Your shoes are polished, your formal attire looks presentable, and everything seems ready for your first job interview. But deep inside, you feel anxious, worried, and maybe a little excited. You might be thinking: What will the interviewer ask? What should I say? What if I say something stupid? What if I blank out and don’t say anything at all?!
Before you go into panic mode and imagine all sorts of negative things — stop. Take a deep breath and try to keep calm. In this article, we have put together some of the questions that interviewers often ask. Each question is followed by some advice and a possible answer:
Tell me about yourself.
Sounds easy, right? This is usually the first question that interviewers ask from applicants. But before you start talking about your hobbies and share personal information, remember that this is a job interview. They want to know about you as a “professional” — your work attitude, how you relate with others. You need to emphasize your attributes in relation to the workplace.
“I’m a Development Communication graduate and I specialize in technical writing. I used to be an editor for our campus paper, and some of my articles have been published online. As a writer, I like to work with minimal supervision, but I can also be a team-player when the need arises.”
Why should we hire you?
When you hear this question, this is your chance to highlight your strengths. But make sure you do it in a sincere manner, and not in a boastful kind of way. You may be tempted to say something “safe” like “I am a hard worker” or “I am a fast learner.” Most interviewers have heard these lines already. Say something that is truly unique to your skills and personality.
“I am always curious and eager to learn about new things. When it comes to grammar and writing, I’m a bit of a perfectionist — but that’s only because I want to make sure that my output is excellent. I always try to see to it that my works are well-written and interesting.”
What is your greatest weakness?
Interviewers often ask this question to know more about who you really are. Do not be afraid to answer! Everybody has a weakness, even your interviewer does. Just be honest and identify your weakness. But don’t forget to point out that you are trying to improve or resolve it.
“I can be too emotional sometimes. A negative comment or feedback could affect me deeply. But I do realize that criticism is part of the learning process. I am gradually learning how to take things professionally and not personally.”
What can you offer as a fresh graduate?
If you are a fresh graduate without “work experience” on your resume, this may sound like a difficult question, indeed. But just because you do not have an employment record yet, it doesn’t mean that you do not have any skills. Think about all the things that you have achieved so far and focus on them.
“Aside from editing and writing for our school paper, I have also helped organize kids’ programs for a local orphanage in our area. So my experience as a campus journalist and as a volunteer have helped me hone my skills in writing, organizing, and coordinating with others.”
What is your impression of me?
This may not seem like a relevant question, but the interviewer is actually trying to see how you would respond. When this happens, try not to describe him or her “directly.” Instead, give some insightful observations about the interview itself, without being too flattering.
“Well, I think you have a knack for asking good questions. You also seem really interested in what I have to say, so that makes me comfortable when sharing my answers.”
Why did you leave your last job?
If you have been through one or more jobs, then you should be prepared to answer this question. In most cases, interviewers do background checks by calling previous employers. But they would still ask this anyway. How should you respond? With honesty and sincerity, of course!
“I left my last job because I felt that it offered limited opportunities for growth. I really want to develop more skills and explore new opportunities, which is why I am here.”
How long do you plan to stay?
This is a trick question that interviewers ask just to see how you would react. In this case, you do not really have to respond with an actual length of time. Just relax and give a positive answer!
“As long as I am able to contribute my skills and feel a great sense of purpose and achievement, I see no reason why I would want to leave the company.”
What would make you resign from a job?
Do not let this question catch you off-guard. Consider this question as an opportunity to expound about the things that you truly value in a job. Simply give an honest answer, and the interviewer might even be impressed with what you have to say.
“I would most likely resign if the job is affecting my work-life balance, or if the company has limited opportunities for continuous professional growth or learning.”
What will you do if you don’t get this job?
This is another trick question that interviewers might ask. It doesn’t mean that you have no chances of getting the job. It is just another way to see how you would respond to unexpected questions. As mentioned earlier, simply give a positive answer.
“If I don’t get this job, I would keep on searching for other career opportunities. I believe that there is always a place where I can devote my skills and abilities.”
Do you have any questions?
This is usually the final question in any interview. A word of advice? Never say “No, I don’t have any questions!” This could indicate a lack of interest on your part. Think of this query as one last chance to make a good impression. Ask something that is related to the job, with the assumption that you would get it. This shows the interviewer that you are truly interested.
“What are the specific tasks that the job would involve? What are the technical and administrative skills that the job requires the most?”
Whether you are a fresh graduate hoping to land your first job, or a professional seeking a greater career opportunity — the job interview is your first step. Be prepared by learning these questions and coming up with possible answers. And remember, the secret to a successful interview lies not just in your appearance, but in your skills, honesty, and confidence!