While you never know exactly what you’ll be asked you can prepare by planning how you’d answer some of the most common interview questions. Employers need to understand why you want the job, why you’re the best person for the role, and how well your personality will fit into the organisation. Your answers could be the key factor in their decision.
Here are some of the job interview questions you’re most likely to face.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
This question, usually the opener, is a chance to provide the interviewer with a great first impression. Preparation is important, but your answer shouldn’t sound rehearsed. Focus on your skills, characteristics and successes, and how they make you a strong candidate in terms of the job description. Generally, begin with an overview of your highest qualification and greatest achievements, before running through your work experience and giving examples of the skills that you’ve developed.
Why do you want to work here?
Demonstrate that you’ve researched the role by discussing the skills and interests that led you to apply. Draw on what you enjoy – use examples from your life that suggest you’re strongly motivated and can relate closely to the organisation. Talk about particular aspects of the job advertisement that enticed you.
Similar questions include: What do you know about the company? and What motivated you to apply for this job?
What are your strengths?
Pick three or four attributes desired by the employer in the person specification, such as teamwork, leadership, initiative, and lateral thinking. Whichever strengths you pick, you must be able to evidence them with examples.
Similar questions include: How would a friend describe you? How would you describe your personality?
What three things would your last boss would say about you?
What are your weaknesses?
You can positively frame your answer by picking characteristics that you’ve taken steps to improve. For example, self-confidence issues could have previously led to difficulty accepting criticism – but tell the interviewer that you’ve learned to embrace constructive feedback as it allows for self-improvement. Never say that you have no weaknesses, that you’re a perfectionist, or that you work too hard. These are clichéd responses that the employer is definitely tired of hearing and could portray you as lacking in self-awareness.
Similar questions include: How do you respond to criticism? and How would your worst enemy describe you?
How would you improve our product/service?
Your knowledge and understanding of what the company does will prove invaluable. Don’t be too critical of the product or service – you want to work there after all – but at the same, don’t say you wouldn’t change anything. The interviewer wants to hear some ideas. Try to come up with one or two things that you think could be improved. The key is to offer an explanation of how and why you’d make these changes.
When have you had to cope with a difficult situation?
This question is one of the most popular competency-based interview questions. It allows the employer to assess how calm and reliable you are under pressure. Outline an instance where you’ve coped with an unexpected problem, discussing how you reorganised and managed your time. Think about times when you’ve had to meet tight deadlines or handle difficult people.
Similar questions include: Give an example of a time when you had to cope under pressure and Give an example of a time when you’ve handled a major crisis.