Friday, July 10, 2020

20 Common Interview Questions for Fresh Graduates & How to Answer Them

When applying for a job, writing a good resume is just the tip of the iceberg. What makes you succeed or fail in getting the job is how you perform during the interview. If you managed to score an interview whether it is a face-to-face, online, or on-the-phone interview, here are 20 common questions that the interviewer loves to ask. 

1. Introduce yourself

This is a common question even if you are not a fresh graduate. 

Wrong answer: You can refer to my resume. 

Desirable answer: When answering this question, one fool-proof way to answer it is to use the past, present, and future format. Talk about your educational background, which subjects you excel at, what club you joined, currently how is your job searching process and what you hope to obtain in your career.

2. How did you hear about the position?

Be truthful as to how you hear about the position as to where you found the position. Hence, it is a good practice to keep a record of all the companies that you have applied to. 

Wrong answer: "I apply to every position in Jobstreet and your HR called me up" - this shows a lack of interest in the company and also a lack of appreciation for the opportunity of being called for interview.

3. What do you know about our company?

Always do research on the company before your interview. In fact, you should already research the company when you are applying for a job. A job interview is not always scheduled. The hiring manager or the HR might call you up for a brief interview and if they post up this question, you are expected to talk a little about the company. 

Information is always abundant on the internet. So, there's no excuse for you not to know about the company. If in the event you have tried your best but there is no information available online, you have to be truthful. At least you have tried to get to know the company. 

"I have looked at the company website, I know that this company process premium tea. However, there is not much information I can find on the website. I tried to look at other channels too, but there's nothing else I can find. Do you mind telling me in detail that this company is about?"

4. Why should we hire you?  What can you contribute to the company?

These questions essentially lead to the same answer. Depending on the way it is being asked, do craft your answer according to the context. 

Wrong answer: You should hire me because I need a job. You should hire me because you need someone to work for the position. 

Desirable answer: 
I can (insert your strength here). With my expertise (your strength) I am confident I am able to be a good team player. 
I am a fast learner. I think this means that I am able to pick up the job with minimal supervision and also save the company’s time in providing me training. Once I am able to be independent in my job, 

5. What is your strength?

One way to know your strength is to figure out what you enjoy doing the most. Also, multiple part-time jobs, extra co-curricular activities, and internships will make you discover your strength easily. This needs preparation before you graduate. 

Wrong answer: Don't make it sound too bragging or saying you don't know your strength. It will be a quick turn off as the interviewer might find it hard to continue the conversation.

Desirable answer: I think that my strength is (insert what you enjoy doing) because (elaborate why you enjoy doing it). 

6. What is your weakness?

This is the opposite of your strength - if knowing your strength is through what you enjoy the most, then to determine your weakness, it is what you hate to do the most, what opportunity you are lacked of and also which area you think needs to improve on. 

Wrong answer: I do not have any weaknesses.

Desirable answer: 
  • I think my weakness is in data entry and admin tasks because I like to do jobs that collaborate with other people. 
  • My weakness is in confidence. As I am a fresh graduate, I need to learn a lot - especially in communication, networking, and also be exposed to more responsibilities in order to boost my confidence. At this moment, I do not have this platform to learn. 

7. Why do you want to leave your current job?

If you are currently working and looking for a new job too soon, this might be the interviewer's favorite question. This question does give a little bit of insight into your character. The interviewer isn't just interested in the reason why you want to leave, but also wants to assess your answer so that they can have an idea of how your attitude is towards your current job. 

Wrong answer:
  • I'm looking for a higher salary - Being a fresh graduate, it will paint a negative outlook on you if you are demanding for salary. 
  • My current job is too stressful - It shows that you aren't able to cope with the stress due to time management, lack of engagement, or bad teamwork. 
  • Anything bad-mouthing your current boss, colleague, or company is a big turn off. The company interviewing you might not hire you because they are afraid you might say the same thing about them too. 

Desirable answer:
Focus on learning, expanding your role & responsibility or other genuine reasons such as family commitment, travel distance or your position is a contractual basis, hence you are looking for a permanent position. 

8. What is your hobby?

This is another question to test your personality. It is up to you whether you want to answer it truthfully or not. However, I do see the hiring manager penalized interviewee who said they love traveling. His fear was he's afraid the candidate might take a lot of annual leave. 

9. How do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

We know that no one knows what will happen tomorrow, you can't possibly tell what you'll become the next 5 years. But this is also another personality question that is on the top favorite of interviewers. Be mindful not to brag or talk about your material desires. 

