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Commonly Asked Interview Questions and How to Best Answer Them

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  • Commonly Asked Interview Questions and How to Best Answer Them

    We all know that commonly asked interview questions exist. What are they how do you go about answering them in the most effective way?

    Some relevant sources include:

  • #2
    The classic one! "What are your weaknesses". It almost always comes up in interviews. It's one worth thinking about and coming up with a pretty good damn explanation. Coming up with an honest and constructive response is dynamite. Guess the typical responses are "I focus too much on the details, "I have a hard time letting go of a project", "I lack confidence at times", or " I have difficulties for asking for help". I am sure there are many more!

    I wish some people would just be honest and say that they are lazy, have other priorities or take things for granted but of course, these would never get the job. Striking the balance of constructive criticism seems to be most effective. But I think most people are exaggerating or telling at least small white lies during the interview process. This article very interestingly discussing this very topic: https://bestlifeonline.com/job-interview-lies/. It seems lies are more common then one might think. Be honest and humble I say! It will win the respect of the interviewers. If you have to lie you probably are not suited for the role. That is my two cents worth 😂

    Comment


    • kdy
      kdy commented
      Editing a comment
      If I ever lied in an interview, these would be (based on the the article you shared):
      1) "I'm happy to work weekends and holidays." - Said this lie in an interview. Well, I wasn't really lying... I just didn't know at the time that I would eventually hate coming to work on weekends and holidays.
      2) "I can handle the commute, no problem." - It was more of positively scripting it... what I really wanted to say was, "I really want/need this job, I will have to bear with the commute."

      I have learned my lesson here . It would be best to be upfront about your situation. Setting the right expectation will prepare your employer for any future possibilities, and may be able to find ways so both of you can still meet halfway. On the other hand, these are big factors that not only the employer should consider. These are things that an applicant should primarily consider. If the commute and work schedule do not work for you, do not force it. Eventually,you may just find yourself dragging your self to work, and lose the positive experience of having a job.
      Last edited by kdy; 06-11-2020, 07:06 PM.

    • mjmnl
      mjmnl commented
      Editing a comment
      I totally agree with you kdy. I remember being a fresh graduate and I was super excited to finally "earn my own money". I rushed myself in finding the job that is connected to my career path and also pays sufficiently. Those two were my only requirements when I first looked for a job. I went to a number of interviews and told the same lie that you did specifically the commute thing. However, living outside of the city, the commute really took a toll on me. Sometimes, I spend up to 4 hours on the road. Crazy. That made me realize that for my next job interview, I will think about my situation and the circumstances first before giving an assurance to the employer. It really matters because you may just end up leaving the company after working in a short period which is a waste of time and effort.

    • Skye
      Skye commented
      Editing a comment
      Bjun, I totally agree that tasks should be done in the simplest possible way. Meaning you have to go through all the necessary (required) steps and eliminate any extras. Of course, at the start, we probably have to go through all steps. But as we learn, we find out what can be adjusted in the process. We find a more efficient way, without sacrificing the quality of our work.

      kdy and mjmnl, I am one of you guys. Lying about working on weekends and the commute. I remember applying with a company that had an office near my place, a major consideration considering the heavy traffic in the area. During the interview, they asked me about the longer commute because they were moving to another building which was in another city. I also said I can handle it (but screaming inside WHAT?!).

  • #3
    I think I can only have two answers for two questions and I can explain why (I can try):

    1. What is your greatest weakness?
    I'd usually say that my greatest weakness is my tendency for high levels of self-doubt. But that's the thing about self-doubt, is its an ingredient to growth. It is a valid weakness, however, it's also a step into the transitory phase between moping and transcending to the growth mindset. The greatest weakness then slowly hints into a resolved strength. I mean, if your weakness is self-doubt, you have more potential to grow and get better at something than someone that doesn't think they have a weakness or someone with another weakness but isn't aware they're too confident for any improvement to be possible. Doubt is a gift.

    2. How do you respond to working under pressure?
    I'd mention that pressure and anxiety, that hint of fear also triggers the same parts of the brain that lights up when one feels excited. The difference is how it is perceived, or labeled. I'd then transitioning that because I know fear and excitement trigger the same centers in the brain, I can conclude that working under pressure can be dealt with as an exciting challenge, akin to the primal thrill of going against a challenging foe, and it isn't just because the foe is scary, but I, myself, maybe scarier and that's something to find out by pushing through the curtain of doubt.

