When you are called for a personal interview, many types of questions spring across your mind, specially if you are an inexperienced job seeker.
Here are some tips on answering the most frequently asked questions in a personal interview :
Q: Tell me thing about your self.
A: Go prepared for this question, as this is the most frequently asked question in the interview.
Answer it covering your work experience, educational qualifications and a little information about your family background.
Try to focus on key areas of your work while talking about your professional experience. This is an open ended question and can help you in taking the interview in which ever direction you want it to go.
You should know where to put a full stop to provoke the desired question from the interviewer.
Q: Why does this role interest you? Or why have you applied for this job?
A: Keep the focus of the answer to this question on your skills, experience and personal qualities.
Link the job requirement to your skills rather than talking about the challenges, career and progression.
Q: Why do you think should we take you for this job?
A: Don't panic if you are asked this question. Make sure that you have understood the job profile well before you go for the interview.
Relate your qualifications and work experience with the job requirements.
If there are any new things that you are expected to perform in the new job, say that you are always open to learn the new things and take up the new challenges.
Q: What motivates you at work?
A: You can say that competition and new challenges motivate you at work.
Q: What is your greatest strength?
A: Interpret this question as, what is your greatest relevant strength? Or Why should we hire you? Tell them a strength that they want to buy. For this you will need to properly understand the job profile and keep your answer ready.
For example, if the job needs you to have convincing answers ready for the any type customer’s questions, you can sell “your presence of mind” or if you are required to change you sector or industry you can offer “your adaptability” as an answer.
It is important to keep ready at least 2 examples of the mentioned strength.
Q: What is your greatest weakness?
A: Interpret this question as, why shouldn’t we hire you? There 3 ways to tackle this question. Judge the situation and use one of them.
First way: Use your sense of humour. If the interview is proceeding in the light way and you have built up a good rapport with the interviewer, you can get out of it by saying “Icecream”. Accompany it with a right body language.
Second Way: If you have to answer this question seriously, give a weakness which doesn’t relate to the job under discussion. For example, you can say, I have been using a camera since childhood but I still don’t know how to mend it. If it is spoiled, I will need to take it to an expert.
Third way: Understand the requirement of the role under discussion and say that others accuse you of having that weakness but you think that it is important for your work.
For example, if the job needs a detailed study and leaving a single step might need you to re-run the whole process say that “My colleagues accuse me of having a too much eye for detail but I have experienced that to do this work you need to go into details rather than cutting corners. I have worked with people following a shorter route and doing the whole exercise again, which I would not prefer to do.”
Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: The underlying agenda is to know what personal qualities were required to achieve it. Don’t go back too far to answer this question as this might give an impression that you have not achieved anything since then.
Find a relevant answer in the recent past for this question. If you are a fresher and have been a topper of your college or university, you can say that during the interview.
Q: Are you ambitious?
A: You can say that I am very ambitious in the way that I don’t like to get to get a feeling of stagnancy. I want that I should always be getting new experiences and learning new things.
Q: What qualities would you look for, if you were recruiting someone for this position?
A: To answer this question, you need to analyze the requirements of the job profile before appearing for the interview.
The answer to this question would estimate your understanding of the role under discussion.
Q: Are you speaking to some other companies? Or how is your job search going on?
A: This question gives you an opportunity to let the interviewer know that other companies are also interested in hiring you and gives you leverage while negotiating the salary.
You can say, Yes, I am in the final round of discussion with two other companies. Approach the interviewer as a “Problem Solver” and not as a “Job Beggar”.
Q: Which companies are you talking to?
A: You can maintain your integrity by refusing to disclose the names. You can simply say, they haven’t notified these openings so I believe they would not like their names to be revealed.
At times, taking the competitor’s names might increase your chances of being hires. Analyze the situation and answer accordingly.
Q: Are you ready to relocate?
You can say, for a right position and right company relocation should not be a problem. Do not close the discussion at the earlier stage by saying “No”.
Q: What was your biggest mistake?
A: There’s nothing wrong in admitting a mistake. A human being is bound to commit mistakes. This time it is advantageous to go back as far as possible in the past and find an answer.
The advantage of doing this is that a youngster is expected to commit more mistakes than a mature and seasoned person. This would give an impression that since that time you have committed mistakes but not that big.
Take the word “mistake” as liberally as possible and go back to your student life to answer this question. Probably you can say, if I could go back to my student life, I would have studied Biology instead of Math.
Q: Why haven’t you got a job yet?
A: This question will usually arise if it has been sometime since you finished your studies and are still in the market without a job.
You can say that, I have been offered some tempting positions in the last few days but had to turn them down as I did not find them right for my candidature. You can follow it up with some examples.
Q: You do not have all the experience we are seeking for this position.
A: To answer this question, you again need to analyze the requirements of the role properly and match them to your candidature.
If you meet most of the requirements, you can say that you have most of the qualities needed for this role and for the remaining you are always open to learning them.
You can follow this up with an example from your last job where you learnt and did things that you didn’t know earlier. Stay confident while answering this question.
Q: Would you like to work in a team or on your own?
A: The agenda behind this question is to understand if you are a team player or a solo performer.
