A job interview is never a one-way street. The healthiest way of viewing the interview is to consider it as a two-way conversation where both the parties that are the interviewer-employer and the interviewee-prospective candidate have an important opportunity at hand to evaluate if they are good for each other.
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Here are the top twenty questions and an indication of what you must answer them when you appear for an entry-level job interview:
1. “Tell us a little about yourself.”
The best approach to this is to keep it short. Notice that the operative word here is ‘little.’ The employer is looking to know basics like where the candidate hails from, his parents, his major at school and maybe why he opted to major in that particular subject.
2. “What are your strengths and weakness?”
It is best, to be honest in case of weaknesses and not to downplay the strengths that the candidate thinks he has. The candidate may want to ask his professors and fellow students if they could help him enumerate these to sound natural at the interview.
3. “Have there been times when you have faced conflict in a group, and how did you resolve it?”
The employer is trying to gauge if the interviewee has the maturity of mind to be able to resolve severe conflicts and difficulties at the workplace. This will indicate the fact that the candidate is a team player.
4. “Tell us about the internship that you have mentioned in the resume.”
Giving an honest appraisal about the internship in question will stand good for the candidate because the employer is probably looking to see the prospective employee’s attitude towards work and his colleagues.
5. “What are your long term career goals?”
The safest answer is to say that you don’t know. However, you are open to learning new things while you are given a role in the company and see how you will grow with them.
6. “What got you interested in this role?”
The employer is most definitely trying to find out your attitude towards work and to see if you will be a promising candidate for the company. Give him assurance with the fact that you are interested in taking up the role and that you are ready to invest your time and energy to make use of your full potential.
7. “How much do you know about the XYZ Company?”
Thorough research of the company will stand you in good stead here. You do not want to look disinterested with saying you do not know much. Read and research them thoroughly.
8. “Has any internship program that you picked or classes you taken prepared you for this role?”
Say yes and explain how it has. If no internship or class is directly related to the role in question, say a polite a.
9. “What made you choose the major that you did?”
The candidate must be clear and concise about what made him opt for the major; whether it was his aptitude, or the excellent scope in the field or that he wanted to be able to learn more.
10. “Have there been any classes that you closely detested or completely loved?”
It’s good that the candidate sticks to the positive side of the question. Tell the interviewer why he loved the subjects; not merely because he scored well in it.
11. “What are the activities that you did outside school?”
The interviewer is looking to find out if you have a life outside work. Give him a good reassurance.
12. “Tell us what your professors thought or said about you.”
State the fact that you probably cannot say for sure what they thought, but if there has been anything that they particularly said when you performed well or excelled in your assignments, this is the time to sell yourself!
13. “Any part-time jobs that you attempted?”
The employer is looking to see if the candidate brought any soft skills and experience with him at the table. If yes, say where. If there is no part-time experience, answer in the negative.
14. “How good are you under pressure?”
There will be times when the work will demand closing in deadlines. Give the interviewer an example of two of how you are the best person, even under tight deadlines and freaking situations.
15. “How would you define yourself, a team leader, or a team player?”
The candidate must tread this path with care. If there are instances when he has led the team, let the interviewer know his experience. If there are more instances of a team player, a couple of them may suffice. Downplay the question with you can be comfortable in both the roles.
16. “Can you double up as a teacher to your teammate?”
The candidate must portray that he is a gentle but firm teacher. Ego need not be trampled to bring home a point to a co-worker is what he must strive to convey.
17. “Have there been any instances when you strongly disagreed with your team members?”
The candidate must chalk out an instance when he had a disagreement and still went ahead as a team after peaceful resolution. He must be able to put it across to the interviewer that mild or strong disagreements do not mar his focus or the bigger picture.
18. “Any instance when you had a strong criticism from a superior; how did you handle?”
Taking feedback in the right spirit is what the employer is looking for. So, if there is any instance, the candidate may want to tell it to the employer at this point.
19. “So what do you bring along with you to our organization?”
Try to answer these with three positive adjectives about yourself — for instance, dedicated, or self-motivated, disciplined, etc.
20. “Considering that you do not get a call from us; what next from here?”
The candidate must sound extremely positive about landing the job. He may say that he will continue to up his skills to be able to fill in the gap that is there.