How to answer the most common interview questions

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1 How to answer the most common interview questions

2 Why should we hire you? Out of all the interview questions you ll be asked, Why should we hire you? provides perhaps the biggest opportunity to sell yourself. You re the product, the recruiter is the customer. Your career depends on persuading them to buy in. If you want to close the deal on a job offer, it s essential that you come prepared with a concise summary of the top reasons why they should choose you over the other talented candidates. Remember, hiring you is risky. You re a big investment that will cost the company money. If you re hired and you don t perform well, your recruiter is in trouble, the company has lost money, and a more worthy candidate has slipped through the net. So, by asking you this question, the interviewer wants you to make their life easier by convincing them that you really are the best person for the role. They want you to show them that you want the job, that you can perform exceptionally within it, that you ll fit in with the company culture and overall, that you ll be a solid investment. If you wow them with your answer to this question, you re in a much better position to win the job. To wow, you firstly need to avoid the obvious pitfalls. Never respond to this question by saying why the job would be good for you. The recruiter doesn t care that you need more money or that the office is a quick drive from your house, they care about what you can do for them. Brainstorm your ideas and come up with a concise response of around 2 minutes long This is where you bring out your highlight reel. In your answer, you need to show what makes you stand out from the crowd. Develop a sales statement that showcases how you are unique and strengthen it with actual examples. Safe bets here are key accomplishments or skills, success stories and relevant experience. These are points that you can really use to your advantage by adding numbers, achievements and real-life cases in point. Trust us, it s much, much better to refer to a few key reasons with compelling evidence behind them than to recite a long list of your skills without anything to back up what you re saying. When you re telling the recruiter about what you could offer, don t forget to align your response to the job requirement and the company culture. Think about the responsibilities of the role and how your expertise fits. If you can t demonstrate that you d be a good match for the job, you won t get it. As well as using real examples of your professional achievements, you also need to show the recruiter that they should hire you on the strength of your personal attributes and culture. Personality aspects such as your style of working, your energy, confidence and ambition, your people skills and your goals are all extremely relevant to this question and will demonstrate whether or not you fit the company culture. Brainstorm your ideas and come up with a concise response of around two minutes long. And then of course, spend time practicing your pitch. Don t forget the importance of giving a confident, enthusiastic response. Make the recruiter believe that you are the only possible person to fill their vacancy. If you clearly believe in yourself when answering this question, you ll make it much easier for the recruiter to believe in you too.

3 Tell me about yourself Tell me about yourself is one of the most commonly asked interview questions. And it s one of the most difficult to answer. How you respond shows the interviewer how articulate you are, how you cope in an unstructured situation and how confident you are. It highlights your culture and how that culture aligns with the company ethos. But instead of being afraid of the question, you need to use it as an opportunity to springboard your success. With this question, you need to think about what the interviewer really wants to know. Do they care about your life story? Do they want to know about the pet hamster you had as a child? We ll spare you the suspense they don t. What the interviewer is really looking for here is a smart, focused response that highlights your key skills and accomplishments. Think about what you want the interviewer to know about you. Think about what most interests the interviewer and how you can reflect their company values. A good way to lead your response to this question is to talk about the most recent professional accomplishments you ve achieved. Always remember, when answering interview questions, you want to sell what the buyer is buying. Talk about your qualifications and how they would fit in the current role. Research the company culture and identity examples of how your work and attitude reflects them. If you ve got proven examples of success, use them. Don t squander your time in the driver s seat by being hesitant or focusing on irrelevant details. Prepare the points you want to get across and rehearse them. Ideally, your answer to this question should be around two minutes long. You want to tell the employer enough to grab their interest, not so much that they wonder if they d ever be able to shut you up if they employed you. So, to answer the tell me about yourself question, keep it professional, keep it focused, keep it relevant, keep it persuasive, and keep it concise. Use hard facts, figures and examples wherever possible. And whatever you do, don t launch into personal stories about your love life or your outings to the pub. If you ve planned and rehearsed your response, you won t be thrown when the interviewer poses this question. In a job interview context, the product you re selling is yourself. As with any pitch, the more you re able to talk about your product persuasively, the better your chances of making the sale. Keep it: Relevant Focused Persuasive Concise (don t waffle!)

4 The first step is, of course, pre-interview preparation and research. And that doesn t mean a quick glance at the company website. It means checking out their social channels, reading their marketing materials, news stories and press releases, visiting their blog and finding out about their full range of products and services. While you re doing your research, start jotting down key findings. Then go back to the job description and think about how you can use your findings to the best advantage. For example, if the role requires somebody who has a good head for numbers, it s well worth remembering some facts on sales or profits. If it s an IT role, try and find out what software or CRM system the business uses. You get the gist here. The next step is to weed out your findings. Be extremely careful of any negatives, positivity is key in any interview! Think about it, is talking about a bad company review you ve come across going to make the recruiter warm to you? Of course not. You then need to take care that you paraphrase all your findings. Quoting a company description word for word will make you look wooden, as well as a bit of a stalker! What do you know about us? Always remember that with interview questions, what the recruiter asks isn t necessarily what the recruiter means. For example, the What do you know about us? question isn t really about you parroting off a summary of the business that you got from their website. This question is about your real interest in the role and the company, your commitment in researching it thoroughly, your ability in taking the initiative and your overall work ethic. It s about proving that you didn t just randomly click an Apply Now button from a jobsite. Obviously, you can t afford to answer this question badly. So, how should you respond? This question is about your interest in the role When you ve got your research together, fine-tuned the most important and relevant information and put it into your own words, it s essential to practice your delivery. You don t want to over-do the compliments but you also don t want to sound like a news reader reading from a script. We d recommend a second response here so practice your pace - don t blurt out everything you know in 30 seconds! A well-informed, confident response to this question will show the recruiter that you genuinely care about the role and that you re the kind of person who puts the effort in. if you make it your job to get the job, you ll have an offer land in your lap in no time. Want to know how to prepare for an interview? We ve got a guide for that too.

