“What can you tell me about yourself?” “What weaknesses do you have?” “Where do you see yourself five years from now?”
Alright some of interview questions are easier to answer than others. Never-the-less no one can predict exactly what you will be asked, however one thing for sure there is very high potential of a question making you stumble. Except, of course, when you have prepared in advance.
To assistance you with getting an idea of what could come up, we have created list of common interview questions, and a guild on how to answer them:
1. What weaknesses do you have?
Firstly, at no time say that you have no weaknesses. Anyone who does this comes across like they have simply not prepared for the interview. Equally, avoid giving yourself a sneaky compliment, such as, 'I work too hard.'
Everyone has weaknesses or somethings that they can improve about themselves, that said being able to identify a weakness is a strength.
Focus on an area of your work that needs to be improved and then give practical examples of how you’re trying to address it. Interviewers want to understand that you have the ability to be honest about yourself and to seek self-improvement, being honest with yourself here will save you a lot of time in the long run.
Right answer: Weakness + how you’ve tried/are trying to address it = (eventually) strength
Wrong answer: ‘Hmm, I am not sure’
2. Why should I consider hiring you?
This is boldly aimed at provoking a personal sales pitch. Here you should demonstrate why you want the job, and why you would be a perfect fit for the role. But don't forget that other people being interviewed may match or exceed your suitability. For this reason, always assume that the case, focus on what else you can bring to the job, like being able to integrate well with existing members of the team, for instance.
Essentially, the firm is hiring for a reason “a brief summary of which can usually be found in the job description”. You need to position yourself as the person to do this, however if you are not the finished article, then point out how keen you are to learn and be mentored.
Right answer: ‘From what we’ve discussed so far, you’re looking to X (or, ‘having a problem with X’). In the past I have demonstrated X, Y and Z (experience and your main strengths), which have really helped my previous employer’
Wrong answer: ‘I need an income’
3. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Here they really want is to see that you’ve thought about your future, and gauge your ambition and more importantly they want to verify that this isn’t just a stop gap position. Therefore, this is your opportunity to talk about your wider ambitions and goals. It is okay to say you'd like to of developed and progress on from the position on offer in most cases.
They want to hire people with willpower so don't be shy about sounding ambitious or hungry for success. Although when answering tailor to the fire and position you’ve applied for, this is especially the case with this question. If you’re going for an entry level position, for example, explain how you’d like your career to progress (e.g. ‘I’d like to progress to a front of house supervisor’ or ‘I see myself being a team leader…’).
However, in the event you are going for a more senior role, describe how you would be looking to move the firm forward. Have a look at their business strategy or corporate objectives before the interview, and explain how you can help in achieving them.
Right answer: Be passionate about the industry. Fit your career goals around the organisation’s objectives, demonstrate ambition and exploit your strengths
Wrong answer: ‘On the other side of this desk’
4. Why do you want to work here?
This is your chance to show that you have researched the company you are applying to work with. Typical things you might say are that the company operates in your chosen sector, that it provides a clearly structured career path and that the organisation has a good reputation. Avoid saying anything negative about your current employer which makes it seem you are simply after any job at all. Don't simply trot these ideas out, though. Do your research!
Right answer: Very similar answer to why you want the job, focus more heavily on why the position and company excite you, rather than why you should excite them. Demonstrate what you know about the company (and use the job description to back up why you’re the right person to do the job).
Wrong answer: ‘because I need the money’
5. Is there anything that you would like to ask me?
Always have at least one question prepared in advance. This is your chance to drill down into an area of the business that might not have been covered in the interview. Alternatively, you may simply like to ask for feedback on how you have done in the interview.
A good tip is to pick up on something that has been mentioned in passing by the interviewer about the job. Ask him or her to expand on this. Not only does it make you appear interested, but it shows that you have been listening attentively to what has been said. It should leave the interviewer with a good final impression of you.
