There are many potential questions that can make their way into a job interview, but you have a finite number of chances to reply to them with a stonking great answer. When it comes to all job interview questions, preparation is the key. But posing a common question doesn’t mean an employer expects a run of the mill answer. Thinking about these things ahead of time means you’ll stand out from the pack and won’t be left sitting there like a stunned mullet.

Below are some oft-used interview questions posed by employers and some hints and tips for you to prep some all-star answers.

Tell me about a challenging or conflicting situation in the workplace and how you worked through it.

Firstly, it’s okay to admit to some less than perfect workplace scenarios. Egos clash, clients can be difficult, maybe you just don’t gel with someone in your team. It happens. It’s how you deal with it that matters.

It’s best to take this question from the initial issue through to resolution, and for that, it’s handy to use the STAR approach:

S – think of an appropriate Situation;
T – asses the Task which cropped up within this situation; and
A – what Action was required to fix the problem?
R – the Result of the three steps you utilized above.

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

This won’t be a blind date scenario, so you don’t have to launch into liking Piña coladas and walks in the rain.

Speak about qualities which will make you perfect for the job. I’m tenacious, I’m always up for a challenge, I’m really self-motivated – and use examples from your life. Always draw the conversation back to selling yourself.

What do you know about the company?

Research pays off in a big way for this very common interview question.

Some points to consider include what does this company believe in and how does it strive to reach their goals day today? How many countries/regions does it operate in? How long has it been in operation?

Who is the CEO/founder and what’s their story? Utilize LinkedIn, any relevant news stories and the company’s own website to get clued up.

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Why do you want this job?

Sometimes it’s for the money. There’s nothing wrong with that, we’ve all got to eat. But that response isn’t going to do anything to help you land the job.

A possible starting point would state one of your strengths and explain how you’d best plan to utilize it within the position in question.

‘I thrive well in a competitive environment.’
‘I would love the opportunity to work as part of a dynamic team.’
‘I love solving problems for customers and clients.’
‘I’m keen to tackle bigger projects and see them through to completion.’

Why should we hire you?

Sell, baby, sell! Let the interviewer know why you are a better choice for the job than other candidates, and how comprehensively you’d be able to tackle the work required.

What are your biggest strengths/biggest weaknesses?

Be honest, but some forward planning here may be key. Think about the position and relevance to it

It could pay to break your answers down into specifics which can give an interviewer a detailed insight into how you operate. For example, ‘I have people skills ’ could become ‘I can convince people to come around to my way of thinking while making them think it was their idea.’
Or: ‘I’m excellent at networking and maintaining personal relationships.’

When it comes to weaknesses certainly don’t run yourself down, but a well thought out answer to this can show your level of self-awareness (always a massive asset.)

Don’t say your problem is trying to be perfect or that you’re too good looking, cause for a major eye roll! You could say you’re not great at public speaking, or you’ve been working on delegating tasks to team members.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

It’s a curly one. An employer is interested to know how far you plan ahead and do you have ambition for your career. You might not. And who knows what the future holds? Don’t say ‘not here’, ‘having your job’ or ‘retired to a beach in the Caribbean’.

If this a job where there’s room for growth, you can base your answer around attributes and experience you can gain at this particular position. Think about how you would like to improve and develop your strengths and skills and weave this narrative into your answer.
‘This position would help me progress to where I’d like to be, which is…’

– To get more experience leading teams;
– Being the point of contact for larger clients; or
– To have more autonomy and creative control.

Why are you leaving your current job?

Perhaps one question where brutal honesty isn’t the best policy. Under no circumstances should you badmouth your current job/last place of employment. People talk.

It’s okay to say you were made redundant or you feel like you have outgrown the role. It’s not okay to say your boss is an unbearable prick. That might be true, but not relevant. Plus, tact and discretion count for a lot.

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What are your salary requirements?

Don’t undersell yourself here. If you drop a low number into the conversation it’ll be almost guaranteed that’s what you’ll get. Make the point that you’re flexible to a point and up for possible negotiation.

Be realistic though. Don’t cut yourself off at the knees. There are websites that will give you an estimate of your market worth based on your current position, industry, and experience. Go on the higher side and see how it goes.

If they really want to hire you, they’ll be willing to make the money work.

What do you like to do outside of work?

This is a little bit of curiosity and a little bit of a look into a potential culture fit. While it’s not necessary in a CV, it’s a question that often comes up in face-to-face scenarios. Keep it positive and semi-professional.

Do you have any questions?

Yes, have some. Interview questions to ask an employer are your chance to find out more about the company and position on your terms. If you answer with a ‘no, not really’ it looks like you can’t be bothered or don’t care enough about the job to be engaged.
(Handy hint: Don’t ask something which could be answered by some basic Googling.)

Consider questions like?

What would make someone successful in this role?
What is the companies’ ten-year plan for growth?
What are your staff retention rates like?
What makes you different from your competitors?

With a little luck and a lot of preparation, you’ll be in good stead to come across as a switched-on, dynamic, engaged interviewee who is memorable for all the right reasons.

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Our team is here to help and if you need advice give us a call and we can help 09 551 6477.

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