    Comment


    • Lou
      Lou commented
      Editing a comment
      Yes. These are asked by interviewers most of the time and they can be overwhelming. However, you can try to turn them into something positive. Like when you are asked, what is your greatest weakness? You may answer that you are not a people person. However, because of it, you are able to concentrate better on your craft or whatever it is that you do because you turn your entire focus into it. Something to that effect.

      Then, when followed up by question number 2, you may say: Since I tend to shy away from people and keep my focus on my work, I am somehow confident that I can accomplish my task. I do, however, ask for help, if necessary. Or whatever fits you best. What's important is you are able to highlight to the interviewer that although you have your weaknesses, as all of us do, you are still able to manage them and turn them into something positive, work-wise.

      I'm not saying you do exactly as I have stated, but, you get the idea. 😉😉😉👌👌👌

    • Bjun
      Bjun commented
      Editing a comment
      I agree, not being a people person may be a weakness, especially when you're expected to work in teams.

      I've always thought of myself as a people person, so I guess that would be a weakness when you have to work alone. This came up when I was asked if I can adapt to a change in work environment. At that time, I've never worked on my own so I guess that can be viewed as a disadvantage. Now, I can confidently say I can be effective working both alone and as part of a team.

    • jcoppi29
      jcoppi29 commented
      Editing a comment
      @Bjun

      A concrete example of this would be my self-doubt when it comes to dealing with crowds, people or any other skill. The point really is, that self-doubt at least gives one the self-awareness to validate the necessity for growth -- instead of it just being a rut.

      It can coexist with confidence, and most time, confident people are usually the sort that confront their self-doubts head-on and end up conquering these. In my case, most of my skills (not gonna make a list), are a result of my frustrated tries to deal with my self-doubt. The more I practiced and developed a skill, the less the doubt became -- negative reinforcement.

  • #4
    One of the commonly asked questions in an interview, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"
    I'd say that I like stability; and my goal is to find a job that I can hold long term with a company that can help me grow professionally. Then, I'd mention my career goals and my prospective future with the company. This is also an opportunity to show the hiring manager that you would stick around and not move on as soon as better opportunity knocks. Whether you know where you'll be in the future or not, try to answer this question with a positive mind-set. Showcase your ambition, career goals and your enthusiasm for growth. Visualize where you'd like to be, the position you'd like to achieve and the training and accomplishments you'd like to have. The tip is to be honest and realistic.

    I found this article for tips in answering this question. https://www.topresume.com/career-adv...elf-in-5-years

    Comment


    • Indelible_Mark
      Indelible_Mark commented
      Editing a comment
      I had a follow-thru question against that..and it stopped me cold..this was the hiring manager and she went: 'Pay is average but there is plenty of work to keep you busy..does that sound like the stability you are looking for?'

      Goodness! I wanted to say 'No..not exactly..specially with the 'pay' part!'
      Awkward silence on my end though.

      Next question please!

  • #5
    The one question that once threw me off was What would your previous superior say about you if I called him/her right now?

    Of course the mind races into 'Good luck reaching him! I couldn't! AND I worked there!' while my mouth goes into 'He will only have great things to say.' ..and pause...

    The pause is important to assemble the next pieces of the construct while waiting (not too long of course!) for the interviewer to intimately and inevitably follow thru with so what then would he say? At that point you know for sure that you have the ear of the interviewer.

    Speak clearly and confidently about how your last boss was impressed, will recommend you, and if available how your last super would speak about appreciating your quality of work.

    Of course you have to be truthful! THAT goes without saying

    Comment


    • jcoppi29
      jcoppi29 commented
      Editing a comment
      That's one tough question.

      Though I think I'd answer it as plainly blunt or with an infusion of the sandwich method. Mentioning some negatives then adding buts for a positive transition, admitting one's faults and mentioning their resolutions, talking about the positive while having stable ground for growth.

      In my case, I would have probably said something like:

      "He'd say I'm very opinionated and inquisitive, often appearing in doubt of his command... but those same traits fostered by innate cynicism are oftentimes the beginning of procedural improvements, risk management, and qualitative growth. In a setting where improvements or risks are assessed, we do not ask the pathologically compliant people, we ask those that are cynical enough to see holes in the picture."

      Then again, if the interviewer retorts that I just rationalized being straightforward or cynical, I'd say I'd be rationalizing if I didn't admit fault, though I admit I may have listened better amidst disagreement. Disagreement in its healthy form, after all (and I wish I knew), is fertile soil for growth."

