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Common Job Interview Questions and Answers: Tips for Success

Interviews, Career Development / Career Growth.   Wednesday, Nov 22, 2023

Amaya G


Between January 2022 and June 2023, nearly 147,000 Sri Lankan have resigned from their jobs in favour of seeking foreign employment with over 24,000 leaving the country each month — which means there are brand new opportunities waiting to be grabbed in the local market! Use this guide to get ready for your next interview, whether you’re wanting to make a change or are just entering the job market for the first time. Explore job interview questions and answers, discover insightful interview questions to ask, and find sample interview questions and answers to equip yourself for success in this evolving professional landscape.

Going on a job interview might feel intimidating but fear not—our in-depth advice will assist you in acing your next interview. We’ll give you the keys to unlock your potential and navigate interviews with confidence, whether you’re a recent graduate trying to land your first job or an experienced professional looking to climb the career ladder.

Now let’s explore how to elegantly handle the most frequently asked interview questions.

Understanding Job Interview Questions

Why are interviews so important? The answer lies in the details: each question is meant to reveal important details about you. Employers are interested in evaluating your skills, knowledge, attitude, and ability to work well in a team. To ensure you’re well-prepared for these critical moments, familiarize yourself with 11 common job interview questions and answers to confidently navigate the interview process.

Common Job Interview Questions

Before we begin, remember, the interview is also two-way street, and having insightful interview questions to ask can leave a lasting impression on the interviewer.

1. Tell Me About Yourself?

Recruiters enjoy learning about their candidates this way.

  • Start off with a clear summary of what you do professionally or your job title as of right now. For instance, “I’m a dedicated project manager with a proven track record of delivering on-time and on-budget.”

  • Talk about the abilities, characteristics, and strengths that have made you a good fit for the position.

  • Talk about your most significant roles, experiences, and achievements that are specifically relevant to the job you’re interviewing for. You can talk about your most recent position as well as any noteworthy duties or accomplishments.

  • To make sure you can respond in two minutes or less, practice your response several times. To help you stick to the time limit, set a timer.

  • End your response with a positive statement that conveys your enthusiasm for this opportunity and your desire to talk about how your abilities can help the company. Be prepared for the possibility that the interviewer may question you further depending on your initial answer. Be ready to go into detail about abilities or experiences.

2. Why do you want to work with us?

Your answer should show that you’ve done your homework about the company, and you like what they stand for and what they do. It’s a way for them to see if you’ll fit in with their culture and if you’re excited about the job. Show your interest and how you connect with the company’s values and goals.

3. What interests you about this role?

They want to know if you’ve given the job requirements a lot of thought and if your career goals and skill set match their requirements. Your response should demonstrate your sincere enthusiasm for the job and your consideration of how it will fit into your professional goals.

4. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Interviewers ask, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” to understand about your own self-awareness and potential fit within the team and role. For example, you might say, “One of my strengths is my strong attention to detail, which helps me catch errors before they become problems.”

Regarding your weaknesses, it is very important to be truthful and identify the areas in which you still need to grow. One could say, “I can become extremely task-focused at times, which may limit my availability for sudden meetings. My goal has been to become more flexible by improving my time management skills.”

5. What are your plans for the future?

Recruiters ask this question or the famous, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” to see if you’d stay committed to them. They want to comprehend your professional goals and how they relate to the job and the organization. They want to know whether you see this position as a first step toward a larger goal or if you’re just looking for a job for the time being.

6. What did you like about your previous job?

Hiring managers love to learn more about your preferences, what motivates you, and to see if those aspects align with the new job. It helps them understand your priorities in a work setting.

7. What did you DISLIKE about your previous job?

Now here’s the trick question. Remember that this is not a therapy session, and the recruiter is not your friend, at least not yet! Hold your tongue and avoid saying anything negative about your previous workplace even if you picture THAT toxic boss. Instead, use this as an opportunity to show off your ability to solve problems and handle challenges. Your response can also illustrate a difficulty you were able to overcome in your previous job. Don’t just state your weaknesses but demonstrate what specifically you are doing to tackle them to grow professionally.

8. What was a work-related challenge you faced and how did you overcome it?

Things just got a little bit more interesting! Here is your one ticket to shine if you demonstrate it well. They are interested in hearing about an actual instance of you handling hardship. Show your capacity to manage challenges and work as a team to accomplish goals. You might get follow up questions on your stress levels at the time and It’s crucial that your response to this question shows personal development because employers want to work with applicants who handle stress well and are open to trying new things.

9. Why would we hire you?

This question gives you the opportunity to discuss how you differ from other applicants and why you are the ideal candidate for the position. Use this opportunity to reinforce your best skills and to also pitch a anything you might have missed about yourself. Remember to practice this answer to come out more confidently. Demonstrate your excitement for the job and the value you can add to the company.

10. What are your salary expectations?

Always research the market value for your position before any interview! Make sure your desired pay is in line with what the company is prepared to give. It helps them in figuring out whether there might be a compensation match. You could reply with a salary range by ensuring that you are also flexible. “I’m seeking a competitive salary between LKR XXX and LKR XXX which also aligns with my qualifications and the industry value for this position. You could also begin the answer by asking if the company has a pre-determined budget for the role. If their offer is lower than your expectation, state that you’d like to negotiate the offer and back up your reasons with evidence.

This response highlights your confidence in your professional worth and your ability to negotiate if necessary.

