The 10 Most Common Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
Recent statistics show that on average, a face-to-face job interview can last around 40 minutes. Some interviews can go for as long as 90 minutes. This will really depend on the position you’re applying for and how the hiring manager will conduct the interview. During that time, the first minute and a half are the most crucial. In fact, approximately 33% of interviewers will make up their minds on whether they’ll hire the candidate within 90 seconds of the interview.
To make a favourable impression during your job interviews, here are the 10 most commonly asked questions with our recommended strategies to answering them. Your response – and how you reply – can make a huge difference in giving you an edge versus your competition and getting you hired.
1. “Tell me about yourself.”
When you answer this question, follow the present-past-future formula. Mention briefly your current role and bring up a major accomplishment. Give short, relevant information about your career experience. Then end with why you want the job.
Example answer: “I currently work as a senior graphic artist for ABC Agency where I handled the creative requirements of three beauty brands. Prior to that, I was a graphic artist and created collaterals for a personal care company. I’m excited to flex my creative skills and work for a recognised market leader like Beauty Best.”
2. “Guide me through your resume.”
This is where you tell your career story, either in chronological order or you can also use the present-past-future method. Whichever technique you use, this is where you will mention your most relevant achievements.
Example answer: “I graduated with a degree in Mass Communications and focussed on Advertising. I worked as an Executive Assistant for a small family-owned business. Then I accepted a job offer as a copywriter for the creative department of a conglomerate. Next, I worked as a copywriter for an in-house ad agency of another group of companies. I wrote copy for print ads and a variety of collaterals. I was very active in brainstorming for concepts for ad campaigns. Their implementation has helped increase the enrolments in the beauty services of our clients.
“After 8 years, I was invited to join a market-leading beauty company as one of their copywriters where I handled more responsibilities such as coordinating with beauty and fashion brand managers for their creative requirements. After 13 years, I decided to venture into digital marketing since there was an increasing global demand for this service. I joined a digital marketing agency where I am currently working remotely as a senior copywriter for various Australian clients.”
3. “What is your greatest strength?”
Describe your strengths that will best fit the qualifications that the employer is looking for. In particular, mention your distinct work-related characteristics that will give you an advantage over your competition.
Example answer: “Empathy is one of my strongest suits. This has served me well whenever I write copy that the target market can fully relate to. In one of my projects, I was praised by the brand manager for using the right words to attract their potential customers, which was apparent during the focus group discussions.”
4. “What is your greatest weakness?”
With this question, the interviewer is evaluating your self-awareness. To answer this, you can mention skills that aren’t specifically required for the job role, but you’re making an effort to improve.
Example answer: “I tend to be a perfectionist that I end up triple-checking details. Sometimes, this has affected how I manage my time with other projects. But I have been learning how to be more focussed by checking the details thoroughly in just one go.”
5. “Why do you want to work with us?”
This is where your research about the company comes in handy. Mention a specific aspect of the company that’s attractive to you. Perhaps it’s the diverse and inclusive company culture or the opportunities that they offer for career development. You can even mention feedback that you’ve received from your peers when you talk about the company.
Example answer: “I read a news article in your website that your company recently acquired a new client that’s into cosmetics. Given my extensive experience with working for a global cosmetics brand, I hope I can share my copywriting skills to support their creative requirements for their digital marketing campaigns.”
6. “Why should we hire you?”
Here’s a guide on how to answer this seemingly intimidating question. Inform the interviewer with these three points: you can deliver results, you can work with the team and adapt to the culture, and you have qualities that make you better than the other candidates.
Example answer: “I see an opportunity to build your brand by strengthening the content of your social media. Through strategic thought-leadership content, I’d like to implement this by working with your team so we can deliver double-digit growth. That’s how I was able to achieve this in my previous work experience with another creative team for our B2B clients.”
7. “What can you bring to the company?”
In your research about the company, you should be aware if they are encountering issues that can be solved by your skills and experience. Take a good look at the job description and make sure that your qualifications are what the company needs. Mention a relevant incident from your previous work as an example of what you can contribute to the organisation.
Example answer: “I understand that you’re struggling with your social media content and digital marketing initiatives. I can develop a more finely tuned omnichannel strategy that will target your end-users to gain more leads with better quality. I can share content marketing techniques that I’ve applied in my past projects where I was able to increase the quality of the leads that were successfully converted into regular clients for the beauty brand I worked with.”
8. “Share something about yourself that’s NOT on your resume.”
Interviewers want to see a deeper perspective of your personality and your capabilities beyond what you’ve mentioned on your resume. This will help them to assess if you’re really fit for the role. You can mention what inspired you to apply and express your commitment to the job.
Example answer: “I’ve always wanted to get into advertising ever since I saw the 1984-inspired commercial of Apple Macintosh. That was a watershed moment for me. Since then, I’ve applied myself to learn and improve my craft as a creative writer. This eventually became a 25-year long career in copywriting. This also reflects my commitment to the companies I’ve worked with.”
9. “How do you work under pressure?”
Stressful situations at work are bound to happen and the interviewer wants to assess how you’ll handle it. Provide an answer with an example of how you conduct yourself when managing a crisis.
Example answer: “When I’m faced with irate customers, instead of reacting to the situation, I focus on how to help them. I stay calm and display empathy while informing them on what we can do to assist them. This also helps diffuse the stressful situation before it escalates further.”
10. “What is your greatest professional achievement?”
Interviewers want to know how do you apply your problem-solving skills and whether you can deliver the expected results. Your greatest achievement will reflect that. Respond by using the STAR method: situation, task, action, results.
Example: “I was part of a team that needed to find ways to increase the number of clients for a hair-loss centre. Our previous ads were primarily focussed on men but I suggested that we could expand our ad campaign to include women. We interviewed female clients who became our testimonials in our ad campaigns. We also created campaigns that featured both male and female testimonials in one ad. This resulted in a 30% increase in male and female enrolees for hair-loss treatments.”
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We invite job seekers to check our free online resources to guide you in your career journey. Learn more interview preparation tips and take note of our recommendations for virtual job interviews. Find rewarding career opportunities at our job vacancies page.