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Interview 101

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Be prepared for the most common interview questions!

We know it’s hard to predict and therefore fully prepare for what you may get asked at interview. Many interviewers will throw in a couple of off-the-wall questions into the mix in an attempt to disarm you. The answers you give to such questions gives your potential employer an idea of how successful you are at thinking on your feet. It’s hard to be prepared so just relax and say what comes into your mind.

Other questions, however, are easier to predict and therefore prepare for. You are almost certain to be asked some or all of the following most commonly asked questions and hiring managers will expect you to be able to answer them smoothly and without hesitation. Your responses will be more confident if you prepare in advance and know what to expect during the interview.

1. Tell me about yourself.
You don’t need to recite your CV here – remember that your interviewer has already read (and most probably has in front of them) your CV and covering letter. Start by sharing some of your personal interests which don’t relate directly to work – you’re aiming to give the interviewer some insight as to what makes you tick and show them how you would fit into their organisation.

2. What is your greatest strength?
This is one of the questions that employers almost always ask. When you are asked about your greatest strengths, it’s important to discuss the attributes that will qualify you for the specific job and set you apart from the other candidates. Everyone can list a string of adjectives like ‘hard working’, ‘diligent’ and ‘trustworthy’ – instead, think about three things that you do well and give concrete examples.

3. What is your greatest weakness?
Another typical question interviewers will ask is about your weaknesses. Never say you don’t have any! We all have some. Do your best to build your answers around positive aspects of your skills and abilities as an employee – maybe you feel that you didn’t push yourself hard enough to learn news skills in your last job and would like to take full advantage of any training coming your way.

4. Why should we hire you? 
Are you the best candidate for the job? Be prepared to say why. Make sure your response is a concise answer that explains what you have to offer the employer and why you should get the job as well as providing a ‘softer’ reason such as being good at integrating into a new team.

5. What are your salary expectations?
It seems like a simple question, but your answer can knock you out of contention for the job if you overprice yourself. Many people find it uncomfortable to talk money – it’s okay to talk about pay in terms of ranges and not to be specific about a particular number. It is also okay to include other benefits, like healthcare, pensions and time off within the context of salary. Make sure you have looked at other, similar jobs being advertised in other organisations so that you have an idea of the pay rate in the market and therefore appear on the ball and competitive.

6. Why are you leaving or have left your job?
When asked about why you are moving on, stick with the facts, be direct and focus your interview answer on the future, especially if your leaving wasn’t under the best of circumstances.

7. Why do you want this job?
This question gives you an opportunity to show the interviewer what you know about the job and the company. Be specific about what makes you a good fit for this role, and mention aspects of the company and position that appeal to you.

8. How do you handle stress and pressure?
What do you do when things don’t go smoothly at work? The best way to respond to this question is to give an example of how you have handled stress in a previous job – be prepared to share an example of what you did in a tough situation.

9. What are your goals for the future?
This question is designed to find out if you’re going to stick around or move on as soon as you find a better opportunity. Keep your answer focused on the job and the company you’re interviewing with.

10. Do you have any questions for me/us?
Always have at least one question prepared in advance. This is your chance to find out about an area of the business that might not have been covered in the interview. A good tip is to pick up on something that has been mentioned in passing by the interviewer about the job. Ask him or her to expand on this. Not only does it make you appear interested, but it shows that you have been listening attentively to what has been said. It should leave the interviewer with a good final impression of you.

And finally, good luck!