General Knowledge Interview Tips Self Improvement

What No One Tells You About How To Answer Common Interview Questions – Part 1

Perhaps the most difficult part of any job is not the job itself, but it’s dealing with other people. You may be a good worker with a fair experience record, but the one thing that has made the journey quite unbearable at times is when you were in charge of some task or project and the people who were assigned to assist you are so different when it comes to getting things done. More so if these colleagues are not under your command but it seems they are in competition with you often trying to outdo you or not interested in working together. Maybe you’re a special person yourself too with your own funny ways.

But if you can deal with people politely, courteously and professionally and you know that in interpersonal communication, one is honest bit does not need to tell everything or put it on the table. Such is the nature of careful communication at interviews. If you understand this then you can handle an interview.

Employers are getting hundreds of applications these days. It’s become a process of elimination, therefore it makes good sense to prepare ourselves with the best answers to some common interview questions. Unfortunately, even the experienced, make mistakes in the initial stages of an interview.


Q1. Tell me about yourself
This is by far the most common question and usually the first one. But it’s a very simple one which requires just simple, brief answer. Some time back, I heard of a candidate who answered this outstandingly. She said, “I have conquered the summits of the highest mountain on every continent, including Everest”. Wow!

Although that’s an extraordinary achievement, she showed who she was beyond a paragraph on a piece of paper. It takes a certain goal setter with sheer grit and determination to pull that off. When asked what went through her mind once on Everest, she simply laughed and said, “How am I gonna get down?” The funny answer simply disarmed the interviewer. He could relate to her as a person who was real and didn’t have any airs. Such down to earth person was teachable and had some humility.

Most candidates are so eager beaver to share their “vast achievements” but that, as you can see, that wouldn’t be the answer to that question. “Tell me about yourself” is simply an icebreaker for you to share something about yourself apart from work. Don’t be long winded and get too personal, instead be a real person and use that chance to share a unique part of yourself, such as your passion or what motivates you in life. So write down this most amazing icebreaker for yourself.

Q2. Why are you leaving your last job?
This is also very common question. It’s also rephrased like so:

  1. What did you dislike about you last employer?
  2. What did you dislike about you last company?
  3. What would you change about the last job?

It’s almost the same question but it’s one of the most dangerous in sheep’s clothing. Recruiters want to test you to see if you have something unsavoury to say. It’s one of those elimination or negative questions. From the recruiters position, he may have 100 people who applied so he has to get rid of the 99.

Even remotely hinting or complaining about a place of work is a real red flag. They know that you probably will say the same thing about them when you go to another company. Think about it, If you were the interviewer, would you hire someone like that?

What you must do is avoid using negative language as they are still forming a picture of you. If you talk about all the people or the company process that you didn’t get along with, you’re sending a message that you’re a negative person. Try instead to show your value and how you check all the boxes for the job. Put a positive direction on those negative questions. Again, we can’t say it enough, never say bad things. Say only good things

Here are a few extra do’s and don’t’s for you to …..Hmmmm practice remembering

  1. Do- Short and simple responses.
  2. Do- Stay on topic and don’t side track away.
  3. Do- During the interview or even before, find out what they are looking for and target your response.
  4. Do- Reflect positively on your previous and current employers.
  5. Don’t – bad mouth or character assassination.
  6. Don’t – complain about not being able to get along, the terrible hours, or less pay
  7. Don’t – be defensive and shift blame. Instead, share instances on the job where you took responsibility and got things done.

The challenge of psychology, learning to manage people and predicting behaviour
Dealing with interviewers is an exact science. A special skill that varies from young to old. It would be extremely beneficial if young people fresh out of college would have quickly developed their social skills. It’s fair to say that social skills are still a work in progress the young. However, If youngsters can realise how much this will benefit you at snagging that first ever job, your employer will be extremely glad. He will be quite relieved that that he hired someone quite sensible, has their priorities right, responsible, has some maturity and has a good head on his shoulders, able to make fairly good judgements and decisions on the job. Most importantly, not a gossiper aka politicker. You may also want to be teachable and not coming on as arrogant or defensive so that the person who hired you will be happy to invest time and money to train you up. So for the next few years you will learn up the next set of skills which is colleague management skills. It’s during this time that you will learn about colleagues and bosses and how differently they behave at work. You can gauge their expectations and learn to manage them.

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