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How to have a good job interview

Unemployment is at an all time high in South Africa. The job market is therefore extremely competitive. Now, more than ever, it is important to ace a job interview.

Here are 10 of the most common questions asked in a job interview.

Question 1: Tell me about yourself?

  • Interviewers are not looking for your entire life story. They’re looking to understand what you know and what you’ve done, particularly as it relates to the job you’re interviewing for.
  • Briefly share details about how you got to where you are today. Tie in those experiences to the skills you have that are relevant to the position.
  • Keep it brief, but be prepared to elaborate if the interviewer needs you to.
  • Be passionate and eager when answering this question.

Question 2: What is your greatest strength?

With this question the interviewer is testing your confidence and looking to see what qualifies you for the role.

  • Study the job description carefully before the interview, and make sure that you can talk about the “must have” or “required” skills as part of this strengths conversation.
  • Good character traits to include here would be attention to detail, passion, dedication and always wanting to learn more.
  • Be confident and assertive. You have to believe in yourself if you expect others to.

Question 3: What is your greatest weakness?

With this question, the interviewer is looking to see if you’re open to criticism and have a desire to improve.

  • Stay away from personal qualities and rather concentrate on professional traits.
  • Think about skills that you’ve been trying to improve or that you’ve made progress with recently.
  • Regardless of your weakness, let the interviewer know you’re currently working on turning the negative i.e. weakness into a positive.

Everyone has flaws, and saying you don’t will come across as cocky, and will in all likelihood lead to rejection.

Question 4: Why should we hire you?

Don’t answer: “Because I really need a job.” This will make it seem like you don’t really care about their particular company or their particular product.

  • Interview time is limited. Rather sell yourself and make yourself stand out from the pack.
  • Prepare for the interview by creating a short, detailed sales pitch explaining why you deserve the job.
  • Emphasise what makes you unique to build confidence in the interviewer’s decision to hire you.

Question 5: What’s something positive your boss would say about you?

The interviewer is looking to see what kind of relationships you’ve built with your managers and your team.

  • Interviewers will typically use this question to get an impression about how you may fit in with their team.
  • This is a great time to brag about yourself with someone else’s words.
  • Start with, “My boss has told me that…” so that it’s clear you understand the question.

Stay humble and refrain from sounding arrogant.

Question 6: What are your salary expectations?

The interviewer is looking to see what you’re currently making and if it’s within their budget.

  • It may seem like a simple question, but your answer can make or break a job offer.
  • Prepare for this question by doing some research about job-related salaries.
  • Keep a number in mind by understanding the local going rates and your bottom line.

What pay rate would you accept and walk away from?

Question 7: Why are you leaving (or have you left) your previous job?

The specific reasons for your leaving are often less important to the interviewer than how you conduct yourself when discussing it.

  • The interviewer is often looking to see if you speak ill of your former employer and/or left on good terms.
  • Whatever you do, don’t speak badly of your current or former employer. That is one of the quickest ways to ensure that you don’t get the job you are interviewing for.

Question 8: Why do you want this job?

The interviewer is looking to see if you’ll be a good fit with the company and if you have specific goals for your career.

  • Be specific about why you’re a great fit for the role.
  • Mention aspects of the company that appeal to you along with your short- and long-term goals.
  • Reiterate your commitment to the interviewer prior to finishing the interview.

Question 9: What are your future goals?

The interviewer is looking for commitment and motivation.

  • Be sure to do some research on the company so that you can align your answer with their vision.
  • Focus on your career goals that align with the company.
  • Demonstrate your understanding of the company’s mission, and how you can find your place there.
  • If there is a clear promotion path available that you’re interested in, feel free to mention it.

Question 10: Describe a difficult work situation and how you overcame it.

The interviewer is looking for some insight about how you problem-solve and how you handle a challenge.

  • Share how you’ve handled a tough situation with big implications


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