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Interview Advice: How to answer the most common questions

Interview Advice: How to answer the most common questions

Fri 22 Aug 2014

This week, we're sharing some insider advice on how to answer some of the most popular interview questions.

For many people the interview process can be a somewhat stressful event; ensuring you present yourself as professional, hardworking, confident yet modest can cause even the most well respected executives to feel uncomfortable.

In an attempt to ease the anxiety, our consultant Hannah has put together a list of some of the most popular interview questions’, plus insider advice as to how you should be answering them...

1 - "Tell me about yourself..."

This is likely to be your interviewers opening question, so it will be a good opportunity to make a strong first impression. Make sure you keep your answer short (a few minutes should be enough), and keep your answer related to work. Always focus on answering the question that has been asked. 

2 - "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

Ensure you keep your response focussed on the objectives and structure of the role you are applying for, bear in mind the way you have presented yourself in your CV and cover letter, consistency is key. Many times I have seen candidates fall down at this hurdle by stating aims and goals outside of the scope of the role or industry, i.e saying your ideal role or passion is to become something other than what you are applying for. 

3 - "Why do you want to work here?"

The interviewer will want to hear examples which illustrate the research you should have done on the company, make sure you are aware of any recent news as well as company history and presence. A good idea is to have a look on the company’s website/linked in/other information sources and find any mission statement/goals/aims that the company has, relating this back to your answer is a great way to show your preparation and research alongside your commitment to the company. 

4 - "Tell me about a time you had to work under pressure..."

Be careful not to present yourself to the interviewer as someone who is always working under pressure, it may appear as though you are the cause of the stress! Instead, mention one or two specific examples of when something has gone wrong and how you have rectified this and the result. 

5 - "How do you handle criticism?"

With this question you are able to present yourself by explaining that criticism is a great way of shaping your work and expanding your viewpoint on situations, you can show your willingness to learn and develop from others assistance.

4 - "What do you do outside of work?"

As much as potential employers love a candidate with passions and interests, try and keep examples related to personal development and how you can transfer those skills to the workplace.

5 - "What would you say is your biggest weakness?"

It is essential to avoid falling in to the pitfall of listing major weaknesses that are likely to affect job performance; or similarly, not listing any weakness at all (the interviewer will not buy that!). Instead, do not get flustered and instead list a minor weakness whilst explaining how you are overcoming it. An example would include explaining that you are a perfectionist and may take longer completing a project but it will have the highest attention to detail and be right first time! 

6 - "Why do you think you are suited to this position?"

With this question your knowledge of the job description becomes essential, make sure you prepare for your interview by memorising key points within the job advert where you know you can bring value, including examples of when you have been successful in the past. Also don't be afraid to take notes into your interview - this will show your commitment and can often help you to stay confident in your answers if you have forgotten something important or had a brief moment of blankness! 

7 - "What motivates you most at work?"

The red flag here is when a candidate mentions money, there will be other opportunities to discuss this. Try and keep your response focussed more on satisfaction from the working environment and personal development.

8 - "What qualities do you look for in a manager?"

Make sure you do not go in to specifics, bearing in mind your interviewers potential to be your manager. Good traits to list include being encouraging, fair and motivating.

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