Job interviews can be intimidating, but they don't have to be! With a little preparation, you can feel confident and ready to showcase your skills and experiences.
In this article, we'll go over 5 common interview questions, what they really mean, and how to answer them effectively. By understanding the underlying purpose of each question and preparing your responses in advance, you'll be able to stand out from other job seekers and make a great impression.
Q1: Tell me about yourself
This is the most common way to start the interview. The interviewer is not asking you to repeat what’s on your resume. It’s a test of whether you can provide a concise summary of yourself and what you’re looking for.
You should also try to tell a short story that highlights key points that may not be obvious and make it impactful. Here are 3 main points that you should cover:
Mention your background: It's important to give a brief overview of your education and experiences.
Highlight one or two significant experiences: This could be a course project, extracurricular activity, or even a part-time work experience. You should focus on what you learned and the skills you developed.
Why are you the ideal candidate for the position? This is your chance to explain why you're interested in the position and how your skills and experiences make you the best fit.
Ineffective: I just graduated with a Bachelor of Business from XX University. I graduated with a CGPA of 3.7 with a few Dean’s list awards. I was part of the Student Club and was actively involved in some activities. I am interested in social media marketing.
Effective: I'm a 3rd year Marketing student at XX University and I am graduating in December this year. One of my most significant projects was doing an Instagram shop where we sold salted-egg chips. I was in a team of 4 and my role was marketing and customer service. In 2 months, we managed to grow to 880 followers and achieve RM1,500 in revenue. Besides that, I'm quite active in extracurricular activities but I want to highlight my role of Head of Marketing for a fundraising project I did a few months ago. I managed a team of 3 to promote the event on campus and online, and as a result, we managed to attract over 400 visitors and raise RM3,500. Through working with my team, I also sharpened my communication and leadership skills. With these hands-on experiences, I became very interested in social media marketing in the events industry, which led me to apply for this position. I hope to apply my skills and experience in the Social Media Specialist position that you're hiring and help to grow your social media platforms.
Remember, the key to answering this question is to be concise and focus on your strengths and experiences that are relevant to the position you're applying for. It's also important to show enthusiasm and explain why you're interested in the role.
Q2: How did you hear about this position?
This is often asked in an interview to learn more about how you found out about the job opportunity and what attracted you to it. It's also a way for the interviewer to gauge your level of interest in the position and whether you've done your research on the company.
While it may seem like an easy question, it's actually an opportunity for you to stand out and make a good impression. Instead of simply saying that you saw the job advertisement or heard about it from someone, try to elaborate on why the position caught your eye and what you can contribute. For example, you might mention specific aspects of the job scope or responsibilities that you're excited about, or explain how your skills and experiences make you a strong fit for the role.
Ineffective: I heard from someone or I saw the job advertisement.
Effective: I saw the job advertisement, and what caught my eye was the job scope, which is starting a Tiktok channel for the company. I have experience managing Facebook and Instagram platforms, but I am interested in starting a Tiktok channel for a brand and growing followers from there. Besides that, I also researched more about the company and social media pages, and I think I can help to add more variety to the types of posts.
By showing enthusiasm and explaining what you can offer, you'll be able to stand out and make a strong impression.
Q3: Why are you interested in this position?
This question is an opportunity for you to explain your motivations and demonstrate your fit for the role. The interviewer wants to know whether you're really interested in the position and what you hope to gain from it. They may also be looking for clues about your long-term career goals and whether this opportunity aligns with them.
It's important to avoid giving a general or self-centered answer that doesn't explain what you can bring to the company. Instead, focus on how your skills and experiences can contribute to the company's goals and how the position aligns with your own career aspirations.
Ineffective: I am interested because I can apply my skills and learn hands-on experience, and grow my career in this company.
Effective: I see this as a place where I can apply my skills and knowledge of content marketing while helping the company to reach out to the right audience. I also strongly relate to the vision of the company and want to help more people find a fulfilling career. As this is a start-up, I’m excited to take on more responsibilities and challenges, which will help me advance my career and help the company achieve its goals together.
By explaining your motivations and demonstrating your value to the company, you'll be able to convince the interviewer that you are the best fit.
Q4: What are your strengths?
This is often asked in an interview to learn more about your skills, abilities, and qualities that make you a strong fit for the job. It's an opportunity for you to highlight your key strengths and explain how they align with the needs of the position.
It's important to avoid giving a generic or lame answer that doesn't show real value or give specific examples. Instead, focus on a key strength that is relevant to the job and make a case for why it makes you a good fit, by giving examples.
Ineffective: I am a hard worker. I work hard and show up on time every day.
Effective: I am a fast learner. When I was in Student Club, my task was to manage the social media platforms. During an event, we had to do a short promotional video, but none of us knew about video editing, including myself. In the end, I took up the challenge to learn basic video editing and produced my very first video in one week. I also picked up other software like Adobe Illustrator which wasn’t taught at my university.
By giving specific examples and explaining how your strength aligns with the job requirements, able to differentiate yourself and make a strong impact.
Q5: What are your weaknesses?
This question is a sign that the interviewer is looking for signs of self-awareness and honesty. They may be checking for red flags, such as a lack of self-awareness or the tendency to exaggerate or oversell yourself.
It's important to avoid using a fake weakness that is also a strength, as this can come across as insincere or manipulative. Instead, focus on a real weakness and explain how you're working on improving it. This shows self-awareness, honesty, and a willingness to learn and grow.
Ineffective: I am too focused on the details so I tend to get stressed sometimes and miss some deadlines.
Effective: My weakness is managing others who have different expectations from me. Hence, I am working on communicating and understanding expectations from others by asking questions to find out more information. I usually get more clarity and deliver better when I try to align expectations.
Effective: One of my weaknesses is my tendency to get easily overwhelmed when I have a lot of tasks on my plate. I'm working on improving my time management skills by using tools like Trello and setting clear priorities for each day. I've also found that taking breaks and setting boundaries helps me stay focused and avoid burnout.
By giving a genuine answer and explaining how you're addressing your weakness, you'll be able to show self-awareness and honesty, which are important qualities for any job.
The key to success in any job interview is understanding the questions and providing concise, personalised answers that showcase your skills and make you the best fit for the role. Rather than giving generic responses, it's important to personalise your answers with relevant examples that demonstrate your unique strengths and experiences. By doing this, you'll be able to stand out and make a strong impression, increasing your chances of being hired. So the next time you're asked tough interview questions, remember to understand the context and provide tailored responses that showcase your skills and experience.
You can also use these answers in the chat feature in Kabel to wow potential hirers and secure that job offer. Good luck!
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