:: COMMON Interview Questions ::
1. Tell me about yourself.
Keep your answer short and focused on your
professional life. This is not the time to bring up relationships,
childhood experiences, family etc. A brief history of education, career
and special interests is what is called for here. End it with why you are
interested in this particular job.
2. Why are you applying for this particular job?
Show interest and demonstrate that you have
researched the job and know what you are getting into. Bring up evidence
from past work/ studies that supports your interest in this role and any
skills you have acquired in preparation for the role. You can say
something like 'I would like to work for a leader in innovative network
and telecommunications solutions and my college degree in computational
mathematics has given me a solid background for this role. Mention the
value-added you can bring to the job.
3. What do you know about our company?
Indicate what you have learnt from your research
activities - from their annual reports,
newspapers, word of mouth, other employees etc. Use
this to flatter them and show that you have done your homework.
4. What makes you qualified for this particular job?
Again, explain that you are very interested in the
job and demonstrate what it is about your past experiences, education and
qualifications that makes you ideal for the job. Show enthusiasm and
support your answers with evidence wherever you can (e.g. my summer
internship at Citibank gave me broad exposure to the area of equity
analysis and I think I can apply many of the tools I learnt there in this
job). Elaborate on all the past experiences and skill sets that make you
suitable for the job. In cases where your past experience is not directly
relevant, you can still find elements of it that can be useful. Play up
team skills, computer skills, leadership roles, specific courses and
independent research activities that can be useful to the job at hand to
show your initiative even where you don't have directly relevant job
5. What can you do for us that someone else can't?
Demonstrate key strengths, skills and personal
6. Why should we hire you?
See 3. Because you have all the experience/ traits/
credentials demonstrated in 3 and in addition to being qualified, you are
enthusiastic, intelligent, hardworking, flexible and willing to learn.
Also mention any key relationships you may have that may assist you in the
7. What do you look for in a job?
Be honest. Also mention keywords such as challenging,
steep learning curve, good work culture, demanding, rewarding,
opportunities for advancement and growth, team environment, opportunity to
build and maintain client relationships etc.
8. Why are you looking to make a career change?
Mention your interests and make sure you bring up all
skills/ experience however insignificant that can support your move in
this new direction. It is quite common in this day and age to make a
career switch. You need however to show that you have very carefully
thought about the change, have a strong interest in the new career and can
use some of your previous skills/ education/ relationships to make that
9. Why did you leave your last job?
Do NOT use this as an opportunity to badmouth past
employers or peers or talk about a failure of any sort. Any of these
answers are acceptable: you were looking for a new challenge, your
learning curve had flattened out in the previous job and you were looking
for a new learning opportunity, the company or department were
restructuring, you were ready to start something new after achieving your
career goals at the previous company etc.
10. Why do you want to work for us (as opposed to the
Demonstrate that you know something about the
company, that you believe they are leaders/ innovators in what they do, or
you think their work culture is exactly what you are looking for, or you
like their product(s) or you have friends who work there and have always
been attracted to the company etc. Flatter the company and show you know
something about it.
11. How long will it take you to start making a
Show that you are enthusiastic and willing to learn
and will put in all the hours and effort necessary to learn the ropes and
start making an immediate contribution. Indicate that your past
experiences/ skills/ credentials will enable you to make an immediate
contribution at some level while you quickly learn all new aspects of the
job. An Interviewer wants someone who is willing and able to learn and
will make a return on his investment sooner rather than later.
12. What are your strengths?
See 14 below. In addition, keywords such as good
teamplayer, work very well under pressure, very creative, very strong
quantitative or computer skills, and very strong client relationship
skills may be appropriate depending on your chosen field.
13. What are your weaknesses?
Do NOT mention key weaknesses here. This is not the
place to say you are bad at meeting deadlines or you never mastered
highschool mathematics etc. Turn this question around to your benefit. For
example, you are 'overambitious' or 'extremely attentive to detail' or
'like to take on too many projects'. Make it sound positive.
14. What are your career goals?
Show you have thought forward and are committed to
15. How would you describe yourself?
Any of these are good examples of attributes
employers are looking for: intelligent, hardworking, quick to learn,
enthusiastic, honest, efficient, productive, ambitious, successful,
compassionate (in the medical fields).
16. How would your colleagues describe you?
Do not bring up anything negative here.
17. How would your boss describe you?
They will check references anyways so bring up the
most positive attribute you can think of about yourself e.g. hardworking,
honest etc. and leave it to your Boss to say anything to the contrary.
18. What did you most like/ dislike about your past
Do not use this to badmouth past jobs/ employers.
Keep it light and in your favour eg I outgrew the job, there wasn't a
clear career progression, I wasn't learning anything new etc. Ideally, you
will have loved your last job and would like to achieve the same kind of
success and job satisfaction in a more challenging area as you have now
'outgrown' that job and are ready for 'new challenges'.
19. Describe a situation in your past where you
You could describe any new methods you came up with
to do your job or to save money for the company or to turn around a bad
situation. It can be something as simple as changing a filing system, or
establishing a relationship with a vendor that saved your department a lot
of money. If you are in sales, you may want to talk about how you brought
in that big account. Creatives may talk about how they came up with that
cutthroat image or design that brought in the business.
20. What were your main responsibilities in your last
Have these ready and list them all. Dwell on the ones
that are most relevant to the new job. This answer should be smooth and
21. What do you consider your greatest
Many of us have one or two milestones in our career
that we are very proud of e.g. that early promotion, that 'huge' deal we
brought in, the design we came up with, the costs we saved, the revenues
we increased, the people we trained, a new invention or process we came up
Examples of accomplishments may be: 'Reduced costs by
X%; or renamed and repositioned a product at the end of its lifecycle, or
organized and led a team to do do XYZ, or achieved sales increase of
X% etc. If you are a fresh college graduate, talk
about extracurricular activities, leadership roles and grades.
22. Describe your management style (if relevant)
23. Do you work better in teams or independently?
Show that you are a proactive team player and like to
bounce ideas off others and get input; however you are very capable of
working independently (give examples).
24. How do you work under pressure?
Well. Give evidence.
25. What other jobs have you applied for?
Don't mention jobs in different career directions (e.g.
advertising and investment banking). Do however bring up any other offers
or Interviews from competing firms.
26. How did you do in college?
Keep it positive. It's okay to say you were very busy
making the most of college and were very involved in sports, activities,
social life etc. Employers want human beings not robots. Mention the areas
you did very well in even if it was just one or two courses you excelled
in. They will check for themselves.
27. What kind of hours would you like to work?
Employers want to see flexibility. Indicate you are
willing to put in whatever hours are necessary to finish the job. Do
however mention any constraints you have e.g. you would like to be home to
pick your kids up from school at 3:30. Most employers are willing to work
around your constraints if you show flexibility on your side as well.
28. Do you have any questions for me?
YES you do. Questions engage the Interviewer and show
your interest. Ask questions that show you know something about the
company or the job, that you are planning ahead, that you are anxious and
willing to learn the ropes and that you are committed to the position.