How to prepare for and crack standard job interview questions

Personal Interview is the last stage of any Job search process. It takes a lot of hardwork to reach at this stage and faltering can cause a lucrative job slip out of your hands and all efforts in vain. Preparing for certain standard questions which are asked in almost all Job interviews can help you crack the interview. While there are a number of standard questions, this article covers the 4 of them and tries to give you leads into thinking the answers of those questions for yourself, and really go prepare

Standard Interview Question 1

Please tell me something about yourself

This is universal question which is asked in almost all interviews in same form, or with slight variations. Most candidates make the mistake of reading out their CV aloud in answer to this question. This question is a chance given to the candidate to set the context, be at ease and set the tone and direction of the interview. Beware that your CV is already with the recruiter, and she is not exactly expecting you to read out your CV. Instead, she is looking for how you come across as a professional vis a vis what you have written in your CV. A suggested framework to answer this question is -

Past - Present - Future
It is always better to prepare around a framework because it removes adhocism and the above is a suggested framework. Think about your past experience, what have been the key highlights of your career, the projects you did, success stories and awards won etc. Once you are done with the past, then dwell on your current work experience. This is very important part of your answer and you need to do homework before answering this question. You must find out more about the job in question, and see what are the competencies and skill set required for that job. Then try to work out your answer around those competencies and skillsets required for this job. In this way you will be indirectly communicating to the recruiter that you are a good fit for the job. For example, you are appearing for an interview for a Key account manager position. In that case you would like to highlight your current sales experience with a lot of stress on large customers that you are handling. The last leg of your answer is "Future". You will build from your present and then reach at a logical conclusion that why you are looking for new job, how your present will enable you to and how you will be fit for this particular job.

This is one of the ways this question could be answered. As everyone of us have their own style and rightfully so, you could adopt the answer suitable to you. But the key is that you should prepare the answer. This will improve your performance in the interview substantially.

Standard Interview Question 2

Please tell me about a few achievements that you are proud of

Again this question could also have various forms, but will most certainly be asked. Most candidates make the mistake of landing up in the interview thinking they will take it as it comes and as a result start fumbling when this question is asked. The key is to well prepare about your achievements and accomplishments. Everyone of us have high points of your careers or work experiences. We need to sit and think about each and every assignment, and see what has been your key achievements and how to word it. Some candidates start telling the awards and trophies won in response to this question. There is nothing wrong in that, but that cannot be the core of that answer. The core of the answer should revolve around the good work you did, what was the objective and results, what did the organization gain out of it, was it able to bring about some kind of fundamental positive change in the organization and then in case you won some award for that work, that could be mentioned.

Standard Interview Question 3

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Very important question as the recruiter is trying to profile you against the job and see whether you are a right fitment for the job. So the key is to study the job profile well, and then round up your strength in a way that it matches up with the job requirement. For example if you are going for a sales job interview, one of the strengths you could mention is - Good Interpersonal Skills. Another example, if you are going for a position of MIS or Analyst, you could mention your strength as being good at numbers. Ultimately whatever strength you mention, do make sure to think of 2 examples of each strength because the interviewer will back up the question with a followup question on examples.

It is important to spend some time on your weaknesses or area of improvement for part of this question. Remember, this innocent looking question is designed to eliminate the candidates who have any weakness that could be hindrance to the job in question. For example if you are going for sales job and mention that you are a shy person and don't get along with new people easily, this honest answer will earn you 10 out of 10 for honesty, but you will not get that job. The best strategy to answer this question is to disguise a strength as a weakness. For example you could say that you are very pushy when it comes to meeting the targets, and sometimes some people are not able to match up the wavelength. Another example of weakness could be that you are a perfectionist, which at times tends to slow down things.

Standard Interview Question 4

Why do you want to work for this company?

This question is also asked in most of the interviews. Through this question recruiter is trying to ascertain how well the candidate has researched the job and the company and what is his interest level in the job. Not knowing about the job well and about the company will leave a bad impression on the interviewer and she is likely to reject you for the job. Again, the key is to prepare for this question. Study the literature publicly available - the articles in the newspapers and internet, the financial statements, about the competition etc. What are the key drivers of this industry. The more you study and research the better prepared will you be to face this question. A well rounded answer to this question can actually be the turning point of your interview.

Summary and Conclusion

To summarize, these questions are the universal ones, and will appear in almost all interviews. When you know that these questions are going to come, then not preparing for them is not a wise decision. Preparation leads you to think deeply, reflect upon your work experience and come up with well balanced answers to these questions. It is also advisable to rehearse the answers to these 4 questions in front of a mirror. You should practice the answers so much that you come across as a confident well rounded candidate to the recruiter.

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Author: Kailash Kumar23 Jun 2016 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 3

The objectives of the personal interviews during the recruitment process is to evaluate the personality traits of the candidate. Personal interviews has been dispensed with the case of candidates for group 'C' posts in the government sector. However, in the private sector, the interviews are still conducted and the same play a very important role in the selection of the candidates. Apart from what the author has penned down painstakingly, it is pertinent to note that generally it is not possible for the candidates to fake in front of the experienced members of the interview board by rote learning answers. The best policy is to be honest and not play too smart to antagonize the board.

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