Conquering The 50 Most Common Interview Questions
In this article we offer advice on the best strategies for preparing and delivering a first-rate interview. You will discover the most common interview questions you are likely to face and by following the strategies we advise below and intertwining their knowledge into your responses you will put yourself in a great position to win over the hiring team during your interview.
The Hiring ‘Hook’
The cold hard truth of the matter is that any job worth having is going to be highly sought after in the current market place. The hiring team in most cases will be interviewing a considerable amount of candidates of which to choose from. Notes will of course be taken for each candidate during the interview, but hiring managers still find it difficult to remember succinctly all the candidates in the process as you can imagine. It is in your best interests then to ensure you have a ‘hook’ for which the interviewers can remember you. We find that genuinely interesting and engaging work-related success stories that are delivered with conviction, passion and enthusiasm are a great way of achieving this.
Supporting Evidence & Work Examples
Sure, it’s all well and good during the interview to boldly pronounce that your biggest strength is Leadership. But the key differentiator between yourself and another candidate is how you support your statement. Pre-empt the inevitable follow-up question “Give me an example of when you have shown your leadership skills in the workplace” by elaborating on your initial statement. Discuss relevant working examples of when you have demonstrated your abilities (as a high quality leader in this example) and you are certain to leave a strong impression with the interviewer.
Better yet, bring along to the interview any hard copy examples of success you have achieved in your recent roles that relate to the job you are interviewing for to support the points you are going to make during the interview. People remember information better if there is accompanying visual representation, a hiring manager is no different. They are much more likely to remember candidate A who delivered fantastic results from an email marketing campaign hitting x,y,z targets and who had handed them a document containing an extensive overview of the campaign, than candidate B who achieved similar but simply recited the achievement back to the hiring manager.
You should know why you are the perfect fit for the job and if you don’t yet, spend some time discovering just what it is that makes you the right choice. The hiring team don’t know you from Adam so it is your job to convey why you are the perfect candidate for the position. Maybe you are brimming with ideas, or your marketing campaigns at a previous job delivered outstanding results and you would like to bring that success to the job in question. Whatever quality/qualities it is that makes you stand out, use these to your advantage during the interview.
Companies are looking to hire you to solve a problem. The base requirement therefore of your job should be to carry out all the tasks and projects in the job brief to a satisfactory level. If you are able to produce more than the norm and solve a problem or several problems the company currently faces then you will be a highly valuable asset to the company. There is no better way to demonstrate this proactive approach than by making your own recommendations. If you come up with a great idea that could reduce the companies costs, improve their processes or save a significant amount of time you will really stand out and may land the job as a direct result.
Reading the job description is just the beginning of your research, you are going to need to study the job and envisage yourself performing every individual task expected of you in the role. During the interview you will then be able to confidently frame your responses to reveal more and more of your in-depth knowledge of the job and in doing so impress the hiring team giving yourself a huge advantage.
This is a technique used by the nation’s top athletes such as Wayne Rooney and Jessica Ennis-Hill. Rooney once revealed “I lie in bed the night before the game and visualise myself scoring goals or doing well, you’re trying to put yourself in that moment and trying to prepare yourself, to have a ‘memory’ before the game.” For Rooney, this use of imagery – is the act of creating and ‘rehearsing’ a positive mental experience in order to enhance his ability to achieve a successful outcome in real life.
Prior to winning gold in London 2012, Ennis-Hill publicised her own visualisation techniques: “I use visualisation to think about the perfect technique. If I can get that perfect image in my head, then hopefully it’ll affect my physical performance.” This ‘perfect technique’ Ennis-Hill refers to can be adopted by yourself in terms of the perfect implementation of the job you are interviewing for.
All the preparation put in to constructing flexible and targeted responses can be wasted if you have not also spent adequate time prepping yourself on the essentials and nuances of the interviewing company, as the hiring team are going to think you lack interest in the company and position. After all, how are you supposed to demonstrate that you are a great fit for the role if you don’t know how the company operates?
The fundamentals of any company you are applying for can be found online. Study the company website to build an understanding of their values and practices. Learn the basics of what makes the company tick, how it makes money, who the decision makers are, strategic objectives etc. A Google search will show relevant news articles about the company and give you an idea of their image both internally and externally. Also, check out all their social media pages to gage their tone, interests and positioning in the market in which they operate.
