Do you have an interview looming in 2017? Or perhaps you intend on brushing up your interview skills in preparation for #newyearnewyou and refreshing your job search anew. Regardless of what you have in the pipeline, we’re here to help and offer advice throughout the nerve-wracking process that is job hunting.
It should go without saying that preparing thoroughly for an interview is absolutely crucial and as it’s central whether or not you secure your dream career move, you want to get your preparation right.
So looking beyond all the standard background research you’ll be doing (which is still crucial), to ensure that you don’t fall short, here are ten ten commonly asked questions and a few hints on how best to answer them:
1. Why are you right for this role?
This is your opportunity to talk with conviction about your ability to fit seamlessly in to the role and its remit within the business. You can only do this well, if you’ve researched and understood the role. Don't be vague with your reasons, the more specific you are about why your skillset suits the role, the greater the chance there is of them considering you seriously for the position.
2. What’s your biggest weakness?
It's a tricky question and you do need to be honest. Consider your biggest professional weakness, problem-solving for example, can be shifted in perception to be viewed as a strength. If you struggle to conjure solutions to an issue, elaborate by saying that this means you are proactive in team work and will seek out the advice of other more experienced colleagues with your expert communication skills. Keep it positive and advantageous, there's always a silver lining to what may be perceived as a flaw.
3. Where do your strengths lie?
Try to find strengths that aren’t just essential to you as a colleague but that also match the role you’re interviewing for. We’re in the marketing sector, so think about your audience and your USPs… for example, if the role requires leadership skills, the interviewer will prefer to hear that you work well with your team and are great at motivating others.
4. What sets you apart from the competition?
This is an opportunity to distinguish yourself. Make sure you have researched the role thoroughly and rehearsed a response to pitch yourself and how you can add value to the company. Cut the clichés and refer to your unique capabilities and experience and how this will add value and solve a problem.
5. How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
These three words need to be accurate, clear and unpredictable. Actually ask those closest to you before the interview to give you suggestions; punchy words work well and always avoid clichés - no one describes themselves as a team player in reality (plus, technically, that’s two words). Even if you don't get asked this question, having these three words up your sleeve will help clarify how you’d like to be perceived and you can weave them into another answer.
6. Where do you see yourself in X years?
More of a trap question than genuinely insightful, this can propel you to interview success or raise serious questions about your suitability, so tread carefully. If you say you'd like to be CEO in ten years time, you may come across as overly ambitious or ruthless. Equally if you say you hope to have retired to write a novel by then, it might suggest you have a deep lack of commitment. So whatever your aims are, make sure you come up with something that demonstrates a loyalty to the job you are applying for and the longevity of the company at large, rather than it simply being a stepping stone to another stage in your life.
7. When did you exhibit quality leadership skills?
Dig deep for this one and consider anything that you've done in any area of your life where you had to demonstrate successful leadership, include everything from your hobbies to life at home. If you don’t believe you have any examples, immediately introduce yourself to places where you can gain leadership experience, such as volunteering for an organisation or sports team - even if your leadership experience is slightly left field, it doesn't matter as long as you communicate it well, it may make you sound more interesting.
8. What is your greatest achievement?
Craft an answer that is entirely unique to you, think hard and outside of the box. If your answer is bland, you will have lost another opportunity to distinguish yourself from the competition. This question will allow the interviewer to understand what makes you tick so ensure that your response is aligned with your aspirations.
9. How do you like to be managed?
This is an incredibly useful question, both for the interviewer and the interviewee. It’s also an important question to consider way before interview stage, at the outset of your job search. Why? It helps you focus on the type of culture you want to work in and if you remain true to this during the interview process, you should ultimately end up working in an environment that suits your working style. In general most interviewers are looking to understand that you’ll be easy to manage, will take initiative and won’t need too much hand holding.
10. Do you have any questions?
“Yes” is always the answer. It is absolutely essential to get this right. Simply do not ask about pay/working hours/holiday allowance - these are telling of your priorities and not about the job. Questions must be centred around adding value to the role, demonstrating both an interest in the role and the company. Be careful not to ask any questions that you could have found answers for by reading their website or a quick Google search. If you're worried you won't remember the questions you wanted to ask, write them down and have them to hand in the interview - interviewers will always like to see you've given this forethought.