Remember that you don't need to answer all questions at an interview if you feel they are too personal or you are not comfortable with them. Getting yourself prepared for common questions is necessary prep work before attending an interview.
Don’t make the answer come across as rehearsed; rather, just remember the gist of your answer and then let the sentences flow freely during the interview, which gives the interviewer a much better impression of you. Good luck!
Right Answer: ‘Yes’. No exceptions.
Wrong answer: No.
6. Describe a situation in which you led a team
This is an example of a competency-based question. Many graduate positions involve people management, where you will be expected to plan, organise and guide the work of others as well as motivating them to complete tasks. The interviewer needs to assess how well you relate to other people, what role you take in a group and whether you are able to focus on goals and targets.
Outline the situation, your role and the task of the group overall. Describe any problems which arose and how they were tackled. Say what the result was and what you learned from it. Examples could include putting on a drama or music production; a group project at university; a business game or Young Enterprise scheme or being team leader in a fast-food restaurant.
This, and other skills which the employer considers essential for effective performance in the job, should have been highlighted in the job description or graduate brochure - so always be prepared to give examples of situations where you have demonstrated these qualities!
While your example should indicate the nature of the team and the task, you need to focus on your own role as leader and on the personal qualities that led you to take on/be nominated for this role and which helped you to succeed in it. Leadership involves many skills: planning, decision-making, persuading, motivating, listening, co-ordinating - but not dictating!
Right answer: Describe any problems which arose and how they were tackled. Say what the result was and what you learned from it.
Wrong answer: ‘I’ve never been in this situation’.
7. Describe a situation where you worked in a team
Most jobs will involve a degree of teamwork. The interviewer needs to assess how well you relate other people, what role you take in a group and whether you are able to focus on goals and targets.
Outline the situation, your particular role and the task of the group overall. Describe any problems which arose and how they were tackled. Say what the result was and what you learned from it.
Examples could include putting on a drama or music production; a group project at university; a business game or taken part in our enterprise program or employment program or maybe working in a fast-food restaurant.
8. What can you tell me about yourself?
This is a common opening question, because your interviewers want to know more about you, however they’ve given you complete control here, and you should take full advantage of it.
So focus on elements that you want to highlight subjects that are relevant than going through everything that are off topic too much.
Remember you’re here to interview for a specific role, and you shouldn’t lose sight of this. As your detailed work history can be found on your CV avoid rambling, because they aren’t asked for your life story.
Right answer: Should be about a two or three minutes long and briefly cover your education, your interest in the field, work history and experience.
Wrong answer: ‘Well, where do I start? I was born in 2001, A bright as youngster…
9. What motivates you?
Motivation is personal, so there is no wrong answer that you can give. It might be down to your desire to succeed and build a career, but it might also be because you want to provide for your family – both perfectly good answers if you choose to give them. In some professions, caring or vocational motivations might be worth mentioning, too.
10. What makes a good team player?
Many people say in their CV that they are good at working cooperatively or are team players, but few say what this actually means. Think about examples from your past that demonstrate your ability to build bridges, form networks or simply get on with people. This needn't be from your professional life. You could cite any examples from clubs or organisations to which you belong.
Answering this question well is especially important for people who want to be team leaders or to manage a department.
11. Can you list your strengths?
An exhaustive list of adjectives, such as 'capable', 'hard-working' or 'diligent', won't really portray you well because anyone can make such claims about themselves. Instead, think about three things that you do well and give concrete examples.
If you are a strong organiser, for example, then talk about a project that you coordinated, or a new procedure that you formulated. If you are good with numbers, then talk about your skills with spreadsheets or financial matters.
12. Why do you want to work here?
This is your chance to show that you have researched the company you are applying to work with. Avoid saying anything negative about your current employer which makes it seem you are simply after any job at all.
Typical things you might say are that the company operates in your chosen sector, that it provides a clearly structured career path and that the organisation has a good reputation. Don't simply trot these ideas out, though. Do your research!