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A Fresh Grad's Guide To Common Job Interview Questions

Use this to help you land that dream job!
PHOTO: Getty Images

Congratulations! After years of toughing it out in college, you’ve finally earned your degree and are now ready to enter the so-called real world. And unless you’re one of those lucky people who already have a job straight out of college, that means youre probably sending out your resume and attending tons of interviews to land your very first job.

Job interviews, in particular, are very crucial as they can make or break your application. So we’ve created a guide on how to answer the most common job interview questions, so you can get a head start on landing that dream career.

"Tell me about yourself."

This is probably the first thing your interviewer will ask and it’s your best opportunity to sell yourself. While it is tempting to just give them a quick rundown of your resume, it’s also crucial to talk about your achievements outside of your schoolwork and internships. Were you active in school organizations? Did you take time to volunteer?

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Make sure to talk about what you do on your spare time, such as hobbies and interests, just so your potential employer can have an idea of how you can fit into the company’s culture. Roxan Baroma, a corporate recruiter, also suggests talking about your personal motto in life just to add a bit of character to your answer.

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Example: "I graduated with a degree in business management from Manila University, where I was active in a school organization that taught financial literacy to less fortunate communities. I’m also a regular volunteer at my local parish. But during my spare time, I love playing basketball, baking, and watching movies."

"What are your strengths?"

When faced with this question, take the time to talk about personal achievements and how you used particular skills to fulfill them. Did you find an innovative solution to a common problem? You can spin that into saying that you’re resourceful or that you think outside of the box. Were you able to solve a conflict between you and your groupmates? That means you have leadership skills.

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But Baroma advises against overselling yourself, as it may leave a wrong impression on the interviewer. Don’t say you’re an experienced leader if, for example, you’ve only really been a leader for one school assignment.  So it’s always crucial to back up your answers with concrete examples or experiences.

Example: "I believe one of my strengths is time management. There were always a ton of deadlines in college, so I learned how to prioritize my tasks. For example, I had a final exam, a thesis proposal deadline, and a major research paper all due on the same day. So I had to break up my schedule to avoid overwhelming myself. I started studying for the exam a week before and used outlines to help draft my thesis proposal and major research paper. I also made sure to talk to my professors in case I needed any help."

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"What are some of your weaknesses?"

Baroma says fresh graduates shouldn’t be afraid to be honest with this question, as it will allow their potential employers to know what kind of training or workshops are needed.

But don’t forget to mention that you’re working on overcoming these weaknesses, like how you’re taking classes on public speaking if you have a fear of speaking in front of crowds. It not only shows self-awareness, but also that you’re always willing to learn.

Example: "I’ll be honest, I’m not really comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. But I’m learning to overcome that by always writing down what I need to say before I say it and practicing in front of a mirror. I’ve also taken a few seminars on how to be a better public speaker."

"Where do you see yourself five years from now?"

This seems like difficult question to answer, especially if you’re just starting out with your career. While it may be tempting to just say that you’re hoping to become a supervisor or manager in the company you’re applying for, Baroma advises that you answer this question with something realistic and achievable. Are you hoping to get a masters’ degree or maybe run your own small business? All the interviewer wants to see is if you have ambition or goals beyond becoming employed.

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Example: "I’m really excited about this sales and marketing position because in five years, I want to be leading my own sales team or maybe even running my own small business."

"Why do you want to join our company?"

Baroma says the best way to answer this question is to do your research—not just about the position but also about the company and what it has to offer. Maybe they’re considered to be one of the best companies to work for locally. Maybe they have certain values that you really believe in, like sustainability or innovation, or their company goals align with your personal ones. They can also have a really great corporate social responsibility program that you believe in.

Example: "I’m really interested in joining your company because I’m really inspired by your commitment to giving back to the community through your various CSR programs. It’s nice to know that if I work for this company, I’ll also be helping out the local community."

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"Do you have any questions for me?"

It may be tempting to just get up and leave right after your interview, but asking questions shows that you’re interested in learning more about the position and the company you’re applying for. It helps to ask questions about the company culture, what day-to-day responsibilities might look like, and what goals the company might have in the future.

Good luck!

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