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Common Questions in Interviews and How to Tackle Them.

Common Interview Questions And Their Answers.

An interview is usually an opportunity for candidates to showcase their skills, experience, and suitability for a particular position. Whether or not a candidate passes an interview is determined by several factors including their preparedness, how they present themselves, confidence levels and the relevance of their answers.

When it comes to answers given by candidates during interviews, this is where most candidates go wrong. They give answers depending on what they think the interviewer wants to hear, forgetting that their unique selling propositions are what interviewers are actually looking for. Providing canned answers during interviews puts off the interviewers as they have heard the same answers over and over in different sessions. So how do you as a candidate wow the interview panel with your answers? By learning to understand what the question requires of you and customizing it to give the most informed and relevant answer.

Below is a collection of common interview questions and the recommended approach in answering them;

     1.Tell us about yourself.

What to note:

This is an opportunity to blow your professional trumpet. Remember to have a practiced elevation pitch ready. Your thoughts should flow smoothly and the events you touch on should be in order. Remember that your elevation pitch should be in accordance to your CV. Discrepancies may raise red flags and the interviewers may think you are lying.

Sample Answer: I am a revenue accountant with professional qualifications ranging from a BCom, CPA6 1 year in internal audit and over 2 years in revenue accounting. I am the second in command in the finance department in my current company. I handle over 50 client accounts, I am timely on deadlines, very keen on the fine details and also good with customers and supplier relations. I am now at a point where I feel my growth in that direction has plateaued, and would value a more challenging environment to expand my career horizons.

     2. Talk about your current position?

What to note:

The interviewer wants to find first of all help you relax with this question since it is one that is quite easy to answer. With this question, the interviewer is trying to expound on your Cv as far as your job experience is concerned. They want to find out if the activities you are currently performing are of relevance to the job you are applying for making you best fit for the job as well as whether what you actually mentioned on your Cv is true. It is important for you to answer this question concisely but at the same time give the roles you are currently performing as well as some of the achievements that are relevant to the job you are applying for you in relation to what your Cv says about you.

Sample response of someone applying for a Recruitment Executive position: Currently, I am holding the position of a human resource assistant at Company ‘X’. For the past two years, I have been in charge of  the recruitment section of the HR department where I am tasked to carry out screening, head-hunting and interviews for various clients on a day to day basis. During this period I have been able to introduce more standardized interview and screening tools that have made the recruitment process in the company much more organized and better.

     3. How did you hear about this position?

What to Note:

The interviewer basically wants to get a feel of their brand awareness levels in the market and whether their advertising efforts are working. Be honest when answering this question and be careful, especially if you were referred by an internal member of staff. Be sure to get their consent before giving out their name in the interview session

Sample Response:  I saw the job ad on a website called BrighterMonday. After going through the ad details and the profile to confirm my eligibility, I sent in my application and was called in for an interview. What do you know about this company?

     4.Why do you want this job?

What to Note:

The interviewer wants to learn the motive behind your job search. The question should be approached from the company’s point of view. Talk about why you would be a value add to their team and why you believe you are the best candidate or the position.

Sample Response: I have experienced your products and customer relationship management first hand and it has always been such a wonderful experience. When I saw that you are advertising for a position whose profile closely fits mine, I was excited. I would very much be interested in joining your team.

     5.Why should we hire you?

 What to Note:

It important to know that even though you are the one being interviewed, your answer to this question should always tie back to your value add to the company. This is the point where you bring out your unique selling propositions and convince the interviewers that you are the best fit for the position in question.

Sample Response: My passion for customer service is something deeply ingrained within me. This passion has opened doors of growth in all spheres. Satisfied customers, team dynamics, providing solutions and hearing a customer appreciate my services is the one thing I live for in my daily work life. I have read reviews from customers in regards to your products and the interactions they experience.

     6.What are your greatest professional strengths?

 What to note:

The interviewer simply wants to find out if you are self-aware as a candidate. They wish to find out if you know the areas you are good in and whether you understand the correlation between these strengths and the role in question. This means that your answer should be centered on the role and the company you wish to work for.

