When it comes to interviews, there are some questions which almost always come up. Here is your guide to some of the most common interview questions and how to answer them so that you stand out as the best person for the job!
1. Tell me a bit about yourself
This question is often used as an ice breaker at the start of the interview. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, but don’t miss this opportunity to pick out the best parts of “your story” so that you get off to a great start.
- Spend too much time way back in history, the interviewer only has a limited amount of time
- Spend too much time explaining past jobs that are not relevant
- Ramble and lose yourself
- Focus on talking about your personal life instead of your career to date
- Be ready with a clear and well-practiced personal “story”. Your story is really important, because as you go through your career, you’ll be asked to tell it time and time again. So you might as well, take some time to craft one that is compelling and succinct. Think “elevator pitch”, and keep it to 5 minutes or so.
- Keep it to the point
- Highlight any key career choices and decisions you've made and explain your reasons for making them
2. Why are you leaving your current job/ why did you leave your last job?
When you are looking for a new job, sometimes you have just outgrown your current position and are ready to move on, or you may be relocating. When this is the case, this question is straight forwards.
But how do you answer this question when the reason is that you really don’t get along with your boss?
There is only one thing to remember when answering this question, being very negative is never a good thing. For one thing, it’s a small world and you never know who at this company your boss knows! Secondly, regardless of what your boss has done to you, it will place doubts into the minds of the interviewer about your ability to deal with people and finally, it’s just not cool, after all! Whatever has happened, hopefully, there are some positives points about the company so start there!
If you’re in this position here are the key do’s and don’ts to remember
- Talk at length about any negative relationships you had
- Speak negatively about your previous or current boss
- Run down the company and not mention positive points
- Say you just want more money
- Be honest – if there were frustrations, don’t be afraid to say so. Ideally you voiced them to your former boss also but nothing could be done.
- Talk up the positive points about your current or last job and show gratitude for the opportunity
- Show that you are keen to develop yourself further
- Highlight specifically why this company and this opportunity were too good to miss
- Explain any key decision or career moves which have been important in getting you to where you are today
- Highlight any key lessons or experiences you may have learned along the way that have shaped your career and which are relevant to the job
So if things were a little tricky in your last job, before you start talking about how you didn’t feel you gelled with the team or your boss; here are 2 examples that might work better for you.
I joined the company for x,y,z reason, I’ve learned so much and had the opportunity to do some great things like a,b,c, but I’m now at a point where I would really like to work for an organisation which (pick your favourite points about the company you’re interviewing for)
After working at (company name) for x period of time, I’ve had the opportunity to do x,y,z and while I’m thankful for this and have enjoyed it so far, I’ve reached a point where I feel it’s time to move on. Being the sort of person who gives things 100% of my commitment, it would not be right of me to continue on in a role when I know in my heart that I’m ready for a change.
3. What is your biggest weakness?
You knew it was coming, after all, you’ve been asked it at every interview you’ve ever been to. But somehow, this question always throws you off guard.
With this question, what the interviewer is looking for is evidence of self-awareness and a willingness to take action and develop yourself.
With this in mind.
- Say you can’t think of any. No one’s perfect and we all have weaknesses, so you will either come off as arrogant or simply ill prepared. Neither are good!
- Give a cheesy and stereotypical answer, “I just care to much!”
- Use weaknesses that are purely personal and non-job related; one lady once told me she had a very untidy home (we were not amused)
- Use examples of weaknesses that are highly critical to the job you’re interviewing for
- Pick weaknesses that you know reflect very poorly, for example, I was once on an interview panel where the candidate highlighted that they were always late for work and struggled to keep time – this was not a good example!
- Use an answer that is relevant to your job and career
- Use a weakness that you are currently actively working on. For example, through coaching or taking courses
- Use a weakness that you previously had that you have now worked on because you recognised it
- Give clear examples of what you are doing to work on the weakness
- Explain how your weakness may have impacted you in the past
- A great way to structure your answer to this question would be:
Being a very analytical person I’m good when it comes to detail and this has been beneficial, however, in the past I did find that I took more time over things where there was ambiguity or where all the facts were not known which would slow things down.
I’ve worked on this and the way that I now deal with these situations is to make sure that there is plenty of communication in the team and with all key parties and stakeholders so that everyone knows exactly what information is available and what is not so that we can still move forwards at the necessary pace. I also make sure that I collaborate with others who are more “big picture” and less detail focussed to bring about balance.
In this example, you start with a positive, you then highlight the weakness and how it impacted and go on to explain how you have learned to manage the weakness so that it doesn’t impact your job. Adding the collaboration point at the end gives one more positive example of how you’re weakness has made you a better team player!
4) Why should we hire you?
This question is the real question that is being asked throughout the interview over and over again. So, if you know the magic formula to answering this question, you will ace your interviews every time! The problem is, it can take many forms so you need to listen out!
What are your greatest strengths?
What are you most proud of having achieved in your last role?
Tell me about a time when…
There are just a few ways in which you will be asked why you are the right person for the job (and there is another way!)
When most people answer any of these questions, they usually fall into a common TRAP!
They start by explaining to the interviewer what the situation was, then go on to describe the great work they did because of this situation and might add what the outcome was.
THEN THEY STOP!
This answer is not complete.
With every answer, you must always explain not just what the outcome was of your actions, but what the benefit of these outcomes were to the organisation.
These benefits are most commonly:
- Saved the company money (give figures if possible)
- Saved peoples time
- Increased efficiency – which will lead to money and/ or time being saved
- Increased revenue
- Note that they are all things which are measurable.
Companies need to know that anyone they are hiring has got their back and is looking out for their interests as well as your own.
Ultimately, they need to know that whoever they hire will make a positive impact to the business.
So, even if you are asked the question directly, Why are you the right person for the role, don’t just tell the how passionate you are about the company, how much the role fits in with your experience, give specific example or circle back to the examples you have given earlier on.
You should of course add that you are passionate and excited to join, everyone wants passionate people on board
Finally, demonstrate that your values match those of the company, again throughout the interview with examples and with the language you use.
If you can show the value you’ll bring, as well as make it clear that you’ll fit right in with the team, you’ll make the hiring decision a simple one.