As often as it is highlighted, preparation and confidence is the fundamental factor of a successful interview. Practising can help you feel more confident in your responses even if the whole process feels nerve racking.
The questions that a potential employer may ask you are to assess you and to find out more about you, your work experience and knowledge, why you want this job specifically, and your personality traits.
- Tell me about yourself
This is the most frequent opening question in an interview. Here, the employer wants to know more about you but it is important not to drone on about your personal history. It’s a way for you to express your story and make a connection between yourself and the position you are applying for. The interviewer already has your CV so there is no point in listing everything on there again, but make sure that your description matches. Remember to highlight positive attributes about yourself and not anything negative.
- Why do you want to work with us?
It is very important to radiate to the interviewer that you know about the company and have done research about them. Otherwise you can come across as disinterested and objective towards the position you are applying for. If you haven’t done any research your answers will be vague and you will sound uninformed.
Here you are trying to reassure them that you want to work for that company and you are genuinely interested in the opportunity.
- Why should you get this job/ what differs you from other applicants?
This is basically an offer for you to make a sales pitch. You need to station yourself as the best possible candidate for this position without sounding like you are trying to find flaws in others. Talk about applicable attributes and experiences you have that others may not be as successful in. It would also be beneficial if you research and are aware of any current events or news in relation to the company and branch of work you are applying for.
- Give an example of a time…
Questions such as these usually reflect on conflict resolution, techniques of persuasion, methods of helping people, or how big a risk taker you are. An interviewer may ask you about a hypothetical scenario instead for the same reasons. They are fundamentally looking to see how you would act in the work environment and you must not make up an example as you can get caught out if you have not prepared yourself well enough. Simply outline the situation you were in, what steps you took to resolve it and what the outcome was.
5. What is the reason for leaving your last job?
Make sure that you do not criticise your previous employer when confronting this question and reflect on it positively, otherwise it may come across as if you could be a possible cause of concern in the work environment or that you are unprofessional. Here you should highlight that you have been an excellent performer in your previous role and that you are now looking for new opportunities.
6. What are your weaknesses?
When answering this question it is safest to give small work related weaknesses and to demonstrate steps you have taken to improve these flaws. Classic answers are ones where there is a strength hidden inside them like ‘I push myself too hard’. Everyone has imperfections and to not acknowledge these will make you come across as arrogant or untruthful to the interviewer.
7. Do you think your exam results are a fair reflection of your abilities?
If you are a recent graduate or are still in education this is a question that would most likely come up. Regardless of your results you can use this opportunity to reflect positively and to brag about your ability to manage and work under pressure. If you studied a course that involved essays and deadlines, you should express your methods of dealing with this and how you would apply it to the work environment.
8. Who else have you applied to/ got interviews with?
This is a chance to imply that you are in demand by mentioning a few other companies but without losing the interviewer to the idea that you would be more interested in something else. You should put across that you want this job more as it is the best match for your interests and skills.
The final question the interviewer will most definitely be ‘do you have any questions of your own?’ and the answer must always be ‘yes.’ This is an opportunity for you to put across your interest in the position and implies that you are enthusiastic about jumping on board, without sounding overly eager.
Depending on the position you are applying for, some possible queries are:
- How many people are on the team?
- What would be my regular responsibilities?
- How would you describe the ideal candidate?
- When can I expect to hear from you?
Remember to leave the interview on a cheerful vibe and thank them for their time. It is also useful to enquire where you should direct any further questions you may have.
Ceren Kardelen Sagir | Strike-Jobs Journalist | 24.07.2014