10 most common interview questions

Some interview questions come up time and time again so what’s the best way to answer them?

Tell me about yourself?

Remember Interviewers are not looking for your life story – you need to choose four or five key things about yourself that are relevant to the role. This could include specific skills, qualifications, years of experience, or passion for your area of expertise. Practice answering succinctly to create a fantastic opening answer.”

Why are you interested in working for [company name]?

Resist the temptation to say “I want a job” – even if it’s true, “The employer is gauging whether you will take this job if offered and, if so, whether you are likely to stay for any length of time. If you appear ambivalent, they will be cautious about hiring you.”

Empty assurances such as “this seems a nice place to work” are unlikely to be enough to reassure an employer. Do your homework beforehand. Find out things about the company, their products, services, expansion plans, and working culture that appeal to you and which also show you in a good light for the role.

Why should we hire you?

Make it clear that you believe you meet all of the role requirements.

Back each of these skills up by identifying one or more relevant examples of how you’ve demonstrated that skill in a past role.

Demonstrate you’re someone who is proactive and has identified problems or opportunities in the past and then personally took the decisions and actions which led to a successful result.

What are your strengths?

In this question you are expected to let the interviewer know why you are better than other candidates for the job. Your answer should focus on what you specifically can bring to the job and offer the company. Anyone can say they have good experience or are a good communicator but that won’t make you stand out. Quantify your experience (with numbers if possible) and back up every answer with a relevant example from your previous roles.

What are your weaknesses?

No one wants to talk about the less impressive parts of their skill set or personality. It’s important not to lie or to gloss over your weaknesses and the weakness your raise should be something that is directly linked to your work. Ultimately, most employers want to hire someone who’s reflective about their skill sets and knows what they’re not as good at and need to work on.

You need to, think about something that isn’t your strong suit, whether it’s delegating to others or attention to detail, but think about it back in the past. Show how you’ve taken steps to overcome it, or worked hard on getting better, and mention that you’re still working and working at becoming even better at this skill set. 

Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years’ time?

In this question interviewers are looking to assess your long-term planning.

To prepare for this question research what a reasonable career path in your role would look like in five years’ time. Don’t be overambitious as it will look like you are rushing past the first role. Instead, emphasise your enthusiasm for the current position and look to the next steps for building your career.

Tell me about an accomplishment you are proud of

The Star technique (situation, task, action, result) is a good way to structure your answer if you’re having trouble making your answer flow.

As a general rule, start by describing the scale of the challenge you faced. “This is your opportunity to grab their attention. The middle of the story needs to focus on what you had to endure in order to make progress. The greater your struggle and the barriers you had to overcome, the more impressive your story will seem. “The end may be short – ‘I achieved X, Y and Z’ – but extend it to include what you learned that will help you in the future.”

Describe a situation in which you solved a problem

For this question it’s a good idea to think of a fairly recent example and pick a problem that is similar to the challenges you’d face in the job you’re interviewing for. Your answer proves that your actions were effective. If possible, mention positive feedback you received and talk about what you learned and how this learning will help you in the job.”

Describe a situation in which you led/worked in a team

A good team leader has to avoid being too bossy. Rather, they need to be great listeners and knowledgeable about their area. It’s important you show these skills in your answer.  You also need to understand your team members differences and strengths – delegating accordingly – and have ways of communicating their vision.

Do you have any questions?

Often the final interview question, this offers you the chance to build your relationship with the interviewer. 

There are a variety of good questions you could ask, and it’s worth preparing a few in advance. Here are some example questions:

 “What are the biggest challenges facing the company right now?”  

“Where do you see the company heading in the future?”

“What can you tell me about the team I would be a part of?” 

Questions like these will show that you are keen to learn as much as possible about your new company and team. Make sure your questions don’t sound rehearsed. An interviewer will be able to tell if you are asking questions for questions’ sake.

Make sure you stay well away from questions that show you weren’t listening earlier in the interview, or that you really haven’t done sufficient research.

Avoid direct questions that put interviewers on the spot about what they think of you or how the interview went.