Sample Response: I would say my biggest strength lies in my analytical skills. I am able to objectively and critically look at a situation and come up with different well-thought-out solutions. Apart from that, I possess excellent customer service skills that I have perfected over the years in different industries. I have experience in building and running strong teams and I am deeply results oriented. I believe these are qualities you are looking to engage in this position

     7.What is your greatest weakness?

 What to note:

This is a question, interviewers pose to candidates with the aim of finding out if they are self-aware, and that they are currently working on their weaknesses with the purpose to improve. Interviewers are human and understand that everyone has a weakness, so a candidate should avoid the pitfall of saying they have no weakness they know of.

 Sample Response: I manage a team of 15 in my department and I have realized that most of the time I prefer to do something myself for fear that if I delegate the results won’t be as desired. This not only hinders my juniors from acquiring the exposure and experience they need, it also eats up most of my time such that planning, forecast, and strategy are always at the bottom of my to-do-list. For the past 2 months, I have been allowing my team members to run projects and only check on them to offer guidance and monitor progress. It has been such a wake-up call since I now have time to strategize my department’s next move and at the same time encourage growth within my team.

You can find out more about how to describe your strengths and weaknesses HERE.

     8.What is your greatest career achievement?

What to note:

The interviewer wants to know if you can work with deliverables. Your answer to this question will determine your individual values, goal-attaining ability and your ability to know what is of priority. Your career achievement should be something job-related and measurable where possible.

Sample response: I have numerous moments in my career that I count as achievements. My most outstanding moment in my career was when I initiated the implementation of internal audit systems in my current company. This culminated in mitigation of costs, recovery of lost monies and better accountability within all departments in the company since control measures were tightened and loopholes dealt with. I look forward to bringing such innovation and problem-solving skills with me to your company.   

     9. What challenging situation at work have you ever encountered and how did you deal with it?

What to note:

With this question, the interviewer is trying to test how you deal with problems and challenging situations at work. Being able to pick a success story where you are able to concisely describe the problem that you were faced with and how you dealt with it as well as some lessons you learned from it shows the interviewer how much of  a resource you can be. Ensure you pick a problem that could most likely occur in the company you are applying to and avoid bashing anyone while you explain that situation

Sample response: I once worked for a company that used to manufacture juice but the sales were very low. I believed that if we could be able to figure out a reason why the target market was not buying the product, it could help us make it better. I then embarked on a survey where I was able to discover that the packaging of the juice affected people’s perception of it. With this knowledge, I was able to convince the production manager to change the packaging which in turn led to an increase in sales. 

     10. Where do you see yourself in the next 3/5/7/10 years?

What to note:

The interviewer wants to find out whether you have a plan for your career or you are just gliding along. Having a plan shows that you are ambitious and keen on your career progress as a candidate. You should ensure that you have a way of showing how the position you are interviewing for fits in your greater career plan.

Sample response: my career goal is growing into the best version of myself professionally. The kind of opportunities I seek are those that expose me to activities that will develop my skills further and increase my technical know-how in the industry. I have conducted research on your company and I believe such opportunities can be found here.

     11. What do you know about our company?

What to note:

When interviewers ask this question, they are not looking for you to tell them exactly what is on their website but more a general understanding of the company. It is known that you may not know as much about the company but you should be able to know what products or business they deal in, any public milestones they may have achieved reported through the media, whether they are international or not to mention but a few aspects. As you talk about what you know about the company, do remember to show your interest in working for the company.

Sample response: I know this company as one of the leading telecom companies in not only the world but Uganda today. The company deals in  a wide range of services such mobile money, internet services and a wide range of phones that are very affordable for the Ugandan person. I also admire the fact that this company has been considered as one of the best employers during the previous year and would wish to be part of it. 

You could read this article for a clearer understanding on this question.

     12. Why do you want this job?

What to note:

Every interviewer wants to hire someone that is passionate and zealous about their job. This question is meant to test not necessarily how desperate one is about the job but how passionate they are. In answering this question, you should focus on talking about what makes you love the job you are to do and why you wish to work for the company they are applying to. Ensure all the information you give is one that presents you as someone that is not only the best fit for the job but will love and enjoy doing the job.

