Assalamualaikum, and hi 🙂
Over the past few months, I have taught multiple Job Search 101 classes, as well as doing career coaching with a few graduates and students. One thing that I realized is that a lot of people are afraid of going for job interviews. This may be either because they don’t know how what to expect, or how to answer the job interview questions.
So I figured I could share my version of how to answer some of the most common job interview questions out there. Mind you, these are from my own view and experiences, so you should take it with a pinch of salt.
Note: You may also be interested in an older post I wrote on acing your job interview. This post includes more tips on how to prepare for an interview and what to do after an interview.
“So, tell me about yourself.”
Somehow, this question seems to trip some people up. Some people get worried because they are not sure of what to share with the interviewers. There are also people who ended up oversharing information during this time.
Personally, I’d like to think of this question similar to an elevator pitch, only a little bit longer. It should be brief enough to not lose their attention, but exciting enough to keep the interviewers wanting to know more about you.
So what should you include in your answer?
This is your opportunity to tell the interviewer(s) why they should hire you. Instead of telling them personal details like your hobbies or interests, focus on what you have to offer to them. But remember to not read things off from your resume! That means that you should not just answer it by saying “I studied at XYZ university, I did my practical internship at ABC corporation, and I am looking for a job as a <insert job position here>.“
I, for one, like to use this opportunity to highlight certain things that may not be apparent on my resume. For someone who does not know me, they may question why I did a degree in Actuarial Science but ended up applying for jobs in education. So I will use this opportunity to talk about why I am interested in education and the experiences and skills that I have that led me to where I am now.
“What is your biggest weakness?”
First off – you should never say that you do not have any weaknesses, since everyone in the world has their own weaknesses.
This question would allow potential employers to see how self-aware you are. When answering this question, focus on examples that draw upon a specific skill or trait that is relevant to the position that you are applying for. But don’t just end it by stating a weakness – focus on showing what you have done to overcome it or manage it in your professional life.
For instance, you can talk about how you used to be a shy and introverted person. But then, you may share how you have been trying to expand and increase your confidence by joining multiple student clubs in university and exploring opportunities to develop your public speaking skills.
Make sure you wrap up your answer on what you have learnt from the experiences, and how it would be useful for the job that you are interviewing for.
“Why should we hire you?”
A job application is a two-way street. Yes, you applied for a job because you need a job (and the salary) to sustain your life. But the company is also looking for someone to fill an opening in the role, and that comes with certain expectations.
This is where it is important for you to fully understand the position that you are applying for and how it ties in with the company’s structure. Understand what the requirements are and what the company is looking for in an employee.
When you understand this, the answer to the question is simple. Show them how:
- you meet their requirements, and
- what you can offer to them that other candidates could not.
This is where you want to highlight relevant skills and experiences that would be useful for the job. You may have had previous experiences where you had similar responsibilities, or you may have had an internship or practical experience in the same area. If you have any additional skills (language or hard/technical skills), this is also the time to sell yourself and show how those additional skills would be useful for the role.
After all – interviewing for a job is similar to selling a product. In this case, you are selling yourself, your skills and experiences, to the company. So, find out what your unique selling proposition is, what makes you unique and special, and focus on marketing that to the employer.
Other things to consider…
There are tons of resources out there that share tips on how to address various job interview questions. I addressed some of these in a previous post as well. It may be useful to practice answering some of these questions, either on your own or with a friend.
However, it’s important to remember that each interview is unique, especially since each company has slightly different requirements for the people that they look for. The company’s culture, mission, and goals are also different, so be sure to do your due diligence and research each company before heading for an interview.
That being said – if you have any tips or thoughts to share with others on job interviews, feel free to give your input in the comments section! If you are (or used to be) a hiring manager or recruiter, it would also be interesting to hear from you about what you look for during an interview.
Don’t forget to check out other #FreshGrad101 posts for more tips and sharing. Until next time, stay awesome and take care 🙂