If you’ve landed a job interview, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be prepared for the kind of questions they might throw your way. The trick is not to bore them to tears with a glut of obvious answers.
Preparation is key. To quote Heather Small from M People, “You’ve got to search for the hero inside yourself.” Ok ignore Heather, but before the interview you do have to do some (re)searching. Make a list, spider diagram or mind map of your skills, values, interests, strengths and weakness and come up with examples or evidence to back up each one.
Research the company thoroughly and develop an insightful understanding of the sector you want to work in. This means trawling the web, LinkedIn, newspapers, magazines and basically anywhere you’ll find out more information about the company and their employees.
Research the job role and make sure you really understand what skills they are looking for. Come up with some genuine reasons why you want the job and think about what you can personally offer the organisation. Thorough research means fielding questions will be easier.
Of course, interviews come in all shapes and sizes. You can no more predict the questions than predict what Lady Gaga will wear next, but it’s worth thinking about how you might answer some of the more typical questions. A word of warning: don’t memorise answers to questions, nobody wants to employ a salaried robot.
Questions about the company & the role
- What do you know about our company?
- Why do you want to work here?
- Why do you want this role?
- Why do you want to work in this particular sector?
- What will you bring to the company?
This is where you can show off all that beautiful research you have done, talk about what you can personally bring to the company and wow them with your unique reasons of why you want to work for the company.
- What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
- What motivates you?
- How would your best friend/worst enemy describe you?
- Describe yourself in five words.
- What do you do in your free time?
- Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
More and more companies cite soft skills, such as communication and personality, as crucial deciders as to whether they hire a candidate. So these kinds of questions are great for showing off your personality.
Ifyou have to tell them a weakness, be honest, but make sure you follow up with an example of when you overcame that weakness, or what you need to do to combat it. When asked about what you do in your free time, don’t say “I like socialising with my mates”; tell them something that shows a bit more personality.
Competency-based interview questions
- Give an example of when you have used logic/reached a goal/were under a pressure/handled a difficult situation.
- Tell me about a time when you made a mistake.
The best way to prepare for these questions is to think about what skills are needed for the job, and then pinpoint times when you have shown evidence of those skills. When it comes to mistakes, it’s best to admit the mistake then tell them what you did to put it right. Don’t ever say: “I never make mistakes.”
Education & work experience
- What experience do you have
- Tell us about your previous roles/internships/work experience.
- Why did you choose your university/degree subject/not to go to university?
Always keep your answers relevant to the role you are applying for. Point out your achievements and the duties you performed during your previous roles/internships which match the skills they are looking for. Think about what elements of your education are pertinent to the role as well.
Have you got any questions?
Prepare a list of questions beforehand. You could ask more about the role, i.e. what will be my daily duties? What opportunities are there for training and development?
Alternatively, you could ask more about the company, i.e. where does the company want to go in the next five years? What is your personal experience of working for the company?
Try to ask interesting questions, but don’t pile on question after question. Remember you can always ask questions at any time during the interview if it seems appropriate. And DON’T ask about the salary, unless you are interviewing for job in recruitment or sales and you want to find out more about the commission and bonus structure.