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Common Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Rehearsing answers to common interview questions is essential to effective job interview preparation. Unfortunately, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of sample interview questions listed on websites across the Internet. Don’t feel pressured to practice perfect answers to thousands of questions. In this article, we’ve chosen not to list 101 questions. Instead, we’ve given you success-building insights into the types of questions interviewers ask.

Common Job Interview Questions

General Questions

Simple fact finding questions such as “How many years have you worked in management?” are easy to answer. The best way to prepare for general questions is to study your own resume. Be very confident about dates, time frames, skill sets and job descriptions you have specified in your resume. Your interview answers should accurately reflect your resume details with no embarrassing discrepancies.

Behavioural Questions

Recruiters design behavioural interviews to illuminate specific personality traits. Examples of such traits include teamwork, leadership, analytical thinking and time management. The basic premise of behavioural interviews is that past performance is an accurate predictor of a person’s future performance in a similar environment. Interviewers will either ask direct questions or request you recount past experiences.

In the interview, always be completely honest (i.e. don’t exaggerate) when recounting past achievements. Expect your initial response to be explored in detail with further questions. Word your response carefully, being sure to state how your experiences demonstrate desired behaviours.

Situational Questions

When asking situational questions, recruiters listen for demonstrated coping and problem solving skills. They want to know how quickly you can bring a positive outcome to common (often stressful) work situations. Situational questions focus on your response to a hypothetical situation. You will be asked questions like “How would you handle XYZ situation?”.

Explain how you would respond to the hypothetical situation based on your past experiences. Give examples of how you have successfully handled similar situations in the past. Your response to situational questions gives interviewers a good indication of your level of experience and readiness for the new position.

Open-Ended Questions

The majority of questions in any job interview will be open-ended. These questions have no straight yes or no answer. By posing open-ended questions such as “What skills make you right for this job?” or “Why would you like to work for XYZ Company?”, the interviewer is seeking a detailed answer.
Take the opportunity to align your response to a known job requirement or desirable character trait. Focus your discussion on how and why you meet the job requirements.

The Ultimate Answer

The best job interview answers align previous work experience to current job requirements. No matter how the question is phrased, always try to mention a relevant past experience or achievement. Illustrate how you can apply your knowledge and learned skills to your new job position. The ‘STAR’ acronym helps with forming a good answer:

S – Situation: describe a situation you experienced at work
T – Task or Problem: identify the problem you faced
A – Action: explain the action you took to rectify the problem
R – Result: detail the result of your action and how the situation changed

Final Tips

Never give an answer unless you fully understand the question. It’s always acceptable to ask the interviewer to rephrase or repeat a question. Remember, each organisation adopts different interview practices. One organisation may conduct only behavioural interviews, whilst another organisation will focus solely on situational questions. Prepare for all question types by rehearsing five or six work ‘stories’ using the STAR technique. You’ll then be well equipped to adapt your stories to suit a variety of common job interview questions.

Visit The Job interview section for more articles related to your job preparation.

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