Common interview questions and how to answer them

Although you can never predict exactly what is going to come up in an interview, in our experience there are certain questions that get asked more frequently than others. Here are some of the most commonly asked interview questions and how to answer them with confidence.

Tell me about yourself – this is usually one of the first questions you will be asked and your answer will determine the interviewers first impression of you. Refrain from mentioning what you like doing in your spare time as they only want an overview of your skills, qualifications and experience.

A good tip for this stage of the interview is to follow the structure of your CV as this will keep you on track. Simply add in any skills and achievements you have picked up along the way and you should have the perfect opening to your interview.

Why do you want to work here? – interviewers frequently ask this question because they want to make sure that you are serious about the role and the company. Do some research beforehand so you can ensure that your goals and ambitions can be related to the nature of the business and you can emphasise why this would be a great opportunity for both you and the company.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? – when answering this question, it’s very important to relate your answer back to the role you are interviewing for. For example, if you have applied for a finance job and say that in five years’ time you want to be running your own restaurant, the interviewer is likely to be put off because you are not showing long-term commitment. However, asserting your desire to succeed and progress within your current career shows ambition, dedication and proves that you are willing to work hard.

What are your strengths? – an employer will only want to know your strengths that are related to the job you are being interviewed for so make sure you keep this answer as specific as possible. Use examples that show occasions when you have been able to use these strengths to deal with a work situation because this is a great way to demonstrate how you would make a valuable member of the team.  It’s normally a good idea to have a look at the job spec when preparing for the interview as this will give you a good idea of the type of candidate the company is looking for.

What are your weaknesses? – a lot of people have difficulties answering this question because they don’t want to highlight any flaws to a potential employer. The most successful way to answer this question would be to turn your negative into a positive and show that you are taking positive steps to address the situation. For example, if you are a very basic user of Microsoft Excel you can mention that you have been receiving training so you can improve your skills in this area.

Why should we hire you? – again, always relate your answer to what has been outlined in the job description because by showing that you possess the skills they require, you are likely to impress the interviewer. For example, if the company is looking for somebody who is a good leader and works well under pressure, give an example of a time you have done this in your previous role, the success it bought and how you can do the same for this company.

What are your salary expectations? – this is always a difficult question and the best way to handle it is to avoid giving a specific number as this could make negotiating later on very difficult. When asked, rather than providing a specific number, give them a range to work with as this gives you room for negotiation should you be offered the job. It is wise to do some research before your interview and find out how much someone with your skills and experience is worth in your industry.

If you are the person conducting the interview and would like more information about how to do this successfully, please click here. Do you have any top tips for performing well in a job interview? Let us know your thoughts below.

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