10 Most Common Interview Questions and how to answer them in South Africa

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  • Post last modified:June 4, 2020
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You have submitted your CV and got a call back saying that you are scheduled for an interview. Then you get exhilarated and want to celebrate for a moment.

Well, after some time you start to think about how the interview will go and how the mood of the interviewer(s) will be like. You ask yourself what will the interviewers ask me and how can I prepare to answer the interview questions.

Worry not this article will help with answering interview questions with confidence.

The fact that you are called for an interview, means that your CV has done wonders.

You are what they think they are looking for, but, then it is up to you to make an impression that will last or screw over everything you have worked hard for.

It’s hard to prepare for an interview especially if you don’t know where to start. You may ask random people to help you out with what the interviews will likely ask.

However, there is no way you will know what the interviewer will ask. The good thing is you can learn to answer some of the classic interview questions that are normally asked in an interview regardless of the job you have applied for.

Classic questions are those questions that hiring managers ask about every candidate. Questions such as: tell us about yourself? Or why should we hire you?.

With good preparation before an interview, you can answer these questions effortlessly.

Here are interview questions that you can prepare for beforehand and give the best answers possible.

1. Tell me about yourself

What the employer implies: it’s a norm to ask this question in an interview. The question is difficult to answer because it’s an open one.

What the employer is asking is that you tell him/her why you are the best candidate for the job.

From your cover letter, the employer will be having a perspective of you so your answer to this question will determine if he/she is right about you.

How to answer the question: Share your personal encounters that are not work-related. You can talk about your hobbies or about a place you grew up or things that motivates you.

For example, you can say “as an accountant, work can be stressful at times. I like taking some time off to go play golf. When I play I forget about everything and focus on the game which is something that helps me to relax.

I have learnt how to play golf as a kid growing up in Westonaria. My parents and golf instructor helped me a lot to understand and play the way I do today and I cannot thank them enough. “

Know that the employer is reading your body language and voice. Make sure that you are confident and not nervous.

2. What do you know about the company?

What the employer implies: it’s highly impossible to know everything about a company that you have never worked for. But you can understand the company’s vision and mission as an outsider.

The employer wants to know if you understand why the company exists, where is the company heading, it’s ethics and core values, it’s competitors and goals.

Doing research about the company before the interview will help you a lot in understanding the company.

If you answer this question in detail, it will give the employer the impression that you are enthusiastic about the company and you want to be part of the team.

How to answer the question: there are no short cuts to this. The best answer is one which is carefully researched. Go to the company’s website and do your own research.

Check the organization’s mission and vision statement and understand them.

Go through the company’s financial reports, you can go to CIPC to check the company’s returns. Also, know the company’s reporting structure, the management, directors, CEO and other key employees.

3. Why should we hire you?

What the employer implies: the employer is simply asking if you have what it takes to fill in the job position. Or why you think you stand out from everyone that has applied for the job.

The employer wants to know about your qualifications and experience. For example as what is your highest level of education, what have you achieved so far in your career, are you the right candidate for this position etc?

How to answer the question: your answer should explain why you are the perfect candidate for the job. You need to explain why you should be awarded the job.

For example, you can say ” you should hire me because my experiences are in line with the job specifications as per job advert. I possess over 5 years of experience in event management and hospitality.”

” In my career as an event manager, I have managed events that are world-class such as planning for the SADC conference with some help from my team.”

”I have an honours degree in hospitality from the University of Cape Town and a certificate in management from Boston city College. “

4. Why do you want this job?

What the employer implies: enthusiasm about what you do is always expected from you by employers. No employer wants to push an employee around to perform their tasks or ask them to be competent.

The employer wants to know if you are passionate about the job that you have applied to.

Your CV got you to the interview which means it is good enough so it is time to now demonstrate that you really mean what you have written.

How to answer the question: understand what the role is about and if you can fit in. It’s easy to do something that you understand and can easily fit in which makes it easier to relate to your position.

Identify the factors that make the role great for you.

For example, you can say ” Journalism is the love of my life because I just like unveiling the truth at any cost possible but without endangering myself or others.”

“The thrill in field journalism is so intriguing to me because I get to meet people that are directly affected by a situation and get to ask as much as possible and in the process understanding them.”

Secondly, share why you want to work for the company. You can say ” Pearl Inc is what has always driven me to become a journalist. “

I have seen what Pearl Inc does to its employees, like giving them adequate resources to perform their tasks and always being there for them in bad times. Pearl INC is a company I can truly rely on to build my journalism career. “

5. What do you consider to be your weaknesses?

What the employer implies: the employer is trying to understand and gauge your honesty and self-awareness.

We are not perfect and the employer understands that but at the same time, they want to know if you are aware of your weaknesses.

How to answer this question: When answering this question don’t be extreme, rather find a balance. Find something that you are struggling with and point it out.

Mention that you are working on getting better at that thing by giving an example of how far you have progressed in improving yourself.

