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14 typical application questions: The best answers
Whoever sits across from the HR manager has done a lot of things right. The application documents were evidently convincing. The qualifications fit. Now they want to get to know you personally. In the interview. Now it is a matter of reinforcing the already positive impression. Easier said than done! This is exactly where the typical application questions come into play. They make many applicants sweat of fear on their foreheads. Within a few minutes you should be personable, bursting with inspiration and commitment and prove why you are the best person for the position ... We show you how good preparation for such questions is important - including 14 clever answers ...
➠ Content: This is what awaits you
➠ Content: This is what awaits you
Application questions: What HR managers want to know
Even the thought of the application questions in the job interview brings some candidates to the edge of desperation: What should I say in order to convince with my know-how? Wrong question! The technical side only plays a subordinate role in the interview. You have already been able to convince with your CV, cover letter and job references. In a personal conversation, it is more about your personality. HR professionals want to find out what kind of person you are. Whether you fit into the team and the company. How they work or how they deal with conflicts. In short: it's about your motivation, passion and way of working.
To get to know you better, HR managers use different questioning techniques and application questions. These can be open questions (“Why should we hire you?”), Stressful questions (“What is your personal secret?”) Or trick questions (“Which question would you not like to be asked?”). Please never take this personally. All of the questions in the interview are an attempt to look behind the facade of the application and to be able to assess you better.
Never memorize application questions and answers!
Every interview is individual. The same applies to the application questions. Before you set out to memorize the best answers to frequently asked application questions: This is not how it works! You can of course use the answers for inspiration or as a basis. That's what they're meant for. But playing them back like a tape recorder does not help. HR managers recognize standard answers and empty phrases within a few moments. Anyone who has been around long enough has already heard everything. And once the memorized sayings are unmasked, the credibility is also gone.
So invest enough timeto come up with your own twist, your own clever answer. Don't worry: all answers that match your personality, your résumé and your professional goals will convince HR managers - because they are authentic. In the worst case, it just doesn't fit. But it is better that you both notice this in the interview rather than later in the job!
14 application questions - and the best answers
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
The classic among the conversations and prelude to the so-called self-presentation. For HR professionals, this is the chance to experience the candidate live and in the context of the facts that they already know from the application or from the tabular curriculum vitae. You should present yourself within a period of three to seven minutes. For the structure, you can use the now common formula: "I am - I can - I want".
I am Susanne Mustermann, 25 years old and this semester I will finish my studies at the University of Cologne with a master’s degree. The topic of my thesis is: ... For the past two years I worked for the company Muster AG and was responsible for finding new customers in the XY area and looking after them sustainably.
In doing so, I was not only able to increase sales by around two million, but also improve some points in customer relationship management, which should be of particular interest to you in the advertised position. I would now like to use this experience to develop myself further in your company. My strengths fit well with your brand and the challenges of the position that I would like to work in one way or another.
In which areas do you see your strengths?
This is not about praising yourself, but about convincing the HR manager that your own profile fits the requirements of the position. You should avoid empty phrases and provide examples of what you can do. Even things that are taken for granted will not get you anywhere. Punctuality is not a strength, it can be expected. It is better to concentrate on what you can really do better than others - and what is relevant to the job at the same time.
One of my strengths lies in the organization, be it at large events or in project work. In my current position, I organized a conference for 200 people for one of our major customers. It's easy for me to keep track and bring all the threads together.
What are your weaknesses?
When asked about the strengths, the question about the weaknesses is not far away either. Sure, nobody wants to present their own weaknesses to a potential employer on a silver platter. Basically, however, it's about something else: HR managers want to know whether you are self-critical and can deal honestly and constructively with your weaknesses. The best answer therefore consists of an honest self-assessment, which is expanded to include the intention of improving oneself.
In large groups, I am more cautious and try not to be the center of attention. However, I have noticed that I am wasting the chance to contribute my views and suggestions and I am working harder to appear more self-confident and to assert my opinion.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
This applicant question is not about detailing what you will really be doing in the future. Rather, the answer shows whether you have a career plan or what your hopes are for personal development. HR professionals are looking for talented and motivated employees who, at best, will fill a position for the long term. Which should be reflected in your answer after the next five years.
My current goal is to find a company in which I can develop myself professionally and personally. I would like to face as many different challenges as possible in order to learn in several areas - both personally and professionally. My goal is to take on more and more management and personnel responsibility over the next few years and to pursue more strategic goals in the process. I think that works particularly well when I work for an organization that is developing itself. And I see that as a given here.
How do you react to criticism?
Nobody likes to work with colleagues who are resistant to advice, always take criticism personally and deliberately ignore good advice. What counts are personalities who see criticism as an opportunity for personal growth and an opportunity that is part of every professional collaboration.
Criticism is one of the best ways to improve. I am always grateful for feedback and try not to take it personally. For example, during my internship, a colleague told me that he didn't like the presentation that I made for him. But he also showed me where the weaknesses of the presentation were and what can be done differently. As a result, my handling of the program, but also of creating presentations, has improved significantly.
What would be the ideal situation for you in the workplace?
