Interview responsesDecember 13, 2020
One of the secrets of a successful interview is preparing answers to common questions. This will help you feel more confident, not come up with anything on the go, be prepared for “uncomfortable” questions. Of course, there cannot be universal answers for all job seekers, but some recommendations and examples will help you, relying on your professional background, to prepare well and make a positive impression on the recruiter.
What can you tell us about yourself?
This question is very often asked during interviews, so you will be required to prepare a laconic, but at the same time informative self-presentation. In fact, this is a story about why you are suitable for this position, a description of your advantages. It is he who is responsible for the first impression that the recruiter will have about you.
What a story like this might include:
- for what purpose are you looking for a job:
- what can you do;
- where did you study and work;
- why you are interested in this vacancy;
- why do you think you are suitable for the company.
An example of a story about yourself during an interview
“My name is Dmitry Nikitenko, I’m 27 years old. I am married, the child is 2 years old. Graduated from the Moscow Polytechnic University with a degree in Software and Information Systems. Then I worked in this field for 7 years, and now I want to try my hand at an international company. I have been very fond of computers since childhood, and programming has always been something incredibly interesting for me. That is why I chose this specialty. I am very interested in your vacancy because your job will be an invaluable experience for me in this IT direction. I also find this vacancy very promising and good assess the possibilities of my professional growth. As for my personal qualities, I will say that I can easily adapt to new and difficult tasks, and I am also very sociable and easily accept criticism. I always love to study and learn about new technologies and opportunities. I am fond of computer games, I read specialized literature. This is probably all. I will be glad to answer your questions.”
All this information should demonstrate that you are an ideal candidate.
It is recommended not only to think over but also to rehearse the story about yourself so that your story ends up without hesitation and parasitic words so that listening to you is interesting.
Why should we take you?
In this case, your answer will be in many ways similar to a story about yourself. The goal is the same – to make it clear to the recruiter that you are the best suited for filling a vacancy, that your competencies are relevant to the employer’s requirements, and will benefit the company.
Please note: when answering this question, it is categorically impossible to say something negative about the company or belittle other candidates: “You are promoting the project incorrectly, I can do everything right”, “You won’t find anyone better than me”,“ I am much smarter than all my colleagues. ”
What can and should be said:
- that you have work experience in a certain field or certain conditions, which will allow you to cope with your duties in a new place;
- that in your previous jobs you have achieved concrete results and can bring the same benefit here;
- that you fully possess the skills that are required to work in the company (here you will need to provide examples of skills and the tasks that they will solve).
Of course, to form a successful answer, you need to familiarize yourself with the information about the company, find out what exactly the employer needs from the candidate for the position, what tasks you can help with.
Why did you leave your previous job?
This is one of the “uncomfortable” questions that most likely you will be asked during an interview. Depending on your situation, you need to consider an answer that will suit the recruiter and will not make you look negative. Be prepared for the fact that you may be asked to explain the reasons for leaving all companies listed in your work experience over the past couple of years.
Of course, negative reasons for leaving past jobs should be avoided. Therefore, phrases such as “I did a bad job with my duties” or “It was not possible to combine work and study” will definitely not work. You need to think about an answer that will suit the recruiter and will not be frankly untrue.
What are the safest reasons:
- You have been cut. Moreover, it is desirable to note that not only you were laid off or to give a good reason why it affected you (for example, you are the newest employee or your position in the company was recently introduced), otherwise, there will be doubts about your “usefulness” as a specialist;
- the company has gone bankrupt;
- company office moved;
- You yourself have moved to a new place of residence;
- You have decided to change the field of activity;
- the company’s strategic development plans have changed, the management has changed;
- Your employment contract was concluded for a specific period;
- You left for family reasons: someone close to you got sick, or you had to leave the city for some time for important reasons;
- You were busy with project work and the project ended;
- You want to try your hand at a higher position, but in the previous company, there was no opportunity to move up the career ladder.
Please note: do not speak ill of your former team and boss.
This can give the impression of you as a conflict person. It will be good form in your answer not only to talk about the reason for the dismissal but also to speak well about the old place of work and express your sincere desire to work in the new company. Such a comprehensive answer will satisfy the recruiter.
