A job application process often begins with sharing your resume and progresses to one or multiple rounds of interviews. As a newcomer in Canada, this may (most likely) not be your first time in a job interview, but it doesn’t hurt to brush up on some of the basic interview questions as you start preparing for your job search.
The interview process in Canada usually begins with a phone call where the recruiter will get to know you, your experience and skills. This is usually followed up with in-person (or video) interviews with the hiring manager and other team members to test your domain knowledge and organizational fit. The initial interview rounds or screening rounds will often have similar questions. To help you prepare for your job interview(s) in Canada, we will be sharing some commonly-asked questions in this article.
As you refer to these common interview questions, it’s important to not memorize answers for each question but instead have an overall idea of key points that you would like to convey and adopt a very natural, conversational style while answering them.
List of common interview questions and answers
1. Tell me about yourself.
- To better understand how your education, past work experience, and career goals align with the open position.
- To assess if you are the right fit for the job.
- Start by introducing yourself: Share a little bit about your current career phase/role and mention a major achievement.
- Next, talk about your career journey and key professional milestones. Explain how you got to where you are today. Keep it concise and compelling. If an experience or accomplishment isn’t relevant to the position, if possible, try to find a way to tie it back to the role.
- Conclude with a couple of noteworthy experiences and/or career aspirations to demonstrate how you are a good fit for the role.
- While responding to this question, try to connect the dots on your resume so that the interviewer understands the reasoning behind your career choices.
- To keep the interview interesting, you may choose to share some personal hobbies or fun facts about yourself, but don’t let these details dominate your response; stay focused on what is expected of you in the role that you’re applying for.
2. Why do you want to work at this company?
- To gauge your level of enthusiasm based on how much you know about the company, its products/services, culture, vision, mission, and corporate values.
- To assess compatibility with the team and organization.
- Research the company well; this can be seen as an indicator of motivation.
- Share your values, beliefs, and personality characteristics that demonstrate why the organization is a good fit for you and why you are a good fit for them.
- Provide personalized experiences to highlight relevant skills that relate to the job.
3. Tell me about a time you faced a challenge or conflict at work, and how you dealt with it?
- To understand how you respond when faced with difficult situations.
- To be able to predict your future behaviour based on past actions.
- While answering, use the STAR approach to illustrate your experience positively:
- S = Situation: Describe the scenario or challenge that existed.
- T = Task: Outline the goal that needed to be met (or achieved) to resolve the situation.
- A = Action: Discuss the specific steps you took towards resolution.
- R = Result: Share qualitative and quantitative outcomes from your actions.
4. Tell me about a time you failed.
- To understand how you respond to failure.
- To gauge resilience.
- In certain cultures, admitting to failure means losing face. Know that this is not the case in Canada.
- You can start by explaining how you define failure.
- Then, acknowledge one of your failures and tell the interviewer how you improved as a result.
- Finally, share what you’ve learned from that experience.
- Avoid saying that you’ve never failed as it may come across as being arrogant or ignorant. Also, don’t blame others and don’t bring up any illegal activities.
5. What motivates you?
- To assess if you are self-driven, a go-getter, and a hard worker.
- Share specific examples of what has energized and motivated you in past roles, and what you’re looking forward to the most in the role you’re interviewing for. Remember, ideal employees are motivated internally.
- Ensure your example is relevant to the position and tell the supporting story in an engaging manner.
6. What are your strengths?
- To identify how you can add value to the role on offer, the team, and the organization.
- Highlight attributes that would be relevant to the position you are applying for.
- Provide a clear and precise answer and use examples to back up your response.
7. What are your weaknesses?
- To check your level of self-awareness and willingness to improve.
- The ideal way to answer this question is to choose a weakness that can also be viewed as a strength.
- You can elaborate on how you’re actively taking steps to improvise on the weakness.
- Avoid sharing attributes that may be perceived negatively.
8. Where do you see yourself in ‘X’ years? OR What are your goals?
- To learn about your long-term plans and estimate your potential tenure and career path with the company.
- You don’t have to share a very specific answer to this question, but providing the interviewer with a general sense of your passions, interests, and career aspirations should suffice.
- Talk about your dream job/role; explain how the position you are applying for will lead you to achieve it.
- In your response, emphasize your commitment to the role and the company.
- Demonstrate openness to learning new things and taking on more responsibilities.
- Don’t focus on personal life goals like marriage or buying a house.
9. What do you consider your biggest professional achievement?
- To understand how you define success in your professional life.
- You can have multiple achievements that you are proud of; choose one that is most relevant to the position you are applying for. The story you select may be different for different interviews.
- Consider the competencies, skills, work ethics, and personal values that would be highlighted through your response.
- Share examples using the STAR approach.
10. What is your salary expectation?
- To ensure your expectations are in line with the available budget for the role.
- Research salaries in Canada. Use Indeed’s Salary Tool, Salary Wizard Canada, Glassdoor’s Salary Search or the Payscale Salary Survey and Payscale Research Reports to get a sense of average salaries for your desired role.
- Provide a range instead of a specific number.
- Let the interviewer know if you’re willing to negotiate.
For more insights on salary research, read – Tips for negotiating your salary in Canada.
Asking follow-up questions to the interviewer
In addition to the questions mentioned above, the interviewer will most likely ask you if you have any questions for them. Use this as an opportunity to:
- Learn more about the position and the organization, and
- To clarify any doubts or questions you may have.
Be mindful of not asking questions that can be easily answered by looking at the company website.
Asking relevant questions at the end of the interview,
- Reflects your genuine interest in the company and the role,
- Shows that you have been attentive during the interview and have done your background research, and
- Helps you evaluate if the organization and the team are a good fit for you.
There is no way to know for sure which questions you will be asked in an interview, but using this list of questions to prepare for your interview will ensure that you’re well-equipped to confidently face a potential employer and make a great impression.
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