Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Anonymous - Posted: 6th of September 2012

Almost everyone will experience an interview at some point when they are searching for a new job. These can be scary situations, only made worse by the fact that we have no idea what is going to be asked. Firstly take a deep breath and try to stay calm. Nerves can be an interviewee’s worst nightmare, making even the best sweat like a crazy and splutter tons of nonsense. One of the best ways to overcome these nerves is to feel prepared. While researching the company is going to be one of your most useful weapons, there are only so many facts that you can remember before having a brain overload (make sure you do find the most relevant information!). In addition to this bit of homework, you will want to make sure you are ready for some of the most common questions interviewers like to ask. Here are a few of them and some advice on not just answering them, but answering them well.

(Q) Why do you want this job?

This question is often asked near the beginning of an interview as it provides the interviewer with an initial impression of the person that is being interviewed. As mentioned previously, researching the company is crucial, and it is for questions like this that it is an extremely useful tool. When answering, think truthfully about what you have considered the benefits of the job to be; avoid stating that the pay is good or that you like the short working hours as such a response does not boast any of your appealing traits. If you are able to link your interests and qualifications to the roles expected of you, it shows the interviewer that you have prepared for the interview, are an enthusiastic individual, and that the job suits you as much as you suit the job. To add quality content to your answer, you may also be able to express how the job is well suited to your career goals. Consequently, this can make you increasingly motivated to work well within the role that you have applied for.

(Q) Do you work well within a team?

YES! This is the answer that every employer wants to hear. Organisations function best with a solid team of employees, but solely stating this one word is not enough to sell yourself during an interview. You will want to make sure you develop your answer with one or two examples and explain how you like to get involved within the group. If you have an interesting experience to share with your interviewer, it may offer a great opportunity to interact more comfortably, whilst also appearing enthusiastic.

 (Q) Have you got any weaknesses?

There are two approaches that tend to work well if this question were to be asked. The first is to draw a negative characteristic that you noticed previously and have actively looked at improving. This generally goes down well with the interviewer as it displays a pro-active individual that aims higher by means of self-improvement. For example, if you have been poor with time management or organisational skills in the past, these may have been strongly enhanced through the use of a diary/calendar and are still noticeably improving. The second approach is the classic one of turning a negative trait into a positive. This may include: spending too much time checking work in order for it to be of a higher standard or spending too much time making sure all documents are presented clearly and professionally. When answering this, make sure you don’t fall into the trap of appearing too arrogant as this can quite easily be held against you. To strengthen your answer a little more, try to include an example of when this positive-weakness has been put into practise. 

(Q) Have you got any questions that you would like to ask me?

This question is asked by almost every interviewer at the end of every interview. It can be a difficult one to prepare for, as whatever you have in mind may have already been covered, leaving you annoyingly blank. If this is the case, the answer that should be avoided at all cost is the abrupt “no”. Answering truthfully and saying that everything you had in mind has been covered is slightly better, although if you have researched a lot about the company, I’m sure there will be some questions that you will want to ask. Here are a few examples that may save you from looking vacant in this situation:

  • How soon should I expect to hear from you?
  • What are the next steps in the selection process?
  • If I am successful and offered the job, how soon would I be expected to start?
  • Would I be expected to shadow other employees upon starting the job or would I learn through other training methods?
  • How have others performed in similar roles within the company?
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