Top 10 Most Popular Interview Questions – and How to Answer Them
Looking for a new job but worried about the interview process? Here are the Top 10 Most Popular Interview Questions and how to answer them.
10. ‘Tell Me About Yourself’
At first this question can seem daunting – what do they mean? Is your hiring manager interested in your career achievements, why you’re in the interview, or you as a person? The answer is: all of these things.
Think about the old-school elevator pitch: your best, most relevant qualities that you would most want a stranger to know and can comfortably fit into the time it would take an elevator to reach from the ground to the top floor of a (very tall) building. As with all the most popular interview questions, your interviewer is simply looking for what makes you a good fit for the job. Read up on your CV the day before to ensure you can summarise your recent career experience and highlight your best skills. To make your passion stand out from the crowd, briefly explain the personal reasons behind why you are interested in the aviation industry or decided to become an engineer.
Your elevator pitch should be about two-three minutes long and outline your education/qualifications, interest in your profession, work history and experience.
9. What Are Your Greatest Strengths?
This is a favourite of the most popular interview questions. For the interviewer to be confident that you are right for the job, you need to show confidence in yourself. If you’re usually very modest or uncomfortable with self-promotion, focus on the outcome of what you achieved. Talk about a recent major project that required you to use your greatest strengths, the outcome of this project and the difference that your contribution made.
8. What Are Your Weaknesses?
Don’t lie, and don’t try to outsmart the hiring manager – responding with ‘I’m a perfectionist’ won’t cut it and will sound insincere. Being honest about your weaknesses shows that you know yourself and recognise the depth and breadth of your own skill set, and shows that you are willing and able to learn from your new job.
To evidence your ability to improve your performance, mention the steps you’ve already taken to address your weakness. For example, if poor attention to detail is your weakness, explain how you now create exhaustive checklists and plans for every major project, which has ensured you don’t miss anything and is helping you to develop better habits.
7. Do You Have any Questions for Me?
The worst answer to this most popular interview question is ‘no’. Your interviewer has spent the past hour listening to carefully prepared answers and now wants to hear what piques your interest; a ‘no’ tells the interviewer that you are not interested in this job or this company.
The best strategy for this question is to make a short list of points ahead of the interview and memorise them – your interviewer may already answer some of them during the interview, and even if you have a long and detailed conversation, you don’t want to be left with nothing to say at the end. Prepare questions around business goals, company culture and career progression paths, and also pay attention during the interview to see if you would like more clarification on any of the job specifications or other topics brought up in conversation.
6. Why Should I Hire You?
The sixth most popular interview question is the most directly and obviously relevant to the job you want. Familiarise yourself with the job description and match your own skills and experience as closely as possible to what your prospective employer is looking for. If there are any gaps, make a point to address these and identify ways that you can and will improve your skill-set to give your employer the skills they need.
5. Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?
Be honest and specific about your future goals, but also keep in mind that your hiring manager will be looking to see whether you have ambition (especially for permanent roles with fast career progression), and whether the job you are interviewing for aligns with your goals and planned development. Interviewers want to know that you really want the job and that you value what the company can give you – be realistic about what you want to achieve in your career, and explain how this job will help you to achieve it.
4. What Do You Know About the Company?
Anyone can spend five seconds quickly checking a website, and your interviewer will want more than one sentence that they have heard many times before from other candidates. Use the fourth of the most popular interview questions to prove that you are truly interested in the business and evidence that you are a great fit for the company.
Gathering company information from a variety of different sources takes no more than half an hour and will give you a significant advantage. Look at the company’s social media pages, read up on mentions of the company online (outside of their own website) and ask around your network to find interesting and valuable information. By mentioning facts and figures that relate to your job – such as an innovative new product launch that drove the growth of an engineering company during the composites skills shortage – you can show your knowledge in the company, your industry and your specific function, further proving that you are the right candidate for the job.
3. What Was Your Biggest Challenge in Your Previous/Current Job?
This question helps the interviewer to predict the type of challenges you would face in the job they’re interviewing you for. Be honest, but also ensure you emphasise how you successfully tackled the challenge, what solution you created, what you learned from the situation and how you would respond differently when faced with a similar challenge in the future. Your interviewer will know that no one is perfect, but will want to assess your problem-solving skills and your ability to learn and improve.
2. Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job?
Second on the list of the most popular interview questions, this question will tell recruiters exactly what you want from your next role. If you left because of the long hours they know that work-life balance is important to you, or if you weren’t given enough responsibility or career progression they can guess that you’re a hard worker who is eager to move up.
1. Why Do You Want This Job?
This is very different to the question of why you want to leave your current/previous company. In the top of the most popular interview questions, your interviewer wants to know why you think you are a good match for the job and the company. Explain what you find the most interesting about the company and reiterate your skills and experience, to show that what you can bring to the company is something that it needs.
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Need help with your job search? Read our Guide on How to Improve Your CV.