Strategies for Answering Interview Questions

Interview questions and answers

In my last article I had written about "how to face an interview". Now in this article I am writing about questions asked in an interview and suggested responses for the same.

To answer an interview question properly you have to think of the many questions that can be asked based on your resume, and be prepared. Interviews are generally stressful even though you must have appeared for many interviews.

There are few questions that are common and generally asked in all interviews, such as: 

  • Tell me something about yourself.
  • What are your short term and long term goals?
  • Why did you leave your previous job?
  • How would you rate your previous employer?

So, let us start understanding the purpose of such questions. In an interview the interviewer tries to find out about your personality, your attitude, behaviour, your ability to work in teams, how good you are at taking decisions, and most importantly, if you would be a good fit and add value to their company. So, when you answer a question you should be prepared to give short, smart and a positive reply.

In an interview there are standard questions, technical questions, behavioural questions and stress questions. Behavioural questions are questions based on candidates past performance and stress questions are asked to test the ability to handle pressure. To answer behavioural questions you should use the STAR technique. Situation, Task, Action and Result. What was the situation and what was the task and what action you took as well as the final result? Generally, you should answer all behavioural questions with an example or with a short success story for your past experience, for which you should be prepared.

Now let us look at few questions and suggested answers. The most common question

1. Tell me about yourself / Introduce yourself?

Since this is a common question, candidates do not prepare for exactly how to answer. If you start talking about yourself say for first five minutes, you will have good chance of having bored your interviewer. Hence answer to this question should be short and indicative about your attitude and personality. You should be able to express your USP (Unique Selling Point). Give them your synopsis about you. Tell them about your ability to be a good internal auditor, and have been able to prevent misuse and misappropriation of assets and funds of the organization. You can also add a value to the benefit the organization, had by your findings. Further, you can tell your interviewer that, I might be able to do something similar for your organization. This creates an interest in the interviewer. If you just talk about yourself like your name, age qualification, then interviewer is not very keen to hear that. You can tell about your hobbies such as cycling, reading, listening to music, yoga etc.

2. What are your long term goals?

Your answers to such question should generally be related to the company you are interviewing with. Don't discuss your personal goals as to family or going back to college for further studies. You should answer as follows:

"My long term goals are to grow with the company I am working for, where I can take additional responsibilities".

"Once I gain further experience I would like to move ahead from technical to managerial position".

"I see myself at a senior managerial position ten years from now".

"I plan to achieve the said goals by taking advantage of in house training (if available) and continue my association with professional body’s.”

“I plan to further develop my skills by participating in seminars, conferences and continued professional education”.

The above answers can also be given if asked how will upgrade your professional knowledge.

3. Are you willing to travel?

This is an absolutely direct yes or no answer. Be honest, say yes only if you are willing to otherwise not. You can also ask how much travel will be involved.

4. Why should we hire you?

You should give answers to such questions with examples of how you have contributed to the previous organisation with the help of your skill sets. How your skill can help in improving the productivity or profitability of the company. If possible, impress upon your abilities with job requirement.

5. Why did you leave your job?

This question is asked if you have been working earlier. This question is very tricky and you have to answer it any positive manner eve if you left the job due to reasons which need not be explained. The following are few answers which you can give:

a) I was looking for challenges and I could not look for job while working. (it talks about ethics)

b) There was no room for growth as it was a small company

c) I am relocating to this area due to family / personal reasons.

d) My previous plant got relocated to a new place. Or during restructuring I was laid off from my last position as it did not exist in the new structure.

e) I recently cleared my CA final and I want to use my qualifications hence looking for change

These are few of the examples.

6. How many hours do you work. Do you take homework with you?

This is again a very tricky question. The answer should be I generally work 40 to 48 hours a week but, at times if required I am ready to put in more time.

I do not believe in carrying work home but, sometime I may do so depending on the urgency of the work as I realise the importance of deadlines.

7. How do you handle stress and how would you work under pressure?

I do work better in stress as it motivates me. I try to have balance of good and bad stress. Further I go to the gym, do yoga as I find it to be great stress reducer. I prioritise my responsibilities to avoid last minute stress.

As I mentioned earlier I work better under stress, similarly, under pressure I found that I work better and I like working in challenging environment. I prefer engaging myself with my team to reduce pressure and stress for the whole team.

8. What is your salary expectation?

You have to do research on salary part and find out a combination of what is the salary structure under the position and what is your worth. Once you know what is your required earnings based on your market value (and not only on your personal desire) you can give a figure to the interviewer based on the position offered. Also remember never to talk of your own about salary until you have been offered the job. You can also ask about the responsibilities and challenges involved in the position before giving your figure. And remember to give an approx. figure. You can also say I will think it over and let you know.

The above are few of the suggested answers to interview questions. There are many more questions which can be asked for which you should be prepared. A few more questions that can be asked are:

  • How would you describe your previous boss /employer?
  • Why do you want to work in this company?
  • What can you contribute to this organisation?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What do you know about the company?
  • Tell me something about yourself that is not mentioned in the resume.
  • Describe a difficult situation you came across your previous job and how you managed it?
  • How do you take criticism?
  • What motivates you?

A few hints before concluding – never bad mouth your previous boss / employer. Always describe your responsibilities and connect to the present job requirement. Try to be honest. Show your positivity in the interview, that you are willing to join them. Give examples wherever you can. 

The author can also be reached at sjcabom@gmail.com

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Suresh Jain 
on 04 October 2016
Published in Career
Views : 3108
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