How To Answer 18 Common Interview Questions

1. Interview Question: Tell us about Yourself.

Tip: If you’re attending an interview, here’s one question you can’t escape. and it usually comes first. The formula to getting the answer right is to start from where you currently are, then delve backwards a little bit about the experience you’ve garnered at your previous roles. And round off with the future – why you’re really excited about this opportunity.

Answer: “I’m currently an Accounts Officer at GTBank, where I manage the accounts of some of the bank’s top customers. Before that, I worked at KPMG as a graduate trainee for 2 years. My experience there really enhanced my analytical and problem solving skills. I’ll love the chance to advance my career in the Oil and Gas Sector, which is why I’m so excited about this opportunity with the Petroleum Training Institute.”

2. Interview Question: What do you know about this organization?

Tip: This question is one reason to do some research on the organization before the interview. As soon as you’re invited for an interview, it is expected of you to find out as much information you can about the company. Find out where they have been and where they are going. What are the current issues and who are the major players (The Founders/ Owners), when was the company established, what services or goods do they produce, where is their head office, branches located, what is their mission statement, vision?

Answer: “The Petroleum Training Institute is a federal government owned tertiary institution established in 1973 to train indigenous middle-level manpower to meet the labour force requirement of the Nigerian oil and gas industry. The motto of the institution is “For skill, service and progress” and the current principal is Mr. Joseph Orukele.”

3. Interview Question: Why do you want to work here?

Tip: To answer this question correctly, you need to do a little research on the company so that you can identify specific reasons why you want to work with the organization, and most importantly, be able to defend whatever reason you state, should the interviewer ask you to explain further. These reasons could be one or more of the following: The company’s pedigree, the reputation of its founders, admiration of its offerings (goods or services), company’s management philosophy, company’s recognition and awards received, core values, company’s market position and prospects.

Answer: “Well, the Zenith Bank’s pedigree is certainly one to be reckoned with. I would be proud to work for a company with such a long history of leadership in the industry.”

4. Interview Question: What experience do you have in this field?

Tip: Speak about what you’ve done in the past or what you do in your present job that is related to the position you are applying for. Here you can also include free services you rendered to religious or social organizations, friends and relations. If you do not have any specific experience, get as close as possible.

Answer: “From the job description, you’re looking for an individual who can take proper charge of your financial records. You also need someone who is computer literate and proficient with accounting packages. In my previous role as an Accountant with PZ Industries, I was responsible for maintaining the books of accounts of the company. I prepared the final accounts, balance sheets, profit and loss account, cash flow statement, and other management accounts without supervision. I did these and other related accounting tasks for over a period of 4 years using various accounting software including Peachtree and QuickBooks.”

5. Interview Question: Why should we hire you?

Tip: Don’t be scared to tell the interviewer that you are the best person for the job, but be prepared to back your claim up with what specifically differentiates you.

Answer: “You should hire me because I’m the best person for the job. Although there may be other candidates who also have what it takes to get the job done. Yet I bring an additional quality which makes me the best person for the job – my passion for excellence. I am passionately committed to producing results in all my endeavors. For example, in 2008 when I was given a target to generate 100 million naira deposit from customers, because of the passion I had for my job, I was the only one in my team who achieved the target.”

6. Interview Question: How did you hear about the vacancy?

Tip: No beating about the bush. Go ahead and state the source. If you found out about the opening through a friend or a relative, don’t hesitate to drop the name. Back it up by stating why you were so excited about the vacancy. Make your answer short.

Answer: “I heard about the opening through Bidemi, a childhood friend, but since my undergraduate days, I’ve always had the dream of working with your company.”

7. Interview Question: What are your strengths?

Tip: If you’re serious about your job search, this question won’t give you problems. You ought to have identified what your greatest strengths are, even before you start sending your CV out. Your strength could be your experience, talents and soft skills. Don’t make the mistake is listing strengths you do not possess or one that is not relevant to the position you’re applying for.

Answer: “I think one of my greatest strengths is my ability to solve problems. I look at situations from different points of views and I can perform my tasks under difficult circumstances. I also think my communication skills are top notch. I’m also good at negotiating deals and resolving disputes.”

8. Interview Question: What are your weaknesses?

Tip: Don’t say you don’t have weaknesses. Everyone has. So state one or two weaknesses but try to turn it into a positive.

