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“The person who gets the job is not necessarily the best candidate. It’s the person who knows how to best nail the interview! For in the end, employers want to hire individuals they feel will be a good fit for the organization. They hire people they like both personally and professionally.”
– From the book, “Nail the Job Interview!”
Ahh yes, interviews. Nothing induces panic attacks more than waiting for your name to be called and go through a barrage of questions that will determine one thing:
Whether you’ll have money in the next few months/years. You either get the job or you don’t. It spells the difference between spending weeks (and even months) of going through the same grueling process of a job search or a few days of (excitedly) waiting to start a fresh new promising career at a new company.
Which one will it be?
Believe it or not, interviews make or break a career. It’s true. You might have the best resume for the job but if you sound like a condescending jerk during the interview, you can kiss that shiny new workstation goodbye.
See, companies hire people who will be a good fit for their organization, first and foremost. Say you have candidate A and candidate B. Candidate A’s resume looks like he’ll easily manage the job.
Peppered with dozens of skills and achievements, his resume’s bullets look like a line of passengers waiting for MRT. “Siksikan, bes!”, yelled the words on his resume.
Related: How to write a resume
However, come interview time, he arrives late. Answers your questions with a smirk and just a yes or no, glances unendingly on his watch as if he can’t wait for the interview to be over.
On the other hand, there’s candidate B. Her resume, while not as impressive, is decent. She arrived early for the interview, greeted you (interviewer) warmly, and was polite and enthusiastic with all her answers.
Impressively, she managed to answer everything with wit and a positive demeanor. She shook your hand firmly when the meeting was over.
Now, if you’re the interviewer, honestly ask yourself: To whom do you feel like awarding the job?
If it was me, I’d choose candidate B.
Because why would I want to hire candidate A who is a complete jackass? He might be a genius or uber-good at what he does, but at the end of the day, he has to work with other people.
They will be dealing with him on a daily basis. And what will he do to the morale of those other people?
Tear it down to shreds. No one would want to work with him, naturally. Worse, his actions might lead to the resignation of other employees.
So unless he’ll be working by himself in a far-away nuclear silo, I’ll pass.
But that’s just my opinion.
I’m no hiring manager so I’m not an expert. But having experienced working with a fair share of a-holes during my employee days, I can’t help but ask myself, “Why the hell did they hire those arrogant, lazy, condescending sons-of-peaches anyway?
End of rant. On with the more useful parts of this piece.
Things the interviewer want to know about you
Why are there interviews, anyway? Can’t they just hire people based on their resume?
After all, the skills and experience are what counts, right?
Well, as I’ve mentioned in my rant earlier, that’s not true.
Technical capabilities are not enough to win a job. A company takes into consideration the whole package.
What you’re like as a person and as an employee is part of your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
The goal of the interview is to determine the following:
- Your Expertise
- What motivates you
- Your Interpersonal Skills
- Your Decision-making skills
- Your enthusiasm for the job
- Your Likability and personality
Job Interview Tips:
The following is a selection of the best actionable tips you can immediately apply on your next job interview.
Identify and assess your strengths
Evaluate your skills, abilities, and accomplishments.
Imagine you’re a soldier preparing for an attack. You stock up on ammo, naturally. Because without it, you’re just another target on a game of Duck Hunt.
During interviews—skills, abilities, and accomplishments are your bullets. So before you get out there, list them down so you can practice and easily recall them.
This will help you highlight your talents/skills when you answer each question.
Mind their business.
When giving examples, that is. When you can, each answer or example you provide should relate to the nature of the employer’s business.
It will give the impression that your skills and capabilities align with what they’re looking for.
Know more about the company
Check their website.
Know what their mission and vision is, what products/services they provide. This is important. First of all, I don’t think you should be applying at a company you have zero ideas about.
That’s like joining a cult at random and then asking later, “So, who are we worshipping here?”.
Know what business they are in, see if what they do there appeals to your professional goals.
What do former employees think of them?
Sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor will help you do background checks and have better insight on the company you’re applying for.
Have the proper mindset
Me: “Pre kanina ka pa balisa a. May problema ba?
Him: “Interview ko na kasi mamaya e. Kinakabahan ako. Di ko tuloy alam sasabihin”
Me: “Tara pre shot muna tayo pampakalma”.
Me: “Kalma lang pre, wag ka kabahan. Ayaw mo nun next step ka na?”
Him: “Oo nga e pero masyadong big deal to pre e..tindi tuloy ng pressure”
Me: “Ayus lang ma-pressure pre, wag lang masyado. Baka di mo masagot ng tama mga questions. Sayang ang chance.”
Him: Tama ka pre. Tara shot muna nga tayo pampakalma.
Him: Tama ka pre. Maka-pag praktis na nga lang ng isasagot!
