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10 common job interview questions and how to answer them

Interviews are like first dates – nerve-wracking, but way less romantic. Don’t worry; a bit of prep time and you’ll be smooth sailing. Here’s your cheat sheet for tackling 10 frequently thrown interview questions.

  1. Could you tell me about yourself and describe your background in brief? In other words: Who the heck are you?

Craft a mini-story about yourself that’s so good, that it deserves popcorn. Start the story by talking about your past. The middle should be suspenseful and emotional then the end should be about why you should hired.

For example, you can say “Grew up in Musanze. At the time there were not many schools I could go to to become the best, but I thought I should create opportunities for myself so I would apply to courses online and watch tutorials and I became good at coding.”

  1. How did you hear about this position?

Name-drop if someone sang praises about this job to you. If you stalked this job online, spill the beans about why this place caught your fancy. You have to make them think you already like the place before even joining the team.

If you sought out the role yourself, be clear about what caught your eye — extra bonus points if you can align your values with the company and its mission. You want to convince the hiring manager that you chose their company, over all other companies, for a few specific reasons.

  1. Your dream workspace vibe/environment?

Did your homework, right? Play matchmaker between their culture and your preferences.

For example, you can say “I Love collaborating and co-dreaming with the team. Worked in a similar environment before, and it was incredible!”

  1. Stress? How do you deal with it?

Let’s be honest certain jobs can be very stressful, Share that one time you kept your cool when the world was on fire.

If it’s a skill you’re developing, acknowledge that and include the steps you’re taking to respond better to pressure in the future. For example, you could indicate that you’ve started a mindfulness practice to help you better deal with stress.

For example, you can say, “Once we were about to miss a deadline and there was still much to be done but I advised a team we each take one task at a time which made us work faster and meet a deadline.”

  1. Loner or leader?

You don’t want to sound too self-advertising which they might interpret really badly. It is preferable to say that you are a little bit of both.

For example say, “I love brainstorming with the team and letting everyone give their opinions, but I also like figuring out my way and path.”

  1. When you’re balancing multiple projects, how do you keep yourself organized?

Spill your secret sauce on multitasking. For example “Timeboxing is my magic wand. Helps keep the chaos in check.”

  1. What did you do in the last year to improve your knowledge?

Whether you learned a new skill finally worked on something you enjoyed or took up an extra course, share your story.

  1. What are your salary expectations? In other words: What is your price?

This question can come off as a bit tricky. You do not want to say a low price or ask for a bit too much. You have to trick them into answering the question themselves.

For example, you can say, “ I expect to get the Market value for this role.” You can even return the question by asking the employers, “Given the skills and duties required for this job, how much would you allocate for it?”

  1. Are you applying for other jobs?

Be honest. Are they the only fish in your sea or just one in the swimming pool? Interviewers want to know if you’re genuinely interested in this position or if it’s just one of your many options. Honesty is the best policy.

  1. From your resume it seems you were not working for this certain period. Would you like to tell us why that was?

Provide a short explanation of why you were not working for a certain time. You can say that you got unemployed but used the time to become a confident professional.

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