With this application question, two points are in the foreground: "What do you expect from your job and do you fit into the existing working atmosphere?" It helps if you deal with the company in advance and have learned as much as possible about the working atmosphere. You can then combine this with your own ideas.
I think the interaction between colleagues, but also the cooperation with the supervisor, plays a major role in a successful team. Everyone should be ready to support the other - but also to learn and accept criticism in order to continuously improve the joint work.
Why are you exactly the right person for the job?
For applicants, this question usually brings stress and the realization: Yes, why actually? Don't let yourself be put under pressure, concentrate on your added value and the benefits for the company. What qualifications do you have, what way of working do you have? A look at the job advertisement also helps to know exactly what the HR manager is looking for.
For the position of Junior Account Manager you need someone who can handle numbers well, thinks in a solution-oriented manner and always has the customer's wishes in mind. With my master's degree in accounting, I have the technical qualifications and in my internship ... I have already been able to gain initial experience in customer contact and have learned what is important.
How do you motivate yourself?
HR professionals are specifically interested in what motivates you and what drives you. After all, a motivated employee performs better, stands up for his employer and ensures that company goals are achieved. Unfortunately, it is not enough to affirm your own motivation. What is needed are examples, stories from previous professional life and explanations.
What motivates me most is the results of my work. To see that I've done something well gives me new strength and the desire to tackle other tasks and, if possible, improve myself.
Can you handle work under pressure?
This question may indicate that the position you applied for can be stressful and overtime is possible. At the same time, it is a classic question to sound out possible weaknesses of an applicant. The best way to score points on this question is with a scenario that clearly describes how you performed well under pressure.
Even under pressure I can keep a cool head and never lose sight of the goal. During my internship at ... it often happened that customers made last-minute requests. To implement this, I made a plan and then worked through it step by step.
Why do colleagues enjoy working with you?
Another application question that is geared towards your self-assessment. Unfortunately, no HR manager is convinced of just being able to work in a team. Therefore, think about suitable examples from your previous career in order to underline your explanations.
I think my colleagues especially appreciate my great commitment and motivation. Even with difficult and tedious tasks, I can pull others along and always give my best. When there was an important deadline for my last job, I took an extra shift with two colleagues in order to finish on time and to relieve a sick colleague.
What position do you prefer in teamwork?
Try to show your flexibility here. Your answer should show that you are able to take the lead in a group. But also that you are a team player. The middle ground is often a good solution: If you are too brash with this question, your ability to work in a team will not be properly communicated. On the other hand, only subordinate yourself, do not show any leadership potential.
I want to achieve the best possible result in a joint project. For this it is important that all those involved use their potential. In order to promote positive suggestions from colleagues, I am happy to help them implement them. But I also make sure to bring my own ideas and express my opinion.
How do you deal with mistakes and setbacks?
Mistakes are part of life and happen in every job. It is therefore important for HR managers how you deal with them if you make a mistake in your day-to-day work. Don't try to pretend you never make a mistake - it looks implausible, not self-critical and absolutely not authentic.
I try to avoid mistakes, but should I still be confronted with them, I solve the situation in two steps: First, I concentrate on a suitable solution in order to quickly fix the error. Then I look back at how it came about in order to be able to react better in a similar situation in the future.
What do you think of your last employer?
A dangerous question that aims at how satisfied you were at your old place of work. However, nobody should complain about a former employer in the interview. In any case, the focus of this application question is on the positive sides, even if you were dissatisfied and have therefore resigned.
I am very grateful for the opportunities my last employer offered me. I was able to gain my first professional experience there and expand my skills through further training. I learned a lot there for my future professional path.
Do you have more questions?
Usually the last application question in the interview to which there is only one possible answer: "Yes". If you don't ask questions, HR managers quickly appear unprepared or even disinterested. When answering questions, however, you should not question anything that has already been explained in the conversation - or what you could have found out yourself through a brief search on the Internet.
Yes. Thanks for the opportunity. I actually have a few more questions about your last remarks. You spoke of the development opportunities for employees. Could you explain in more detail how talent and strengths are fostered in your company? And how do you rate the success in this position in the first 100 days?
Even more interview tips
➠ Job interview: all the tips
Job interview process
➠ Interview preparation
➠ Application questions + answers
➠ Job interview clothes
➠ Introducing yourself
➠ End the interview
➠ Second interview
➠ Assessment Center
➠ Stress interview
➠ Job interview English
➠ Video interview
➠ Telephone interview
➠ These 100 questions can come
➠ 25 trick questions + answers
➠ Stress issues
➠ What are your weaknesses?
➠ What are your strengths?
➠ Why should we hire you?
➠ What was your last salary?
➠ Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
➠ Why did you quit?
➠ Inadmissible questions
➠ Inquiries to HR managers
Tips & Tricks
➠ Practice interview
➠ Interview mistakes
➠ White lies in the job interview
➠ body language tips
➠ Overcome nervousness
➠ Where to put your hands?
➠ Confirm the interview
➠ Postpone the interview
➠ Cancel the interview
➠ Cancel the interview
➠ Follow up after the conversation
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