5 Most (Annoyingly) Overused Interview Questions, And How to Answer Them in 2020

CareerOctober 08, 2020 18:08

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Written by Max Loong, Assistant Marketing Manager - Reeracoen Singapore 

Dreaded by many, these tired and overused interview questions still persist during the job interview process. Questions you know the interviewer wants you to answer a certain way.

Most candidates tend to give “model” answers they looked up on Google, ending up with over-polished and uninspired responses. What makes you stand out among other candidates is to not be “most candidates”, where you can showcase yourself as a genuine yet objective candidate.

No matter what the questions are, determining your ability to actually do the job is only part of the interview. The other part is deciding if you’re someone the hiring manager wants to work with.

In this article, let us dismantle each of these questions – what they mean, and how you can still score a lasting impression to your interviewers:


"Tell me more about yourself."

This can be a tricky one. Most candidates will answer with a summarised version of their resume, which may set a dull tone to the flow of the interview.

This question can be phrased somewhat differently (“So, tell me your story”), but the principle is the same. What they’re looking for here isn’t a speech on your hopes and dreams. They’re looking for a quick, straightforward description of who you are as a human and how that connects with the job you’re interviewing for. Have a good mix with your work and life in your answer.

A better way to answer: “I was always very interested in how people interact with each other, and how people foster close relationships with one another. When I was in my university studies, I became fascinated with cultivating communication and social skills. That led me down to the HR path, and from there I worked my way up in SMEs and MNCs for the past 10 years. These days, I’m really interested in how HR can be a partner to an organisations’ business through effective leadership.”


"What is your greatest weakness?"

Another common question that gets most candidates to answer it either with something that’s actually a strength, or an answer that you can generally find on Google. Seasoned interviewers will see right through you if you answer with something like: “I get too invested in my projects and neglect my personal life.”

This question actually gives you a chance for relevant storytelling. It is important to be honest and real about your flaws – while giving yourself an opportunity to turn it into a positive note.

A better way to answer: “I’ll be honest, I’ve had some issues with managing priorities in the past, but I find that keeping checklists of my daily and weekly goals really helps me stay on top of things. Since then, I haven’t missed a single deadline.”


"What is your greatest strength?"

Similar to the previous question, this is an opportunity to tell your personal story on to elevate your strengths (Knowledge/Skill/Attitude) speaks directly to the job requirement.

A better way to answer: “I always tend to be present when somebody around me is having trouble. I like to break things down so they're easier to understand. I built a simple FAQ list that helped the receptionist at my last job learn her role in just a few weeks. I'm passionate about helping people climb the learning curves that their jobs throw at them.”


"Why should we hire you?"

This is where you can set yourself apart from others. Most of the candidates that make it to the interview stage are qualified for the job. The one who gets the job must be more qualified then others, especially in a very competitive job market. It’s important that you prepare to answer this question.

Share your biggest accomplishments and relevant skills, make it about what you can contribute to the company, your passion for the field, how the company and the job is aligned to your career goals, and why you want to work there.

A better way to answer: “I’m glad you asked. You explained earlier that leadership qualities are a bonus for this position. In my 5 years of experience as an HR Manager, I have effectively managed teams of over 15 people. I developed motivational skills that earned my region the “Region of the Year” five years in a row for consistently meeting and exceeding sales goals. I will bring those leadership abilities to this position.”


"Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"

Life happens right? How would we know where we would be for the next 5 years? Neither does the interviewer. Don’t worry about what the answer the interviewer wants to hear like: “I see myself being very devoted to your organization, striving to add value daily, and hopefully working my way up,”. Seasoned interviewers probably have heard these answers multiple times.

So being honest in your answers will definitely be appreciated by them. Give some serious thought about where you actually like to be in your career in the next five years. Develop a narrative that gets you there by making great contributions at the company you’re interviewing for. Show the interviewer how their company fits into your master plan.

A better way to answer: “I would hope that in five years, I would be in a managerial capacity in the HR function with a focus in Organisational Development. Your company has a reputation for nurturing thought leaders in the industry right now, so I think it’s the perfect place for me to get the experience I need to move on to the next level.”


The Bottomline

Interview questions like these are usually intimidating. But because they are the most common ones, they are the easiest to prepare. All you need is to be honest, authentic, and focus your answers on the job. So even if the interviewer’s questions are weak or vague, you can still answer to your advantage.

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