Job interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience for the applicant and a time-consuming exercise for the hiring manager. However, they play a key role in determining whether the company and candidate will make an effective match. As such, the interviewing process provides a great deal of value for the company and candidates alike.

Having the necessary skills is no longer enough to landing a job.  The best way to prepare for an interview is for you to practice adequately on your responses to interview questions.

Here are some common questions and tips on how to answer, to help you prepare for an upcoming interview.

Tip: What the hiring manager is really asking…

“Are you genuinely interested in the job? Are you a good fit for the company?”

How to respond: Your goal is to demonstrate why you and the company are a great match in terms of philosophy and skill. Discuss what you have learnt about them, with more emphasis on their mission, company culture, and reputation.

Next, highlight how you would benefit professionally from the job and how the company would benefit professionally from you. For example, you could say, “growing up, - everything about communication fascinated me and that is why I chose to study and attend the best communications school in Ghana. Your company is one of the most prestigious communications firms in the sub region and I know it’s the best place for me to develop my skills and grow my career.”

  • Where do you see yourself in five years? 10 years?

Tip: What the hiring manager is really asking…

"Does this position fit into your long-term career goals? Do you even have long-term career goals?"

How to respond: Do NOT say you don't know (even if you don't) and do not focus on your personal life (it's nice that you want to get married, but it's not relevant). Show the employer you've thought about your career path and that your professional goals align with the company.

  • What motivates you to perform?

Tip: What the hiring manager is really asking…

“Are you a hard worker? Am I going to have to force you to produce quality work?”

How to respond: Ideal employees are motivated internally, so tell the hiring manager that you find motivation when you’re working towards a goal, contributing to a team effort, and/or developing your skills. Provide a specific example that supports your response.

Finally, even if it’s true, do not tell an employer that you’re motivated by bragging rights, material things, or the fear of being disciplined.

  • Tell me about a time you failed.

Tip: What the hiring manager is really asking…

“How do you respond to failure? Do you learn from your mistakes? Are you resilient?”

How to respond: Similar to the “greatest weakness” question, you need to demonstrate how you have turned a negative experience into a learning experience.

To do this, acknowledge one of your failures, take responsibility for it, and explain how you improved as a result. Don’t say you have never failed, don’t play the blame game, and don’t bring up something that is a deal breaker.

  • Why are you leaving your current job?

Tip: what the hiring manager is really asking…

“How eager are you to take on new opportunities? Is this job role a better fit for you than your current or last position?”

How to respond: remember your goal here is to be positive and not blacklist or be negative about your past employers. Show the hiring manager you are eager to take on new opportunities and that the role you are interviewing for is a better fit for you. For example, say “I would rather love to be a part of product development from beginning to end and I know I will have that opportunity here.”