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9 Most Common Interview Questions and Answers and the intent behind asking them

We are never enough prepared for an interview. As part of your preparation, you would definitely want to know some of the most popular interview questions and how to respond to them.

It is important to know the intent of the interviewer behind asking certain questions. Once you know that, you can structure your response in a convincing manner.

Here are the 9 most common interview questions and how best to answer them:

1. Tell me about yourself

This will be the 1st question of the interview, so write and prepare it, do mirror practice, and make sure it is no longer than 1 minute.

The intent behind the question:
  • To understand your overall profile
  • Your experience, education, achievements
  • Your Communication Skills
  • Your Present-Past-Future (behavior patterns)
  • A logical flow of thought

How to respond:

  • Maintain eye contact and a positive body language
  • Include relevant experience, projects, and education
  • Don’t include strengths or weaknesses unless asked
  • Family details not required unless asked
  • Say “I am..<full name>”, avoid “Myself”

2. Why do you want to leave your current job?

The intent behind the question:
  • Your career aspirations
  • How you make decisions
  • Your stability and ambition
  • Research-based approach rather than an escapist attitude

How to respond:

  • Don't complain about your current or previous companies
  • It should also not sound like an escape from the current situation
  • Your thorough research about the company and reading through the JD should feed into this answer
  • Give a forward-looking answer in a positive way
  • Explain how in the new role you will be able to contribute more

3. Why should we hire you?

The intent behind the question:
  • To know your personal and professional aspirations
  • Have you thoroughly researched the profile and company you are applying for?
  • How you connect your skills/strengths to the results you produce

How to respond:

  • Mention your core skills and strengths
  • Connect them to the job you are applying for
  • Focus on how you can create value in their existing system
  • Mention 1-2 things you could do immediately after joining, let’s say in the next 3 months

4. Describe a key project. Highlight the challenges you faced and how you handled them.

The intent behind the question:
  • Your role in the project
  • Your technical expertise
  • Are you a problem solver
  • Creativity and process orientation
  • How you work with other people, team player

How to respond:

  • If it was a team project, don’t say I did it, say we did this project
  • Include a successful project that was neither too long nor too short
  • Don’t mention conflicts that you had with other people, mention the technical or process challenges you faced and how you found solutions
  • Mention how others supported or mentored you, it shows your humility

5. What does a typical day look like for you?

The intent behind the question:
  • Planning and prioritization
  • Your passion and motivation
  • How productive you are
  • Are you ready to manage more responsibility?

How to respond:

  • Don’t share either a very busy day or a very easy day
  • Share an average day where you are occupied for most of the time and have produced a few results
  • Share key deliverables in your profile rather than occasional projects that you worked on
  • Be very specific and keep this answer short and crisp
  • Not necessary to include what you do apart from work

6. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

The intent behind the question:
  • Strengths that are relevant to the job
  • Awareness and acceptance of weaknesses
  • Examples where you displayed strengths
  • How you manage your weaknesses

How to respond:

  • Have 3 strengths ready with 1 example of each, share only 2 at first, share 3rd if asked for more
  • Strengths you pick must be related to the job
  • Have 2 weaknesses and an action plan on them (what are you doing for improving them)
  • If pressed for more than 2 weakness, you can say it is a continuous process
  • Weakness shall be easily manageable and not a hindrance to the job you are applying for

7. What are your interests/hobbies?

The intent behind the question:
  • Are you a holistically developed person
  • Whether you waste your weekends idling or learn something
  • What are your priorities and how you de-stress
  • Your hobbies don't become a distraction to the job

How to respond:

  • Develop a real hobby, and not like listening to music
  • Pick a musical instrument, or play a sport, or get involved in social work
  • Share the hobby and how it helped you grow personally
  • Share any achievements if you have while pursuing that hobby

8. What would you do on day 2 of your job here?

The intent behind the question:
  • Are you looking for comfort or to create value?
  • Have you thoroughly researched the profile and company you are applying for
  • How you connect your skills/strengths to the output you produce
  • Your vision for the role
  • Are you pragmatic or only dreamy?

How to respond:
  • Mention 1-2 things that would hit the ball running
  • Don’t overboard with extravagant promises or big achievements
  • Focus on how you would create value for the end customer
  • Include your core skills and how you will start using them

9. Any questions for me?

The intent behind the question:
  • Your in-depth understanding of the role
  • Whether you seek clarity than making assumptions
  • Logical approach
  • Are you prepared well enough for the interview

How to respond:

  • Don’t ask for the sake of asking, politely say “No questions as of now”
  • If you have a question, keep it related to the role and the company
  • Value the experience and skills of the interviewer and ask them for their opinion on the question
  • You can also seek feedback about yourself

Summary and final tips

  1. Do proper research on the role and the company
  2. Read about the industry the company is in
  3. Always state real-life examples to validate your skills and strengths
  4. Focus on creating value and contribution, not what you want
  5. Be Honest
  6. Practice every day and don’t just wait for the night before the interview
  7. Deep breathe when stuck, it really gives your brain some thinking fuel
  8. Be polite and respectful, the interviewer may try to test your patience and emotional control

Don't forget to go through the Ultimate Pre-Interview Checklist a day before the interview.

Do share any other questions that you were asked in an interview in the comments section below and we will share how to best respond to them.

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