      I'm lucky I wasn't asked this in interviews. Lmao

    • Indelible_Mark
      Indelible_Mark commented
      Editing a comment
      I like that jcoppi29 'sandwich method' you called it..good-notsogood-good which incidentally is very effective for most interviewers. I wouldn't advise to use it for high-level, final interview ones but yeah..getting that proverbial foot in the door should be fine

    • jcoppi29
      jcoppi29 commented
      Editing a comment
      The sandwich method is a heavily underrated persuasive method because it seems under-documented how painful being wrong is, or being called out on being wrong is, that it elicits a defensive and resistant to learning response.

      In most work environments or even real life situations, before correcting someone, it is encouraged to call out their merits so they won't have to raise their walls high enough that needed corrections will not register as attacks to the person.

  • #6
    The question that I always encounter is "Can you tell me about yourself?". Easily the first thing that your recruiter asks you once you start the interviewing process. This is your 'elevator pitch' and would give your recruiter the possible flow of the interview. Make sure to answer it with all the details that could show your qualifications for the opening. The recruiter will get ideas from this pitch. So, make sure to share your qualities, work experience, responsibilities, and professional skills. Avoid speaking about your personal life. This is the best time to be proud about your achievements, say, you have signed a contract with a client from your previous experience worth $200,000.

    This video has helped me when I was preparing for my first interview before: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kayOhGRcNt4

    Comment


    • Indelible_Mark
      Indelible_Mark commented
      Editing a comment
      "Can you tell me about yourself?" is a good question to not only to ease the applicant but also to observe for speech ability, grammar, spontaneity, albeit even honesty It is not my preferred 'intro' question though it does open interesting avenues to validate resume notes.

      Its also a very good platform to take control of the conversation and grill the interviewer as they succumb to listening to me as the applicant while I put out work-related inquiries thereby derailing any preconceived interview 'agenda'. It's like making the leap from "I usually take to books on leadership and mentoring." followed by "What's the leadership development program like with your company?" and/or "How does one become a manager at operations?"..which an informed and engaged recruiter or HR Manager will readily answer. Woe to the poor 'i'm just going to ask you questions' person though...

    • Kamille
      Kamille commented
      Editing a comment
      For someone who has job interview anxiety, this question really eases my nervousness. After all, you're only going to talk about yourself and it'll be a breeze if you are being honest. Talking about your past work experiences, your achievements, is a great way to build up your confidence for the actual interview coming ahead. It is also an opportunity to show how effective you are in communicating and presenting yourself professionally.

      Few tips though: Connect with your interviewer and not simply recite you resume. Practicing answers to this question is good, however, do not answer like you have overly rehearsed and memorized the whole thing. You have to sound credible and genuine. Remember that first impression is often made on the first question of the interview.

    • jcoppi29
      jcoppi29 commented
      Editing a comment
      I don't know how the interviewer will react if I were to mention that human consciousness only accounts for around 3-10 percent of the total brain functional capacity -- meaning, all these threads online, comments, and the immersive gift of consciousness is but a result of 10 percent or less of our brain power.

      Therefore, can I really tell the interviewer about myself? I can, if the answer of my 10% brain can speak for the other unaccounted 90 or more percent that is still being figured out. Otherwise, it statistically doesn't make sense because a sample size of 10% cannot always speak for the other undiscovered 90.

      In conclusion, we can never really tell people about ourselves because consciousness is a mere fraction of one's totality.

  • #7
    "What motivates you?"

    I'd say something like: "I'm motivated by my worst and my best possible version, my failures and my potential success and redemption from these. I won't deny that I've made mistakes, but the fact that I can redeem myself from these and apply what I've learned motivates me as much as the possibility of failing and succeeding does.

    Comment


    • mjmnl
      mjmnl commented
      Editing a comment
      It motivates me when I find my work appreciated and I make a difference to the company. Or the job that I am doing is helping me grow and hone my skills even more. It was so much different from before where I just wanted to earn and experience working. I've also read this article from the balance careers specifically for this question (https://www.thebalancecareers.com/jo...es-you-2061272). Turns out, the best answer for this should be based on the position you're applying for. So make sure to connect your answer to the tasks that you may do in the future like data analysis or customer service.

  • #8
    "What do you know of our company?" when answered correctly will show diligence, preparation, and critical thinking. Note the 'most likely' questions on this nice infograhic https://thumbnails-visually.netdna-s...b363_w1500.jpg

    Comment


    • #9
      Personally, I always shy away from the "What is your expected salary?" question. Especially those jobs that do not post the salary and employers tend to haggle or find an applicant that fits their budget. Best practice is to set expectations with the employer based on real-world scenarios.

