Interviews: Answering common Questions

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Author Bio - Nasha Fitter writes on behalf of <a rel="nofollow" onclick="javascript:ga('send', 'pageview', '/outgoing/article_exit_link/4324403');" href=></a>, is the author of the bestselling book, You're Hired! How to Get That Job and Keep it Too. This book focuses on language, soft-skills, and job placement skills for those hoping to land their <a rel="nofollow" onclick="javascript:ga('send', 'pageview', '/outgoing/article_exit_link/4324403');" href= />dream job </a> and be successful within the corporate world. Nasha currently works for Microsoft Corp. in the US and is responsible for launching and managing new, groundbreaking technologies. Previously, Nasha founded and was the CEO of Fitter Solutions, a Mumbai training firm that groomed thousands of people for companies like Wipro, ICICI Bank and Hindustan Lever. Nasha has also worked as an investment banker on Wall Street and is an MBA graduate of the Harvard Business School.

In this article, I will focus on common questions asked during interviews and how you can master them. I highly recommend taking the time to prepare you answers for the below common questions before any interview. Remember, nothing will make you look better than being and feeling prepared!

Common interview questions to master:

~ Tell us about yourself

Here, it is important to quickly differentiate yourself from others. You must do this in an insightful way. Do not just list a bunch of good qualities about yourself. Do not just start listing your academic qualifications or other statistics from your CV.

Say something interesting about you and then state an example. If you don't have an example, you need to pick another quality. No interviewer will remember what you said unless you give them an example.

So, let's say you tell your interviewer "I have a good personality and work well in teams."

You need to then link this quality back to an example of a work or academic experience: "For example, in my last job I was always able to help resolve differences in my group and find ways for everyone to get along. My superiors used to refer to me as the ‘core of the group'. I enjoy working with people and believe results can be achieved through teamwork."

Now, your interviewer has learned something interesting about your personality and also something about your past work experience. You should have a few of these examples ready before walking in to any interview.

~ What are your strengths and weaknesses?

The key to acing this question is to make sure your strengths and weaknesses link together.

For instance, an example, let's say your strengths are that you are hardworking and personable (friendly). Your weaknesses should relate to these strengths.  In this case then, you could say your weaknesses are that you are overly critical and are easily trusting.  Notice, how being overly critical is similar to being hardworking, and easily trusting people can be a side-effect of being very friendly.  Notice that while you have listed attributes that can in fact be seen as weaknesses, they do not actually make you look bad; instead they make your strengths sound even stronger.

It is also important that while you state your strengths and weaknesses you give real-life examples to justify them.  That will make it clear to your interviewer that you are not lying and have really introspected to come to these conclusions.

~ Why are you leaving your current job?

It is always best to be positive about the place you work even if you are unhappy there. Explain what you have learned in your current job, how you have grown (stick to the positives), and then move on to saying why you are looking for a change. It is perfectly okay to want to change jobs or careers. You just must think of positive reasons for doing this. Wanting to learn more, grow intellectually, take on greater responsibility, etc, are all good reasons for wanting to leave one's current job.

Do not start talking about issues you have with your boss or colleagues. No one likes people who complain.

~ How much salary do you expect?

This is a tricky question. To answer this, you must do research and understand what the average salary is for the industry and job profile you are interviewing for.

You can try saying something like "that depends on what salaries are in this company" or "what salaries do others in this department earn?" If you get a response to these questions, you will be in a better position to answer.

If not, you can tell them the salary you were earning in your last company. They will most likely know you are looking for at least a 10% pay hike from that. If you know what salary you expect, and it is much higher than you were last receiving, then tell them that and justify it with why you deserve it.

Make sure you don't come off sounding too greedy.

~ Why do you want to work for my company?

Be sure you have good answers for why you want to work in that particular company and what you can bring to the table professionally.  To do this, you must have researched the company and the position you are applying for properly.

You can research by going to the company webpage, by looking up press releases or news articles on the internet, by looking up annual reports, by researching trade sites like NASSCOM or CII. You will be amazed how much you can find on the internet on any given company (public or private). Just doing a simple google search with the company name or the name of the company CEO/Managing Director can result in all kinds of useful information. You can also ask around if you know anyone who works at the company.

Second, you should know about the job you are interviewing for. You should know what the job entails and WHY YOU would be good at it. You need to bring up why you would be a good fit for the position during the interview.

Third, you should know about yourself. This may seem stupid, but most of us don't actually spend very much time introspecting and thinking about what is interesting about ourselves and our experiences. What is interesting about yourself may be certain decisions you have made in the past, your accomplishments, or skills that you have developed. For you to really shine during an interview, it is important that you have spent time just thinking of these things and have examples in your academic and professional life to back these qualities up. Remember, examples are crucial.

Many people feel nervous before interviews. The best way to reduce nervousness is to prepare well so you are confident before you go. Start with mastering the above questions I have given. Second, start realizing that not getting a particular job is not the end of the world. If you do this, you will begin to enjoy your interviews. The more you look forward to going to an interview, the better you will do. In my next article, I will give tips on how to perform during telephonic interviews.
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