Sample response: Ever since I was a child, I have always had the desire to take care of disadvantaged children. I believe they too have a destiny in life and someone out there has a responsibility to help them. I consider myself one of these people and I like the fact that this is exactly what this company roots for. This job will not just give me an opportunity to earn a living but also a to help out someone in need.

     13. What is your ideal dream job?

What to note:

With such a question, an interviewer is trying to find out whether the job you are applying for is in line with your career goals or will help you progress in your career. Ensure you give an answer that is somewhat related to the job you are applying for.

Sample response for one applying to be an accountant: I hope I can become CEO of my own accounting firm some day.

     14. What other companies are you interviewing with?

What to note:

Interviewers often ask this question to find out what other rival companies could be competing for expertise as well as how serious you may be in finding a job related to your field. The most advisable way to approach this question is to let the interviewer know that you are applying to other companies as well that are similar to the field you are applying to. Mentioning that all these possible opportunities will enable you to showcase your various skills will be able to present you as someone that is looking for an opportunity that will utilize and value your skills showing your worth.

Sample response: I am applying to various Human Resource firms that have a focus on recruitment . I believe these including your company will be able to help me grow as well as showcase the skills and expertise I have been able to get over the years. 

     15. Why are you leaving your job?

What to note:

Interviewers are always seeking to find out why you want to leave your previous employer and work for them. Very many times, interviewees may be tempted to talk about the negative aspects of their previous job. No matter what bad experiences you may have gone through avoid talking negatively about your job or your previous employer. Phrase your answer in a way that is positive and presents you as someone that is willing to learn new things and develop in their career.

Sample response: I would like to challenge myself to learn new skills from new environments and situations and I believe this company will help me or enable me to do that. 

If you happened to be laid off you can simply give a simple answer such as, “Unfortunately,  I was requested to it. “

     16. Why were you fired?

What to note:

In asking this question, interviewers want to find out what negative aspects one has that could have made their previous employers to fire them. The best way to approach this question is, to be; honest that is whether you were laid off because of a downsizing company policy or because of something wrong you did. If it was something that you could have done, emphasizing the lessons you learned from the experience and how much you have improved presents you in a much better light a someone that made a mistake but has learned from it and is willing to change.

Sample response:  I was fired because I failed to meet my sales targets. This situation pushed me to  for Sales’ training that enabled me to sharpen my sales skills. I believe my skills have grown and I will be able to perform much better than I did. 

     17. Is there anything specific you are looking for in this new position?

What to note:

With such a question, the interviewer is simply trying to find out if what you are looking for is in line with what the job you are applying for has to offer. They are trying to see whether you are best fit for the job and have the passion for it. To answer this question, one should ensure their answers are somewhat similar to what the job actually has to offer.

Sample response for someone applying for a recruitment executive’s position: With this position, I am looking to put into practice the various lessons and knowledge I have gained over the years as a recruitment personnel. I also believe this position will expose me to much more information and experience I need to grow further in my expertise as far as recruitment is concerned. 

     18. What is your ideal work environment?

What to note: 

The interviewer is trying to find out whether you will be comfortable and therefore be able to perform in the company’s work environment. Giving an answer that is related to the company’s work environment makes you an even more legible candidate for the advertised job.

Sample response for a modern  work environment: My ideal work environment is one that is less stringent, an open space that allows for easy communication and interaction between colleagues. I believe such a work environment will foster the creativity I need to become much more productive at my work. 

     19. What management style do you prefer?

What to note:

This question is usually asked to job seekers applying for managerial positions. The question is meant to test whether one’s managerial style is applicable to the company and whether indeed you make a good manager or not. Many companies today, prefer less dictatorial leaders and leaders that allow teamwork and group participation. However, knowing whether the company’s culture is more traditional than modern will help you give a much more relevant answer.

Sample response: I prefer a more participative kind of managerial style. I would prefer that team members take part in the company decisions that are made. By allowing for employee participation the company is able to implement decisions that employees relate more with and therefore will not resist.

     20. Explain a situation in which you practice leadership:

What to note:

With such a question, interviewers are trying to find whether you can make a good team leader or have the potential to take on a leadership position. In answering this question, always remember to give a response that shows your potential as a leader and what exactly you were able to achieve as a leader.