It might be risky to choose any one of them as the role for which they are considering you might need you to be a team player but the career progression which they might consider for you down a year’s time may need you to handle a more autonomous position.
It is better to answer this question by saying that “I don’t have any such preference. I can comfortably handle both the situations, as the need arises.” Now back it up with examples where you successfully worked in a team and where you performed an autonomous role.
Q: If your last boss was present here, what do you think he would tell us about you?
A: This is again a question which can be answered in two ways.
First way: If the situation is light, you can say that, “I am the diamond of his team, you must pick me up”. This needs to be accompanied by a right body language.
Second way: If the discussion is proceeding in a serious manner, you can pick up a formal appraisal he gave you and say that I think he would repeat it here.
Q: Has your career developed as you had liked?
A: The agenda behind this question is to understand if there had been times of dip in your career and if you lay the blame for them on others. There’s nothing to be ashamed of if there have been short gap in your employment.
You can justify it by giving a convincing reason. Look at your qualifications and social environment and relate your achievements to them, to answer this question.
Q: What would you do if your team ceased to perform?
A: The agenda behind this question is to understand your management style. A good answer to this question could be, I will try to establish the reasons for non-performance of the team and try to eradicate them.
Q: Would you take up this job if we offered it to you?
A: Again there are two ways to handle this question.
First Way: If you have built up a good rapport with the interviewer by now you can ask a more direct question, Are you offering it to me? (with a smile and right body language). If they say “Yes”, you can say that off course, based on what we have discussed till now I am enthusiastic in taking up this position. How soon would you be able to get me a written offer?
Second Way: Alternatively you can say, based on what we have discussed till now, I will be happy to take up this position but there are still certain things that need to be discussed.
Q: Your expected salary?
A: Don't jump at a figure when you are asked this question during the personal interview. Try to turn the ball back into the interviewers court and ask him the type of salary the company offers for a position like this.
Still, if you are required to answer this question, mention a range rather than talking about an exact figure but don't keep the range too vast, you will be offered the one at the lower end.
Probably you can say, I should be comfortable with something in the range of mid fifties.
Q: What will you do if you are offered a job with a salary higher than this?
A: By asking this question the interviewer tries to analyze if the candidate will leave the job for a couple of thousands.
Recruiting a candidate costs money to the company so they would like to hire somebody who has some loyalty towards the company. You can answer this question by saying that though you know the attraction of money every job offers but you would first try to analyze the growth opportunities with both the jobs.
If your present company can offer you the desired growth with the industry trend, you would not switch. You will discuss the issue with your senior and ask his views on your growth in the present job and if you see that there is a potential to grow in the present job, you will stick otherwise you will politely inform him about your decision to move ahead in life.
Q: Do you want to ask us something about the company?
A: When you are going for a job interview, go prepared. Try to find out the latest information about the company.
When you are asked this question, you can ask interesting questions like the opportunities for you to grow in the company, the expansion plans of the company and the chances for you to grow there.
If the company has been in news recently, you can ask questions related to that also.
As your personal interview progresses, the interviewer usually gives you a chance to ask him any questions that you may want to. This is not only one of the golden opportunities for you to demonstrate your interest in the company and the job but also a chance to address any concerns the interviewer might have about your candidature. If you simply sit like a dumb and say “No, I don’t think I have anything.” Or “You have already answered all my questions”, believe me you will dig your own grave.
By doing this you not only lose an opportunity to prove your suitability but also make the recruiters think twice before hiring you. Interviewers do expect some intelligent question from the candidates and when they get a dumb sounding reply at the end of an interview which they thought to be successful, their heart sinks. The recruiters also need people to fill up the vacancies and keep the work moving. They are continuously on a look out for good candidates. If towards the end of the interview they get a feeling that the candidate is probably not interested or not suitable enough to carry out the work properly, they also feel bad, as they again have to go through the whole process of finding another candidate. So, prepare yourself well in advance to ensure that you are ready to ask some intelligent questions during the interview. Here are some questions which you can ask the recruiter and the advantage they can fetch you.
1. Now as we have discussed my candidature in detail, do you have any concerns about me being able to meet the responsibilities of this role?
Advantage: If the recruiter has any concerns about you being not able to meet the responsibilities of the role, this question would provoke him to put it into words. It will give you a chance to address his concerns and convince him that you are a good candidate for the position under discussion.
2. What are the opportunities for me to grow in this role and with the company?
Advantage: This question gives you a chance to analyze the growth prospects for you with the company. At the same time, it gives the recruiter an impression that if you are an ambitious candidate but if you get proper growth opportunities, you will stick to the company.
3. Is this a new position or has fallen vacant by the separation of the last employee?
Advantage: This question would help you in understanding if the position is available because of the expansion or due to the separation of the last employee. If it is vacant after the separation of the last employee, it would e good for you to know the reason. This would also give the recruiter an impression that you are careful in selecting the job.
4. What are the major goals that would need to be accomplished in this role?
Advantage: This question would help you understand the role better and give the recruiter a confidence that the candidate is interested in taking up this job.
5. How many members would be there in my team? What will be my position amongst them?
Advantage: This question would help you in understanding the break up of the team and your position.
If the company has been in news during the last days and if you have any queries related to it, it is a good time to ask them.