Classic Interview Questions and How To Handle Them
There are some classic pairings that never get old.
Like chips and dip, or wine and cheese — or these classic interview questions and their best answers!
But while these questions are the “golden oldies” of interviews, it never hurts to give them a fresh look. And today, we’ll be doing just that!
So grab the chips, pull up a seat, and let’s get started!
“Why did you leave your last job?”
This one can be a bit trickier if you are currently still employed and looking to move on.
And the trick is that even though you may be leaving because of a negative reason, it’s crucial to focus on the positive things you want to achieve in the future.
The way you talk about your past employer(s) shows your potential employer how you might one day talk about them to others, and also how you handle tough situations.
For instance, if you are quitting because of a stressful workload, telling your recruiter that might make them think you can’t handle hard work, or that you can’t manage stress. And focusing on why you are leaving one employer, instead of why you want to work well for a new one, will make them question your dedication to staying with the new company.
So instead of talking about the past, focus on the future! Explain the ways you are looking to grow, and improve, and how you look forward to having that opportunity with your new employer.
“Tell us a little about yourself”
This question usually comes up early on in an interview. And while it may seem like a personal question, the key is to answer professionally!
First of all, you’ll need to keep your answer brief. They aren’t looking to get a whole biography, or a repeat of what’s on your resume and cover letter. What they’re looking for is a summary of your skills and experience, and what makes your application unique over other candidates.
You can include a friendly, personal message, but the main thing is to use this open-ended question to discuss your unique value as an applicant.
For example, if you were applying to be a dog walker, you could say something like “I love dogs, in fact I have 2 dogs myself! I have also worked in pet care for 5 years, from pet grooming to professional dog shows, which gives me a well-rounded wealth of experience in handling all types of breeds and personalities.”
Notice how the focus is on your life experience as it relates to the job, but is also upbeat and positive with a little personal story thrown in? Try to balance your own answer like this, and don’t just tell them about yourself — tell them why you are perfect for the job!
“What is your greatest weakness?”
If you’re not careful with your answer to this one, the question might as well be “tell me why I SHOULDN’T hire you”.
First things first, never tell them you don’t have any weaknesses. While you might think this makes you seem like a stronger candidate, it usually just makes people question your honesty.
Everyone has flaws, the key here is to find something that can also be seen as a positive.
As an example, let’s say you are applying for a very technical position that requires a lot of detailed analysis and problem solving. You could say that your flaw is “I can get too absorbed in what I’m doing” or “I have a tendency to fixate on the little details”.
This shows that you are self-aware enough to report your own flaws, but also that you might be able to fixate on the tasks at hand without getting distracted.
It’s also a good idea to say something about how you’re working to fix your flaw. That way you don’t just seem like you’re self-aware, but also that you care about self-improvement.
“Riddle me this…”
For a long time now, riddles or logic puzzles have been a mainstay in the job application process.
Microsoft was famous for their quirky questions like “why is a manhole cover round?”, which often baffled the IT professionals who thought they were just there to talk about computers.
Please note that these questions are not usually meant to have a right or wrong answer. But that doesn’t mean that all answers are equal.
It’s okay to sound out your answer in front of the recruiter. In fact, what they are looking for is your reasoning and analytical skills. They care more about how you arrive at your answer rather than what your answer is. Sort of like showing your work on a math test.
No matter how ridiculous the question seems, give a serious reply to the best of your abilities. For example, if they ask you “how many marshmallows can you fit inside a bus?” your reply could simply be “it depends on if they’re squished or not!” or “half as many as can fit on a double decker bus!”
Or you could work out an estimate based on how big the average marshmallow is, and how much space you think there is on a bus, or even how you would go about getting those measurements. The main thing is, show them you are capable of looking at a problem from interesting angles.
“What questions do you have for us?”
Never go into an interview empty handed. Always have some questions to ask that show you are confident, and serious about the job.
Now, this doesn’t mean asking questions that make it look like you didn’t do your research. If the answer to your question is something you could have found on the internet with a 30 second search, DON’T ask them when you meet in person.
That includes things like “when did the company open its doors?” and “who is the current CEO?”, etc.
You definitely should ask anything that fills a gap in your knowledge about the position. So if you still haven’t been told things like where you’d be working, the hours, the salary, or anything that was missing from the job posting, then start there. You should always make sure you know what you need to know to make an informed decision about accepting a job.
Beyond that, good questions to ask focus on company culture and values. Show them that you care about being a good match for their team by asking things like “what would your staff say is their favourite part of working here?” or even just “how would you describe your company culture?”
Interviews are always evolving, but some things never change — like these classic interview questions!
Or how META never stops offering amazing free services to get you interview-ready today! Book your appointment to get help with every part of job searching, from applying, to interviewing, to taking your next great step in your career!