Sample response: At my previous workplace, I was chosen to become the project leader of one of the quarter year  projects of the company. I believed I exercised the responsibility well as the project was not only completed in time but became the most success project of the company that year. 

     21. Explain a situation when you were in a disagreement with a decision at work and how you handled it.

What to note:

Every worker disagrees with their supervisor once in a while. With this question, the interviewer is not trying to test whether you are a “yes” man to whatever your boss says but whether  you are a confident enough to let them know when they going astray in a professional and respectful way. Your response should be one that shows you were able to correct your boss politely and managed to save a situation.

Sample response: Once, my boss had made a decision to sue a long term client that had taken a long time to pay their debt. I believed that the client had a good explanation as to why they had not paid in time and since the company had such a good long term relationship with him. I also believed that suing this client would cost the company so much and end up ruining a good client relationship as well. In an email, I requested to meet my boss to discuss the matter. I politely express my concerns but still emphasized that he was the boss and the decision was up to him. He was convinced and the issue was settled out of court. Few resources were spent and the relationship was also saved.  

     22. Why do you have an employment gap?

What to note:

With this question, interviewers would like to know what exactly you were doing if you have happened not to work for a long period of time. They want to know whether you were at least putting your skills in practice or actually bettering them during that time. Giving an answer that shows you were still productive or have gained some skills during that time is advantageous for you.

Sample response: I did not work for a period of two years as I was pursuing a Masters’ degree program meant to enrich my skills and grow my knowledge as far as my expertise is concerned. I believe all that I learned will be of great value if I am hired. 

     23. Can you explain why you changed career paths?

What to note:

With this questions, the interviewers are simply trying to find out why according to your Cv you seem to be pursuing more that one career or are changing your career. Being able to give an answer basing on your previous experience as well as the various transferable skills you have attained from the different careers presents you in a positive light.

Sample response: I switched careers from the law profession to the marketing profession because I have a strong passion for marketing and I believe I can perform even better in this field. The various skills I have acquired from the law profession such as oratory and research skills will contribute to my success in this field. I also believe the knowledge I have as far as copyright law will enable me to practice this new career according to the best standards. 

     24. How do you handle stressful situations?

What to note:

Stressful situations are unavoidable in every work situation. However, how one handles them or lets them affect them is what defines who they are. With this question, the interviewer is trying to find out whether you are the kind that is persistent even through hard situations or one that easily gives up or lets such situations take a huge toll on them that they cannot be productive. Whatever response you give, ensure that is honest but still presents you in a positive light.

Sample response:  I usually take off a few minutes to calm down and think objectively about the situation. After calming down ,I then seek to solve the situation in a more level-headed way. 

     25. How would your first month in this role look like?

What to note: 

With such a question, the interviewer is trying to find out if you are actually ready to take on the job, how organized you are and whether you are able to be as productive even when you may not know much about the company. Give an answer that shows you are organized and cannot wait to take on the position.

Sample Response: Well, during my first month, I would focus on familiarizing myself with information about the organization as a whole, its culture as well as the roles of my position with the help of my  fellow work colleagues and my supervisor. With this information, I can then be able to analyze what exactly I have to achieve or improve on. 

     26. What are your salary requirements?

What to note:

Here, an interviewer is trying to find out whether the company can afford to hire you as an employee. Be sure not to ask for too much that will scare away the employer or too little that you sell yourself short. Carry out extensive research about how much those that hold this position both within and outside the company earn as well as those that have the skills or level or experience you have. It is safer to give a salary range based on what you could have concluded from your research and to specify whether that should be a net or gross income. This question often determines how much an employer will pay you at the end of the day.

Sample Response: I would like to earn between 1.5million and 2.million Uganda shillings net income. 

Click HERE to get more guidance on how to go about this question.

     27. What do you do for fun?

What to note:

Interviewers ask this question to find out more about your personality and whether you will fit into the organizational culture. In answering this question, always go for an honest but semi-professional answer that does not present you in a negative light or as someone that does not have any morals.

Sample Response: In my free time, I like to visit the golf course to play some golf and catch up with a few friends

     28. What animal would you say describes you best?

What to note: 

With such a spontaneous question, an interviewer is simply trying to test how quick you are at thinking as well as what kind of personality you possess. Be sure to give a quick relevant answer that portrays the strong qualities you possess.