Build all the information you have gained concerning the ins and outs of the job and the company into your responses to fully validate to the hiring manager your suitability for the position in question.
Practice Makes Perfect
As the age old saying goes, preparation is key. Preparing job-specific responses to the questions you’re likely to face will give the edge over the competition, but keep these versatile. Practicing relevant points you wish to cover as opposed to robotic carbon-copy responses to questions will allow you to reference said points on the spot during the interview. This will ensure that you always have relevant response and that you don’t miss out on sharing anything with the hiring manager during the interview.
A mock interview is highly advised in this regard to confirm to yourself that you are confident and ready to deal with any questions thrown your way with the maximum levels of efficiency and value. After all, your interview is a relatively short amount of time to sell yourself and its vital you make every second count. At MET Marketing we are always happy to help with interview advice and mock interviews so don’t hesitate to ask if you would like some assistance in these areas.
The 50 Most Common interview Questions
Fortunately companies are beginning to move away from this line of questioning formerly used by Apple – “If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?” which many feel doesn’t have any tangible benefits to the hiring team and often serves to make the interviewee nervous from being put on the spot.
While this type of question can be highly amusing to hear of for those not fielding them, we will be dealing specifically with the 50 questions you are most likely to face during your next interview to give you a head start on the competition for that coveted next role.
The results of a study into the most common interview questions faced by candidates, using data from tens of thousands of interviews were:
1. What are your strengths?
2. What are your weaknesses?
3. Why are you interested in working for us?
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
5. Why do you want to leave your current company?
6. What can you offer us that someone else can’t?
7. Why was there a gap in your employment between these two dates?
8. What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?
9. Are you willing to relocate?
10. Are you willing to travel?
11. Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
12. Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
13. What is your dream job?
14. How did you hear about this position?
15. What would you accomplish in the first 30/60/90 days on the job?
16. Discuss your resume.
17. Discuss your educational background.
18. Describe yourself.
19. Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.
20. Why should we hire you?
21. Why are you looking for a new job?
22. Would you work holidays/weekends?
23. How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?
24. What are your salary requirements?
25. Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
26. Who are our competitors?
27. What was your biggest failure?
28. What motivates you?
29. What’s your availability?
30. Who is your mentor?
31. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
32. How do you handle pressure?
33. What is the name of our CEO?
34. What are your career goals?
35. What gets you up in the morning?
36. What would your direct reports say about you?
37. What were your bosses’ strengths/weaknesses?
38. If I called your boss right now and asked him for an area that you could improve on, what would he say?
39. Are you a leader or a follower?
40. What was the last book you read for fun?
41. What are your co-worker pet peeves?
42. What are your hobbies?
43. What is your favourite website?
44. What makes you uncomfortable?
45. What are some of your leadership experiences?
46. How would you fire someone?
47. What do you like the most and least about working in this industry?
48. Would you work 40+ hours a week?
49. What questions haven’t I asked you?
50. What questions do you have for me? – Here are 7 questions to WOW the interviewer at your next interview
Preparation for these questions is therefore a fundamental part of your interview research. You should have a fairly clear idea of how you would answer any and all of these questions prior to arriving for the interview, as any stumble or slip up in this competitive job market may take you out of the running for the role.
Research suggests that the typical interviewee has only prepared around 10 question responses prior to an interview, so having a response for around 50 is sure to give you an advantage in the interview arena over most of the competition. But to really ram home your advantage you must also cover all the key areas touched on in this article in your responses to show the interviewing team your competency for the job at hand.
Bringing It All Together
Interviewing is a difficult process, there’s no two ways about it. Fully demonstrating your character, who you really are and what you can achieve is near impossible to accomplish during a quick chat with a stranger. Our advice here aims to dispel nerves and give you the best chance to excel during the interview. The work you put in prior to arriving for the interview can only stand you in good stead so practice, practice and practice some more and we wish you every success!
Once you have answered all the hiring team’s questions and shown that you are the ideal candidate for the job you will then have your chance to turn the tables on those interviewing and ask questions of your choosing. Here are 7 questions that will WOW the hiring team and ensure you leave a lasting impression.
Please share your thoughts and comments below, it would be great to hear your preparation habits and what responses to questions you believe to have had the most success in your experience.