Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How to Give Good Answers to Common Interview Questions

By Tony Jacowski

Do not rehearse these answers, lest you sound mechanical in front of the interviewer. This article is just to give you an idea of how you can change the usual answers to something better.

Tell Me About Yourself

The interviewer wants to know about your skills, education and previous experience - not about your personal life or other things. Be smart and give a brief synopsis about yourself, your education and your past work record.

For example: "Hello I am Rosy Brown and I am an MBA graduate with 3 years experience in the HR field. I have been working with the "XYZ" company for 2 years and have handled the recruitment department."

Ponder on the skills required for the position you are applying. If you have achieved something notable for your previous company, then mention it. However, do not narrate your entire life history.

Tell Us About Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Many jobseekers find this a tough question to answer. If you know yourself well, you can answer it easily. Looking blank or taking too long to answer will make the interviewer feel that you are unsure about yourself.

Before going for the interview make sure you write down your strengths and weaknesses.

Interviewers want a person who will be committed, result oriented, patient and who can handle pressure. If these are covered in your strengths, you are sure to be considered for the position.

When talking about your strengths, always support your words with data and facts. Talking about weaknesses can be difficult. However, the interviewer does expect a truthful answer, and you should mention the efforts that you are making to improve them. If you are not good with time management, mention what steps you are taking to improve on this.

Reason for Leaving Your Last Job

This question is tricky, and you have to be honest and smart in answering it. If you have left the previous job for better prospects and growth say so without fear, but be prepared to answer a few more questions that will be connected.

However, if you have left the job due to unethical issues, you can let the interviewer know, but in a smart way.

For example, you can tell them you were asked to leave the job, as you did not follow company policy, of which you were unaware. However, do mention that you have learned from this mistake and that you are sure that it will not be repeated.

Generally, depending upon the position you are applying for, you will also be asked a problem-solving question.

To test your skills and ability to think on your feet, you will probably be asked a question or given a situation to tackle. Do not be in a hurry to answer. Understand the question being asked, think and then tell the interviewer how you would tackle the situation.

You can ask for 2 -3 minutes to think about the situation before answering appropriately.

If you are prepared for these common interview questions, you are sure to come out on top.

Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solutions - Six Sigma Online ( offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.

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