February 28 2020

Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them Part 1

Going on an interview is undoubtedly one of the most intimidating parts of a job search, let alone doing so in your second language! What can you do to feel confident during the interview?

Be prepared!

Here is Part One of a collection of the dos and don’ts regarding 12 common interview questions. A word to the wise: DO NOT simply memorise every answer and deliver it like a robot! Instead, think about different ways to present your best self, and you will be well on your way to getting that job!


1) “Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?”

This can either be a simple question or an intimidating one. Start on the right track.

DO NOT: Recite your entire life story. Remember that you are in a job interview, so should not stray too far away from topics related to the position.

DO: Present yourself in a clear, concise way, emphasising traits that are related to the job. An example could be: “I’m a hardworking sales associate with three years of experience in marketing, and I’m really excited about the opportunity to contribute my talents to your team.”


2) “Why are you interested in working for us?”

This is a chance to show that you understand the company’s goals and mission.

DO NOT: Be vague.

DO: Highlight something about the company or organization that speaks to you.


3) “What are your strengths?”

The interviewer wants to know your best qualities, so share them!

DO NOT: Be too humble or too unrealistic. For example, if you say “I always show up to work on time,” it will not sound like much of an achievement. Likewise, if you say “I am the most hardworking person you will ever meet,” you will make the interviewer doubt you.

DO: Be honest and share a strength that you can demonstrate if given the job. Examples could be: “I work well with other people,” or “I pay very close attention to details.” Try to provide an example of this.


4) “What are your weaknesses?”

This may seem like a trap, but the interviewer really wants to know how honest you are, and how you plan to grow.

DO NOT: Say “I have no weaknesses.” This is a weak response! Also refrain from presenting a weakness that would be a problem for the job.

DO: Mention a weakness, and also how you overcome it. Be sure to relate this to the company. An example could be “I used to get nervous working with other people, but to improve this, I’ve spent more time collaborating on small projects, and so now, though I still get nervous, I know how to do it well.” Another tip: choose a weakness that could also be a hidden strength. Don’t be too obvious, since recruiters have heard “I’m too hard-working!” too often. Just be sure that your weakness will not undermine your application.


5) “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

The interviewer wants to know if you have a life plan or a direction, and how this position could contribute toward it.

DO NOT: Say “I don’t know.” Even if you honestly don’t know where you could be in 5 years, try to think of something that presents a more solid direction, even if it’s only a possible one.

DO: Briefly outline a scenario or plan and talk about how the job would contribute toward it.


6) “Can you tell me about a time you faced a challenge, and how you dealt with it?”

This is a chance to demonstrate your ability to think in tough situations.

DO NOT: Present a challenge without a solution. Or a solution that you had nothing to do with. The interviewer wants to know about you being successful in stressful situations, so choose one in which you played a major role.

DO: Describe a scenario in which you successfully found a solution or compromise for a challenge. 


These are some of the most common interview questions, along with tips on how to answer them. Stay tuned for Part Two, which will include six more!


Sources: ForbesLifehackerThe MuseJob-HuntThe Muse

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