Me: Yaaaaaaaan! *gives high five*
Kidding aside, most of us don’t realize how important having the right mindset is prior to doing an interview.
Studies have shown that intense psychological pressure is detrimental to performance.
I can’t count the number of times a free throw was missed by an otherwise excellent shooter simply because of too much pressure (remembers Orlando Magic’s Nick Anderson’s missed free throws in the 1995 NBA Finals versus Houston Rockets).
If you let in too much pressure, sasablay ka.
During interviews, it’s perfectly normal to be nervous. Just not too much. I remember one interview when I was too nervous that my head was literally shaking (a bit).
I ended up spewing answers that sounded absurd, blabbering about unrelated experiences, talking a wee bit too fast.
The ending? I got the classic, “We’ll just contact you in a few days”. Saklap.
In hindsight, what I should have done was be positive and prepared for it.
Why shouldn’t I? I’m basically on the next step, if I do it right, there’s a good chance I’ll get the job.
That’s the goal, isn’t it? Instead of worrying, practice your answers.
Record yourself if you have to. You only have one chance and you have to make it count.
First impression matters, Big time
On the book, “Nail your Interview!”, the authors mentioned that 65-70% of a hiring decision may be based on nonverbal communication.
It means your actions, not words, may account for a big chunk on their decision-making pie.
If you come in late, for example, that’s like saying (implicitly), “This interview is not that important”. Same goes for your whole demeanor during the interview.
If you look or sound bored when you answer, you risk giving the impression that you’re an arrogant a-hole. So what should you do, how should you act?
Here’s a quick “what-you-should-do” list for the interview
On the day of the interview
- Dress appropriately
- Arrive on time
- Give a firm handshake
Have the right body language
- Be calm, stay relaxed
- Don’t rush into answering the question (don’t interrupt the interviewer in the middle of the question)
- Be a great listener, wait for your turn to speak
- Maintain good eye contact
- Maintain proper posture (sit erect and lean slightly forward)
- Smile naturally
Be authentic and true with your answers
- Be prepared for the initial small talk
- Don’t say bad things about previous employers or colleagues
- Be truthful in your answers, don’t make your answers sound scripted
- Avoid simple “Yes” or “No” answers. They should be meaningful and substantial
- Always use active verbs
- If you can, tone down your use of phrases like: “I think”, “I guess”, “I feel” (you risk sounding indecisive)
- Be positive with your answers
- Ask meaningful and related questions
Always be closing (selling yourself)
- Subtle yet clear
- Highlight your best traits and achievements
- Make it sound that you’ll be a great fit for the company
- Have a positive and can-do vibe
- Ask when to follow-up
After the interview
- List details/notes about the interview: Name and position of interviewer, info about the job (duties, salary), and anything else related. Helps in making follow-ups
- Follow-up after decision date has passed
The Most Common Job Interview Questions and Answers
Here we’ve listed 50 of the most common interview questions. Word of advice though, don’t attempt to memorize what you’ll be reading here. You answers will sound canned. Rather, use these to familiarize yourself with the types of questions they can throw at you.
It’s like a teacher telling his class, “All questions on the exam will be based on Chapters 3 and 4”.
Like any good student, you’ll read through those chapters and anticipate the most important and related questions that will likely appear in the test.
And to help you have a consistent and solid approach to answering each question, we’ll use a tried and tested method: the S.T.A.R formula.
The S.T.A.R FORMULA
It’s a simple and effective way of structuring your answers for the best possible results:
S – Situation (i.e event/challenge)
T – Task (i.e Responsibilities/Assignment)
A– Action (i.e Steps you took)
R – Results
So how do you use the STAR formula you ask? Simple, use it like a storytelling guide. To help you understand, let’s see it in action:
Question: Tell me about the time when there was a problem in your previous/current job and how you helped solve it?
Using the STAR formula, your answer should look something like this:
(S)ituation – “One time a colleague got sick for a full week. He can’t go to work.”
(T)ask – “My boss asked me to manage my co-worker’s load while he’s away.”
(A)ction – “I was hesitant at first because I had a full plate myself, but I knew his clients would need help and may have important questions while he’s gone. The first 2 days were hard, I had to render overtime for at least 2 hours after work. On day 3, however, I managed to develop a better system for managing my workflow. I blocked the first few hours of the day for handling Urgent-Important tasks (for both his load and mine), the afternoons were spent doing tasks required to push big projects forward and the rest of day was spent fielding normal client issues and concerns. I dedicated specific hours of the day for making calls only. It helped me focus my energies and time to more important tasks. I also made sure his email/voicemail alerts were set accordingly to prevent additional pile up on his plate when he comes back.