If you want to hide the real reason for leaving the company, then it is all the more necessary to carefully prepare the answer to this question to speak clearly and confidently so that there are no additional questions or suspicions.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
If everything is more or less clear with the strengths, then what about the weaknesses? After all, any of them can spoil the opinion of you, and a cliché like “I love to work too much” will not impress an experienced recruiter.
It is important to note here that you cannot say that you have no weaknesses. Each specialist has his own shortcomings, and the distinguishing feature of a good specialist is that he understands, analyzes, and works out his weaknesses. Therefore, answering this question, it is also important to tell how you work to correct the shortcomings. For example:
- “I have a non-core education, but I have completed special courses and have already worked in this area, therefore, there will be no problems with the performance of the duties required of me”;
- “It’s hard for me to give negative feedback to my subordinates on the work done, because I don’t want to offend anyone. But due to my experience as a leader, as well as training I have completed, it is now much easier for me, and I know how to give feedback most objectively “;
- “It’s hard for me to venture out and take risky deeds. I analyze the situation for a long time before making a decision, which takes a long time. It helps to draw up action plans depending on the outcome of the situation “;
- “Often I can’t switch from work problems to everyday life, I continue to think about tasks at home. This makes it difficult to relax. I try to use certain techniques to get rid of this habit and learn how to rest “;
- “It’s very difficult for me to refuse other people. I try to overcome this in myself and learn to defend my rights “;
- “I’m afraid of public speaking, especially in front of a large crowd of people. Fortunately, my position does not imply such tests, but just in case, I am working on this problem with a psychologist. ”
What is not worth talking about: your low self-esteem, conflict, inattention – such traits, even if you work on yourself, will create a negative impression.
Also, among the shortcomings, one cannot name the absence of any of the competencies that are important for the desired position (for example, knowledge of the English language is important for the position, and you say that you do not know it well).
As for the strengths, try, again, to avoid clichés like “sociability” and “stress resistance”: tell about your skills, experience, qualities in a slightly more original way, supporting them with examples from professional experience (or from the training period if you are a beginner specialist).
Also in this question, it is important to refer to the vacancy text, to understand what competencies are expected from you, and based on this, build your answer. It is better not to list those strengths that are not relevant to the desired position.
Why do you want to work with us?
To prepare for this question, it will be necessary, again, to study the information about the company in advance. At the same time, “You have a salary that suits me” or “Your office is close to my home” will not work. You need to convince the recruiter that you are genuinely interested in working for the company, that you have a certain motivation.
What could be the reason:
- professional growth opportunities;
- company reputation reviews about it;
- its values;
- its rapid growth in the market;
- its long and stable history;
- interesting projects for you;
- opportunities to learn new things.
It will be good if you support your answer with words and about what interested you in the vacancy and why you successfully fit its requirements. After all, this is also one of the reasons why you want to work in this particular place.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Traditional interview question. Instead of 5 years, there may be 3 years or 10, but the essence is the same – to find out about your plans, about the presence or absence of a career strategy. Here, when answering, you need to be as specific as possible (without vague wordings like “Perhaps I will change the field of activity” or “It all depends on the circumstances”), but at the same time not be unshakable (“I must get a promotion within 2 years”). And, of course, you can’t say for sure that you are not planning anything in the long term.
What you can talk about your plans for the coming years:
- what responsibilities would you like to perform;
- what skills to learn/improve;
- to what position do you plan to grow;
- which courses do you want to take;
- how can you benefit the company during this time?
Also, keep in mind that the answer must be realistic.
Do not say that you want to achieve some transcendental heights, so as not to show yourself too self-confident. It is also worth studying information about the company to understand how fast you can advance in a career there and what opportunities for employees, in general, are available.
What salary do you want to receive?
This is one of the questions that need to be approached carefully and wisely. It is necessary not only to name the amount of the desired salary but also to justify it. And for this, you need to study the labor market, assess your abilities, find out how much people of your specialty are paid in your region.
If you overestimate the figure, it may cost you a job offer, if you underestimate it, you will end up not getting a decent salary or give the impression of a not very valuable employee who is ready to work for a penny.
Some recruiters themselves name the amount that they are willing to pay you, but this is not always the case. Most often they still ask to know if they can “afford” such an employee.
