Friday, 30 September 2016

10 common interview questions and how to answer them

The Lady Recruits consultant Amy Cosgrove breaks down some questions you could expect to be asked in a job interview- and the best ways to answer them to secure the role!

Tell us about yourself
This is usually the first question you are asked and it gives you the opportunity to set the tone of the interview. Keep your answer to around 2-3 minutes and briefly highlight your education and work history whilst drawing attention to your key achievements.

Why did you leave your last position?
Stick to the positives when talking about previous roles. You may have felt that the role didn't push you but chances are that you learnt something from the experience and you need to highlight this as well as explaining why you left. Avoid personal reasons such as disputes with your boss or colleagues- something more general such as you are seeking a new challenge or looking to further your career is safer.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?
This question gives you the opportunity to show how ambitious you are. Try to keep your answer relevant to the industry you are interviewing for and pick a happy medium between being overly ambitious (I want to be the Managing Director) and too passive.

What are your weaknesses?
This is a great opportunity to show self-reflection but try to avoid being too critical of yourself. The trick here is to turn your weakness into a positive by explaining how you are moving forward. Stick to work-based examples, the interviewer doesn't want to know that you have a weakness for Mars Bars!

Why did you apply for this role?
What was it about the role that originally interested you? Demonstrate that you have researched the role and company by referencing specific examples of aspects of the role that excite you. If the job will help you to develop your chosen career you can mention this here.

What motivates you?
Although you should be honest when answering this question, keep in mind the type of company you are applying for. Is it profit or non-profit? Sales based or a charitable organisation? Your answer should give an insight into who you are as a person and what makes you tick. Are you the kind of person who thrives off of deadlines and targets or is it more the personal satisfaction of doing a good job?

How would your colleagues describe you?
The recruiter is asking you to tell them your strengths. It is best to keep things concise so pick three attributes which are relevant to the job you are interviewing for. Always try to support your answers with examples. For instance, if you feel you are a team player, tell the recruiter about a time when you thrived working with others on a project.

What do you think you could bring to the company?
The interviewer wants to know what you can offer that sets you apart from the other applicants. They also want to be sure that you fully understand what the company is about so ensure that you keep this in mind when structuring your answer. Again, make sure that you back up any attributes you claim to have with real examples.

What do you feel are your greatest achievements so far?
Your answer to this question should excite the recruiter and make you stand out so try to avoid clichés like your degree or your children. It's important to choose something you are genuinely passionate about and that you are able to express this to the interviewer. Examples could be an achievement in sport, charitable events or overcoming a fear.

Do you have any questions?
ALWAYS ask questions, it shows enthusiasm and asking intelligent questions based on what you have spoken about in the interview also shows that you have been listening and paying attention. Examples include asking about training, the team that you would be working in and the future direction of the company. Avoid asking about salary and benefits at this stage.

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