5 common job interview questions and how to answer them like a boss


Going into the job market can be a scary experience, especially when you’re new to it, or have been out of the game for a long time.

One of the scarier things is trying to prepare yourself for the kinds of questions they’ll ask and how you’ll answer them. You don’t want to sound overeager, but you also don’t want to be unenthusiastic.

So how do you navigate the fine line between the two?

We asked the editor of Careers24, Elizabeth Mamacos, for some advice regarding a few of the questions you’d typically be asked during an interview.  

1.    Tell me more about yourself?

"The trick to answering this one well is to tell them about yourself in a work context. Interviewers don’t really want to know about how you beat your PB (personal best) at the Park Run on the weekend, and that you enjoy French cheese and reading crime novels. Use this as an opportunity to talk about your career history, highlighting a few of your accomplishments and how your personality makes you a good fit for the role. Keep it brief though," says Elizabeth. For a more in depth look at the best way to answer this questions, check out this article on Careers24.

Use this as an opportunity to talk about your career history, highlighting a few of your accomplishments and how your personality makes you a good fit for the role

2.    What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

Elizabeth advises: "When talking about your strengths, be sure to illustrate them by providing examples of success: 'I’m a natural networker, and in my previous role as team leader this strength helped me to gather strong teams who worked well together, improving performance and therefore revenue.'

"Never admit to a weakness without adding a disclaimer: 'I tend to overanalyse tasks before I get started, but as I am aware of this, I have measures in place to ensure I have time to gather all the facts and still comfortably meet deadlines.'" Get more advice on how to answer this question, here.

3.    Where do you see yourself in five years?

"'Running this company' or 'Sitting in your seat' is not actually as funny as it sounds in your head," says Elizabeth. "Be honest, talk about your career ambitions, but keep it to the context of the company, or industry, you are interviewing at."

4.    What’s your dream job?

Elizabeth says: "Again, be honest, but in the context of your sector or industry. If you’re a developer, maybe leave out your burning desire to be a game tester if you’re applying to a team lead role at a finance firm."

5.    What are your salary requirements?

"Here it is always best to give a salary range, based honestly on what you need to get by and in line with market-related salaries within the industry," Elizabeth advises. "Do the research first, and specify if your figure includes benefits or not." For more information on how to answer this question, check out this article.

...maybe leave out your burning desire to be a game tester

BONUS: Are you planning on having children?  - or any other personal questions.

How do you answer personal questions from someone you hardly know, but could potentially become your new boss? "This question is actually illegal in the South African workplace, as are other invasive questions, such as anything relating to your health, your age, your sexual preference, your religion and any disability you might have," says Elizabeth. "Interviews are not legally allowed to ask personal questions and you are not compelled to answer them."

Read more:

- How to own screwing up at work (without getting you fired)

- What I’ve learnt as the only woman in an all-male team

- 5 things you do at work that cost you that promotion

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