Your task is to think over in advance a fair amount of the desired wages for your labor.
What are your professional achievements?
You probably already described your achievements in your resume, but you need to be prepared to be able to retell the information from there, while less dryly and with examples. You may not be asked about all achievements, but only about one – the most important. Also, the question may sound like “What are you most proud of?” or “What contribution did you make in your last job?” Is all about professional achievement.
Think in advance about what results in you have achieved in your professional field. Write them down and select the most significant and relevant ones. Remember, they must be directly related to the position you are applying for. When answering, operate with facts and figures, add more specifics so that it is clear that you are a result-oriented specialist.
For example, you have increased sales in your old company by n percent or formed a team of a certain number of people from scratch, organized so many successful conferences, achieved the signing of several important contracts.
Important: do not talk about achievements from your personal life, they are unlikely to give the recruiter useful information about you as a specialist.
How do you deal with conflict situations?
This question is often encountered in behavioral interviews. It is asked to learn more about your communication skills and ability to cope with stressful situations. After all, the company needs those who know how to work in a team and smooth out rough edges.
You may be asked to hypothetically imagine that you had a conflict with a colleague/employer/client, or to give a real example when such a difficult situation occurred in your workplace. Although in any case, such an example will be needed to demonstrate that you have encountered this before.
How to answer a question about conflicts:
- Without unnecessary details, describe the cause of the conflict.
- We describe the actions that you took to calmly and professionally get out of the situation.
You can’t talk about how you just ignored the problem situation and did nothing, or about how you couldn’t stay calm and yelled at someone.
On the contrary, it is necessary to show how some of your actions helped to solve the problem.
Also, try not to give a general answer like “I am always calm during conflicts”, “I am used to working under stress” or “I never had any conflicts with anyone.” For this, preparation for the interview is needed – to remember a suitable, illustrative example.
How do you develop yourself as a specialist?
It is believed that a good specialist never stops learning. Think about how you keep your skills up to date. These can be:
- courses, private lessons;
- professional literature;
- specialized articles;
- training, conferences;
- industry news.
Perhaps in your career, you prefer to take on non-standard tasks and master new approaches – this can also be indicated, preferably with examples.
As we have already mentioned, you cannot say anything negative about your past companies, teams, and bosses. Even if they were really bad. Any unflattering comment can play against you.
But it is also undesirable to tell overly “sweet”. As with so many other things, we are looking for a middle ground. Just note that the company atmosphere was friendly. If you want to tell in more detail (or if you are asked about it), note a couple of pleasant things: for example, that the employer gave adequate feedback to employees, or that tasks were always correctly distributed, and everyone in the team tried to support each other.
What challenging tasks have you encountered in your work?
Here we are acting on the same principle as in the question of conflict situations. We recall situations from our professional experience and our actions that led to a positive result.
In this case, the recruiter tests you for your ability to work in non-standard conditions or under tight deadlines. When choosing a suitable example, pay attention to the fact that it demonstrates your positive qualities that will be useful in a new place of work. For example:
- stress resistance;
- ability to think critically;
It is worth studying information about the company and about the open position to understand what types of problems you may encounter in this position. And based on this already build your answer.
What is your ideal employer?
This question is asked to understand your “compatibility” with the company and its procedures, management style.
In this case, your idea of the ideal employer should match the description of the company in which you are interviewing. To do this, you will need, again, to study the information available about it, reviews. What criteria are included here:
- need to work overtime;
- type and frequency of reporting;
- the degree of freedom/control of employees in solving problems, etc.
That is, if the company is characterized by strict control, the answer “I want the manager to give me complete freedom of action” will not work.
If you cannot find out in any way what is accepted in this company, then you will need to answer as neutral as possible.
For example: “The ideal employer clearly sets goals for me and gives me feedback.”
Are you considering other job offers?
With the help of such a question, a recruiter can understand your demand in the labor market. For example, if you have been in search for a long time and say that there are no offers at the moment, then the corresponding conclusion suggests itself.
Also, depending on your answer, the recruiter will find out how much time he has to consider your candidacy together with the manager.
The most important thing here is not to overestimate, but not to underestimate your capabilities.
You shouldn’t boast that you have a bunch of other offers with the most favorable conditions, but it is all the more unnecessary to say “It’s very difficult for me to find a job, you are my last hope.”
