Over the years, we have written many articles advising you on how to answer specific interview questions. Preparing for an interview can often feel like the hardest part because you simply don’t know what to expect. You aren’t sure what the interviewer is going to be like and you’re never going to be able to know what they will ask you. However, you can prepare and pre-plan interview questions in a way that tailors them to you and your personal experiences. When asked on the spot, without any prior planning, it’s easy to see why interview questions can throw so many great candidates off. This article takes all of those tricky questions and puts them in one place. So where shall we start?
The ‘Tell me about yourself’ interview question
This question is very likely to come up in most interviews. It’s a common ice breaker and gets you talking about yourself and your career. It’s an easy way to get the conversation going in a more natural way, you just need to know how to begin. The reason a question like this can feel so daunting is because you may not know where to start.
The key to answering this question well is to have a plan. You shouldn’t be answering this question in the same way for every interview you have. It should be customised and different depending on the role and the employer. Use the job spec and your CV to form an answer and it can make it feel less nerve wracking. They’ve given you the information you just have to use it.
Keep the answer short, simple and to the point. It’s usually the first question so you don’t have to give specific details of work experience for example. Stick to your name, current job title and a bit of background. For the full article, click the link above!
What is your greatest weakness?
No one enjoys talking about the things they might not be good at, especially in a job interview. You don’t want the employer thinking you aren’t a good fit for the job and when put on the spot, this can feel impossible to answer. As much as it may initially seem like it, this isn’t a trick question. It allows you to think about what you want to learn, what this job can offer you and allows you a little time for self-reflection.
We aren’t all perfect and the interviewer doesn’t expect perfection from candidates. There may be parts of your job that you aren’t 100% with and skills you could and would like to learn. You can discuss skills that you have improved on over time that may still not be your best skill. However, it shows your desire to learn and drive to continue your professional development.
It’s also important to not talk about essential skills as your weaknesses. If there is something the employer has specifically asked for in the job spec and you say it’s your weakness, it probably won’t have the desired effect, so think about this before you answer. You can read the full article where you will find example answers that you can adapt for your own interviews.
Why are you interested in this job?
This question can feel tedious to answer because for some, you simply need the role, and you need the money. Why can’t it be that simple? This question is all about discussing why you want the job and what the job can provide you with. Interviews are about finding out about you and your skills, but this question allows you to discuss what the job can give to you. How you want to use it to develop, gain industry knowledge and expand your passion for the role.
The key here is to research the company beforehand. See what projects they are working on, what you can bring to the team and the elements of the role that may excite you. Share your research and show them your interest, even if it is as simple as needing a job. Read the full article to find out more.
The why should I hire you question
The idea of being asked this question can feel very intimidating. You’re telling the employer why they should hire you above all the other candidates, so you need to have good reason. What is it they want to hear exactly?
- Are you qualified?
- Can you give them the desired results?
- Can you work well with the team?
They want to hear about your experience, your passions, and your skills. Talk about these and you’ll do well. This article discusses how to answer the question with more information on how to structure your answer and examples.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This question may feel a bit intimidating to begin with, especially if you haven’t considered an answer beforehand. When looking for a new job, it can be easy to just think about the present, why you want the job and what it can do for you. But do you see yourself working there for the long term, what would this role give you for your professional development or would you see yourself working here for a long time? The answer possibilities are endless, but they want an answer, and they want to know why.
The interviewer doesn’t need to hear a detailed 5-year plan,in most instances, they just want to have a bit of a better understanding about what drives you. Whether you are interested in the role at hand and how this role can help your career, as well as you helping them by filling the role. How does this job fit into those plans? That’s what they want to hear. If you need more information, head to the article for example answers and a deeper explanation.
What are your greatest strengths?
When asked this question, the employer is giving you an opportunity to tell them why you are the right person for the job. Take the opportunity and have your answer ready and waiting. You should be confident in yourself and your skills, discuss why you are right for the job and take your moment to show off a little. You are there to persuade them of what you can do, so do exactly that.