You can say for example ” I’m not good with debates, I pull out immediately when the debate gets tense. However, I am currently taking debate lessons and have greatly impacted how I debate. I can now stand in a debate for a limited time but I’m improving.”

6. What are your strengths?

What the employer implies: the employer is asking you about the strengths that you possess which are in relation to the job interview you are attending.

How to answer the question: here you have an opportunity to say positive things that can build up to your CV. Don’t answer the question wrong by talking about strengths that don’t relate to the job.

Focus on the job and model your answers to the job. Say something like this ” as a digital marketing specialist my strengths are writing content that eventually ranks on first pages of search engines and coming up with a digital marking strategy that is cost-efficient.”


I can rank on keywords that are difficult to rank on if you Google search the words Shaun Pollock you will find my article on the first page. In my mind, I have no doubt that I can grow any website in a matter of days. “

7. Why is there a gap in your work history?

What the employer implies: truth is employers don’t like hiring people who have gaps in their CVs. You need to avoid having gaps in your CV because it might not work well for you.

In the employer’s mind, a gap means dismissal, taken a gap year, have health issues or personal issues, redundancy, etc. Showing that your time is invested on other things than your career shows a lack of passion.

How to answer the question: it’s better you talk about something that is constructive to your career while you have taken a gap year(s).

Talk about how you have finished your degree or volunteered to gather more knowledge about the industry you are in.

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

What the employer implies: with this question the employer wants to know why you want to work for them.

There has to be something that motivated you to apply for a post at their company and they want to know what that motivation is.

How to answer the question: be factual when answering this question. If you want to switch positions or want to try out new challenges say it.

You can say ” Hughes Ltd contributed a lot to the skills that I have today, without them, I don’t know where I will be today.”

“The experience has been great no doubt but I have learnt everything there is to know and now I’m seeking new challenges. With Leto Ltd, I will assume more creative rights and it will be a club up in the ladder from what I’m doing at Hughes Ltd. “

9. How much salary do you expect to earn?

What the employer implies: the employer wants to know how much you want or expect to earn.

How to answer the question: You definitely know how much you want to earn but you need to be careful.

This question is very tricky considering that you are given a platform to judge yourself. If you undervalue your worth it will seem to the employer that you are not worth hiring after all since you come below the market value.

It will be likely that you won’t be able to do your job. Use salary calculators to estimate how much people with the same experience, qualifications and skills earn. Read this article to help you negotiate your salary.

10. How do you handle stress and/or pressure?

What the employer implies: the employer wants to know if things are not going well like you are behind with work, have a problem with your colleagues and other difficulties, how do you handle such situations.

It’s all about how you tackle stress situations in a work environment.

How to answer the question: don’t say anything that will lead to the employer concluding that you don’t get stress.

We all encounter stressful situations both in personal and work situations. Acknowledge the stresses that you encounter in the workplace and mention them, then site how you deal with these.

Conclusion

Interview questions can be very stressful since you are talking to a small group of people that you have never had an encounter with.

It is always good to prepare for an interview by conducting research and trying to understand the interview process.

Your preparations will get you to be less nervous and ready to answer any question that comes your way because you will be feeling confident. Don’t forget to dress the part when going for an interview.

Frequently Ask Questions (FAQ)

How to prepare for an interview

You can prepare for an interview by doing thorough research on the company. Use as many platforms to gather information like internet, annual, reports, calling the company to ask questions as anonymous etc.

What are the questions that the interviewer should not ask

The interviewer should not ask questions that are discriminatory. These questions include questions about race, sex, religion, disability, birthplace etc.

How can I answer questions that are not supposed to be asked by the interviewer

To answer a question that an interviewer shouldn’t ask, you can say ” ‘insert a discriminatory word’ is not an issue for my performance in this job”.

Note that some interviewers ask questions not knowing that they are discriminatory so be polite.

What questions can I ask the interviewer

You can ask the interviewer questions that are related to your job and the company. You can ask questions like: does this job require travelling? what are the biggest challenges faced in this job? Is working overtime mandatory? etc.

What interview questions can I prepare for?

You can prepare for as many interview questions as possible. Start by answering common questions that are listed in this article as they are frequently asked in an interview.

What interview questions can I expect?

You can expect as many interview questions as possible. In fact some interview questions will come unexpectedly so you can’t know all interview questions.

Why are interview questions important?

Interview Questions are important as they reveal to the employer what they of a person you are beyond reading your CV. Questions of work and personal life can be answered and understood better.

Why should I show confidence in an interview?

Confidence in an interview is a sign of aplomb. Feeling confident about yourself creates an atmosphere that is positive and easy to remember.

Lethabo Ntsoane

Lethabo Ntsoane is a Financial Product commentator at Rateweb. He is an expect financial product analyst with years of experience in reviewing products and offering commentary. Lethabo majors in reviews and financial tips.