News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay  » Getahead » Personal interview FAQs and their answers

Personal interview FAQs and their answers

June 25, 2009 13:36 IST

Kshipra Singh

Now that you know what mistakes to avoid during an interview here are top 10 most commonly asked questions during an interview and how to answer them impressively.

1. Tell me something about your self

This is usually the first question you face in an interview. The purpose of this question is to:

a) Put the candidate at ease and
b) Initiate a discussion.

The answer to this question should cover a little information about your work experience, educational qualifications and family background.  Your answer to this question can help you take the interview in whichever direction you want.  The key to this is to put a full stop to your answer at the right place to provoke the second question you want.

Illustrations: Dominic Xavier

Author is a contributor to, a website that offers answers to technical and non-technical questions asked in an IT interview. 

2. Why have you applied for this job?

A good way to answer this question in practical way is to talk about the requirements of the job, relate your skills and experience to it.  To do this, you need to carefully go through the job requirements and ask yourself how your skills fit into the requirement.

Your CV will be your best companion to identify your skills and match them with the requirements.

It won't be much helpful to talk about the career, progression and the challenges this job offers.

3. Why do you want to leave your present job or why did you leave your last job?

You can switch jobs for numerous reasons which can be you are not happy with your profile, you don't get well along with your boss, the salary they pay is less etc. The key to this question lies in 3Es.

When asked this question, you can simply say : for better prospects in terms of experience, exposure and earnings.

In current market situation, lay offs are common everywhere and owing to them people are looking out for jobs. If this is the case with you, chose your words carefully so that you do not leave an impression that it was only you who was laid off.

You can say something like: As you know, in the current economic situation, almost everybody is trying to cut costs. A lot of restructuring has been happening in my company also over the last X months and finally "Y" jobs were made redundant. One of them was mine. Leave the answer here with out giving too much importance to the fact that you were "laid off". It can happen with anyone and need not necessarily be your fault.

4. What is your greatest strength?

Take this question as "Why should we hire you?"

Sell them a strength or two which they are ready to buy. It can be anything directly related to the requirements of job under discussion.

Identify the qualities the job needs a person to have and how your skills fit into them. To do this you will need to:

  • Understand the requirements of the job
  • Identify your skills and match the two

  • 5. What is your greatest weakness?

    There are three ways to answer this question depending on the environment in which the discussion is going on. Understand the environment and use one of them:

    Use your sense of humor and say something cool like "movies". This has to be accompanied by a right body language. This method would work if the discussion is going on in a light environment.

    If you need to answer this question seriously offer a weakness which doesn't relate to the job immediately under discussion. It would be foolish to say that "I am slow at taking notes or typing" if you are applying for a secretarial job.

    If you have applied for a job in marketing and you do not know cooking properly, you can say something like I have been using a microwave since last two years but I still can't bake a good cake.

    Turn your weakness into your strength: frame your words in a way that they convey, others accuse you of having this weakness but you actually treat it as your strength. For example: my friends accuse me of being too people friendly but I think being in marketing I need to develop a good social network and I think this people friendliness takes me a long way.

    6. You have switched many jobs, why?

    Switching many jobs makes you a job hopper and gives an impression that the candidate is unreliable.

    To answer this question, you can say something like to broaden your experience.

    7. You do not have all the experience we are seeking for this position

    It is not necessary that the candidate who knows everything about the job would be the best fit for the job. It is the person's willingness to learn which matters more.

    Understand the job requirements properly and if you meet most of the requirements, you can say that you meet most of the requirements and you will be happy to learn whatever you don't know.

    Moreover, there might be some new things in the job in future and your willingness to learn will help you do the job well. You can accompany this with an example where you learnt new things and implemented them successfully in the past.

    8. Where do you see yourself five years from now?

    The purpose of this question is to understand how ambitious the candidate is.

    You can say something like, I see myself in a more responsible position where I can make important decisions for the company and am treated as an asset. I hope I can get both these things in this job.

    9. Your expected salary?

    This is the trickiest question in the interview to answer.

    Try not to be the first one to throw a figure in the court. Ask the interviewer, what is it that they offer for a position like this? Know your baseline below which you can't go and try to negotiate above that. Also, make sure that you know your market value so that you do not try to negotiate too much and finally lose the opportunity.

    If you have to give a figure, mention a range rather than the exact figure and don't keep the range too broad. If you offer a very broad range, you will be offered something towards the lower end. Say something like: I'll be comfortable with something around mid-forties.

    10. Do you want to ask us something about the company?

    Don't come out like a dumb when you are given an opportunity to ask questions.

    Research a bit about the company and ask some intelligent questions like the expansion plan, opportunity for you to grow in the company, anything for which the company has been in news recently etc.