Normally, job interviews can be quite daunting, especially for the freshers. Interviews can also prove to be a stumbling block for people who are often highly qualified or have a lot of work experience. Often, one might have been fired or laid off from the previous job, and questions about that could prove to be difficult to answer.
People suffer from several types of nervous reactions to the prospect of facing a job interview - sweaty palms, twitching, being unable to answer questions, appearance issues, etc. It is effective if one is prepared with answers beforehand, so that these nervous reactions disappear. However, it must be pointed out that one should not answer the questions, as if one has learned them by rote. It shows, and it reduces your chances.
First of all, try to be as natural and as confident as you can. Dress in formal clothes and ensure that you don't suffer from a bad case of body odor. Pop a mouth freshener several minutes before your interview, if you smoke, etc. Don't overdo it with the perfume - you don't want to smell like a garden. And always smile, and talk naturally. Look at the interview, as a process of getting to know your future company or boss, rather than as a grueling ordeal.
Here is a list of commonly asked questions and answers, that will help you to be prepared for the interview. This list is by no means comprehensive and does not cover, say, the technical questions that might be asked. However, this is how most interviews start.
"Tell us about yourself."
Try to be as natural and as relaxed as possible, when you answer this question. This is not the time, however, to go into an autobiographical mode. They are not interested in your family problems and how your grandmother is suffering from heart disease.
This is an opportunity to talk about your career highlights, and to tell the interviewers what skills you could be bringing with you into their company. Talk about your educational qualifications and how your key strengths with respect to the job you are interviewing for. In short, tell them via your past work related experiences how you are the right candidate for the job.
Freshmen can talk about their educational qualifications, and their interests outside their studies.
Under any circumstances, don't appear desperate! That you want the job is clear because you are there for the interview. There is no need to sound needy.
"What are your hobbies?"
This where most people goof up - they say that they are interested in reading or in listening to music or in dancing, etc. These are quite common answers. However, are they honest? You don't need to have a plethora of 'hobbies' to justify your answer to this question. You can be honest and tell them what you like to do when you have some free time.
For example, if you say that you like to read books this might lead to a discussion on your favorite authors and why you like them. So if you don't really read, avoid saying so.
"What are your strengths and weaknesses?"
Well, don't tell them that you are able to down 5 Tequila shots in a row, or that you are afraid of talking to new people!
Tell them what you feel are your strong points and your weak points relative to the job at hand. Let's say that the job on offer calls for keen text editing capabilities - tell the interviewer that you have an eye for detail and that you are naturally able to spot grammatical mistakes. With regards to weaknesses, for example, you can tell them that you have a problem with staying organized, but then you have now begun using a planner, which helps you remain alert and on top of things.
The trick here is to show how you are very good at the necessary qualifications of the job, and how you have identified your weak spots and have taken corrective measures to rectify them.
"Why did you leave your previous job?"
DO NOT talk about your horrible ex-boss or your nasty co-workers. An interview is not the place to go into that story. Instead, you can tell them that you were looking for opportunities to grow or change your role.
If you were fired from your previous job, tell them so. Lying about it won't help because they will find out when they call for references. Tell them what your learning was from that experience and what positive inputs you have taken from it, making you a stronger person.
If you were laid off, say so. Explain how, with the change in economy the previous company decided to downsize and you were among several others who were laid off.
If you quit your previous job, then explain how that job was probably not challenging enough for you or how you feel that having handled more than your core responsibilities in the previous job made you feel that you were ready for a change. Again, don't dwell on the politics aspect of why you quit.
"Why do you want to work in this company?"
Tell them why - but don't focus on that fat pay check you are thinking about and not on the perks and benefits you think you will get. Instead, talk about what the experience from the job would help you to learn. Tell them how you are interested in working in that industry, because it is in line with your education / interests / past experiences.
In short, here is an opportunity to tell them why you are the perfect candidate for that particular job.
"Where do you see yourself 5 years down the line?"
Don't tell them that you want to be where they are sitting right now - the interviewer may feel threatened. Also, don't tell them that you want to be sailing in a yacht in the Mediterranean drinking champagne.
This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your long term planning capacities. They are asking about your career aspirations. Tell them that you see yourself in a role where you handle more responsibilities effectively and capably because the current job will provide you with a lot of learning and experience to do so.
Do you have any questions for me?"
At this juncture, you can ask relevant questions about your job / position. Ask them about the job related training process that you might go through. Ask them about the prospects for growth within the organization.
At this point, do not ask about the salary and other compensations. This will come for the next round of interviews. Or perhaps, if they have finalized you, they will start the discussion.
There is no need to take the interviewer's interview. Just ask the couple of relevant questions and you will do just fine.
Ideally, at the end of this interview, the company will call you or let you know about the next step in the process of getting the job.