Before you apply for job opportunities in Malta and set off for your interview, take some time to go through some of the typical questions that you expect to be asked during your job interview. Preparation is key, and while you shouldn't memorize an answer and recite it word-for-word during your interview, you should still prepare an answer for the most common interview questions and practice it until you feel confident in your presentation.

Here are the answers to 12 common interview questions that are asked.

Tell me about yourself.

While interviewers would like to know more about you, they are not just making small talk. They are putting you on the spot by giving you full control of the situation and testing your reaction.

How to answer:
Give a short 2 to 3 minute pitch about your background, and link it back to why you are the best fit for the job. Start off with your educational background, follow with your most recent job roles and round off with the skills you've acquired which will be of benefit to the role you are interviewing for. You can also explain the reason why you are interested in the specific job role or company. Interviewers are not interested in your personal background, family constellation and childhood upbringing. Don’t ramble on incessantly.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

The interviewer here is testing your honesty while also identifying whether you've got what it takes. Link your strengths to concrete examples and your weaknesses to measures being taken in order for them to be addressed. Always keep in mind to discuss attributes that will eventually qualify you for the job. Avoid vague and sweeping adjectives such as "professional" and "perfectionist". These are used by most interviewees and do nothing to describe your personality or work ethic. The answer to this question can also be used for the question ‘How would others describe you?’

How to answer:
When describing your strengths always be accurate (share your real strengths, not those you think the interviewer wants to hear); relevant (choose your strengths based on the job role requirements); and specific (rather than choosing vague words such as “people skills,” go for “persuasive communication” or “relationship building”). Then, follow up each strength with an example of how you've demonstrated these traits in a professional setting. The first step to describing your weaknesses is acknowledging that you actually do have some. You should also link your weaknesses to practical examples of how you’re addressing them. This shows proactivity on your part.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

The interviewer is looking for details to show that you can do the job. It’s a great opportunity to showcase your track record and this information will also convey to your interviewer, what you would be capable of if you are offered the job. The answer to this question can also be used for the question ‘Tell me about a challenge or conflict you've faced at work, and how you've dealt with it’.

How to answer:
One helpful way to answer this question is by using the STAR method. Set the context for your story (Situation), explain what was required of you (Task), what you actually did to achieve the objectives (Activity) and the success of it all (Result).

Why are you the best person for this job?

Interviewers typically get hundreds of applications for the same job, and what they would like to know when asking this question is what sets you apart from the rest of the candidates. Chances are that you will not be aware of who the candidates are so your best bet is to summarize your most impressive traits. The answer to this question can also be used for the question ‘Why should I employ you?’

How to answer:
Sell yourself! Think of your most impressive and unique strengths that closely relate to the job description, summarize them and pitch yourself in a way that clearly illustrates the qualities you could bring to the role. You should add how successful you would be in the new role and how well you would fit into the company culture.

Why are you leaving your current job?

Interviewers are fishing for reasons why you did not last longer in the company. They are also testing whether you would be bad mouthing their company later on. You should never dwell on the past and more importantly never speak negatively about your previous employer, regardless of the reasons for leaving.

How to answer:
Be direct and focus your answer on the future, especially if you did not leave under the best of circumstances. Focus on yourself and your eagerness to take on new opportunities rather than what your previous employer did wrong. If you were fired, simply state that you were let go.

How would you explain this gap in employment?

A big gap of several months to a year on your CV can raise a few question marks for recruiters and the subject is likely to come up during an interview. Whether you chose to raise a family, pursue your education further, or were just unsuccessful in gaining new employment, you need to help an employer understand the reasons for your career gaps.

How to answer:
Avoid skirting around your employment gaps during job interviews. The best way to tackle this situation is to explain gaps, truthfully and briefly. Regardless of the reasons for your employment gaps, you should always maintain a positive attitude, and show the value you offer to potential employers.

What type of work environment do you prefer?

The interviewer here wants to identify the candidate with the best fit to the company culture. The answer to this question can also be used for the question ‘Do you prefer to work independently or as part of a team?’ and ‘What is your ideal job?’

How to answer:
Two good qualities to mention here are your ability to be flexible and adaptive. You can also mention the work environment at your past job, which aspects you enjoyed and which you would rather change.

How do you handle stress and pressure?

Your interviewer wants to know how you would react to stressful situations at work. This question can also be linked to ‘What type of work environment do you prefer?’ and ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?’

How to answer:
Show your interviewer that you can tackle a stressful situation in a productive and positive manner. A reasonable amount of stress is important to get things done. You can also share some of your techniques for reducing and managing stress or describe examples when you successfully navigated a stressful situation at work. The START method can also be used in this case.

Why would you want to work for this company?

By asking this question, interviewers trying to find out how prepared you are for the interview, and whether you took the time to research your next potential employer. They also want to fish for your career goals and understand your priorities — which aspects of the company or the job are appealing to you and why?

How to answer:
A good answer will demonstrate a knowledge of the company and its industry. Do your homework - pick a specific reasons for wanting to work for the firm. You can focus on the company’s culture, reputation or ethos, its positioning in the market or growth potential, or a passion for the products or service they offer.

Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years’ time?

Interviewers want to get a sense of your personal goals, expectations and ambitions. They want to know whether your career expectations are realistic, whether you have the drive and motivation for the job, and whether your employment is an investment for the company or simply a short-term solution. The answer to this question can also be used for the question ‘What are your goals for the next 5/10 years?’

How to answer:
You should tailor your answer according to each job interview you attend. Be realistic about the path that that particular career could lead you on. Don’t focus on personal goals (such as getting married and raising children) but rather on professional ones. Be careful of not sharing too much information. If your aim is to run your own business, you might want to consider whether your reply would affect your chances of employment.

What are your salary expectations?

The interviewer wants to know how much you value yourself and your ability to succeed in the job. If this is your first interview for the position, the interviewer is not looking for a specific figure but simply a range as indication.

How to answer:
Do some research on tools such as and Konnekt Malta Tax Calculator before your interview, to get a salary range which is fair and well-informed. Always ask for the higher end of the range and allow room for negotiation.

Do you have any questions?

An interview is not only a chance for your interviewer to grill you, but it is also an opportunity to dig deeper yourself into your next potential employer.

How to answer:
You should always have some questions prepared to ask your interviewer. This shows your eagerness for the job and the fact that you've given the interview enough importance to prepare beforehand. If it’s your first interview, your questions should be focused on helping you understand the role better, and avoid questions that have to do with salary, leave policy and dress code.

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