10 interview questions you can master ahead of time

Going to an interview is a stressful event so we here at Job Mail want to help you get through it as effortlessly as possible. There are many articles out there and even books on how to ace the interview but one can never have too much information, so today we’re covering 10 interview questions you can master ahead of time. 

You have the usual / basic questions which seem rather lame, am I right? But have you ever stopped to think about why they are asking these questions and what they aim to get out of them?

Interview Questions

Let’s look at some of those basic interview questions…

Where do you want to be in 5 years? Here they want to see what your ambitions are and how you plan on getting there. Many people tend to be glib here and say something like “your position” or the MD which is fine if that is what you want, but the real question they want answered is WHY do you want to be xyz?

TIP: If you said “Manager”, what about being a Manager entices you? Is it because it is a title with mote money? Is it because you can then boss other people around or could it be because you enjoy bringing out the potential in others and guiding them to greatness?

What are your strengths and weaknesses? We all have them, but how you present them to people is the trick. Here they want to see that you know yourself well enough to accept your weaknesses but know how to balance them out with strengths. Many people tend to say “I don’t have any weaknesses” or “I cannot think of any right now”, but that’s not true. We all have them and your answers here might be the deciding factor on hiring you or not.

TIP: The classic answer here is to state a strength which is disguised as a weakness, such as “I’m too much of a perfectionist” or “I push myself too hard”

Why should I hire you? They are really asking: “What makes you the best fit for this position?”. Your answer to this question should be a concise “sales pitch” that explains what you have to offer the employer. Too many times people tend to say “because I need this job” or even “because I am a hard worker and very loyal”.  The problem is you must never come across as needy / desperate and everyone is a hard worker and loyal. You are not stating any clear reason why you are the best man / women for the job.

TIP: The best way to respond is to give concrete examples of why your skills and accomplishments make you the best candidate for the job. Take a few moments to compare the job description with your abilities, as well as mentioning what you have accomplished in your other positions. Be positive and reiterate your interest in the company and the position.

Why do you want to leave / did you leave your previous employer? Regardless of why you left, don’t speak badly about your previous employer. The interviewer may wonder if you will be bad-mouthing his company next time you’re looking for work. If you don’t really know how to answer this here is a pretty generic answer that still makes you look good. “There isn’t room for growth with my current employer and I’m ready to move on to a new challenge.”

TIP: If you were fired try this answer: “The job wasn’t working out so my boss and I agreed that it was time for me to move on to a position that would show a better return for both of us.”

How do you handle stress? Everyone is going to say they can handle stress but how you back up that statement is what they want to hear. This question often indicates that the job you’re applying for will involve working under pressure. Give examples of volunteer and paid work that involved pressure and deadlines. You could mention that we are always faced with pressure and deadlines in our lives and you do not mind the stress. Stressful situations are a learning and challenging experience.

TIP: How you handled large rush orders at your last workplace or how you prepared for exams and homework assignments while working full-time and attending school part-time or even how you managed a crisis situation. (For example: a car accident)

What has been the greatest disappointment in your life? Once again they do not mean personally. You could mention a difficult challenge and how you could have handled it better. If you didn’t fail at anything, say so. If you can think of an example, be sure that it’s a minor one and turn it into a positive.

TIP: While you do need to elaborate on the question try not to babble or talk too much. Always end off with how you managed it and turned it into a positive.

Then you get those types of questions when you think, “Seriously???” They actually do have a purpose.

What other companies are you interviewing with? Companies ask this for a number of reasons, from wanting to see what the competition is for you to sniffing out whether you’re serious about the industry.

TIP: Limit the amount as you do not want to come across as desperate and only mention those companies relevant to this job interview.

Why is this your dream job? The interviewer wants to uncover whether this position is really in line with your ultimate career goals. While “a rock star” might get you a few laughs, a better bet is to talk about your goals and ambitions—and why this job will get you closer to them.

What would your first 30, 60, or 90 days look like in this role? They do not expect you to know step-by-step what you will do but they do want to see that you have given it some thought and are confident enough about your abilities to say something during the interview. This is very difficult to answer with certainty, but having some sort of answer prepared will show the interviewer where you can add immediate impact—and that you’re excited to get started.

While they are at it, why don’t they throw in some of those ridiculous questions that make no sense and one could not possible expect you get the answer correct, have you had any of these?

