When it comes to job interviews, some interview questions 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 common interview question is used to open the conversation 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 essential because as you go through your career, you’ll be asked to tell it time and time again. So you might as well take the time to craft a compelling and concise one. Think “elevator pitch,” and keep it to 5 minutes or so.
- Keep it to the point.
- Highlight any important career choices and decisions and explain your reasons for making them.
2. Why are you leaving your current job/ Why did you leave your last job?
Another one of the most common interview questions is, “why are you leaving your current job?”
If you’re looking for a new job simply because you’ve outgrown your current position, need to move for career advancement, or are relocating, this question is straightforward.
But how do you answer this question when the real reason is that you 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, being overly negative may place doubts in the interviewer’s mind about your ability to deal with people. Whatever happened, hopefully, there are some positive points about the company that you can focus on, so start there!
If you’re in this position, here are the key do’s and don’ts to remember:
- Talk at length about negative relationships you had
- Speak too negatively about your previous or current boss.
- Run down the company and not mention any positive points.
- Say you want more money.
- Be honest – if there were frustrations, don’t be afraid to say so.
- 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 critical decisions or career moves that 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
- Frame negative experiences as learning opportunities.
If things were a little tricky in your last job, before you start talking about how you didn’t get on with the team or your boss, here are three examples of what you could say instead.
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, and c, but I’m now at a point where I would really like to work for an organization which (pick your favorite facts 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. 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 to continue in a role when I know in my heart that I’m ready for a change.
I joined (company name) because I was excited about working on x project and being part of a team delivering y.
Since I joined, I’ve had the opportunity to get involved in some great things. Of course, like anything, it hasn’t always been easy, with some of the biggest challenges being ( insert challenging experiences). But this has given me an excellent opportunity to develop and hone my skills in several areas, including ( insert areas of learning that align with the job you are interviewing for).
So while the experiences may have been challenging, they have been invaluable for my career development.
3. What is your biggest weakness?
You knew it was coming. After all, you’ve been asked this common interview question at every interview you’ve ever been to. But for some reason, this question can throw you off guard.
With this question, the interviewer is looking for evidence of self-awareness and a willingness to take action and develop yourself. It is also an opportunity to showcase your ability to assess yourself and learn from constructive feedback.
With this in mind, here’s what you should and shouldn’t do.
- 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 is good!
- Give a cheesy and stereotypical answer, “I just care too 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 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 with timekeeping.
- 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 you previously had that you have now worked on because you recognized 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 at times slowed 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 what information is available and what is not so that we can still move forwards at the necessary pace. I also make sure to collaborate with others who are more “big picture” and less focused on the detail to give a balanced perspective.
In this example, you start with a positive. You then highlight the weakness and how it impacted you, and you go on to explain how you have learned to manage the weakness so that it doesn’t affect your job performance.
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 for answering this question, you will always ace your interviews! 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…
These are just a few ways 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 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 the outcome of your actions but the benefits of these outcomes to the organization.
Examples of benefits to organizations:
- 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 that are measurable.
- Improved team performance
- Increased customer satisfaction
Companies want to know that anyone they are hiring has their back. You must demonstrate that you are the type of person who will be looking out for their interests.
Ultimately, they need to know that whoever they hire will positively impact the business.
So, even if you are asked the question directly, “Why are you the right person for the role?” don’t just tell them how passionate you are about the company and how much the role fits in with your experience. Give specific examples, or come back to any examples you have already given.
Of course, you should tell them you’re 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 and make it clear that you’ll fit right in with the team, you’ll make the hiring decision a simple one.
Get ready to impress in your next job interview by downloading our Guide to The Most Common Interview Questions