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Traditional Job Interview Questions Part 1

What are general interview questions?

Best to prepare answers to these types of questions, but do not try to memorize exact answers word for word. It will sound scripted and will be easily picked up. What you need to do is have your answers planned, but be ready to adapt or change your answers depending on how well the interview is going.

There are literally thousands of "general interview questions". We have selected the most frequently asked questions and have given you examples of how best to answer these questions.

Tell Me About Yourself?

This is the most common question to begin the interview. It is so important that you are prepared for this question so you can give a good solid first impression before the interviewer moves onto the more challenging questions. Be careful to not to give the interviewer your life story or provide "too much information". I have had candidates who have told me how they have a criminal past or how they despised their family, and this is not something you need to voluntarily bring up in an interview. Relevant facts about education and your career is all you need to be speaking about.

Tip: Remember to tailor your answers toward the job you are applying for. If you're applying for a role as a fashion editor for a magazine, tell the interviewer how from an early age you have always had a love for fashion and writing, and provide examples about how your passion has bought you to that interview.

Why Did You Decide To Leave Your Last Job?

Be careful!!! Do NOT (and I can't stress this enough) bad mouth your old employer. Present yourself in a positive way. It is extremely unprofessional to talk badly about your previous company, boss or peers, no matter what the reason. You also don't know if this new hiring manager knows people from your old company. The best way to answer this question is to tell them that you are looking for career advancement and you see this new company being the right career choice for you.

How to answer this question if you were fired:

TIP: If you were fired from your last job do not try to lie about it or cover it up in the interview. More than likely the company will do a background check on you anyway, so it is best to be upfront and honest. Trust me, you are not the first person to be fired. The best way to answer the question is to keep it brief and ensure the interview keeps flowing forward. Turn the negative into a positive by letting the interviewer know how you learnt from the experience and are now ready to move on.

Example: "The job was going in a different direction to where I wanted to be going. My boss and I both thought it was best to move on to a job where I could be of greater value and offer my skills in the most maximising way."

Where Else Have You Been Interviewing?

Don't be afraid to answer this question. The key to answering this correctly is to prove to the hiring manager that you are serious about finding a new job. This being said, you only want to mention a couple of places you've applied to rather than going into major details. If you've applied to many jobs, don't admit this as you don't want to come across as desperate. The aim of this question is to see if you really are seriously looking for a new job. There is nothing wrong with showing the employer that you are serious to find a new role.

What's Your Greatest Strength?

This is one of the easier interview questions, but to get the most out of your answer the best response needs to be related to the job you are applying for. IF you're an accountant and applying for an accountancy role, the best response you can give for your greatest strength is your ability with numbers, your computer skills and your attention to detail. How about if you're a dancer applying for a role? Your greatest strengths need to be balance, team work, dedication etc.

Rather than using generic clichéd answers such as "hard-working" and "loyal", use this question to show the value you can add to the organisation.

What's Your Biggest Weakness?

Without doubt one of the hardest questions to answer. Being too honest can severely affect your interview. Everyone has something they can work on, so saying you have no weaknesses makes you sound arrogant. The best way to approach this is to think of a weakness that won't impact your getting the job. Remember that this question is a work-related question, so don't say that your biggest weakness is not helping enough around the house or, the worst answer I ever heard, "chocolate cake."

Tips:

1) Do not mention a weakness that will prevent you from being hired. If you're going for a job as a telemarketer, don't say your greatest weakness is speaking on the telephone!

2) No clichéd responses. "My greatest weakness is that I am a perfectionist."

3) Do not avoid the question. The interviewer has asked you this question and you need to answer it.

My advice is to provide a real work-related weakness and follow it up with examples of how you are fixing the problem.

Example:

If you're asked this question, give a small, work-related flaw that you're working hard to improve. Example: "I've been told that I occasionally focus on details and miss the bigger picture, so I've been spending time laying out the complete project every day to see my overall progress."

Admitting a real weakness and then following up with what you're doing to improve yourself is preferable. "My presentation skills are not as strong as I'd like, so I signed up for weekend presentation skills classes and also joined a Toastmasters club." Remember that the specific job you are interviewing for will help to determine how you answer the question.

Why Have You Applied For This Job?

This is a fairly innocent question and easy enough to answer. To answer this question successfully you need to show your motivation for this role, but also your desire to work for the company. Through your research into the company provide further examples why this job is the job for you.

Tip: Never say "money"!

Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years Time?

This type of question is seeing the extent of your ambition. Be careful when answering this question not to make it seem as though this job is a stepping stone in your career (even if it is). For example, if you are applying for an accounting job at an accounting firm, don't tell the interviewer that your long term goal is to work at an investment bank. This is not what the interviewer is going to want to hear. The last thing an employer wants to do is employ you, train you and then see you leave the firm. The best answer you can offer is to demonstrate that your 5 year goals are suitable and match the position you are applying for.

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