What are the most common interview questions?

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What are your weaknesses?

This is the most dreaded interview question of all. Handle it by minimising your weakness and emphasising your strengths. Always counteract a negative with a positive and only concentrate on professional traits: "I am always working on improving my presentation skills. As a member of the PMI I am often required to give speeches at my chapter, which I find very helpful in refining these skills."

Why should we hire you?

Summarise your experiences: "With five years' experience working in the financial services industry and my proven track record of saving the company money, I could make a big difference in your company. I'm confident I would be a great addition to your team."

Why do you want to work here?

The interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you've given this some thought and are not sending out resumes just because there is an opening. Researching the company and industry before your interview will ensure you stand out as an informed and well-prepared applicant. Many companies will discount any candidate that hasn’t taken the time to find out a bit more about the organisation – you may come across as disinterested in the role if you are not eager to discover more about them.The best answers to this question are backed up by facts – for example “I read on your website that you have recently signed a contract with (partner) and I feel this will offer great scope and the chance to grow with the company”. It would also be beneficial to think of at least two reasons this job is a good match for your skills, strengths, experience and background.

What you can bring to the company?

What do you offer that others applicants do not? Write down your thoughts and rehearse them as part of your script.

What are your goals?

Sometimes it's best to talk about short-term and intermediate goals rather than committing yourself in the distant future. For example, "My immediate goal is to get a job in a growth-oriented company. My long-term goal will depend on where the company goes. I hope to eventually grow into a position of responsibility."

Why did you leave (are you leaving) your job?

The key here is being positive. If you're unemployed, state your reason for leaving in a positive context: "I managed to survive two rounds of corporate downsizing, but the third round was a 20 percent reduction in the workforce, which included me." If you are employed, don’t dwell on the downside of your current situation, focus on what you want in your next job: "After two years, I made the decision to look for a company that is team-focused, where I can add my experience." Never give a negative answer to this question – it may make the interviewer question your future loyalty.

When were you most satisfied in your job?

The interviewer wants to know what motivates you. If you can relate an example of a job or project when you were excited, the interviewer will get an idea of your preferences. "I was very satisfied in my last job, because I worked directly with the customers and their problems; that is an important part of the job for me."

What can you do for us that other candidates can't? What makes you unique?

This will take an assessment of your experiences, skills and traits. Summarise concisely: "I have a unique combination of strong technical skills, and the ability to build strong customer relationships. This allows me to use my knowledge and break down information to be more user-friendly."

What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?

It's time to pull out your old performance appraisals and boss's quotes. This is a great way to sell yourself through someone else's words: "My boss has told me that I am the best designer he has ever had. He knows he can rely on me, and he likes my sense of humour."

What salary are you seeking?

It is to your advantage if the employer tells you the range first. Prepare by knowing the going rate in your area, and your bottom line or walk-away point. One possible answer would be: "I am sure when the time comes, we can agree on a reasonable amount. In what range do you typically pay someone with my background?."  Here is where a recruitment agent brings real value because we take away the need for the client to ask you this question.

From interviews you've been to, what are the most common interview questions you've been asked and how did you go about answering them?