We’ve all been through an interview process or two, and some of us have heard similar questions in multiple interviews. So, why do all employers ask these questions to candidates? What are they looking to get from the answers? Here are some popular interview questions broken down, and some suggestions on what interviewers are looking to get in terms of an answer.
Tell me about yourself
This is a classic interview question that most potential employers will ask. It’s generally one of the first interview questions that’s asked. It breaks the ice and gets the ball rolling. When you answer, be confident and try to highlight aspects that would pertain to the job you are interviewing for. This includes relevant work experience, achievements, education and training.
What interests you about this position?
This question is perfect for pretty much any position you apply for. Interviewers want to hear enthusiasm and interest in your answer. “I need a job and this one came up on Google” is not an acceptable answer. Show your passion for the company or position—and do your research beforehand! Come into the interview with some knowledge on the company, because an answer that speaks to the company in particular will turn heads. For example, “I was really interested in this position because I have heard about your training reputation and I would love to work for a company that invests in their employees” is a good answer.
What would you describe as your biggest weakness?
This is often a tricky one for many people in interviews because the first reaction is to try and highlight your strengths, not point out your opportunities or weaknesses. However, as much as some may try to hide them, everyone has flaws and weaknesses. In the workplace, one person’s weakness may be counteracted by another’s strength and vice-versa. Be honest about this one—employers often hear the overused answer of “I’m a perfectionist, so I try too hard to make everything perfect.” Instead try something genuine but not necessarily a deal-breaker for the position. Make sure that you counter this by explaining what you do to counteract this; for example, if you are sometimes forgetful, explain that you are rigorous about keeping an accurate agenda on your phone, computer, desk etc. Flaws are okay, especially when you’re aware of them and what needs to be done to offset them.
What made you leave your last employer/why are you looking for new employment?
This is a tricky question to answer. Be honest, but don’t be critical or insulting to your last—or current place of employment. Remember, those who gossip to you will gossip about you. Your answer should be professional and understandable, such as career development, personal relocation, etc.
What achievement are you most proud of?
If you hear this question, it’s your chance to shine! Whether this is a personal achievement such as finishing a marathon, an educational achievement such as graduating with honours, or a professional achievement like getting promoted at a previous employer, completing a milestone project early and on budget etc. you have to make sure you show your true emotions here. This can also help a potential employer get to know your personality and what matters most.