5 What is your greatest weakness? What is your greatest weakness? It s one of the most dreaded interview questions. You ll almost certainly be faced with it in a job interview, and it s not one you want to answer badly. Say too much and you could be out of the running. Say too little and you risk coming across as overconfident and lacking in self-awareness. Fortunately, there are ways you can address this minefield question without putting your foot in your mouth. The key is in strategy. You need to be honest but you also need to address the unspoken follow up, which is what you are doing to overcome any weaknesses. Remember that the recruiter posing this question wants to see that you are frank, thoughtful and proactive. Never say: Hmmm I don t really think I have any weaknesses. Never say anything that will make you look sloppy, such as lateness or lack of motivation. Even worse, never use an obviously over the top response like: Oh gosh, I m just such a workaholic! I work so hard all the time that I always seem to start early and finish late without taking breaks I m a machine! Trust us, the recruiter won t be convinced. Those are the obvious answers not to give, but you also need to consider the job you re being interviewed for. Whatever you do, don t choose a weakness that demonstrates that you re inappropriate for the role. If, for example, you re interviewing for a customer service job, don t list your weakness as impatience! If it s a secretarial role, don t say that spelling is your biggest weakness. Use your common sense here. Avoiding those kind of responses should steer you away from any danger, but you still need to answer the question well. So, what should you say? Hmmm... I don t think I have any weaknesses Well, the weakness you choose needs to be a non-essential skill, i.e. one that won t prevent you from doing the job. It also needs to be one that you can put a positive spin on even whilst showing that you are self-aware and honest. So, pick the best weakness that you know you can address with confidence. Say, for example, your weakness is in being overly self-critical. This isn t the most offensive weakness in the world and also comes with some positive side-effects. Firstly, you need to frankly state the weakness: I can be very critical of my own work and worry too much about perfecting the smaller details, which can sometimes take up unnecessary time. This shows the recruiter self-awareness, but it also shows that you re a careful worker with high standards. Next, you need to demonstrate the positive aspects that come with this weakness. Follow on by saying: It does mean, however, that my work is error-free and always of a high standard. Finally, close by showing how you re working to address the weakness: Now I m aware of what to look for in being a stickler, I make a more of an effort to have faith in the quality of my work and make sure I focus on the bigger picture. Whatever your weakness, stick to this basic principle of choosing something non-essential, openly declaring it and then immediately following with a positive spin and a demonstration of how you address that weakness. Don t forget that your goal here is to present a real weakness that won t ruin your potential for the role but also doesn t come across as staged or exaggerated. And finally, practice, practice, practice! The more you drill into your head the response you want to give, the more comfortable you will feel when you hear those dreaded words in an interview.

6 Do you have any questions for us These are straightforward interview questions that will help you to get a better idea about the business and its working environment. Importantly, the answers you get will help you make a more informed decision about whether you want to work for the company. Remember, an interview is a two way street. You should be interviewing the employer just as much as they are interviewing you. After you ve asked the basic questions, you also need to demonstrate that you ve researched the company. Prior to the interview, you should have read up on the business and found out its goals, its culture and its recent news. You can then tailor your interview questions to fit around your findings. For example, if you found a press release that stated that the business is looking to double its staff in the next year, question the interviewer on what the plan is to achieve that goal. Take any opportunity you can to show that you ve done your research it will impress the interviewer. If you ve asked a selection of general questions mixed in with some personalised ones, the final thing you need to do is ask two killer closing questions: One of the quickest ways to kill an interview is to ask no questions, especially when directly prompted by your interviewer. Think about the impression it gives and the attitude it suggests. The recruiter wants to see that you re enthusiastic and engaged, that you ve researched the company and thought about the role, that you re proactive and curious. They don t want to waste their time interviewing somebody that brings nothing to the table and takes no initiative. Asking your own interview questions, and making sure they re the right ones, can make the difference between winning or losing the job. So, what should you be asking? As a basic minimum, there are a series of general interview questions that you can ask for any role. We ve picked out our favourites below: Why is this job currently available? What is a typical working day like for a person in this job? What are the biggest challenges that someone in this job will face? What would you say is the most important quality of the person who does this job? How many people are in the team? How many have joined recently? How do you define and measure success here? Does the business promote from within? What do you enjoy most about working here? Do you have any reservations about my application? What is the next step? By asking these questions, you can firstly address any issues that the recruiter may have and then proactively find out about the next stages. This is your final chance to exert your confidence and really make an impression make it count. Want more?

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