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Interview Tips: How to Ace the Commonly Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked interview questions and tips on how to answer them.

So, you finally got a reply from your dream company — they arranged an interview next week to learn more about you and how you can contribute to the company. All you need to do is be yourself and answer the questions posed to you as honestly as you can, right?

Alas, that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Nailing a job application interview takes more than just some sincere and honest answers about how suitable you are for the role, and why you should be given the position. The first interview is the perfect time to set an excellent first impression on your potential employers. It showcases who you are as an individual and gives the interviewers some insight into how you can contribute to the company, and whether you are the right fit for the corporation.

Moreover, it gives the interviewers a brief indication about whether or not you’ll be able to fit in with their team and company values. It can be easy to get overwhelmed and find yourself at a loss for words at job interviews, whether it is your first or your 10th. You are not alone. Thankfully, practice makes perfect. Thinking of possible interview questions and coming up with drafted answers, can make a world of difference! However, it is important that you do enough research and thinking to ensure that you do not use one-size-fits-all model answers, that the interviewers have heard before.

In this article, we have compiled a list of the top interview questions in Singapore identified by HR experts for you to prepare for, ahead of your next job interview. On the other hand, these are not model answers you can find anywhere on the internet because we’ll help you add your own spin. We will also share some tips and tricks from our experts about how you can craft the best answers, with a touch of personality and professionalism, to make you stand out from the rest of the candidates for all the right reasons.

However, be sure to do your own research about the company and what the job demands. This way, you can feel more prepared for the interview.

Find out how WSG’s Career Matching Services can help you in your career journey.

“Tell me about yourself.”

This may seem like an innocuous question, but it is a good chance for you to show your interviewer that you are the perfect fit for the job. Typically, this is one of the first questions every interviewer will ask at the start of the interview. Tell your interviewer more about your academic history, employment information and interests. Be careful not to waffle and, instead, align your answer to the position you are applying for as many as possible.

Also, avoid disclosing personal and private information that is irrelevant to the company, and the role you are applying for. For instance, if you are applying for a job in the fashion industry, you would want to give a background about how you first found your passion for fashion and style, and any work experience that is related to this industry. Talk about your involvement in the industry and mention how familiar you are with the industrial lingo and jargon. Refrain from regaling your interviewer with tales of your primary school experience or your hometown, as these accounts do not add value to your resume. It might even bore the interviewer! Try not to give too many miscellaneous details about yourself unless the interviewer probes.

Do not limit yourself to just talking about your work experience and qualifications — your interviewer can easily find all that information from your Curriculum Vitae (CV). Instead, try to include examples of what you enjoy doing outside of work, but make sure these examples are relevant to the job you are applying for. This way, your interviewers will get a sense of how informed you are about the industry. It is also a good opportunity to showcase your passion for the job and the industry. For instance, if you are applying for a job in the technology industry, it may be helpful for you to talk about how you enjoy keeping up-to-date with the latest tech gadgets, and the various programming projects you take part in during your free time.

You can also cite the latest news you read on tech blogs and your comments and opinions about them. Try to get involved in the latest happenings to exhibit your proactiveness and interest in the field.

“What are your strengths/weaknesses?”

This is where research about the company and the job description comes in. Think about what type of characteristics would best suit the position you are applying for and pick two or three that relate to you. For instance, if you are applying for a job as a business analyst, be sure to let your interviewer know that your strength lies in critical thinking, problem-solving, detail-oriented, and good communication.

However, make sure that you do not over-sell your strengths – as it could come off as overconfident and boastful. Use evidence from past experiences to back up your strengths. For instance, share how your skills as a team player had helped you lead a team to victory and success in the past. On the other hand, talking about your weaknesses can be tricky. The key here is to be as honest as possible and demonstrate self-awareness and a desire to improve yourself.

Remember that everyone is imperfect – everyone has flaws but what sets you apart is how you use your flaws to your advantage. Bear in mind that your weakness should not be something that is critical to the job you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a job as a project manager, “multitasking” should not be one of your weaknesses. Be as honest and sincere as possible – but avoid coming off desperate and over-apologetic, as it might make you look unprofessional and difficult to work with.

“What attracted you to our company?”

Being near home or on your bus route is not the right answer here! Do your research about the company, focusing on things such as its working culture and its internal offerings like training programmes, opportunities for rotation, etc. You can then show your interviewer how well-prepared you are by demonstrating knowledge about the company, and how its corporate values and interests align with yours. For example, if the company has a reputation for technological innovation, you can talk about how you have been keeping up with news about its various projects, and how you would like to work at a company that allows you to be at the forefront of technology, by creating industry-leading solutions.

While you do not have to come up with a very specific career path, it would be helpful for you to set realistic goals to show your interviewer that you are driven, ambitious and interested in a long-term career in this company.

“What are your goals for the next five years?”

While you do not have to come up with a very specific career path, it would be helpful for you to set realistic goals to show your interviewer that you are driven, ambitious, and interested in a long-term career in this company. This would be beneficial to your long-term career plans, as well. For instance, you could say that you hope to gain more expertise in your industry, and perhaps take on more managerial responsibilities within the next five years if you are a fresh graduate. This would illustrate your humility and willingness to learn.

In addition, it gives your employers an indication of how long you will be willing to commit to them.

“What business challenge have you faced and how did you overcome it?”

Pick a business challenge that you were able to overcome using a skill that best relates to the job you are applying for. If you had managed to improve the workflow in your previous company to increase productivity, explain to your interviewer the approach you took, including your thought process and actions. Try to incorporate as many problem-solving skills as possible. Even if you were not able to fully resolve the issue, tell your employers what valuable lessons the experience has taught you.

Also, give the interviewers some insight into how you took those lessons and applied them to other circumstances. In doing so, you showcase your sincerity, adaptability, and also willingness to learn from hardship. Employers love candidates who have a Never-Say-Die attitude — so be sure to exhibit those traits!

“What can you contribute to the job and our company?”

Examples of previous accomplishments would be a great way to demonstrate what you could possibly achieve in this job, and add value to this company in the future. Try to align your contributions with the demands and expectations of the job description. Statistics may come in handy here. For instance, you could let your interviewer know that you were able to increase your company’s sales by 50%, even in the midst of the Singapore recession in 2009! Employees who are over 40 have a wealth of experience that is not just confined to paper qualifications. Highlight some of your soft skills like a sense of responsibility as a team leader and being a good communicator that will make you an asset to the company.

On the other hand, make sure you do not brag about your achievements as this might come off as arrogant and egotistical. While there is nothing wrong with mentioning how you have helped the company, tread carefully and ensure that you do not blow your own trumpet too much. Nobody likes working with a conceited fellow. Thus, be sure that you do not let your head swell in this aspect.

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“Do you have any questions?”

Interviews are not just a one-way street; you are there to learn more about the company as much as the interviewer is there to find out more about you! Take advantage of this opportunity to ask your interviewer thoughtful questions, such as how this position has evolved (if it is not a new position) or how the company defines success. Also, find out more about career progression, company culture, work-life balance as well as salary.

Take the opportunity to also show your determination and interest in the company. Having no questions at all might be a bad sign as it implies that you are not interested to learn more about the company. Be sure to ask intelligent questions that can help you obtain a better understanding of the corporation and business culture.

While there are no one-size-fits-all answers that can help you ace every interview, preparation and research will always come in handy. At the end of the day, being the truest version of yourself with professionalism and grace is the way to go in any job application process.

Make sure you wear the best traits on your sleeve but also be friendly, humble, and engaging. The next step of preparation is choosing the most professional attire that makes you look and feel confident. Read this article here for our tips!

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