A Cheat Sheet To Nailing Common Interview Questions

Shirt? Tucked.
Mints? Sucked.
Nerves? Chucked ... well, sort of.

Now you’re all ready to meet the hiring manager, flash your pearly whites and nail that job interview. — Or are you?

We all know it: an interview can be a nerve-wracking affair. Sometimes, hiring managers like to catch you off guard and add in a tricky question, designed to find out the truth about you and how you react to certain situations. Imagine being asked, “If you were a colour, what would you be and why?” 🤔

While these questions offer the perfect window for you to be creative and strengthen your grip on the role, let’s take a step back and master the fundamentals first. Even with ample practice and preparation, some of the most basic interview questions may still prove to be challenging. Here are 4 of the most common questions that you will most likely encounter in your next interview, and how to craft compelling answers.

1. “Tell me about yourself.”

No, it’s not a cue for you to tell your life story or regurgitate the points in your resume. This simple, unsuspecting (yet intimidating) question is your first opportunity to convince the hiring manager that you’re the best person for the job.

We suggest beginning your answer with your present role, then going into your past, and ending it with a future you see in the company and role you’re interviewing for. By doing so, you’ll be sure to cover your relevant skills and accomplishments for the position, and convince the interviewer that your experiences are just what they need.

2. “Share with me about a time you failed.”

Real talk: everyone makes mistakes. Whether it’s in a project, work or event setting, things are bound to go wrong. Made a dastardly typo in an email to a client? Fell victim to miscommunication? These are all very real experiences that happen in any workplace and often affect other people in your team.

We suggest sharing your most memorable failure; how you thoroughly reflected on that mishap and how you bounced back from it. Instead of the details of the issue itself, the hiring manager is more interested in how you found solutions to the issue; how you handled the situation, accepted criticism (if any) and learned from the mistake. This question tells interviewers if you take accountability and would rather work towards a solution instead of trying to shift the blame.

3. “What are some of your weaknesses?”

Plot twist: This question is not meant to trick you. Hiring managers ask this to understand if you’re the reflective kind who actively seeks ways to improve.

We suggest being genuine and honest. Tell the interviewer a weakness that you’ve noticed from your past experiences. Whether it’s delegating tasks or feeling uncomfortable with overwhelming tasks, share the steps you took to address your weaknesses and work towards improvement. Don’t forget to mention that you’re still working on your weakness, but have made significant progress from the steps you’ve demonstrated. Remember, everyone’s a work in progress. 😊

4. “Do you have any questions for me?”

This is a question that will pop up towards the end of the interview. Most of your burning questions would have already been covered throughout the interview, so here’s your chance to dig deeper into what you really want to find out about the company or the day-to-day responsibilities that the role entails.

To tackle this question, we suggest asking questions about the interviewer. Turn the tables around (not literally please!) and build rapport with your interviewer; you could ask them what’s their favourite part about working here and other questions that will give you a better picture about the company’s culture. You could even ask what skills are currently missing in the team that they’re trying to fill with a new hire (you).

Cheat sheet or guideline, call this what you may. But we hope this will help you get the basics down and better prepare your answers for your next interview. Always remember that a job interview is a two-way conversation and the best chance for both you and the company to assess if you’re the right fit for the role.

Now, what better way than to put all this advice to the test? Go get that interview and request to visit today: sg.wantedly.com

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