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10 Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

There's no doubt about it, interviews can be really nerve-wracking, but good preparation can go some way to helping you through it, and hopefully snagging that job offer at the end. We've put together the 10 most common interview questions that people sometimes struggle to answer and provided some guidance on how to respond.

1. Tell me about yourself?

A 30-year-old guy with a dad bod might be the truth, but with this question, it's best to think of it instead as "how did you get here". This can include a brief overview of your current role, including basic responsibilities and maybe something you're proud of, explain how you got there, and how that experience will apply to your new role. Finally, this is a good opportunity to talk about why you think you'd be suitable for the role, and why you want it.

But it doesn't have to be all about business! They are interviewing you because they know you have the skills to do the role, but they want to get to know you as an individual. Try to talk about what you enjoy outside of work; maybe a hobby you might have in common with the interviewer such as cycling, running or a genre of music, for example.

2. Why should we hire you?

Your first thought here is probably "I need the money"! However, this question is quite blunt, and could be a little intimidating, but it's a fantastic opportunity to sell your skills and experience, beyond your CV. You need to be able to explain why you can do the job, how you'll deliver the necessary results, and how you'll fit in with the company culture. I would also suggest flipping the question around, and ask why you should work for them? It is important to remember interviews are a two-way process and that you are invited to interview for a reason.

3. What are your weaknesses?

The most tedious but frequent of interview questions! Rather than trying to identify any major issues, this question is trying to gauge your honesty. A great way to answer this is to highlight a genuine weakness you have and then discuss how you are trying to improve on this. 

For example: "I've struggled in the past with prioritising my tasks, but I've implemented a weekly planning process that makes this easier for me and has resulted in me hitting my deadlines consistently." Everyone has weaknesses and things we can improve on, and it's best to remember that this isn't a test of skill, but of will. 

4. Tell me about a time you failed?

Failing to build IKEA furniture is part of most peoples' repertoire, but this is like the weaknesses question. The interviewer is actually looking to find out why you might have failed, and how you coped with it. It's important to be honest here and use a real-life example that defines how you see failure. For example, it might not be that you failed to hit a deadline, but that there could be factors outside of your immediate control. Emphasise how you learned from this and approached this issue in your next task successfully.

5. How would your boss and co-workers describe you?

Before you say anything, keep in mind that they will likely call your previous company for a reference, so this is not a work performance question. Instead they want to know how you are able to work with others and possibly deal with conflict. Be transparent and try to stick to the positive relationships you have and talk about how these help you in your role.

6. Before you think "I lose my mind!", breathe and remember this is a great question to answer with an example. Stress is common in most jobs, so it's important that they know you can handle it, and what better way to demonstrate that than to talk through how you have handled a stressful experience in a work environment. Consider how you used communication, organisation and your coping mechanism e.g. exercise, meditation, time with friends and family to strike the right balance.

7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years' time?

Hopefully not in lockdown and social-distancing... You've got two real options here, depending on whether you think the role you're interviewing for will help you on the way to your 5-year goals. If the role is part of your career plan, then explain how it fits. This shows your ambition and not to mention your planning skills! However, if the position is a stopgap for you, then it's perfectly acceptable to say you haven't thought that far ahead, but that you see this job playing an important role in your experience.

8. What makes you unique?

Learning viral dances during lockdown might be impressive, but it's best to have something prepared for this, because if it's a surprise question it might be difficult to come with something on the fly. Make sure you keep your answer relevant to the role though - and think back to feedback you've had before to spark some inspiration. Remember, this is something that might make you stand out over other candidates, so use your imagination.

9. How do you like to be managed?

The company you're interviewing at will want to work out if you're a good fit for the team you're entering, so they want to learn how you perform best. It's a good idea to think back on previous roles; what worked well and what didn't, in terms of management, but make sure that you frame them positively. Ranting about other managers in a job interview is not a good look, so phrase negative experiences in a way that explains what would have been a better management style in that situation. 

10. Why are you leaving your current role?

Last but definitely not least, this is something you'll almost always be asked, so it's best to be prepared. Again, try to be positive, even if the situation is negative. Try and show that you're eager to take on new opportunities (reference the job description here) and responsibilities, and that you feel as though you've got all you can from your current job. If you were let go, keep it simple and be honest. A top tip is don't discuss your old salary/rate, but what you're prepared and willing to do to achieve these goals.

 

Remember, interviews are about your potential new employer getting to know you and your capabilities and skills, so just try to relax and be yourself. Work isn't just about hitting targets and delivering results any more - they need to know that you're a good fit for their company culture, so as well as convincing them that you've got the right skills & experience, try to demonstrate that you know how to use them to be a successful employee, that people want to work with.

For more help & advice on finding your dream role, contact us today.

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