(R)esult – “When my colleague came back, he was surprised he had very little backlog. He said he can’t thank me enough. My boss on the other hand, congratulated me for going above and beyond. He even sent an email to managers from other teams about what I did. Ultimately, however, the best thing I picked up from that experience was that I was able to push myself beyond my comfort zone and achieve better efficiency.
Cool, huh? While not always applicable to each question, the STAR formula can help you structure your answer for better coherence and highlights your accomplishments.
Top 50 most commonly asked interview questions
As promised, here are the top 50 most commonly asked interview questions. As a bonus, we placed some notes to help you answer the top 10.
#1 “Tell Me About Yourself”
Don’t talk about non-work related stuff. Focus on highlighting skills and qualities that are required to succeed in the role you’re applying for
#2 “Describe Your Current Job Responsibilities”
Pick duties and roles that reflect your strengths and aligns most with what they’re looking for.
#3 “What duties in your present/most recent job do you find it difficult to do?”
Perfect use for the STAR formula! Mention tasks and duties, not people. End it with how you managed to handle the situation.
#4 “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”
They’re expecting a negative question here. Pick something that doesn’t sound too negative and can end on a positive note. For example: “My previous job didn’t present enough challenges. After a while, things became too repetitive for me. I thrive on challenging myself and improving.”
#5 “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”
Mention the company’s vision and how it relates with your best traits. “The company’s passion for doing (insert business here) matches my strengths and goals. I want to be part of this vision.”
#6 “What Are Your Strengths?”
Whatever your mention here, it should directly relate to the company’s needs.
#7 “What Is Your Greatest Weakness?”
The secret to answering this tricky question is this: Mention a weakness that will ultimately sound like a strength. “I always take too many projects which leads me to little progress on each. I’ve since learned to value the importance of focus. To accept only projects that I know I can truly bring to fruition and success.
#8 “Tell me about the time when there was a problem in your previous/current job and how you helped solve it?”
See our sample scenario on the SMART formula.
#9 “Why Should We Hire You?”
Time to boast about yourself a bit. Here’s how it could sound like: “I assume you’re looking for someone with vast experience on (insert specialty here). I’ve been a (related profession) for 5 years and I’ll be using what I learned there to help improve your processes and bring in more revenue for your business.”
#10 “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”
Keep your answer employer-focused. Make your professional goals sound aligned with the company’s growth. For example, “I would like to bring at least a 30% increase in my department’s average annual revenue. I want to have our team play a big role in bringing in more clients for our business”
And here’s the rest of the questions. Familiarize yourself with them and practice the STAR method when applicable!
- What is Your Management Style?
- What are the two things you would like to improve about yourself?
- What are some of the reasons for your success?
- Describe your typical workday.
- Tell me about an ongoing responsibility in your current/most recent job that you enjoyed.
- Do you ever lose your temper?
- How do you deal with stressful situations?
- How do you feel about working overtime and on weekends?
- How well do you work under deadlines?
- How do you feel about the contributions you made to XYZ corporation?
- What do you wish you had accomplished in your present/most recent job but were unable to?
- What will you bring to this position that another candidate won’t?
- How do you get along with your superiors?
- How do you get along with your co-workers?
- How do you manage your subordinates?
- How do you feel about working with superiors who may be less intelligent or competent than you?
- Do you prefer working with others or alone?
- How do others view your work?
- How do you normally deal with criticism
- Do you consider yourself a risk taker? Could you give examples of risks taken in previous jobs?
- Do you consider yourself to be someone who takes greater initiative than others?
- Are you a self-starter? Could you give examples?
- What is the most important thing you’ve learned from the jobs you’ve held?
- What really motivates you to perform?
- Why do you want to work for us?
- Why have you changed jobs so frequently? Why would you be more likely to stay here?
- Why do you want a job you are overqualified for?
- Are you willing to take a cut in pay from your present/most recent job? Why?
- How important is job security?
- How long do you expect to stay with our company?
- How do you define success?
- Tell me about your career goals.
- What would you like to accomplish during the next ten years?
- Describe a major goal you set for yourself recently.
- What are you doing to achieve that goal?
- Have you ever thought of switching careers?
- What are some of your leadership experience?
- What have you learned from all the previous roles you handled?
- What’s the most important thing you look for in a company?
- When would you be available to start?
10 Things you should NOT do in a job interview
1. Arrive late for the interview
2. Not properly dressed for the interview
3. Be too negative about previous employers
4. Look unfocused or bored
5. Give short or incomplete answers
6. Be too nervous
7. Canned answers, too scripted
8. Sound defensive when asked about work background
9. Poor eye contact
10. Show no knowledge about the company or position you’re applying for
Ready to take the next steps? Check out our lists of
- The top 20 high-paying home-based online jobs in the Philippines.
- Top 10 most in-demand jobs in the Philippines