How many tennis balls can you fit into a limousine? 1,000? 10,000? 100,000? Seriously? Well, seriously, you might get asked brainteaser questions like these, especially in quantitative jobs. Remember that the interviewer doesn’t necessarily want an exact number —he wants to make sure that you understand what’s being asked of you and that you can set into motion a systematic and logical way to respond and to determine how quickly you can think on your feet, how you’ll approach a difficult situation and most importantly: whether you can remain positive and pro-active and make progress in the face of a challenge.

So, if one of these “problem-solving” questions gets thrown your way: relax, be yourself, and tackle it calmly. Talk the interviewer through your internal thought process, so he/she can gain insight into the way you think and analyze information.

Well, there you have it 10 interview questions you can master ahead of time. We trust that this info will help you to ace your next interview. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. Feedback is appreciated and welcome.

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This article is part of our #jobmailtipoftheday series on the Job Mail Blog, so keep a close eye on our Facebook, Twitter and Google+ profiles this week for quick and useful tips.

Watch this space for more more updates for job seekers on the Job Mail Blog.

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Job Mail Product and Marketing Manager. Social media fundi and digital junkie.

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29 Responses

  1. Mighty says:

    What is the best way of approaching your interviewer when you get to interview room?

  2. Jerry says:

    Looking 4 job

  3. Thabo says:

    Am look for a job as a driver I have code 10 with PDP my phone number 0718914277

  4. Polite,cheerful smile,handshake & introducing Urself

  5. Amos says:

    How often do employers or interview panel must inform the successful candidate?because there was candidates who went for interview and it took them more than 6weeks to find out who won the interview.

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi Amos – Normally the maximum period after the interview is a week or two, but in some cases it can take longer.

  6. Moroesi says:

    Hi why can’t you just give us your email address so that we can post our Cv’s because this form is too complicated? When you are about to finish it take you back again

  7. Audrey says:

    Hi Henno, I’m 53yrs old, will i be still hired as a receptionist?

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi Audrey – You’ll need to find out from the recruitment agencies / company that you apply for. There is a chance, but there are companies that impose an age limit for positions.

  8. Sbusiso says:

    Henno am having a problem I went to interviews but I aint got hired I tried everything but I failed so I want to know what I can do, I went to Interview they said they will call in two to three weeks but they haven’t should I call them or what?

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi Sbusiso – If you have not received feedback within 2 weeks you can assume that you did not get the job. You could call / e-mail them to confirm though.

  9. lindiwe says:

    Hie henno I had also put my profile picture.but haven’t had any reply for the jobs I applied for. Please help.

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi Lindiwe – You need to follow up with recruiters. Apply, contact them to tell them that you have applied. Some recruiters receive up to 700 applications for a single position. If you don’t get a call back within 14 days after that, then assume that you did not get the job and move on to the next position.

  10. Ayanda says:

    Good day Henno today I went for an interview and I believe everything went well as they promised to get back to me. Thanks for your input. Last question for me they have asked me to send them a Word document CV. Any idea that’s that all about?

  11. Ayanda says:

    U mean I must hand in the copy of my Cv,because the one that I sent them has been scanned through their email address from mine.

  12. lindila says:

    Hi Henno. Can an international profassional apply aswell?

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi Lindila – Yes you can. Just take note that company policies differ from company to company when it comes to employing foreigners.

  13. Samke says:

    Hi, Kindly advice when applying for a job and an email address is given can I email as many times as possible to upper my chances.

  14. Fred Kennedy says:

    Hi Henno do you know of somebody hoe can help me with my cv I work for the last 5 years as a site manager and I am a Electrician Rigger Safety Officer Instrumentation Technician and PLC Technician we were building Gold Platinum and Chrome Plants the Company has close down so I want to get my cv in order before I can post it.
    Thanks Regards.

  15. siyabonga says:

    Henno bru, is it possible to ask for another interview if u missed/ not attended the one they arrange for you?

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi there – It might be, but not all employers will be willing to give you a second chance for an interview. If you’re going to be late, call and re-schedule (if possible).

  16. Juan says:

    Henno, I am newly qualified Safety Officer.I have a job interview tommorow at a Engineering (Machining) company.Please help,any advice ??

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi Juan – I do not have specific tips for your field. You’ll need to find out from people working in the industry.

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