Preparation is key to a successful interview.
Before interviews, most people will take time to research the company, read through the job specification and think about those challenging interview questions.
But how do you know what questions will come up – and even more importantly, how best to answer them?
In this newsletter, we explore the 10 most common questions that interviewers ask, and how you can deliver responses that leave a lasting impression.
Tell me about yourself.
This is a classic icebreaker. But they’re not asking to find out about your family, where you grew up, and your favourite food… They want to know about you professionally – what is your work background that led you to this role? What are some key achievements along the way? Don’t be shy about your skills but don’t be overconfident and boastful. And remember – keep it concise!
Why do you want to work here?
Really, they are asking, “What do you know about this company?”. Here is where the company research you did before the interview will come into play. Talk about your ambition and how it aligns with the company goals such as projects, culture, or company mission. Remember to look at other social pages such as Instagram, to understand more about the company culture, rather than purely corporate pages.
What is your greatest strength?
This is a chance for you to showcase your key strength. Give an example of it within a work context (e.g., project deliverables, customer success, etc.) but keep it matter-of-fact. Show how it would help you in the role you’re interviewing for.
Tell me about a time you faced a challenge and how you overcame it.
For this question, the STAR method comes into action – Situation, Task, Action, Result. Prepare answers in advance that show you overcoming situations you could face in this role, describe your responsibility, what you did, and the outcomes of your actions. Having a bank of scenarios and examples you can draw from will allow you to answer this question with confidence.
What is your greatest weakness?
This one often catches people out. Most like to answer this with a humble brag: “I’m a perfectionist” or “I’m too dedicated to my job”. But this answer tells the interviewer nothing. The best way to answer this question is to be honest – share an area you need to improve in but that won’t compromise you getting the job. Examples include lack of patience, lack of organisation, difficulty delegating, or indecisiveness. Remember to include what you’ve done to help improve these (such as courses or implementing of tools). This shows you’re committed to self-development.
What do you want to achieve in the next 5 years?
The interviewer wants to know your long-term commitment to the company. Explain your ambitions for career growth within the company but stay realistic and grounded. Research the potential career paths for you within the business and show where your future interests lie.
Why did you leave your previous job?
Avoid speaking negatively about your previous employer but be honest. If you didn’t pass probation, or you felt the culture wasn’t the right fit, explain this tactfully. Don’t bad mouth your ex-employer, instead, explain how the role just wasn’t right for you (for whatever reason) and what positive steps you’ve taken to change this moving forward. If you’re working with a recruiter, fully explain your reasons for leaving, so they can tell the interviewer in advance – this makes any tricky situations a lot easier to manage as they won’t be caught off guard by your answers.
How do you handle working under pressure?
Give an example! Present your answer to this question in the form of a short case study, with a tangible example of how you thrived under pressure. Point out your problem-solving skills, and the ability to prioritise tasks effectively. If possible, explain how your performance gave a positive outcome.
What is your preferred working style or environment?
Make sure you’ve researched the culture well, as this will determine your answers. A company that values collaboration will want to know about your teamwork skills. One that encourages home working and independence will want to know your ability to excel when given autonomy. But be truthful in your answers – you want this company to be the right fit for you.
Do you have any questions for us?
Never miss this opportunity to ask them questions! You should have a set of questions already prepared – this shows your enthusiasm for the company and role, and that you have a genuine interest in them. Good questions to ask include: “How would your team describe your management style?”, “What projects/initiatives are your company supporting for its CSR?”, “How would you measure success in this role?” and “Is there anything I haven’t answered fully today, or any reason why you wouldn’t think I’m right for this role?”.
Interviews are a chance to prove you’re the ideal person for the job. And being prepared for the questions that can be thrown at you is a big factor in your success.
With these 10 questions (and how to answer them) at your disposal, you’re well on your way to acing that interview and making the right impression.
If you’re interested in finding out what other questions may be asked, visit our website for our free downloadable guides: