A Fresh Grad’s Handbook to the 8 Most Common Interview Questions
⏳6 Minute Read
Most of us are clueless as to how we should prepare for a first job interview so we made it easy for you by creating this article to serve as your First Interview Handbook.
Published on July 8, 2019
Kass is the co-founder at Workbean. She’s obsessed about finding happiness at work and helping organizations understand their people better. She will never be seen without coffee in her hand.
There’s tons of ways an interviewer can position her questions but we rounded up the basics and paired it with our bulletproof suggestions to help you get that dream job!
1. Tell me about yourself.
Ahhh — the simplest question ever. But seriously, it’s the most difficult to perfect so we extremely urge you to prepare your answer because this will set the course for the rest of the interview. Most of us commit the common mistake of just retelling the information already available in our CV or resume (Hey, if you need a Rockstar resume to begin with, create one here). We’re pretty sure the interviewer knows what’s in there and wants to find more interesting stuff about you and why you are THE ONE for the job.
Our suggestion: Prepare a personal pitch and use this as your go-to script for similar questions. Highlight your achievements in school, extra-curricular activities in school orgs or internship projects, personal projects, sports and volunteer activities. Shape your interviewer’s opinion of you early on and make sure that your pitch highlights your strengths and potential.
2. Why do you want to work at The Best Unicorn Company in the World?
This is personally funny to our team but we have seen so many candidates come to an interview ill-prepared for this question. We get candidates who confirm an interview appointment and have zero clue about our company and why they want to work with us. This question is meant to allow the interviewer to understand your motivations in choosing to apply to the job in their company. They need to know if your motivations align with the company’s mission, values and culture so we beg you, freshies — please research the company before your interview.
Our suggestion: Research the company and dig deep into their values and culture. Ask yourself why you want to work with them. Is it to help them create the next-gen drone to save people from getting eaten by sharks? Do you use their products and think you can help them elevate it? Do you think that their community programs are so cool that you want to be part of it too? There’s really no right or wrong answers here but we recommend being genuine about your intent and motivations.
3. What are your strengths?
Also: What can you contribute to the team? How can your skillsets help our team become better?
This may seem intimidating to answer but if the interviewer positions this question well, it just means that they want to measure how your skills match the role and how you can make the team become more efficient if they hire you.
Our suggestion: Do not be shy. Review the job description thoroughly and match your skills (whether soft skills or hard skills) to their requirement. When answering this question, it’s best to tailor it to every role because it helps the interviewer imagine how you can fit within the team’s strength or skills profile.
4. What are your weaknesses?
We know this one’s scary to admit. But let’s face it — not everyone can be good at solving math problems or time management. Knowing your weakness is a sign of self-awareness and it’s probably one of the most important things we all need to learn. Most of us dodge this question by using a fake weakness that sounds more like a strength to show that we’re the perfect candidate. Here’s a secret — you ain’t fooling the interviewer 😉
Our suggestion: Assess yourself and write down your known weakness(es). The best way to deal with this question is to be candid and share what your weakness is and how you are working on improving it. This way, it shows perseverance that you are consciously working on becoming better!
5. What do you do for fun?
It could be hitting the gym, doing yoga, painting, learning a new language or gaming — all these things can add value to your life and recruiters want to know that too! More than being a Rockstar employee, companies need a diversity of interesting people to form part of their culture and values. This question helps the interviewer assess how you can blend in with the team and if you match the company culture. You are going to, in most cases, spend most of your time with your colleagues and the interviewer needs to know if you can work well together!
Our suggestion: The first rule is NOT to say that you have no hobbies at all. Doing this may make it seem like you don’t do things that enrich your life or career. If Netflix and chill is your only fun, then share interesting things from your favorite show and exchange ideas with your interviewer if she’s on it too. If you have other activities to share, be passionate about it and share how it adds value to your life. Remember, you are a FUN person!
6. When was the last time you encountered a difficult friend, boss or professor?
This is an example of a conflict resolution question. We all have someone whom we just disagree with and that’s fine. If you are asked this question, it only means that your interviewer wants to know how you communicate. Most of the misunderstanding comes from the lack of clear communication and it’s important for every company to have clear lines of communication especially when there are several stakeholders involved to turn plans into action.
Our suggestion: Don’t avoid the question. Be honest and share your experience even if the relationship was not fixed in the end. The key here is to make sure you highlight how you demonstrated your ability to communicate your views in a clear, calm and objective manner. You will encounter different personalities in the workplace and it’s important to be prepared to communicate well.
Bonus: Because we love you, here’s a framework for giving clear and specific feedback effectively. You’re welcome 😉
7. Describe the most difficult school or work situation and what you did to overcome it.
This is another example of a conflict resolution question. Prepare for this no matter what! Interviewers ask this question because it’s one of those questions that candidates are unprepared for and gives out candid answers. It’s essential to the interviewer because it describes your character and behaviour when it comes to difficult situations.
Our suggestion: Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) model to answer this question. Talk about a specific situation and explain the task required from you and how you executed it to make it a success. Be prepared to impress your interviewer by tackling this question in the most objective and specific way possible because it helps to highlight your contributions and makes you a very strong candidate!
8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Trick question? Maybe. You might be thinking “I’m only here for one year and then I’ll start building my own empire!” or “I’m not really sure I’ve planned that far ahead.” Essentially, this question aims to know if your career goals are aligned with the company’s goals and to help interviewers measure your tenure in the company, whether you’re in it for the long game or a short gig. Another reason you might be asked this is to assess whether you have outlined your career path and how you plan to reach it.
Our suggestion: Study the job description and research on a typical career path (if it’s available) that past employees have in the same role and align your answer to that. Feel free to reach out to current employees in the same role via social media too to learn more about the job and the career path associated with it. For example, if it’s an Analyst role at a consulting firm, share how you want to work your way up to becoming a Consultant in the next five years.
If there is no career path available or if it’s vague, answer the question by sharing how you want to gain mastery or credibility in the industry that you are in. If it’s a sales role, share how you want to expand your portfolio from SMEs to Enterprise customers. If it’s a software engineer role, share how you will prepare yourself to become a subject matter expert.
There you have it, graduates! Keep this handbook handy when preparing for interviews because no battle is won without intense preparations. It’s a big bad world out there and we know you will totally S-L-A-Y!
We’re always happy to hear success stories so if this handbook helps you in getting the job of your dreams,
We’re always happy to hear success stories so if this handbook helps you in getting the job of your dreams, let us know at [email protected].