Top 10 Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Have you ever encountered interview questions that made you break out in cold sweat? Or have you come across interview questions that you were unable to answer? During job interviews, you may be asked tough questions. The types of tough questions vary depending on your industry, but there are some common difficult questions employers frequently ask to get to know you better as a candidate.

Why Do Employers Ask Tough Interview Questions?

One reason why employers ask difficult interview questions is to try and seek out the most important and relevant information about you. For example, employers might ask you why you choose to apply for a job with their organization. While it is difficult to provide a summary of why you choose to work for them, it allows the employer to understand what your motivations are, how committed you will be to the organization, and how you can contribute to the organization should you join them.

Citadel Search has been in the Executive Search and Recruitment industry since 2005. As such, we have curated all the most difficult interview questions that are commonly asked by recruiters and provided respective suggestions on how to answer each of them. Let us know your thoughts!

10 Most Commonly Asked Interview Questions

Question 1: Tell Me About Yourself

“Tell me about yourself” is a common opening question that employers tend to ask as a warm-up. We find this question often stumps, as candidates do not know where to begin and when to stop.

How to answer:

To stand out during the interview, take a different approach and share information about yourself relevant to the job, instead of reciting information that employers can easily find out from your resume. Ideally, give a brief and eloquent summary of yourself by keeping your answer to a maximum of one to two minutes. 

The 2 crucial topics you should cover are your work history and your most recent and relevant career experience. Sharing relevant and relatable industry examples will be crucial for the interviewers to understand whether you have the requisite experience. For example, if you are currently in a project manager role and you wish to switch to a project manager role in another organisation, it is advisable to talk about what you have done in the previous organisation that is relevant to the current job that you are applying for. At this point, it is important to note that for you to relate your experience, you need to first understand the key expectations of the job. You would also want to underscore that you possess the knowledge and understanding about the nuances of the respective industry to handle possible curve balls thrown at you.

However, if you are looking to switch back to a role that you had experience in, you can share briefly about your last experience, and share more about the employment that is more relevant to the job that you are applying for.

To add an interesting touch to your response, you can share a short story to describe your journey of how you got to where you are today, and how you arrived at this job interview you are sitting in right now.

Question 2: Why do You Want to Work for Us?

The answer that will guarantee your downfall at the job interview is “It seems like a nice place to work in” or “I like people”. These answers will show the employer that you clearly have not done your homework!

How to answer:

During the interview, a good answer comes from having done your homework which allows you to demonstrate your understanding of the organization’s needs. You might say that from your research, the company is undertaking activities you would like to be a part of, and they are doing it in ways that greatly interest you. By being aware of the details, culture, goals, products and challenges of the organisation, you will be able to talk about yourself and why you are a good fit for the organisation. You can do find out about such details in various ways such as visiting their company website, talking to employees, looking them up on Google and reading the company profile information on LinkedIn.

For example, if the organisation you are interviewing for stresses on Research and Development, highlight your strengths and interest in creating new things and indicate that you know the organisation is a place which such activities are encouraged.

Question 3: Why Are You Leaving Your Present Job? /Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

It is important to have a response prepared so you are not caught off-guard by the question.

How to answer:

To answer this question effectively, it is best to be concise, to the point and honest. Your answer should also reflect your current circumstances and affects negativity. For example, certain push factors could be pushing an applicant out of their current employer, while pull factors are pulling them toward their new employer. Push factors are the negative circumstances that make an employee want to leave the current employer, such as the lack of career progression, pay and benefits. Pull factors are the positive circumstances that make an employee want to join a new company, such as benefits, a higher pay or the good reputation of the company. It is best not to focus on push factors but focus more on the pull factors to keep your response positive. For example, you can try to explain why the job is an ideal match and allows you to apply your skills, knowledge, and experience.

However, it is appropriate to share certain push factors for changing jobs, such as the need to take a sabbatical to take care of a sick family member. 

In situations where it is clear that you were terminated, it is advisable to adopt the “We agree to disagree” approach and keep your responses as positive as possible and move the conversation forward.

Question 4: Why Should We Hire You?

