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Smart Answers to 5 Standard Interview Questions (1st Post in 4 Part Series)

There is an unlimited number of questions that a recruiter or hiring manager can ask you during an interview. Standard answers to common interview questions tend to make you one of the average candidates. On the other hand, unique answers will make you unforgettable, and this is a great advantage for any job seeker.

The following guidelines need to be adapted to your industry, job description, personality and career plans. Preparing for a job interview is not a sign of uncertainty, but a way to show the potential employer that you care about the job opportunity. The preparations will help you ace the interview.

I will develop this theme in four articles consisting of 20 questions and proposed answers. Here are the first 5 questions:

1. Tell me about yourself.

  • Don't repeat what is in your resume because it was red before.

  • Share what might be important about you in case of a hiring decision.

  • You have the opportunity to explain why you are different from the competition.

  • Wrong answer:

You say that you are over-qualified, under-qualified, anxious about the interview or uncertain about your future or career.

You share private information or secrets about you.

You insert jokes (people may react strangely).

  • Ideal answer:

Give the reason why you are qualified and why you have applied for the job or why you have accepted to discuss the opportunity (in case of passive candidates).

Be authentic.

2. What are your plans for the future?

  • Make sure this question is related to your career plans and not your life dreams.

  • The recruiter or hiring manager will only check whether your requirements fit the company culture and whether you can fulfill the tasks.

  • Wrong answers:

You talk about plans for the future that are not work-related, such as building a house, travelling to another continent, etc.

You use exaggerations, such as being the most passionate or hard-working person in the business, etc.

  • Ideal answer:

Use references to your experience, strengths and interests and adapt them to the potential role.

Show the interviewer that you are the best choice for them.

3. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

  • This question is not related to the promotion in the organizational chart of the potential employer.

  • The prospect employer wants to find out if you have the right attitude and mindset for the job.

  • It’s an old school hiring question, not used on a large scale like before. Still, be aware that it may occur with different wording.

  • Wrong answer:

You dream out loud about running the company.

You insert gossip about the potential employer.

You give vague or funny answers.

  • Ideal answer:

Talk about your potential progress inside the company.

Consider the advantages of the potential role in your life (e.g. work-life balance, opportunity to learn new things, no commuting, etc.).

Describe how you will develop your skills and where your career goals could take you.

4. Why should we hire you?

  • This question is an opportunity for you to share why you are different from your competition.

  • For this answer, you should check the company's website and online reviews.

  • The prospect employer wants to find out if you can add value to their business in other ways than your expertise.

  • Wrong answer:

Bad talk about other applicants.

You mention rumors about the company.

You talk about the financial aspects of the job.

You show desperation.

  • Ideal answer:

Sell yourself and show how the potential employer can benefit from hiring you.

Demonstrate that you meet the key criteria for the open role and more.

Talk about other skills that might help you succeed in this role.

5. Why are you interested in this job opening?

  • The new job should be the next step in your career, and that's what you need to explain to recruiters and hiring managers.

  • The opening should match your career plans and keep you in the company as long as possible.

  • Wrong answer:

You talk about the financial aspects of the job.

You give the location, a good boss, work plan or benefits as the main reasons.

  • Ideal answer:

Think about your long-term priorities when it comes to working.

Compare the potential role with your current one, but try not to talk negatively about your current/former employer.

Show that you share the same values as the company.

Use an optimistic approach.

Show enthusiasm for the open job.

There is no perfect answer to interview questions. This is just a good opportunity to show people who you are and what value you can bring to their organization.

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