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Top 10 Interview Questions and Answers

Question 1. Tell me about yourself.

“Tell me about yourself” is a very common question, but it is also the question which most candidates do not do well on. The challenge is because it is normally the first question asked, job candidates miss an important opportunity to make a great first impression.

The good news is with some preparation and a lot of practice, you make a phenomenal first impression by answering this question well.

First, what not to do:

  1. Do not recite your resume or academic transcript. The interviewer can read your resumé.
  2. Do not ramble an answer. Since this is a very common question, candidates are expected to have a good, concise answer. Being caught-off guard with this question without a good answer shows recruiters that a candidate did not prepare properly.
  3. Do not give a common, boring response. Excite me. Interest me. You’re talking about yourself, so take the opportunity and promote yourself as to why the recruiter should hire you.

So, with that in mind, what should you say? Here are some ideas and tips:

  1. Talk about your passions. Why did you chose the degree you did at university? Why did you chose this career path. Let me get to know you beyond the resume and academic transcript.
  2. Talk about your goals. Why are you here? What about you and your personality excites you about my company and this job?
  3. Pick one or two KEY things and achievements about your background–the things that best define you and put you in the best light–and tell me about it. Don’t take too long, and as I said earlier, don’t tell me everything in your background. Just pick the two things you want me to know about you. What accomplishments are you most proud of? What defines you as a person? What motivates you? What was your best experience so far? Tell me that. And remember, it doesn’t have to be exclusively on the professional front. Some of the best answers I have heard from job candidates is when there were telling me about being captain of a sports team or a community group they were involved in. The important thing to remember is that your examples should show why you are a special and unique person I need to hire.
  4. Share your dreams and ambitions. Tell me an interesting story.
  5. Since this is a very common question, practice, practice, and then practice some more. Write out some ideas of key stories from your background, and then practice telling your story in a concise and entertaining manner. I strongly recommend practicing this with friends and family, and get their honest and candid feedback on your response. Be sure to ask what you can do better. Then try again.
  6. Keep the answer to a couple of minutes.
  7. Watch the body language of the interviewer. Are they interested in what you are saying? Are they smiling and listening intently?

The most important thing about this question is to make the recruiter like you. By sharing an enthusiastic story, speaking with passion about your experiences and yourself, you will be highly likable and most importantly, memorable.

The good news is since most people give a boring summary of their resume, you really have the opportunity to stand-out by being different and telling a story which is interesting and exciting.

Potential answer:

At a young age, I had a passion for technology, so when it came to select a course of study at my university, computer science was a natural decision. I have enjoyed studying for the past four years, and now look forward to not only continuing this education but also delivering world class solutions for companies. Outside of work, I enjoy group activities such as football and music.

2. What are your Greatest Strengths?

In asking this question the interviewer is simply trying to figure out whether you can do the job and whether you will fit in at the company.

To answer this question, focus on how your technical skills solve a problem the company has and may possibly benefit the company.

Potential answer:

I am very good at supervising and managing the members of our team and being the liaison with management. My team had a major project due and we hit a snag; our client had not made some necessary adjustments so the data migration was going to be delayed by three weeks. I split the team in half to focus one half on the current project while the other half dealt with the data issue. Ultimately, it worked perfectly. I kept our management team in the loop every step of the way and we came in 5% under budget and on time – under some really tough circumstances.

3. What Are Your Weaknesses?

By asking this question, the interviewer is trying to (a) screen out people who confess to weaknesses that are unacceptable given the position and (b) see how you deal with an uncomfortable question.

Answer this question by minimizing your weakness and emphasizing your strengths and giving a weakness that is also a strength. Be honest, but do not be absurdly blunt. Focus on professional traits, not personal traits, because professional traits can be learned.

Potential answer:

  • I am always working on improving my communication skills to be a more effective presenter. I recently took a seminar at MIT on effective IT communication skills.
  • One of my weaknesses was to take on too many projects with too little time to complete to my high standards. I have learned to prioritize and set realistic goals. I am now more focused and productive professionally and personally.

4. Why Should We Hire You?

By asking this question the interviewer is trying to (a) see how prepared you are, (b) determine how you handle a problem, (c) see why you would help the company and (d) determine your real motivations for seeking employment.

To answer this question, relax, this is simply a chance for you to explain how your skills and abilities provide the employer with a benefit by giving examples.

Potential answer:

  • My research indicates you need someone with a help-desk background to reduce the call volume diverted to supervisor level employees. In my 4 years at ABC, I was able to reduce call volume by over 40%. I am confident while working with your team, we could significantly reduce call volume.
  • As we have discussed, your website is very static and needs new and creative approaches to compete in today’s market. To effectively compete, the site needs to be a database-backed site with dynamically generated content, like your competitor BGM, LLC. Working with you, I am confident we could do the same here to increase sales and drive more volume to our profit centers.

5. Why Do You Want to Work Here?

By asking this question the interviewer is (a) trying to determine that you have prepared and are not just interviewing because there is an available position and (b) trying to get a sense of the value you would add.

To answer this question, focus on how your experience allows you to solve a specific problem and give examples.

Potential answer:

I have always greatly admired ABC. After researching the company I came to admire it even more and understand that you are planning to expand into Europe and will need significant support here for the European team. Based on my experiences with XYZ in providing dedicated support for their European team, I am confident that I could bring new innovative solutions to help improve the performance and efficiency of the team. Exactly like the time I was responsible for integrating, rolling out and eventually supporting SDR4, XYZ’s own project management software.

6. What Are Your Goals?

By asking this question the interviewer is (a) giving you a chance to talk about your goals, (b) trying to see if you are a thoughtful, driven candidate and (c) trying to determine whether you fit within the organization.

To answer this question, again link your skills to the customers need and show how your goals benefit the company. Sometimes it is best to talk about short-term and intermediate goals rather than locking yourself into the distant future.

Potential answer:

  • I have been looking for a position that will allow me to use C++. My primary goal was to find a company using C++ like yours. I may have some learning to do, but I hope that in six months I will be the person people turn to for the right answers. Ultimately, I look forward to managing projects.
  • My short-term goal is to come work with the team and finish Project Unicorn by using my knowledge of C++ to add functionality just like I did when XYZ put out HyperTee 2.0. My intermediate goal is to continue to build responsibility and move into a more senior position. Ultimately, I’d like to use my technical skills and leadership ability to manage a team that is building new and creative solutions that hit our bottom line.

7. Why Did You Leave (or Why Are You Leaving) Your Job?

By asking this question the interviewer is trying to (a) see if you will fit in, (b) see whether you will stay at the company for a suitable period of time, (c) determine if you are worth the company’s investment and (d) find out if there is anything wrong with you.

To answer this question, deal with the interviewer’s needs and state your reasons for leaving in a positive context.

Potential answer:

If you were laid off, show you were just one of many.

I joined the company because it was a startup and I would get a lot of opportunities to take on more responsibility quickly. Unfortunately, the rapid shift in the economy left us under-capitalized to properly market what ultimately will be a great product. Ultimately, for the survival of the company, management needed to reduce costs by eliminating the support team of which I was a key member.

If you were fired, show that you had a different approach than management.

I am a firm believer that all customers deserve the highest possible customer service experience even if it means being on the phone a little longer than my colleagues. My clients do not need to call back, because I take the extra time to resolve all their problems in one call. At times, going this extra mile affects my call times and the number of calls handled.

If you are a recent college graduate, show that you will fit in and that you are trainable.

  • My education has provided me with valuable job skills, but more importantly, it has equipped me with the foundation to learn skills quickly throughout my career. By learning a base set of programming languages, I now know how to pick up any new language rapidly. The best part of my education? It expanded my mind and opened me up to new ways of thinking.
  • By working in teams over the term of certain classes, I learned what makes teams tick and how to provide effective feedback that other members of the team can use.”

If you are simply switching companies, show that you will fit in, stick around and are worth the investment. For example:

Having originally joined XYZ out of college I realized that I would not have the opportunity to work in activities that hit their bottom line. I am now looking to work with you to use my buying and negotiating skills to cut costs within the IT department.

8. What do you like most about your job?

By asking this question, the interviewer wants to know (a) what motivates you and (b) about your work values.

To answer this question, stress the values held by the employer and focus on performance and getting the job done. Try to use examples.

Potential answer:

  • I was very satisfied in my last job, because I worked directly with the programmers and solving their problems; that is an important part of the job for me.
  • I enjoy working with a team of competent, energetic and innovative professionals to develop and implement exciting projects. In the past year, I worked closely with one of our best project managers and learned a great deal about decision-making and implementing solutions on a tight deadline. I am looking forward to working in a similar environment that encourages team effort and initiative. Really though, most of all, I enjoy seeing the results of our efforts translated into satisfied customers and new projects.

9. What makes you unique?

By asking this question, the interviewer is trying to get at the core of why they should hire you over the other candidates – some of whom may look remarkably similar to you. Be prepared to take this key opportunity to emphasize why you are different.

Focus on your skills, abilities, qualifications and experiences that may be unique compared to the rest of your competition.

Potential answer:

If I look carefully at my experience at ABC, I know there is one thing that really stands out, I not only write code in a variety of different languages but I can communicate in a very clear and concise manner to management why changing code could contribute to the bottom line of the business. My ability to put complex technical requirements into plain English for non-technical members of the team allowed our team to outperform every single team at ABC.

10. Why are you looking for a new job?

In asking this question the interviewer is trying to determine whether you can do the job.

To answer this question, avoid blaming other people or circumstances and focus on your ability to bring skills relevant to a company problem and demonstrate these skills by providing a specific example.

Potential answer:

I love a challenge. I am looking for a position where I get a chance to put my skills to the test on a daily basis.

Source: Email from Mr. Masood Raza (Thanks to him)

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  1. June 5, 2011 at 6:16 pm | #1

    Dear Sir,

    It was more useful for me. I also just completed Master Degree, I was searching like this information. Fortunately I got it through your blog more than I expected. Most of the times I use to get only interview question and some general tips. But in this post you have been explained clearly with potential answers.

    Thanking you,
    Your Sincerely,

    Dhananjay.

  2. Rubi
    June 14, 2011 at 5:28 pm | #2

    Thank you

  3. Abrar hussain
    March 11, 2013 at 8:44 pm | #3

    dear sir, these points are very helpfull for every body in general interviews.but mostly students and people(library students) searches the questions asked during interviews about library and information science.i have searched very much but i could not find these question and answers.i tried to get book from many book salers unfortunately once again i can,t get.kindly try about this field.becose alot of people study library and information as subject and they need much to prepare themselves for interview for this specific field.kindly tell me about if you know any book for job interview of librarian and related. regards

  4. kirthik
    June 22, 2013 at 9:39 am | #4

    thanks a lot…

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