Recruiters checking the candidate during a job interview at office--Aspire-Canada

Top Twelve Job Interview Questions with Answers

We all have been to many job interviews without really knowing the real answers interviewers are looking for. Most of us really just wing it. Wouldn’t you like to know the responses that get an “A” on an interviewer’s grading scale? Well we have the top twelve interview questions and the answers for them. There’s also bonus tips for scoring extra points too. What if you want to really set yourself apart from the competition? We have those bonus tips too. What about those awkward moments that come up that are always super uncomfortable. There’s also tips for those moments. While its important to be well dressed for your interview. Knowing the questions to these top interview questions can make the difference between you actually landing that dream job or just fantasizing about it. So Grab a cup of coffee and read on….This is your official interview study guide!

Question 1Tell us about yourself?

Answer: This is normally the first question in an interview. And normally, a lot of people fudge around on this one and say all sorts of irrelevant things. What you need to do is to pitch your strengths for the position here. Start with your present position, segue into the past and then say what you want to do in the future (which of course involves this company). For example ” As a Senior Marketer for Aspire-Canada, I handle the major marketing campaigns relevant to all our platforms including social media and business development. Prior to that, I worked as a Marketing Consultant at Google Canada where I was responsible for handling a marketing budget of $1Million over two budget cycles to drive revenue and achieve results for the organization”. You can add two more examples. Remember always emphasize results and pick your examples wisely. Choose companies with more name recognition especially if you are still new to Canada.

Bonus Tip: When you emphasize results always say how and when. If you handled a budget say how much and whether it involved tow or more budget cycles. Employers in Canada like to see “demonstrable experience”. Ie. show me that you know what you are talking about by demonstrating the experience. Give me the “meat” – the “nitty gritty”…

Question 2 – Tell me about a suggestion you made that was implemented in this field?

Answer: the focus keyword here is “implemented”. There’s nothing wrong with having a million great ideas but if you’re interviewing for a marketing position and this job is customer service then you either have to get creative or get some relevant examples. If your previous company ended up going bankrupt after you implemented your ideas you may want to scratch that example off the list. Not good.  Be prepared with a story about an idea of yours that was implemented and had a good ending. Think idea, consideration, implantation and success.

Bonus Tip: If your idea led to the successful transformation improving efficiencies by 50 percent then bonus. If your idea led to an increase in revenue by say 80 percent then more kudos to you. Think of more concrete examples of how your idea led to huge organizational successes. Always think results!

Question 3: What experience do you have related to this position?

Answer: Hopefully if you’re applying for this position then you have lots of related experience. If you’re new to Canada and have lots of international experience but no or very little Canadian experience or if you’re switching careers then you have to get creative. Now is the time to use your skills to make your experience relateable. People skills are people skills everywhere and are required for every position. If you have say lots of customer service experience show how those skills can be used in an internal management role as well.

Question 4: What challenges are you looking for in this position?

Answer: this is a typical interview question to determine what you are looking for in your next job and whether you would be a good fit. The best way to answer questions about the challenges you are seeking is to discuss how you would like to be able to effectively utilize your skills and experience if you are hired for the job. You can also mention that you are motivated by challenges, have the ability to effectively meet challenges and have the flexibility and skills necessary to handle a challenging job.

Bonus Tip: Come up with several examples of how you delivered implementable solutions to challenging problems faced by your department.

Question 5: Have you ever had conflict with a boss? How was it resolved?

Answer: this one is tricky. If you say no, most interviews will probe further. The key is how you behaviourally reacted to conflict and what you did to resolve it. For example: ” yes, I have had conflicts in the past. Never major ones but there have been disagreements that needed to be resolved. I’ve found that when conflict arises it helps to fully understand the other persons perspective so I take the time to understand the other persons perspective and take the time to listen to their point of view and then I seek to work out a collaborative solution.

Bonus Tip: Give a great example of how a disagreement turned out to be solved successfully with all parties being satisfied with the outcome.

Question 6: What do you know about us?

Answer: follow these three easy research tips before your next job interview:

1) visit the company’s website and look in the “about us” sections.

2) search for the company’s annual report or other relevant company reports.

3) Google a keyword phrase such as ” press releases” followed by the company’s name so you find the latest news stories shared by the company.

At a minimum your answer should include the type of products or services the company sells and the vision and mission of the company.

Bonus tip: Use the company’s annual reports or any such similar reports you can find and try to relate your experience to the requirements of the position. The annual report will give you an idea of the exact scope of the work the company does and how they want to deliver on results. If you’re in a field such as accounting or finance the company’s financial statements are a must read.

Question 7: Why do you want to work with us?

