You applied for your job, and the response was positive! You’ve been invited in for an interview! Amazing news, but painfully, your interview is likely going to be the most daunting part. It’s tricky to figure out what to expect in your interview, with questions and prompts often being different in one company to the next.
The main things you need to remember in an interview are all the details about the role and company you are applying to. It can feel like a struggle to prepare for an interview, but there are a handful of questions that are often similar from one interview to the next, so read on to get an idea on how you can prepare and give the best response possible to help bag yourself a new job.
Likely to be one of the first questions you will be asked in an interview, and it can catch you out if you haven’t prepared in advance. It’s the best opportunity to give a brief overview of yourself, both on a personal level and a professional level.
Firstly, if you have a job already, or recently just left one, talk through the responsibilities in that job and line of work. Talk about how you got there, and what you are considering now you’re looking to leave or you’ve left.
Talk about what you studied at uni and how it’s helped prepare you well for the job you’re applying to.
Talk through what your hobbies and interests are, it’s a great talking point to find commonalities between yourself and the interviewer. Keep it pretty short, keeping to the point and staying relevant. Maybe don’t talk too much about your holiday to Portugal with your fam in 2015, or what you had for your dinner last night. It’s your chance to talk about yourself as a pitch; short, sweet and professionally relevant.
This question helps an interviewer understand your self awareness, so you need to give a brief overview of your strengths and weaknesses. Use language that compliments yourself in a personable and professional way, like ‘a natural leader’, ‘communicative’ and ‘empathetic’. You want to give an insight into how you picked up these skills, whether from a job or your uni life, and how these ‘skills’ played a role in your last position.
Your future employer will want to know if you are motivated by your work life, and have aspirations to grow and succeed in your career. When you answer this question, you’ll want to show what aspects of the job you look forward to engaging with, and what you are generally enthusiastic about. Make sure that you link this back to the role you’re applying for. You’ll want to keep your answer specific and you should also try to give some examples of when you have felt motivated by work in the past.
This is the perfect opportunity for you to pull out any research and interesting points you have about the company and the job role. Get prepared with an idea of the company history, values and mission. You will want to say why the job role and company caught your eye. Show your interviewer that you did the research and prepared, and that you have solid reasons for wanting the job. Be as honest as you can, pick out what parts of both the company and the job role interest you and why you have an interest in these areas.
Interviewers want an employer who can handle the pressure of loads of deadlines, but are still able to keep focus on their tasks. Share examples of where you have worked in a high pressure environment and what you did to overcome the situation. Interviewers are looking for new team members who are adaptable to stressful situations, with reliable time management skills they know they can rely on in a pressured environment.
Employers will always be enthusiastic about learning where you hope to see your career progress to. Future employers want to know if this job is long term, or just a stepping stone in your career. Try and fit in how the job role you are applying for will help you achieve your career goals in both the long and short term. You will also want to say how the company itself and their values can help you achieve your goals.
This isn’t a trick question! Your future employer wants to know what you think your weaknesses are, but it’s the perfect chance to try and spin these in a positive light. You don’t want to be too critical of yourself, and list absolutely everything you think you’re bad at in general. As long as for every somewhat negative thing you say, you back it with something positive. There isn’t anything bad with having weaknesses, it is how you deal with these that employers are looking for. For example if you have a problem with time management and it isn’t one of your strong points, explain how you set yourself a work schedule so you can meet deadlines and manage all your tasks.
When you answer this one, make sure that you tailor this to your job role (don’t bring up your strengths that are completely irrelevant). Employers will be looking for people who have good communication skills, are adaptable and flexible, so you will want to give an answer that involves things along these lines. Try and think what the job role requires of you, and what strengths you think you need to take on the job. Again, answer honestly. Don’t say that you have amazing time management skills if this is something you tend to struggle with; as we said before, they will ask about your weaknesses as well.
Key Skills Employers Look For
: communication, problem solving, adaptability and flexibility.
This is a question where the employer wants to know what challenges you are looking forward to tackling in your job role. Your research into the company and job role will pay off here. You want to display your ability to cope with a balance of challenges. Be realistic, and say what you as an individual might find challenging about the role, but are also looking forward to learning how to get past them. They are looking to discover what areas you want to grow in as well, and how the company and job role can do this for you. They want to see where you are looking to progress, so make sure you have done your research and identified the challenges that might come along the way.
This one can definitely throw people off their game plan in an interview. It’s super hard to think back to what you have done over the past years, and compliment yourself with an achievement. It’s a chance to show what you find important. Try and think outside the box on this one, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an academic achievement, even though they are amazing achievements and something you should 100% be proud of. Employers are looking for something that sets you apart from other candidates and to understand your interest on a wider scale. You could tell them of events you have organised, or if you have done something for charity, that type of vibe.
This is a chance to compare your own skill set with the skills that are required for the role. The interviewer will be looking for your own unique selling point, they will want to see what sets you apart from any other candidate and why you should get the job over anyone else.
It can be quite hard to admit when we have failed or made a mistake, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as we all can show that we have learned from our mistakes. This question is aimed to show how you define failure, but also how you overcame this and learnt from the mistakes you made. It’s more about what you learned and the experience you gained, rather than how you ‘failed’ or whatever the mistake is you made. So, pick a real ‘failure’ or mistake, be honest about it, and how it changed you.
This is just for the interviewer to understand if you’re actively sought out the company and job, if you were recommended the role by someone or a recruiter, or if you simply found it on Indeed or LinkedIn. If someone personally recommended you for the role, then make sure you mention their name. If you sought out the role yourself, let the interviewer know why the company or the job caught your eye, and why you wanted to apply.
This will usually be the last closing question you will be asked before the interview ends. It’s a perfect opportunity to show that you’ve been engaged throughout the interview and it is also your chance to ask any further questions you have about the company in general or the role you’re applying for. Make sure that you keep your questions relevant to the interview, and ask anything that you think is important that might not have been covered.
So, here are some of the most common interview questions and how to answer them. Interviews can be incredibly daunting, but as long as you stay prepared, you won’t be caught short, and keep yourself in the best position possible to get the job. Having your answers somewhat ready, and knowing about the company and job role will really help you feel a bit more confident and relaxed going into the interview.
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