Preparing for Interview Questions
Preparation is everything when it comes to nailing that interview. Put yourself in the interviewers shoes, what would you ask candidates, what would you like to hear? Review the job specification and make a list of the competencies required for the position, most likely the questions will be based around these. You should think about workplace situations and projects that you worked on in the past that will demonstrate how suitable you are to meet the requirements of this position.
Also try and think about challenges that you have faced and what you did to overcome them, having lots of examples fresh in your mind will help you succeed and show your full potential.
Preparing for the most popular interview questions will also help, but more recently interview questions are getting more creative, lets look at some of the tricky ones;
Question: Tell me a bit about yourself?
This is a very popular old reliable question and is often used to put candidates at ease. When answering keep the primary focus on your professional life, highlight 3 to 4 key areas that would be of most interest to the employer, your relevant qualifications, work experience and projects that you have worked on.
Question: Do you have any weaknesses?
Again, this is one of the most dreaded questions. If you choose to talk about a weaknesses, be sure to outline what you have done to overcome them such as additional training. For example if you suffer with nerves when presenting in front of large crowds and this is a requirement of the job, you can say that you have volunteered for opportunities to speak in public to build your confidence and overcome your fears. While although you may always feel nervous, the exposure has increased your confidence and has helped to reduce and manage your nerves. This shows that you have taken on board your weakness and have actively sought solutions.
Question: What is your salary expectation?
Depending on the position and of course your own needs, you may want to side step this question at the initial interview stage. You could say that the role is much more important to you than salary and that you are open to all reasonable offers. If you are successful and an offer is made you might then want to negotiate the package on offer.
Question: Do you have a five-year plan?
Keep your answer based on your career. It’s important that you think about this in advance and have a strategic, informative and concise answer that is in line with the position you are applying for. For a senior position, it’s acceptable to want to progress to running the company in the future, but if you are just starting your career you need to show that you have realistic expectations.
Question: If I called your manager and asked for a reference, what would they say?
This question could instantly throw a candidate off, because they probably haven’t thought about it before. In reality, it’s just another way of asking what your biggest weakness is. Of course it’s important to focus on all the great things that your manager would say about you. You reply could include that your manager would say you are a great time keeper, that you are organised, a hard worker, flexible, adaptable and that you can work on your own initiative. You could add that he/she would have to say that you get on well with your team mates and that you will be badly missed.
Question: What was your claim to fame in your previous role?
So this is a bit of an unusual one, but the feedback we’re getting is that interviewers are getting much more creative with their questions. For this one, they want to know what your strengths are? What you excelled at in your previous role, what would your previous colleagues tell them about you? What were you know for?
You should of course keep your answers professional and relevant to your job. Perhaps you’re best known for putting in the hours and staying behind at work to complete a task. If so, this shows that you’re committed to delivering the best possible work and you’re not scared to get stuck in and go over and above what’s expected.
You might also want to show your character, say for example if you were known for organising the best staff social events. Immediately they would think you are fun to work with, a good team player and you understand the importance of culture within the workplace. But you need to have a balance between fun and demonstrating that you are a hard worker.
Question: What is your ideal job?
Again this is a bit of a strange one because obviously they are interviewing you for one job that they have on offer. The most appropriate thing to do is talk about positions within the industry you’re applying for. Of course you must focus on the job on offer and say that right now you want that role, but there’s no harm is showing ambition and wanting to move up within your field. If you talk about other positions you need to show that you are talking about the future and that you have an acceptable expectation of timeframes involved.
Question: If you were offered this job what would you bring to the role?
In a lot of cases employers are not only looking for someone to do the role, but hoping that you might bring something exciting to their organisation. You may already have experience with one of their competitors or have your own ideas on how to improve business. Don’t be afraid to show initiative, ambition, drive and innovation.