Frequently Asked Interview Questions & How To Answer Them – Part I

All interviews are nerve-wracking, whether it’s your first or fifteenth. What are they going to ask me? What if I don’t have a good answer? What if I don’t have an answer at all? There is no telling what each hiring manager is going to ask or how many questions can be expected, but most do tend to lean in the same general direction.

Foreseeing potential questions and coming up with proper responses is a great way to avoid those uneasy “hang on, let me think about that one” moments. Concurrently, being relaxed and natural is just as important as being prepared. Overly prepared responses may come off as scripted or fake, so it’s important to have an idea of what you would say if asked a certain question, rather than something you memorized.

We have compiled a list of 7 of the most common learnership interview questions and how to answer them in hopes of preparing you for the unexpected.

1. Tell me a little about yourself.

Most interviews start this way, no matter what position is up for grabs. Before you dive into any type of conversation about the actual learnership and what you can bring to the table, your interviewer will want some background on the person they are considering. The interesting thing about this interview question is that it seems super simple, but it isn’t. Many people get thrown off guard when they’re asked to talk about themselves right off the bat because they are under the impression that their resume and cover letter were sufficient enough. Wrong. They want to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

You don’t need to memorize and communicate your entire resume bullet point by bullet point. Rather, focus on the experience, skills and accomplishments relevant to the learnership you are applying for to help illustrate why you are a great fit.

2. Why are you interested in this learnership?

This is your time to speak highly of the company and what you’d like to get out of your (hopeful) experience there. Hiring managers want to recruit people that are passionate about the job and motivated to learn and grow within their company. They want to hear specific details about your interest; they want to know that you’ve done your research and genuinely want to join their team, and for good reason.

Review the job description and the company’s mission and explain what factors stand out to you. If you’re reading this and your answer is “I don’t know,” it probably isn’t the job for you.

3. Tell me about a challenge you have faced at work (or in school) and how you overcame it.

Interviewers use this question to gauge how well you may work under pressure or in conflict. They want to understand your problem solving skills, your methods for assessing a situation and dealing with it, and frankly, if you’re the type to crack under uncomfortable circumstances. Sure, you may be professional and able to sing your own praises in an interview, but what will you do when your workload triples? When your deadline can’t be met because someone else’s task wasn’t completed? When your co-workers aren’t easy to get along with?

Describe a work situation in which you were forced to stop, evaluate and come up with an effective solution.

4. Why are you the best candidate for this position?

Be prepared to sell yourself, and don’t be afraid to be confident. If there was ever a time to speak highly of your skills, it’s now. From this question, your hiring manager needs to be convinced that you are capable of the work, that you have the abilities to take it to the next level, and that you would be the smartest addition to the team.

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

No, asking about your weaknesses is not their way of weeding you out of your candidacy. It’s a way of determining how self-aware you are. Being able to identify your struggles is key in any type of profession, and it is appreciated. It shows that you know where you need to improve rather than operating under the guise that you don’t need any type of refinement. A learnership is a place to LEARN and grow, is it not?

Strength examples:

  • I am really deadline-driven and tend to complete my tasks ahead of time.
  • I can be really persuasive, largely due to my involvement in my university’s debate club.

It is also important to note that when identifying your weaknesses, it is ok to back them up with something positive:

Weakness examples:

  • I am not the best public speaker; talking in front of large groups makes me nervous, but I am a great communicator in a smaller setting.
  • I am not very computer-savvy, however, I learn very quickly and am confident that my skills will improve in a short period of time.

6. Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?

This question can be loaded. It’s not only meant to get an idea of where you see yourself in the future and what type of goals you have, but it’s also intended to measure your fit for the job. Is this someone who, if successful, would be a good full-time hire after the learnership? Does this candidate see himself working in a completely unrelated industry, doing a job that we cannot prepare him for? Be honest and realistic. If you aren’t sure where you want to be in five years, it’s acceptable to say so and explain that this learnership is going to help you explore the field and figure that out.

7. What questions do you have for me?

Do NOT, under any circumstances, say that you don’t have any questions. One of the key things that interviewers look for is interest. If you didn’t ask questions throughout the interview, be prepared to ask questions afterwards. This shows that you are intuitive, have the desire to learn more and can be analytical. Not asking questions may come off as though you don’t want to get hired as much as someone else may.

We hope that this instalment of “Frequently Asked Interview Questions And How To Answer Them” helps you prepare for your next interview! Stay tuned for Part 2!