specific with why you’re interested in the role (while keeping the company’s objectives in mind). Examples of this could include their current projects, their products and services, or their company culture.
What are your salary expectations?
A nerve-wracking yet unavoidable question, employers are likely to enquire on what your current salary expectations are. A proper, professional response will require crucial research beforehand: be sure to investigate the average salaries of your industry and role, helping you gauge the ranges typically offered and what you’d be comfortable accepting.
Resources such as Payscale, online job boards (i.e. SEEK or Indeed), and salary guides can help you in determining this. When finally negotiating your salary
during the interview, it’s often recommended to preface your answer with the assurance that you’re after the experience, not the pay. Then, based on your prior research, provide the range that you’re happy with.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Cliché as it may be – this question is a crucial one for employers, as it helps them determine your long-term commitment to the company, whether your goals align with theirs, and the investment you have in your professional growth.
Use your response as an opportunity to discuss your future goals and the types of projects that pique your interest later down the line. For example, you might mention your willingness to take on more managerial roles with enough experience, or your growing interest in other skills areas. This shows employers that you’re ambitious, and are bound to be valuable asset to the company for years to come.
How to prepare for interview questions?
Reading up on common interview questions and the responses employers value can help in preparing you for your next job interview. As mentioned, it’s highly recommended to do your research on the company and the specific requirements of your role. Having insight into the goals, culture, and current course of the company will show employers that you’re truly invested in what they do, as well as help you determine how well you and your skills may fit.
If it helps, you may also wish to practice your responses with a friend or family member, allowing you polish your delivery and present your answers with confidence and clarity. You’ll also want to prepare a professional outfit beforehand, typically something business-formal (i.e. a suit), or a smart-casual.
What questions should I ask at an interview?
Keep in mind that while potential employers or recruiters are responsible for leading the interview, having a few questions under your belt can help you express genuine interest in the role, as well as gain better insight on what to expect.
Job interviewees are often recommended to ask questions on:
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- The future of the company. This can help you determine where you’ll fit in their long-term goals, and the types of responsibilities to expect in the coming months or years. It can also give you an idea of any changes that may be on the horizon, such as mergers, new initiatives or changes to company funds.
- The availability of the position. Asking why the position has become available can help you gauge the company’s culture and progression. Is the role available because the last person left (which may imply a high turnover rate), or because the organisation has grown in time?
- The typical day-to-day of your potential role. Enquiring on the daily responsibilities of your role can give you a feel of what to expect going in. It also expresses enthusiasm for the position, as well as helps you determine whether you’re up for the job.
- The work culture of the company. Finally, questions on the working culture of the company are recommended, helping you gauge how they value work-life balance, prioritise the well-being of their employees, and any initiatives they may have in place to encourage these.
Ana Isabel Alonsagay
Ana Isabel Alonsagay freelance writer and founder of anaisabel.org, a blog on lifestyle, culture, and entertainment. When she isn't pinned to her keyboard, you can find her at your local cinema, blasting Broadway soundtracks or attending cosplay conventions.