Sample Response: I think a lion would describe me best.  I admire its courageous, brave aspects and I always seek to portray these in whatever venture I choose to embark on no matter how difficult they may be. 

     29. Are you planning on starting a family?

What to note:

Questions such as these usually related to family status, religion, age or tribe are asked to still get more information about you as a person as well as to create sort of rapport or conversation with the interviewer. Being able to answer them freely  and honestly still presenting yourself in a positive light shows that you are someone that can hold a conversation and therefore has good social skills. Should an inappropriate question about your personal life be asked, politely steer the conversation back to the main issue at hand which is the job.

Sample Response: Yes I do at some point in the future. At the moment I would like to focus on my career and grow in it placing me in a better position to provide for my family. I believe this job opportunity will help me do that. 

     30. What do you think we can improve on?

What to note:

With this question, interviewers are simply trying to find out whether you have any background in a similar company that could help you improve the company. They are also trying to find out how critical and creative you are in coming with ideas that the company can tap in. Being able to express your ideas on how things can be done better in a polite manner without overly criticizing the company like you know it all presents you in a positive light.

Sample Response: I think the Customer service channels of the organization can be improved by incorporating social media channels as well. This will enable the company to reach more customers as well as to meet their demands in a timely manner. 

     31. Any questions?

What to note:

Many interviews are usually concluded by this question. Should you ask any questions ensure that they are relevant and actually give you some important information about the job or company you are applying to. Keep them professional and at the same time do not ask too many questions. Just a few.

Sample Response: What is this company’s culture like?

Now that you are aware of the various questions you are most likely to encounter in an interview, we would advise that you try as much as you can to use this information and make it relevant to your situation. Remember to be unique  and professional in your answers. We wish you the best of luck.

 

150 replies
  1. anicia rose
    anicia rose says:

    thank u very much for these wonderful work u are doing towards the success of young and unemployed people like us i personal was green about some of these issues concerning application and i hope after improving my CV,COVER LETTER AND READING THE INTERVIEW QNS AND SKILLS will take me some away for a volunteer in an organization.thanks once again may God bless your team.

    Reply
  2. Jorams
    Jorams says:

    This is great. I think, every person going for the interview should read and understand these sample questions. Personally, I have been asked asked over 90% of these questions before. Well done BM.

    Reply
  3. N.M.F.
    N.M.F. says:

    Thank you for this wonderful work you are doing to help most especially the youth looking for jobs. Most of the youth when training are not given any briefing or teachings on this, that is why they always fail interviews and the way to write and lay out their CV. Continue with this spirit.

    Reply
  4. KAJUBA wycliff
    KAJUBA wycliff says:

    This is so good ve only done practical interview on mylife. Bt what I ve seen here as given ideals on how to deal with the oral and I will keep going through it.
    Thank you

    Reply
  5. Lamu Olweny Omalla
    Lamu Olweny Omalla says:

    Hei, I thought i was in an interview itself. Let me prepare for an up coming interview and place myself to win all other candidates.

    Thank you
    lamu

    Reply
  6. Dennis
    Dennis says:

    Thanks for this guide for interview discussions some of these approaches look very new to me this has given me confidence for any coming interviews.

    Reply
  7. KIMULI JOSEPH
    KIMULI JOSEPH says:

    i was green of interview questions and it will help me preparations and my question is where should the address of applicant and where am adressing my application be.
    thanks

    Reply
  8. Podz Noah JB.
    Podz Noah JB. says:

    Hmmmmm. To be sincere, Who ever does Good ought to Thanked.

    That is some good Piece of an article up there.
    It streamlines all job seekers and prepares Them

    Never the less i hope Every one finds it educative and Transpiring.

    infact As one prepares for their Interviews, This is The cheat Code They move handy with.

    for That job Interview of Their big Job Break.

    Thank You Brighter Monday Uganda.

    Reply
  9. DENNIS M DEN
    DENNIS M DEN says:

    Thank you very much for this useful information. it is really of great use.
    but can u also help us with sample aptitude queations.
    Thx

    Reply

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