If there are suggestions
Tell them that you are considering other options, but that you are especially interested in working for this company. The answer to this question will have something in common with “Why do you want to work with us?” Since it will be important to focus on what exactly attracts you to the company, why you can choose it among all the offers. If there are any deadlines in which you need to know the results of the interview, it is better to warn about them (for example, if another company asks you to decide by a certain time).
If there are no offers
Explain that there are no options yet, not because you are not in demand. For example, you just started looking for a job or you are not looking for it very actively, as you are still employed at your old place of work.
Important: when talking about other proposals, do not give specific titles or names. It is also unethical to speak negatively about other companies.
Do you have children?
Another of the “inconvenient” questions. It is most often asked of women. And the answer here, of course, must be truthful, but at the same time satisfy the recruiter. How to do it?
If there are children
Note that there is someone to sit with the child (nanny, grandmother), that at the last job there were no problems with this and this did not interfere with your duties. At the same time, if you know that you really will need to often take time off or sick leave for the sake of the child, it is better to admit it honestly – it will happen anyway, and then you will have to prioritize.
If there are no children
In this case, the recruiter may be worried about your possible departure on maternity leave. The standard answer here is “I don’t plan to have children soon.”
How do you feel about working overtime?
Everything here strongly depends on your real situation. It will be very embarrassing if you say that you are ready to work overtime, and then you will not be able to do it. But by saying that overwork is not to your liking, you show your indifference to the company’s potential problems.
Therefore, we recommend finding a middle ground: “I am not ready for this regularly, but if circumstances require it, I can stay after 18:00 or work on tasks additionally at home.”
If you are a workaholic and really can almost spend the night at work, then no “buts” are needed here.
Well, if you still categorically do not want to work beyond the schedule, honestly tell about it to avoid problems in the future.
Why did you choose this specialty?
If you are really passionate about your business, the answer to this question should not be difficult for you. Most often it is asked to young professionals who do not yet have a lot of career experience, but whose motivation is very important to understand.
What could be the answer:
- You have dreamed of such a job since school, and this is what you like to do most of all;
- Your parents or friends are involved in this activity and you followed their example;
- during your studies you demonstrated the greatest success in this particular area;
- You have passed the vocational guidance testing and this specialty is perfect for you.
It is important to show that in this profession you are not accidental, that you really plan to do this for a long time and fruitfully.
What is your hobby?
Personal questions of this kind can also arise during interviews. Here you can tell what you do in your free time, what you are fond of. It will be an added plus if your hobby emphasizes any of your qualities or contributes to maintaining skills at the proper level. For example, for a proofreader or copywriter, it is useful to enjoy reading or writing prose/poetry, blogging.
What not to say:
- that you are not interested in anything;
- that you like something socially negative (drinking in bars or gambling);
- that you love something to the point of fanaticism.
It will be a plus if you have achieved something in some of your hobbies (for example, won a prize in a competition or published a book).
This will demonstrate your dedication and hard work.
What are your career goals?
If a recruiter asks you about a dream, he not only wants to know more about you as a person and a specialist but also to understand whether your ambitions coincide with the values and capabilities of the company. As with the question of where do you see yourself in n-th number of years, it is important to talk about real things here.
Possible answers to the question about professional goals:
- release a quality product, complete a useful project;
- grow vertically or horizontally in service;
- learn new programs, apply new approaches;
- work in an international company, etc.
Answers like “I want to make that much money” will not work. This is not the best motivation, especially in the eyes of employers.
What questions do you have?
A very good tone is when you do not just answer the recruiter’s questions, but also ask your own. This shows your initiative and interest.
It is recommended to ask questions about:
- your potential responsibilities;
- a corporate culture of the company;
- peculiarities of some separate projects, tasks;
- further plans of the company.
Don’t jump straight to questions about your benefits package or salary, lest you get the impression that you came exclusively for them.
We’ve covered 20 of the most common interview questions. But some recruiters may ask unusual or even provocative things.
If suddenly you do not know the answer to a specific question, did not expect it, the main way out here is to reason.
Do not be silent, do not say “I do not know”, it is better to demonstrate that you are ready to openly communicate and think. And it will definitely make a good impression on the recruiter.