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Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

You are starting to feel a little apprehensive as your job interview date approaches. Now is the time to start preparing yourself for your interview, but it can be difficult to know exactly what questions you will be asked.

Although you don’t have a crystal ball to look into to check what questions you will be asked, you can at least prepare yourself to answer some of the most commonly asked interview questions, and even come up with some ways to deal with more unusual questions that may be asked.

Tell me about yourself

One of the most common interview questions asked is ‘Tell me a little about yourself’. You need to think creatively here and see this as an opportunity to deliver your very best sales pitch about yourself. What you don’t want to do here is to do the very British thing of being modest and playing down your talents and skills that make you a good fit for the job.

Use your answer to this question to really make your application shine. You will want to create a positive first impression that leaves you head and shoulders above other candidates being asked the same question.

Think of short and positive statements to answer with that explains why you would be a good fit for the job. Emphasise your punctuality, your ability to think outside of the box and your willingness to learn from others. Keep your answers focussed on the job in hand rather than going into your family history or your favourite bands and hobbies.

Strengths and weaknesses

More often than not, you will be asked to list your strengths and weaknesses. While it may be quite easy to write down some of your more obvious strengths that you can use in your answer, such as your familiarity with their software and operating systems, your ability to take on a challenge or deal with unhappy customers in a positive way, when it comes to admitting any weaknesses you need to tread carefully.

The interviewer will know that nobody is perfect, so will be looking for answers from you that show you have weaknesses that you want to work on and improve. They don’t want to hear that you tried to learn to code once, but found it too hard and gave up after two days into a course and never want to try again. Instead, they will be more impressed to hear that you found the first course hard work, so decided to go back to basics with an easier coding course to grasp the fundamentals before trying the course again.

You have expressed a weakness and shown that you are capable of self-assessment. You have also demonstrated the steps you are taking to overcome your weakness and progress forward.

Why are you looking for a new job?

There could be any number of reasons for why you are applying for this job, and your interviewer will want to know the reasons behind your application. This is a simple one to answer if you are currently unemployed – you obviously want to work. However, if you are currently employed elsewhere, your interviewer will be interested to know if you are leaving your current job under a cloud, or simply leaving because you have outgrown your position and feel that there is little to no chance of any career advancement should you stay where you are.

If you have grown restless in your current role, you can answer that you are looking for a fresh challenge and want a job that will make good use of your talents and skills. But if you are wanting to leave because you don’t get on with your boss or the management, then take care not to talk in a derogatory manner about them. It doesn’t look at all professional, and the interviewer may well have connections to your present company and know the people that you are deriding.

Be completely honest if your present company are letting you go. This may be because of some internal restructuring and cost-cutting measures, in which case there will always be casualties that are at no fault. Simply explain that your contract ended and wasn’t renewed due to the company downsizing or because of staff restructuring. Keep your answer short. There is no need for lengthy details.

What do you know about our company?

You would be surprised at how many people apply for a job without bothering to do any research. Employers like to see that candidates have done their homework. They are more likely to employ someone who has taken the time and trouble to research the company and learn about their history, core values, company ethos and future plans.

You need to express here your positive feelings about the company and about their aims and objectives. You need to show that you agree with them and how inline they are with your own beliefs, and how you can contribute to the company and help support their journey. This can be another great opportunity to explain how you are good fit for the role on offer and how hiring you can be a smart move. The more you can make yourself look and sound like ‘one of them’ the better your chances of landing the job.

Conclusion

While you can never predict what questions are going to come up in your interview, you can prepare yourself beforehand and be able to answer some quite complex questions with ease.