No matter how good your skills and work history, what you say at interview will have a big effect on whether you get the job.
Most interview questions tend to follow the same format so here are some examples which will help you prepare for the big day:
Tell me about yourself: This is usually an opening question and can be quite a daunting one to answer if you haven’t rehearsed what to say! Remember the employer won’t want to hear your entire life history. Keep it to a brief overview of how you came to work in your profession, your key skills, relevant experience and your passion for the job. Try to keep your answer to around 1 – 2 minutes and practice your answer beforehand to sound natural and relaxed at interview.
What made you apply for the position? Avoid mentioning salary even though this may be the primary reason you applied. The employer will want to hear you are enthusiastic about the opportunity and not how attractive the pay scheme is. Explain how you are qualified for the role and how you consider you are the right fit for their company.
What are your strengths? This is your opportunity to really sell yourself and stand out from the crowd. Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes and imagine what sort of answers they want to hear. Would you hire someone who is good at filing? Don’t be too modest; remember other candidates will also be answering this question and you need to show you will bring more to the position.
Make a list of your strong points including your qualities, skills and experience. Back up your answer with examples of your achievements. Perhaps mention your experience of working with company software, organisational skills, team building and relevant qualifications. The employer wants to determine you are the right person for the job so try and tailor your answer to the role being offered.
What are your weaknesses? We all have our negative points and acknowledging that you are aware of them shows you are honest and can openly address your limitations. Don’t highlight areas which may negatively impact on you being able to do the job such as poor time keeping, dislike of working with other people or difficulty with computers. Explain how you strive to overcome weaknesses by setting development goals. Provide examples of how you have tried to improve your weaker skills.
Why do you want to leave your current job? This is not the time to offload about your existing employer and job woes as it may run the risk of impacting negatively on you. Focus on the positive aspects of the position and explain how your skills and ambition would be better suited to the opportunity on offer.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? The employer wants to hear that you are looking for a long-term opportunity and wish to progress within their environment. Use this question to illustrate your ambition and passion for working in your chosen industry. Explain how your career goals will be suited to their business strategy.
The ‘curveball’ question… Being asked what sort of car you would be or how many mouse mats would fill a football pitch is the type of unexpected question designed to help the interviewer assess your responses whilst under pressure. Most of the time there isn’t a correct answer. Stay calm, answer objectively and be clear with your reasoning, and avoid ‘smart’ replies. If it helps, plan an action strategy to help you prepare a suitable reaction.