Employers are not looking to catch you out but they ask you questions relating to your CV and previous jobs as well as the role and company you are applying for. This is because they want to determine whether or not everything in your CV/ cover letter is truthful and they want to know how much you want and care about the job for which you are applying.
The rule with most questions is to think carefully about every answer you give, be truthful but do not to provide an answer that will prevent the employer from hiring you (e.g. in five years time I see myself quitting work and travelling around the world).
Image Credit: studio tdes/ Flickr.com
Below are a list of commonly asked interview questions and with a description of how you should answer them.
Tell me About Yourself.
The employer is not trying to catch you out with this one, they want to know a bit about your likes, dislikes and personality to see if you would fit in well to the team. Don’t lie or falter in this question, just tell them truthfully what you have been doing for the last two years, if they don’t think you would fit in well then the job probably was not going to be a good fit for you either. If you do get stuck, ask them what they would like to know, this will give you a hint as to what aspect of your life you should zone in on.
What are your Strengths?
Think about your answer to this question and answer truthfully. They are obviously looking for an answer that relates to the work environment so don’t go with “I can always find really good stuff in the charity shop”. However, an answer that is full of jargon that you don’t really understand is also a bad idea. “My greatest strengths are client interfacing and sales conversion” sounds over rehearsed and meaningless. Instead you could say “My greatest strength is probably my confidence because it allows me to talk to customers easily and to be a persuasive salesman”.
What are your Weaknesses?
This can be one of the hardest questions to answer. Prior to an interview think about what your greatest weaknesses are. Don’t lie or create false negatives such as “I work to hard” or “I’m such a perfectionist”. However don’t be too honest, saying “I tend to spend all day on facebook” will probably lose you the job “occasionally I lose focus on the task in hand” is a perfectly acceptable response provided you have a good answer to the next question.
What have you Done to Combat your Weaknesses?
Chances are if you have done a degree or a previous job then your ability to lose focus or your inability to multitask may have plagued you occasionally. You almost certainly will have contrived a way to work around your weaknesses when really necessary and so just tell the truth about how you did this. It might be that you switched off your phone and internet to avoid distractions or that you got up earlier because you work better in the mornings, this is the kind of answer the employer is looking for.
What Attracted you to this Position?
Again be truthful. There must have been some reason you were attracted to this job out of all the others on offer. It might be that you love working with children, or clothes, or computers. It might be that you wanted to work in the charity sector or that you were keen to work on commission or in a company with opportunities for progression. Do not mention anything about money attracting you to the job, this will just make you seem uninterested in the actual job.
Image Credit: studio tdes/ Flickr.com
Where do you See Yourself in Five Years Time?
There are basically two answers to avoid here. Apart from part-time casual work or fixed contract jobs you should steer clear of any answer that implies you will not be working at the company you are interviewing with (eg. moving across the world, working for a better firm, quitting work and living off the land). Likewise you should include anything too obsequious, just saying “I see myself working here of course”, is just a bit boring.
What are Three Positive Things your Last Boss would Say about You?
I may sound like I am repeating myself but be honest and bear in mind that they have probably spoken to your last boss!
Why should we Hire You?
Here employers are looking to see that you really know what the job is about. Think back to the description you used when you applied and show how you have the skills and experience to perform the tasks required. You can almost rehash your cover letter here so it is a good idea to read through it prior to any interview.
What do you Think the main Challenges will be in this Job?
Again this is a test of how well you have prepared and how well you understand the job that you are applying for.
If you were an Animal what Type of Animal would you Be and Why?
Lots of employers will put in seemingly out of place questions like this. Don’t let it throw you. By asking something like this they are trying to figure out how your brain works. As long as you think about the question and approach it logically, there is no incorrect answer. However, saying you would like to be a rabbit because they are cute and fluffy is probably not quite the answer they are looking for.
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