Wrong answer: 
  • I want to earn $xxxx in the next 5 years. 
  • I want to be in your position.

Desirable answer:
  • I would like to expand my role in (insert key function) or be given the opportunity to learn in (insert other departments) so that I improve myself in (prospect job industry/area).
  • I would like to manage a team in 5 years' time because managing people is something to learn from experience. I hope I will be given the opportunity here. 

10. What is your expected salary?

One of the things you have to prepare before your interview is the salary range you are able to accept. Do refer to our salary guide based on the industry you are applying to. Be sure to stick to market-rate otherwise, you'll be seen as too demanding. Usually, those who negotiate for salary are at the senior level or above due to different circumstances. 

11. Is there anything I need to know that is not in your resume?

Usually, a fresh graduate resume is so brief that it doesn't paint the full picture of your academic attributes and also your part-time work. When posted with this question, do focus on your extra co-curricular activities that you participated in when in school or university, charity work, volunteer work, etc. 

If you have a hobby that you find interesting, you can also talk about it. I interviewed a girl once, and she said she likes to bake at home and sell her baking goods to the cafe. The profit that she earns she will donate it to the old folks home where her grandmother stays. The hiring manager hired her because they find that this character is so rare amongst the fresh graduates. Because I've worked with a lot of fresh graduates before, I think fresh graduates are low-key humble of their achievements. Don't feel inferior. Even a part-time job at McDonald's shows that you have good communication skills and able to work in a team. 

12. Do you know anyone working in our company?

Be truthful with this question. Even if you are not close to the person you know working in that company, try to illustrate who that person is. 

13. Please explain your final year project.

You have to be hands-on with your final year project. Stick to the format below when explaining your final year project. You'll find yourself explaining it smoothly.

  • Is it a group project or individually done?
  • (If it is a group project) What is your role in the project?
  • What is the trigger problem?
  • Why do you need to solve this problem?
  • (If applicable) How do you collect your data?
  • What is the solution to the problem?
  • What is your conclusion / what have you learn from the project?

14. What do you learn from your internship?

This is why searching for a good internship placement matters. You need to take up as many responsibilities as you can in order to 

  • Which department you are attached to?
  • What are your daily tasks?
  • What do you learn from each daily task?
  • What are the projects you are being assigned to?
  • What do you learn from the project?
  • In general, what do you learn from your role?

15. (Insert situational question)

A situational question can be crafted in any way. Questions like these aim to assess your problem-solving skills or critical thinking. Never take too lightly on such a question. It might be the question that make-or-break your interview result. 

I do not have a guided answer for you, but I do advise you to work your brain on this. If you didn't catch the question clearly, do request the interviewer to repeat the question. 

16. Why do you choose your course?

This question assesses your passion. Be genuine in your answer to why you choose the course for your academics. If it isn't your first choice, what would be the course you'd like to take? And also, which subject you are most passionate about. 

17. Answering question about your gap year

Hiring managers often interested in your gap year. To be honest, we get really turned off when candidates mention - I was too tired from studying and went to travel after I completed my school. 

Answers that will excite the interviewer:

  • Part-time jobs / Internship (make sure you write this down in your resume so it doesn't look like you are having a gap year)
  • Volunteer work / involvement in NGO
  • Helping family business (this is also part of work experience which you do not want to miss out in your resume)

18. Why do you want this job?

Different individuals will have different answers to this question. However, I recognize that majority of fresh graduates will answer that they want the job because they need money. 

Wrong answer:
  • I need money / I need the job.
  • The office is near my house.

Desirable answer:
  • This company is well-known of (insert keywords), therefore I want to be part of the team and be part of what you do here.
  • This position is what I envision myself to be. If given the opportunity, I am confident that I can perform very well because the requirements in the job description do fit my background. 

19. Do you have any questions?

A job interview is actually a two-way conversation. As much as the interviewer wants to know whether you fit in the role and their organization, you reserve your right to know if the position suitable for you or not. Do not feel inferior or nervous when you are going for an interview. Take it as a chat. If you put your mindset as such, naturally you will have questions on the gaps that have been left out. 

Some common questions are related to the working environment. Although it is hard to illustrate the actual working environment, but you will pick up some points from the explanation. 

20. How fast can you join us?

One of the advantages of hiring a fresh graduate is the ability to join the company as soon as possible. If you give your condition to join them 2 months later or even longer (usually due to having travel plans), your chances of getting hired are low. 

In the coming posts, I will be featuring interview questions that are more specific to the job functions such as general interview questions for engineering position, human resources position, etc. 

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