Answer: “I’m too passionate about my job, and it affects my relationships.”

9. Interview Question: Why do you want to leave your current company?

Tip: Like the question about your boss, don’t say anything bad about your current company.

Answer: “I have spent over five years with KPMG gaining exceptional knowledge of the consulting industry. I am now enthusiastic to apply the knowledge and skills I acquired on the job in a different organization with new opportunities and challenges.”

10. Interview Question: What do you dislike most about your previous role?

Tip: Dangerous question. The interviewer is probing for things that you didn’t previously like and then they can ask a follow on question about why you didn’t like them. Beware of this trap. Turn the question round and give a “model answer”.

Answer: “I would like to avoid the situation in the last role where we had tight deadlines and 3 of my colleagues went off on long term sick. Although we achieved our targets it was only through hard effort, team-work and long hours.”

See how these answers portray you in a good light and turn a negative into a positive. Make sure you have prepared an answer otherwise you could see yourself stumbling!

11. Interview Question: How would You describe your former boss?

Tip: Don’t say anything bad about your former boss.

Answer: “My former boss gives me a high degree of freedom to get along with my job while always being there to assist with difficult or unusual situations – to lend his experience. He is a very hardworking and busy person but finds time to supervise his team, steering us in the right direction and helping us to achieve results we taught were impossible. I still maintain a cordial relationship with him.”

12. Interview Question: What lessons have you learnt from your previous job?

Tip: Another chance to talk about your successes but a truly open ended question. You should talk about your specific skills and experience that you can offer. Remember the skills need to be transferable to the new employer.
A closing statement like the one below will also add value, it will distinguish your answer and elevate your application

Answer: “I have learnt a lot of things as you can imagine. But one point always rings true. Everyone needs to be treated with respect, their opinion should be valued and they should be encouraged to contribute to the good of the organization.”

13. Interview Question: I see from your CV that you have never actually been in this role in any of your previous companies. How are you going to cope?

Tip: Firstly, this is an obvious weakness. Weakness mean risk to an employer and they are looking for re-assurance that you will adapt to the new environment.

Relate your previous experience to similar situations where you moved departments and had a new role or were faced with new technology which you had to learn quickly. Turn this into a positive about “how you are able to adapt to changing circumstances and have a flexible approach. How you pick up new skills quickly. How you enjoy the challenge of the ever changing technology.”

Try to broaden the answer by saying.

Answer: “we are all faced with a fast moving and changing environment which constantly presents new challenges. I have always been able to rise to these and perform effectively despite tight deadlines and little support.”

Importantly, then go on to list examples of similar experiences where you have demonstrated such skills. This should close the issue in the interviewers mind and paint a positive picture.

14. Interview Question: What is your typical working week in hours?

Answer: “I like to think I am an effective and efficient worker who gets through a full workload each week. However there are times when I need to work late and weekends and this is fine. This is often due to uneven demands on my time. I will put whatever effort it takes to complete my role.”

15. Interview Question: What do co-workers say about you?

Tip: Be prepared with one or two favorable quotes from co-workers. Yes! favorable because some people will never say good things about you. Either a specific statement or a paraphrase will be perfect.

Answer: “Marcus Nkwocha, a co-worker at PZ Industries, always said I was the most hard working person he had ever known.”

It is as powerful as Marcus having said it at the interview himself.

16. Interview Question: How much do you expect to Earn?

Tip: Most cases, the employer had already decided your salary, so it won’t make any difference the amount you quote. Just make sure you are not too far from reality.

Answer: “The research I’ve carried out indicates that positions like this one pay N120,000 to N150,000 and something in that range would be acceptable to me as a starting salary.”

17. Interview Question: Describe your dream job.

Tip: In answering this question, lay more emphasis on what you can contribute to the organization rather than what you’ll gain.

Answer: “This is my dream job and that’s the reason I applied for it in the first place. I’m enthusiastic about the prospects of your organization and would like to be part of its success story by contributing my expertise and skills.”

18. Interview Question: Do you have any question for us?

Tip: Don’t make the mistake of telling the interviewer you do not have any questions. Asking questions shows that you have interest in the company. Also, don’t ask questions like “What does this company do?” or “How old is this company?” You are expected to know the answers to these questions if you’ve done your homework properly.

Answer: “If I’m considered for the job, who shall I be reporting to?”

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