      Comment


      • Kamille
        Kamille commented
        Editing a comment
        I agree with mjmnl. Part of the research you need to do before going on an interview is the salary rate for your area, your area of expertise and the company's average salary. Glassdoor is very efficient in this subject; it even has reviews from company's current and past employees. But remember, your proposed salary should match your skills.

        I usually answer this question with an expected salary and a highlight of my years of experience and achievements to show that I am well qualified for the job. Then, I'd mention that I am open to negotiate after the depth of roles and responsibilities of the position has been discussed.
        Last edited by Kamille; 05-26-2020, 02:08 PM.

      • kdy
        kdy commented
        Editing a comment
        I just remembered interviewing applicants who belonged to the younger population (Gen Z), and at first I was surprised because their expectations were not very realistic. I got used to it, and eventually just stopped asking how much they expect

      • mjmnl
        mjmnl commented
        Editing a comment
        That's funny to think about kdy. Millennials are very well known as entitled individuals. So I guess Gen Z will also be known as one? Haha! As a millennial myself, I make sure to depend my salary expectation on what we have mentioned here including achievements, experience, or industry rate. I think it's only fair and doesn't really make me entitled, right? We cannot really generalize any generation, there will always be differences with how we were raised and what we wanted to believe in. I just hope those Gen Zs that you've interviewed and will interview learn how to properly value their salary expectation.

    • #10
      "How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?"

      A bit difficult this one because it generally requires a lot of EQ-sponging skills. But I can mention letting the customer vent out and asking questions so they can expound on the details more, and you can ask for more clarifications so they feel their situation is being clarified for a clear understanding. This way, it would be expressing empathy by showing it instead of going with the usual "I understand etc" spiel. When they're disarmed, that's when it is empathy is verbalized with the "I understand". People want to be validated when they're irate, and if you're nice or asking them to be nice, the general human instinct is to actually slow down and chill. It's hard to be mean to a nice and polite person. Speak slower and calmer, show interest and let them blow steam (also don't forget to make a bubble so you don't overabsorb their vibes).

      Comment


      • #11
        Definitely prepare for technical questions in relation to the position that you are applying for. Usually, general questions are asked during the first interview and specific questions are asked during your second callback. For others, everything is asked during the first interview. Make sure that you have knowledge about your field and some other related subjects. Review the job description and ensure that you can prove to have the skills needed for that position.

        Different questions are asked for each varying position. I found this article (https://www.thebalancecareers.com/to...stions-2061227https://www.thebalancecareers.com/to...stions-2061227) tackling the most common technical questions asked during the interview. It also includes behavioural and situational questions. You may want to read this one together with the other links shared here. Change the questions a little to relate it to the position you're applying for.

        Comment


        • #12
          True! Preparing to demonstrate your real skills relative to the job is very important. Anticipating questions on your factual experience, difficulties with product or service delivery, even the experience of conflict for expectations not met. Of course, you will not want to apply for a position without first finding out what that role actually fulfills -this is where the job description is very useful. Take full advantage and ask questions before the interview when possible.

          Comment


          • #13
            Found this article online at https://skillcrush.com/blog/remote-j...iew-questions/, and it's a good read especially for those looking for a remote job.

            Two questions that caught my attention are:
            HOW DO YOU PRIORITIZE TASKS?
            WHAT DOES “WORKING REMOTELY” ACTUALLY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

            I really think these are important for employers not only to determine whether you are the right fit for the job, but to also ensure that they are setting you up for success. Both questions can help determine the applicant's ability to accomplish tasks and take on new tasks where minimal supervision and training are required.

            I used to ask the question - "What does working as a Quality Assurance actually look like for you?" It isn't surprising that often, applicants' expectation of what the job entails is far off from what it actually does. In the WFH set up. it would also be important for an employer to see that the 1) applicant is aware of the different challenges of working from home remote 2) they are ready take on these challenges and would know how to overcome them. We are not always expected to know what to expect right away - If so, then just let it be clear that you are open to learn, unlearn and relearn in order to work efficiently and effectively in the WFH set up.
            Last edited by kdy; 06-09-2020, 05:57 PM.

