If only you knew the questions you would be asked at an interview. It would have put you a little at ease. 

Interviews are unpredictable. 

It depends on the job role you are applying for. It also depends on the industry you specialise in. 

You may be faced with a one-on-one, highly formal question-answer session. Or, it could be an informal discussion between the hiring manager and you. 

You never know what you are in for until you walk into the interview. Nevertheless, here is a list of the 7 commonly asked interview questions. Also, find tips on how to answer them smartly. 

1. Tell Me About Yourself 

This is the “compulsory” interview question. Also, the one most candidates mess up. 

We think speaking about oneself is easy. But, at an interview, you realise you find yourself tongue-tied. 

For this question, the interviewer expects you to explain why you are the best candidate for the job. Mention the skills, training and qualifications that may serve as assets for the role. 

Give a brief overview of your employment history. You can mention about a past job, how you’ve grown, your current role and the responsibilities it entails. A good thing to do here is to talk about your future goals and how the position you are applying for aligns with them. 

2. How did you learn about this position? 

You may have heard of the vacancy from different sources - an acquaintance, friend, former colleague, job board, or professional network like LinkedIn. 

Name the contact or the source, but don’t stop just there. Let the hiring manager know the reasons the job role interested you. It is also a good place to mention why you want to work with the company. 

That brings us to our next commonly asked interview question. 

3. Why do you want to work here? 

Hiring managers are on the lookout for passionate employees, not just an individual looking to take up a job. 

Answering this question requires prep. Research the company. Understand the values that drive the organisation, its past growth and future goals. 

You have to be able to convey to the hiring manager that your values resonate with the company’s mission. Talk about how you’ve watched the company grow and could be able to contribute to the same. 

The answer should be specific to the company. It tells the hiring manager that you’ve studied the company and are truly interested. It is not just a job you are applying for. 

4. Why should we hire you? 

Believe it or not. A hiring manager receives approximately 100 applications for a job position. Most have similar qualifications and a good amount of experience. 

Bottomline: You have to sell yourself. 

It can get tricky. You don’t want to come across as proud and boastful and neither as someone lacking confidence. 

Approach the question in this way. Talk about how you go beyond the given responsibilities to deliver results, and how your skills and personality match the company culture. 

Give concrete examples. Employers are looking for candidates who can boost sales, save money, streamline processes, and improve branding. Think back to specific situations where your past company has benefitted from your expertise. 

Be confident with your response. You can also re-read the job description to better understand the company’s expectations for the specific job role. 

5. Your Strengths and Weaknesses 

Strengths are easy to list, but weaknesses not so. 

Candidates make the mistake of mentioning every positive adjective they can think of as a strength. Avoid that. 

Think of a few in advance. Have stories or anecdotes to back them up. For instance, if your company deals with escalations in payments, explain how your problem solving attitude has helped. You could speak of how a calm demeanour helps complete tasks in high pressure situations. 

Talk about only those strengths that are relevant to the job. 

When a prospective employer asks about your weaknesses, they expect an honest self-assessment. Give them that. 

For weaknesses, talk about a professional skill or trait rather than a personal one. Don’t complain. Always share how you are trying to improve on it. 

6. Why are you leaving your current job?

This is a question you will definitely get asked if you are currently employed and looking for a switch.  

For whatever reasons you are changing your job, remember to keep it positive. Do not criticize an employer or company. Justify a change of job as a search for a better opportunity. 

This interview question might take a slightly different turn if you were terminated or fired. Be honest in your reply. If your layoff was a result of downsizing or a merger, mention that to the hiring manager. If it was because of a performance review, you could tell them about it too. However, emphasize how you have upskilled thereafter. 

7. What are your salary expectations? 

There are two major motivations for a job change - satisfaction and pay package. For most, it is the second. As you upgrade your skills and gain experience, you definitely want a better CTC. 

A hiring manager will ask this question when they start the salary negotiations. You can answer this question as follows. 

You should find out the current CTC for the role in your area. It will give you an idea of what to ask for - a reasonable amount. You could also politely twist the question to ask the employer the scale they would be willing to pay for the role. 

If you cannot do that, you need to think up a figure. Consider your current pay. Look up online for salary ranges for the job role, the company and location you are applying for. It will help you come up with a fair figure you can present to the employer. 

In addition to all the common interview questions listed above, an interviewer could also ask you situation specific questions. For instance, how would you deal with a disagreement or conflict, if you ever made a mistake at work and how did you correct it, what type of a leader you are, your work and management style, or strategies to deal with stress and high-pressure situations. 

It is always a great idea to prepare for an interview. However, at the end of it also about being a good listener and thinking on your feet. If you keep this in mind, the next job offer could be yours.