11. Do you have any questions?

This is your turn to ask questions, because as much as the company is interviewing you, you are interviewing the company too! And this might just be the most important part of any interview! Always come prepared with few questions to ask at the end – never say that you don’t have any questions. Having questions shows that you are genuinely keen about working for the company. You can ask about the company culture, more specifics about your role, about the leadership team etc…

Tips and strategies for answering interview questions

1. Research, Research and RESEARCH!

This is still sadly what most job seekers don’t pay much attention to, and we can’t stress this enough. Look into the company’s mission, values, and most recent news on its website. To fully understand the requirements of the role, familiarize yourself with the job description.

2. Practice, Practice and yes don’t overdo it

It is important to prepare your answers by going over a list of frequently asked interview questions. Include the job description keywords and phrases in your responses. But don’t overwork yourself because this will help you to keep your answers flowing effortlessly.

3. Use the famous STAR method to shine through the interview!

Use the Situation, Task, Action, and Result (STAR) method to help you structure your answers. The STAR approach is usually to be applied when responding to behavioural questions such as “Tell me about a time when…”

Give a concrete example to highlight your abilities and experiences.

4. Be Humble, just not today!

Emphasize your accomplishments, show that you are certainly proud of them especially those that align with the job requirements. Quantify your achievements with numbers and data where possible.

5. Your weaknesses could be your biggest strengths

Show a positive outlook when talking about your weaknesses and emphasize the areas where you’ve made progress. Talk about how you’ve grown as a person and how you’ve learned from your mistakes. Frame your challenges in a positive light. Focus on the solutions and lessons that you have learned.

6. Manage your nervousness

Remember to take deep breaths or listen to a simple guided meditation to help soothe your nerves. This will help you to appear more confident. Also don’t forget that interviews are two-way assessments, and you’re also evaluating the company.

7. Share a Thank-you note

Send a personalized thank-you email to the hiring managers within 24 hours. Express your gratitude for the opportunity and their time. Don’t forget to reiterate your interest.

8. Stay Up to Date with Industry Trends

Be prepared to discuss current industry trends or news related to your field.

Why ask questions?

This shows genuine interest - Asking thoughtful questions during an interview demonstrates genuine interest and signals the candidate’s drive for the role. This shows that they are serious about the position.

Showcase your communication skills - Asking suitable questions will demonstrate your ability to formulate understandable, and brief questions. This is especially helpful for jobs where good communication with stakeholders, clients, or coworkers is necessary.

Clarifies confusions - Applicants can ask questions about any unclear parts of the job description, expectations, or corporate culture. This shows how committed a candidate is to fully grasp the role.

Changes the Conversation - Posing questions can make the interview into a two-way discussion in which applicants take part in the discussion. This shows interest in the conversation and a desire to contribute.

Be Differentiated - Remember, not everyone asks questions! But those who do make a point of standing out from the rest, make an impact on the interviewer and distinguish themself as a more proactive and involved applicant.

Gets the Interview Done Firmly - Concluding the interview with thoughtful questions can make a good impression that lasts. It conveys assurance and provides room for more conversation.

How to face interviews in English

Don’t worry! Many people find it challenging to face job interviews in the English language if it’s not their mother-tongue.

Prepare yourself – First things first. Research the business, the position, and the sector. This will assist you in comprehending the interview questions' context. Practice responding in English to common interview questions. Record yourself on your phone, then listen to the recording. You will be able to catch a lot of mistakes and make big improvements this way. Observe your delivery in front of a mirror as this will help you improve your body language and thus gain more confidence.

Improve your English language skills – My English teacher would always remind us to watch more English movies and listen to English songs and over the years I’ve come to understand why! Since our native language isn’t English, trying to work on our speaking and listening abilities in English by watching the news or movies in English, and speaking in English whenever we can, will support us in improving our English-speaking skills.

Expand your vocabulary – Whenever you’re bored, read the dictionary for fun. You might be surprised on how many new and interesting words you might discover! Also, enhance your English vocabulary by learning job-specific terminology and practicing it in your answers.

Slow down - Talk clearly and slowly. Give your thoughts some time to come to mind. Hasty words can cause misunderstandings.

Engage in Active Listening - Attend closely to the questions posed by the interviewer. If there is anything you don’t understand, always ask for clarification. Effective communication requires attentive listening.

Put Nonverbal Communication to Use - To project confidence and involvement, use the right body language, eye contact, and facial expressions.

Ask for feedback - Ask language experts or native English speakers to help correct your grammar and speaking skills. You can also use google translator by typing out a certain word in the search engine. It’s okay to make mistakes! Gradually, you will become better at it. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right the first few times.

Simplify Your Language - Even though it’s beneficial to increase your vocabulary, don’t use terms or phrases that are too complicated if you’re not entirely comfortable using them. Clear, basic language works better most of the time.

Sample Interview Question and Answer

Let’s look at a sample interview question and answer from a candidate looking for employment in the design industry.

Sample Question: “Tell me about yourself?”

Sample Answer: “Since I was young, I have had a strong passion for art and design. When I was just in primary school, my parents got me a Lego set as a New Year gift. At that moment, I was certain that this is what I always want to do. That is to design and create. I received my bachelor’s degree in interior design and now work for an interior design firm in Colombo. There, I’ve had the opportunity to design both residential and commercial spaces, which has helped me expand my portfolio.

My work at this company has improved my skills in construction and new technology and given me the opportunity to make solid bonds with regional suppliers. I am now familiar with the best practices for building preservation thanks to this experience.”

If you came this far, Congratulations! You might just ace your next big interview.

Remember that the more time you spend preparing, the more confidently you can navigate the interview process and persuade the interviewer that you are, in fact, the best candidate. Equipped with expertise and abilities, you’ll enter interviews feeling confident and ready to succeed. Your future profession is full of opportunities!

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