Answer: More than likely the interviewer wishes to see how much you know about the company and its culture. Every organization has strong points and these are the ones you should highlight in your answer. For example if the company emphasizes integrity with customers then you need to mention that you would like to be on such a team because your values align well with the company vision.

Bonus Tip: If you’ve read through company annual reports (or financial statements) and noticed admirable things about the company that really resonate with you and your values (such as their community efforts or their contributions to charity) don’t be afraid to say it in the interview.

Question 8: What are your biggest strengths?

Answer: Unfortunately, this is an area where a lot of job-seekers sabotage themselves. Some people will be too modest and discount their strengths, others will choose lame examples or just exhibit a lack of self-awareness in the interview due to insufficient preparation. Prepare examples of this ahead of time. Ask your current Manager or co-workers who’ve had a chance to observe you in different situations. You may be surprised with some of the insightful comments they come up with. Aldo dig for clues on your resume or in your cover letter. Your strengths can include your experience, education, talents, and soft skills. Come with at least four examples of strengths that you are comfortable discussing. Make your examples relevant to the job and very specific.

Here’s an example of a strength from “I think one of my greatest strengths is as a problem solver. I have the ability to see a situation from different perspectives and I can get my work done even in the face of difficult obstacles. I also feel that my communication skills are top notch. I feel just as comfortable presenting to senior executives as I do mediating a conflict between junior team members. I worked as a programmer in the past so I have that perspective of a developer and I think that they respect me for that.”

Question 9: What are your biggest weaknesses?

Answer: First, think about something that isn’t your strong suit, whether it’s delegating to others or attention to detail, but think about it back in the past. Show how you’ve taken steps to overcome it, or worked hard on getting better, and mention that you’re still working and working at becoming even better at this skill set.

So for example, if someone said, “What’s your biggest weakness?” you could answer:

“Well, I used to have a hard time delegating. When I started out as a supervisor it was a problem, and I was fearful of projects not meeting deadlines, so I didn’t do a  good job at delegating. So first I took the small step of delegating more frequently by assigning projects to others. Then, I took a course on delegation which made a big difference. The feedback from staff and my superiors has been encouraging and it has lifted the team morale. Everyone knows so they really try to deliver on time.

Question 10: Why should we hire you?

Answer: This is the point where you match your skills, experience ,education, personality to the position. This is why you need to basically study the job description. What if you may not have as much work experience related to the job? Energy and passion can also set you apart from the crowd. There is always a liveability factor in interviews. People are attracted to someone who is charismatic who shows lots of energy and enthusiasm for the company in general.

This question  is your chance to wow them with your strengths. Your answer should summarize the top three or four best reasons to hire you. It’s better to have three or four strong reasons with memorable descriptions and/or examples than to rattle off a laundry list of twelve strengths without context. This is an opportunity to reiterate your most impressive strengths and/or describe your most memorable selling points, tailored to align with the top requirements in the job description. Your 3-4 bullet points could include a combination of the following:
Industry experience
Experience in performing certain tasks or duties
Technical skills
Soft skills
Key accomplishments

Question 11: What kind of salary are you looking for?

Answer: This is a loaded interview question and you want to be sure they show their cards first. Do not answer it. Instead say something like “Thats a tough question, can you tell me the range for the position’? In most cases the interviewer will tell you. If not tell them a broad range. Make sure you do your salary research in advance as well. A salary in the non-profit sector will generally be lower than a high tech firm.

If you have to fill out one of the those application forms prior to the interview, I recommend writing “(flexible)” or “(negotiable)” next to your number. If you have room to do so—for example, in your cover letter—stress again that your salary requirement is flexible or negotiable and that there are so many working parts to compensation—benefits, job title, opportunities for advancement—that you’re certain you can find a way to satisfy both of you if you’re a good fit for the position.

Question 12: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Answer: Stress your interest in a long-term career at the company (especially if you have short job tenures on your resume). Your interviewer wants to know that you’re ready to settle in and grow with the firm. The truth is that anything can happen. The company could go out of business, they could lay you off, or you could be lured away for a better opportunity.

However, remember that the organization is going to be investing considerable time, energy, and money in hiring and training someone for this job. You must at least show an honest intention to stay long enough to be a good investment. If you have some “job hopping” on your resume, or you are new to Canada, it’s particularly important to make the case that you’re now ready for a long-term role.

A sample response might be: “My goal right now is to find a position at a company where I can grow and take on new challenges over time. Ultimately, I’d like to assume more management responsibilities and get involved in marketing strategy. But most importantly, I want to work for an organization where I can build a career.”

Good Luck! With these tips you should be well on your way to landing you’re dream job. Send us your comments!

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