5 Common Interview Questions And How To Nail Them

You’ve sent in your job application/resume and have been shortlisted for an interview. The next hurdle is to be well prepared to convince the prospective employer with your wit and experience to prove that you are the perfect fit for the role.

Job interviews are no less daunting simply because candidates are put on the spot and required to think on their feet. Despite the different types of job-specific questions, there are fairly standard questions job applicants can get prepared to avoid getting nervous on that important day!

Let’s look at the 5 common questions…

1. Tell me about yourself.

Basically, this is an ice-breaker for the recruiter/prospective employer to get acquainted with the candidate. The best way to tackle this question is to realise that the question isn’t about you at all. It is more about whether you have the relevant experience and knowledge to handle the job.

In short, the answer to this question should demonstrate your professional experience and interests which shows that you are suitable for the role. In short, you are required to make an elevator pitch of essential skills, experience and interests which are relevant to the role and of course, avoid dwelling on personal interests like aerial yoga, etc which are clearly irrelevant.

Example of what you could say:

I am a senior editor with 10 years of experience in the legal publishing industry. During my tenure, I have worked on several leading print publications such as …… and online legal research tools such as …..

Example of what you should NOT say:

I enjoy pottery and I’m looking for a job that allows me to earn a steady income to continue pursuing my interest in pottery and ceramic making.

2. Why are you interested in this role?

To be fair, although earning a reasonable salary is a great motivating factor, this question really provides the candidate with the opportunity to highlight why he/she is a suitable fit for the company, how well you know the role, the company and what they do. It demonstrates how well you have done your research and level of preparation.

Example of what you could say:

I have always been inspired to join ….. because of its longstanding reputation in the industry as the leading legal solutions provider. I believe working in this organisation would hone my skills as an editor in the legal publishing industry. My passion for books and the law would definitely help me perform this role to the best of my abilities.

Example of what you should NOT say:

I need a reasonable salary.

3. What are your greatest strengths?

Be cautious when answering this question as it not as clear-cut as merely stating what you are good at doing.

It is advisable to study the role as advertised including the job responsibilities and craft an answer which highlights your skills to show that you can handle the job. To avoid sounding over-confident, you could also relate how other colleagues have perceived you in the past. Always remember to be honest and ensure you have the relevant data to back up your answers.

Example of what you could say:

In the past (or name the particular project), I have been told that I am focused and determined to follow through a publication or project from the initial stages of working with authors up until the end in terms of liaising with editorial operations staff and printers.

Example of what you should NOT say:

I’m great at any task thrown at me.

4. What do you consider as your major weakness?

Obviously, you can’t say you have no major weakness since it suggests that you are perfect and of course not telling the truth. Dwelling too much on your weakness may equally not work in your favour either.

The main purpose of this question is to gauge the level of a candidate’s self-awareness, honesty and self-improvement measures taken. An appropriate response would be to focus on something general or not integral to the role.

Example of what you could say:

I tend to be in control sometimes rather than delegate work. It is something I’m learning to work on by signing up for team building workshops.

Example of what you should NOT say:

I’m a workaholic and a perfectionist.

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Yes, that cringe-worthy interview question. You are not expected to say that you will remain in the company for 5 years. A good way to tackle this question is to mention your dream job in that company which is reasonable to achieve within the said time frame, thus, showing that you are driven and ambitious.

Example of what you could say:

I see myself leading a team of editors. By that point of time, I would have gained a total of 10 years of experience in legal publishing with the ability to manage a team of junior editors and leverage on my skills and experience to develop innovative products in line with the objectives of the company and current needs of the legal industry.


Although every interview is different, being prepared with some great answers for these common questions will convince a prospective employer that you are the right one for the job!