An interview is your chance to show an employer why you’re perfect for the role and maximise your chances of landing your dream job. In order to be fully prepared for an interview, it’s crucial that you have a good idea of what kinds of questions will be asked and have excellent responses at the ready.
This article highlights the most common interview questions and gives advice on how to answer them to full effect.
Tell me about yourself
Many interviewees see this as a question that revolves around their suitability to the role. However, this is actually the interviewer wanting to find out more about you as an individual rather than a worker, as this will help them to decide whether you’ll fit the business and gel with the existing team.
Tell them a little about where you grew up or why you relocated, as this is an effective icebreaker. Share some details of your favourite pursuits too, such as sports and hobbies. This is also the perfect point to let them know about any volunteer work you’re involved in, such as fundraising for a worthy cause, being a parent governor on a school board, or any other way that you support society (even litter-picking and community gardening will grab their attention).
Why are you the best person for the job?
This is where you prove to them that you have the skills, expertise and attitude required to fill the role. Depending on the position, this could include your qualifications and any training you’ve successfully completed, although education isn’t everything – you also need to clearly explain what you will bring to the company as part of a confident, concise and focused sales pitch.
Why do you want this job?
Whilst the job title and salary are of course partly what attracted you to the vacancy, the interviewer wants to see that you’re serious about this role in particular. Key areas to cover here are why you want to work for the company, why this exact role caught your eye, and how being part of the team will benefit employee and employer alike.
How has your experience prepared you for this role?
Previous experience has a lot of influence during the recruitment process, so tell the interviewer how your previous roles have helped you to build relevant skills. You should also make it clear how these strengths will benefit the employer, as this will help them to gauge how well you fit the job description.
Why are you leaving your current job?
Don’t worry, this isn’t a trap. Just make sure to give an honest and positive answer but you don’t have to go into too much detail. For instance, it might be that you’ve always wanted to work for the interviewer’s company or its values align with your own. Perhaps you’re looking for an opportunity to demonstrate your capabilities or feel that this company will allow you to progress along your dream career path. Make it short and sweet, as this will satisfy the interviewer.
What is your greatest strength?
This is a classic interview question that can still be difficult to answer. However, don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet, as it’s a way for the employer to determine how well you fit the position.
As such, the answer should be relevant to the role and it will come across much more powerful if you shape it as an example rather than a basic fact, e.g. tell a story about how you solved a specific issue in the past, rather than simply saying you’re a good problem solver.
What is your greatest weakness?
This is the other question that’s been around for generations and which many interviewees dread. The trick is to turn what you may refer to as a “weakness” into a strength, such as:
How do you handle stress and pressure?
It’s a well-known fact that the workplace can be a stressful environment, especially when you have a heavy workload or multiple deadlines to meet. The interviewer wants reassurance that you’ll be able to cope with your responsibilities, so give them some examples of how you handle stress and pressure in a constructive way.
Good examples are that you’re skilled at finding methods of making projects run more smoothly, you’re comfortable with approaching others for advice, or simply that you keep track of your mental health and give yourself everything you need to stay in control.
What are your salary expectations?
Interview questions that focus on money can feel a bit awkward but they need to be answered in an effective way. You don’t want to sell yourself short but you also need to steer clear of pricing yourself out of a job, so doing your research beforehand is critical.
By looking into typical salaries for the type of role and level of seniority, you can give an honest answer that should satisfy the interviewer.
What are your career goals?
The main purpose of this question is to ascertain whether you’ll stay with the employer for a while or leave as soon as another opportunity arises elsewhere. Answer by explaining how this role and the company itself will help you to expand your skill set, take on new responsibilities and/or progress in your career. This shows that you’re planning on working there on a long-term basis if offered the position and makes it clear that you’re serious about fulfilling the role to the best of your abilities.