Answering Interview Questions
If you’ve had a number of job interviews, you’ll know that there are questions that come up time and again. If you prepare your answers in advance, you’ll be able to make sure they have a big impact (for the right reasons!) and that they showcase the qualities that make you right for the job. Here are some questions that regularly crop up in interviews, and suggestions on how to answer them.
Tell Me About Yourself
This is usually the opening question and it’s your chance to tell the interviewer about your career history and highlights, and any relevant qualifications. It’s important that you keep the answer short (don’t tell them your life story) and that it gives an overview of what you’ve done. You can follow the same structure as your CV, giving examples of achievements and the skills you've picked up along the way.
What Are Your Strengths?
Pick the three attributes that you think will help you to get you the job and give examples of how you have used these strengths in a work situation. They could be tangible skills, such as proficiency in a particular computer programme, software system or a foreign language, or intangible skills such as good team management.
What Are Your Weaknesses?
This is really asking you ‘what are your weaknesses and what have you done to overcome them?’. Don’t give examples of things you’ve not done well if you don’t also have an example of how you’ve learned from it or worked to improve your skills as a result.
Don’t feel you have to tell the interviewer about every single weakness you think you have! Just highlight one or two that are relevant and where you’ve taken steps to address the problem.
Why Should We Hire You?
This is where you get the chance to tell the interviewer about the skills, experience and attributes you have that make you perfect for the job. When preparing for the interview, check the job description and try and include some of the phrases in your answer (if they are relevant). Whenever you talk about a skill or attribute you have, make sure you relate it back to the company or the role. Don’t just list your experience without explaining how it could benefit the organisation.
What Are Your Goals?
Interviewers sometimes ask ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ time?’. In that case, you should be specific in your answer. If they ask a more general question such as, ‘what are your goals?’, then it's best to talk about both short-term and long-term goals.
Tell the interviewer about the kind of job you'd eventually like to do and the various steps you will need to get there, relating this directly back to the position you're interviewing for. Show the employer you have ambition, and that you have the determination to make the most of every job you have to get where you want to be.
Why Do You Want To Work Here?
If you can’t answer this question, you probably shouldn’t be applying for the job in the first place. However, there’s a difference between coming up with an answer and one that’s really powerful.
Use your knowledge about the company's values, mission statement, development plans and products to describe how your goals and ambition match the company ethos, the value you could add to the business and how you would relish the opportunity of working for them.
What Salary Are You Seeking?
You can prepare for this by knowing the value of someone with your skills but don’t provide a figure in the interview as it could put you in a weak position when you come to negotiate later on. If they have provided a guideline salary with the job description, you could mention this and say it's around the figure you're looking for.