            Comment


            • Kamille
              Kamille commented
              Editing a comment
              I agree with learning, relearning and unlearning in order to fit to the company or project you're applying for. Every business is different; its important to be flexible and adaptable.
              With prioritizing tasks, I always say that having keen attention to details is an important quality in employees, so you know every task is given the right attention it needs with little to no errors. What I do to achieve this is I list all my tasks before I start my shift, and assess and categorize each one to urgent and important. I prioritize the task with higher value and focus on one task at a time. Its also effective to maintain a timeline so you can be up to date with the progress. Multitasking is good, however, it is not always recommended. Its better to be committed to one task at a time so you can guarantee that you will only deliver nothing but quality work..

          • #14
            Quite honestly, I've always thought what would it be like if I answer the "what motivates you question", as bluntly as possible, depending on which viewpoint I'm going to take.

            I can mention that based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, money is one heck of motivator as it unlocks more of the hierarchy, then again, I can also say that as I rise in the corporate ladder, what motivates me most is being ahead of the herd by investing on strategic positions and focusing on competition and power -- because somehow, being in a position of power unlocks more opportunities, and somehow, life would be more bearable because as Buddha says, Life is Suffering.

            So what really motivates me? The idea, that life should be as bearable as possible.

            Comment


            • jcoppi29
              jcoppi29 commented
              Editing a comment
              @Kamille

              If the intention is to impress, generally, a positive outlook would work more often than not. Then again, in some fields where discretion, introspection, and cold heartless logic is important, a positive outlook or a negative one won't get much. I'm actually, after all, arguing from a realist perspective, to clarify.

              I find both toxic optimism and toxic pessimism to be counter-productive. The former denies the real situations of life, the suffering component, and more even to the point of being ineffective and denialistic, the latter gives up and blames everything else amiss on everyone else as an excuse to not pursue growth.

              Life is suffering and it is chaos. It's not necessarily implied to be a bad or good thing -- it just is. Then again, the generic workspace has no space for such conversations because stylized sugarcoated positivity is promoted to the point of humans invalidating their own brands of suffering or invalidating others, or in the other side, the overly suffering cannot even open up about their realities because being negative, or being at the suckier part of life and talking about it just smashes the often thin mask of positivity most environments want to keep.

              So while the optimist would be determined, tenacious and resilient, the pessimist is oftentimes prepared, compensating and growing (because they have to be prepared right), and more. The realist would probably be somewhere in between.

              I just recall these things because I've experienced a workplace that is pretentiously positive, and because everyone is silently suffering, there's no rapport to be developed, only a mask. It's a good breeding ground for thicker masks though, because less connections generally mean easier detachment.

            • jcoppi29
              jcoppi29 commented
              Editing a comment
              I think i'm more of a realist than a strict pessimist, because I also generally avoid mega-pessimists as I would avoid their opposites. I think I've expounded more context when I replied to Kamille and JerryYan.

              Then again, I wouldn't really advise getting real for job interviews because these days, and this is just my personal opinion, most employers are likely aiming for employees they can manage over the ones that are pessimistic enough to revolt or criticize management. The positive ones are generally more cooperative, and less critical.

              As for the job making life more pleasant, I actually adhere to the idea that positive choices bring exponentially more positive choices, and the same applies for the negative. A stable job allows one to invest to more tools and the improvements and opportunities unlocked open up more -- a bad life decision generally brings more bad decisions in the table, why the idea that life is ultimately suffering is what I live by. If Life wasn't suffering, there wouldn't be a point in trying to make it better. It's a slope that's worthy.

            • Kamille
              Kamille commented
              Editing a comment
              I totally get your point jcoppi29. Thank you for clarifying that.
              I was always the one to "look at the bright side of things", then I met someone who would always tell me to "prepare for the worst". I realized the importance of both when I entered the real world of adulthood. Its not pessimism; its just seeing things the way it is. Life consists of both ups and downs and we should embrace both. Its how we overcome and rise above life's challenges that will help us grow. Otherwise, life would be boring.

              I think both positivism and realism promote growth; finding the right balance between these two is what would keep us going. Too much of either will drain our energy and motivation. As for the masks, I think at some point, we all wear masks at work. Its what separates our personal and professional life.

          • #15
            Interview questions can be overwhelming and sometimes intimidating. But, it helps a lot when you prepare for it. Preparing for an interview does not only increase your confidence, but it also gives you this sense of accomplishment. It gives you this feeling that somehow, you will survive this interview!😁😁😁

            I found this article online which you can use to practice on: https://www.indeed.com/career-advice...ns-and-answers. The questions there may not be the same questions that you will be asked during an interview, but you can use it as a basis. The tips are helpful too!
            Read tips and example answers for 125 of the most common job interview questions to help you leave a lasting impression and outperform fellow candidates.

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