If it helps, you can have your CV on hand or notes ready for questions like this. When nervous, it can feel difficult to remember things like this to discuss, so focus on the good points and let them know what you can really do. However, it is important to note that the points you raise, should be backed up with an example. So, if you say you work well in a team, talk about a time a team project went well. You have the skills, so feel confident when sharing them! The full article can be found with the link above.
What is your salary expectation?
Answering this question is going to depend on various different factors. What is it you are looking for, what is the market value for a job like this right now and what has the employer written on the job spec? You should think about this answer before attending the interview and should never back away from questions involving money, even if it does feel easier. You are there for a job and you should be paid fairly for that job, so click the link above to see how you can answer this question well and with confidence.
How long do you plan on working here?
This interview question is often asked to understand you and your career goals a bit better. It’s very similar to the “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” question. The reason interviewers often ask this question is to get an understanding of what you want from your career and why you want this job in particular. If you have a personal development plan, this is the time and place to talk about it.
They want to know they are hiring someone that will work there for a good amount of time, but don’t expect you to say, ‘for the rest of my career’. They are looking for honesty and it's best to give them that. You can find the full article through the link above.
Why are you leaving your current job?
Another example of what initially feels like a trick question. Your reasons for leaving a role are your own but lead the answer with a positive beginning. It’s very important to remain positive even if the real reason you are looking for a new role is negative. They aren’t looking to hear bad talk about your current employer, they’re looking to hear about what you want to learn. Are you leaving your job for further development and how can this role help you gain that?
One example of an answer may be as follows.
“Throughout my time in my current role, I have had the opportunity to learn new skills and gain valuable knowledge about the industry, which I am very grateful for. It has been a great start to my career, but I believe I am ready to use this knowledge to my advantage and take on some more responsibilities. I am looking for a new role that will support my development and help me progress through an organisation.”
You can click the link above to read more and give different answer examples.
What makes you stand out from other candidates?
When you apply for a new job, you probably already know that there are other applicants in the running as well. Job seeking is like a competition, you have to constantly compete with people to try and win the ‘prize’. In this case, the job in question. Employers need to know if they are choosing the right person for the job and it’s all about skills and what you can bring to the company.
This question gives you the opportunity to not only discuss your skills and experience but to talk about what makes you a unique individual and why they want you for their team. It’s important to talk about work related skills as well as softer skills that many employers look for in individuals. Such as good communication and the ability to work well within a team. To find out more, click the link above!
The tell me about a time when question
Questions where you are asked to discuss a particular time or event can be difficult when you have nothing prepared. However, being ready for this question is easier than you think.
These kinds of questions should have stories. Think of a time when you were in a particular situation and discuss what the task was, what you did and what happened.
Situation – Think of a time when
Task – What was the task at hand?
Action – What did you do in this situation?
Result – What was the outcome?
This article tells you how to plan answers for this question and how to work them around your own experience, you can read more in the full article!
How would you describe yourself?
The key to answering these questions is to understand what it is the interviewer wants to know. In this case, they want to know more about you as an individual. Usually not your personal life, but things like:
- Your work style
- Your personality
- How you work with others
This question asks for softer skills. So, discuss your creativity and the fact that you are a dedicated and patient person. Just because you are qualified on paper doesn’t always make you a good cultural fit in the workplace. Tell them that you are. You can find example answers on the article page.
What’s the most valuable thing you learnt in your last role?
Here we come to the most recent article in this series and equally as important as the rest.
This particular interview question is a mix of both a personality and competency question.
- Personality based questions will be asked to help the employer understand more about your personality, work style, how you handle certain situations and what kind of employee you may be.
- Competency based questions are often asked to examine whether you are a good fit for the role they are offering.
Using the STAR method for this question, much like many of the others mentioned here, can help you structure a well-spoken question with all of the relevant information. Go to the full article to read the example answers and a better understanding of the STAR method for this question in particular.
Interviews can be nerve wracking but preparing for questions is one of the many things you can do to help put your mind at ease. You may not know the exact questions but having examples ready can really help you feel more relaxed in an interview, helping with more natural conversation!