The hiring manager wants to know whether you have all the required qualifications and evaluate if you are the right candidate for the job.

How to answer:

In your response, you should be prepared to explain why you are the best candidate that should be hired. You can start by talking about your ability, your experience, and your energy and relate it to what you can offer the organisation and what your value-add would be if they do hire you.

To prepare for this interview question, you need to understand the job description,  pick out the qualities which apply to you and share examples of how you have used these skills in your relevant roles. You can focus on explaining how your experience will help you become the top performer in the role and contribute to the company.

Question 5: What Are Your Salary Expectations?

Interview questions about salary are always tricky to answer as it is a delicate topic. 

How to answer:

It is not encouraged for you to tie yourself to a precise figure to avoid selling yourself short or pricing yourself out of a job offer. You can do some research before the interview to be prepared to name a salary range based on your job title, experience, and skills.

However, if you are asked this difficult interview question during the initial screening interview, you can say that you will need to find out more about the position’s responsibilities before you can give a meaningful answer to that question.

Question 6: What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses?

A very typical but tough question that hiring managers tend to ask is about your weaknesses.

How to answer:

Frame your answers about the positive aspects of your skills and turn your weaknesses into something positive! The purpose of this question is for the hiring manager to find out if you are willing to take on challenges and learn new skills in this new role. Therefore, you should always be honest, positive and focus on showing your openness in improving yourself. For example, you can choose to share a weakness that would not be a deal-breaker and describe how you overcame it or made improvements.

Question 7: What Do You Know About Our Organisation?

If hiring managers ask you this question, they want to know if you have done your research on the organization. 

How to answer:

You should be well-prepared and be able to discuss the organization’s products and services, image, goals, people, history, problems, and positioning. However, do keep in mind that you should not answer the question in such a way that you appear to know everything about the organisation. It is best to demonstrate that you have taken the time to do the research and are still willing to learn more.

Question 8: What Do You Look For In a Job?

This is an important question because one of the top considerations for which candidate to hire is whether the candidate shares similar values and motivations as the company. If what you share does not match the job that you are interviewing for, it is less likely that the hiring manager will consider hiring you.

How to answer:

You should focus on keeping your answer directly relevant to the opportunities you will receive at this organisation, rather than stating factors about personal security. The hiring manager wants to see if your goals, skills, and interests make you a good match for the company and if you are looking for an opportunity to grow with the organisation.

This means that to prepare for difficult interview questions like this, you should do your research and learn about the organisation and the career progression path you might forge there. You can share how you think you will fit in with the company culture and how your experience in your previous roles will allow you to succeed excel n the organisation.

Question 9: What Can You Do for Us That Someone Else Can’t?

For this question, you have every right to be a bit egotistical and share with the hiring manager your greatest achievements. This is a question hiring managers use to gauge your confidence, so be prepared to present yourself as a qualified candidate who can bring something unique to the table.

How to answer:

You should talk about your proudest achievements records of getting things done and mention the specific details from your resume or your list of career accomplishments. Be sure to mention that your achievements and skills will make you a valuable employee to the organisation. You can also elaborate on your ability to set priorities, identify problems and how you can use your experience and energy to solve them.

Question 10: Are There Any Questions You Would Like to Ask?

How to answer:

Surprisingly, the most common answer to this question is “No”. This answer leads to a missed opportunity to find out more about the organisation. Instead, ask questions that are related to the job, the organisation and the industry. If you are having an interview with the hiring manager, it will be wise to ask questions about the job, the desired qualities of the candidate they are looking for and the challenges of the role you are applying for. For example, you can concentrate on questions about the job’s responsibilities and how you can be a good fit for the position if you get the job offer.

As an interview is also a two-way process, this question is also an opportunity for you to find out as much as possible about the organisation you are applying for. The questions you asked will allow you to find out if this is a good place for you to work before you say yes to the job offer.

Final Words

As one of the top Executive Search and Recruitment agencies in Singapore, Citadel Search provides you with the best advice as we identify the most difficult interview questions and derive a strategy to answer these questions.

If you would like further advice and guidance on how to prepare and ace your upcoming interviewcontact us now to let us know how we can help you.

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