Interviews - What will they ask me?
Published: 26 Nov 2012
You can never fully predict what you will be asked in an interview. However, being aware of some of the most commonly asked questions will help you be more prepared for what may come up. Here we offer some of the questions most used by recruiters in interviews.
What made you apply for this job?
This is one of the most obvious questions that a recruiter may ask you, and is equally one of the most important. If you cannot effectively demonstrate why you initially applied and why you want the job, the employer will consider you as not interested. You need to come across passionate about the industry sector and explain how your past experience leads perfectly into this particular role. Explain your future career aims but be careful not to make the interviewer feel as if they are nothing but a small stepping stone in your larger career objectives.
What do you know about us?
This is your opportunity to display your knowledge about the organisation. Before the interview research the organisation and industry sector thoroughly. As well as finding out what it is they exactly do, try and find some case studies of work or successes they’ve achieved in the past. Why does their work particularly interest you? Who are their main competitors?
Why did you leave your last job?
No matter how much you may have disliked your old job, this is not the time to complain, regardless of whether it’s about the organisation, the boss or the employees. Openly slating your previous or current employer will make you come across as disloyal and unable to work in a group environment, which is not something companies are looking for in an employee.
What are your strengths?
This is the time to sell yourself and explain how you stand out from the other candidates.
Consider which of your strengths match the key requirements in the job description and what skills, personality traits or past experience you have which suits the role. Don’t just list your best qualities but try to offer key examples of when these have been put into practice in your career or personal life.
What are your weaknesses?
This can be a difficult question to answer and brutal honesty may perhaps not be the answer!
Firstly, don’t deny that you have any weaknesses. Everyone has one, and refusing to highlight them will portray you as arrogant and untruthful.
Although highlighting a strength disguised as a weakness such as “I’m too much of a perfectionist”, is a popular choice, employers are often aware of this trick. Cliches like this should therefore perhaps be avoided. It’s a better idea to be honest but choose a weakness that you’ve worked on to improve and demonstrate how far you’ve come from the past.
Describe a time when you have led a team
This competency-based question requires you to highlight an experience where you have demonstrated key personality traits such as decision making, organisation, time-management, and persuasion. Many experiences whether in the workplace or not would have required you to draw upon management skills. Give a specific example of this in your past experiences. The employer is seeking an insight into how your mind and focus works when given a task and how you are able to lead to a group of people.
Describe a time when you have worked successfully as part of a team
This is another competency-based question which the employer uses to gain an impression of how well you work with others and how you will fit into their organisation. In addition to the skills and experience you possess, the employer needs to be confident that you will be able to get along with and work well with other employees.
What do you consider as your biggest achievement?
Try not to state the obvious response but think of something that will make you stand out from other candidates. Most importantly, make sure the achievement you choose draws upon skills relevant for the job e.g. dedication, teamwork.
Why did you choose your course at university?
Rather than just to find out what your interests are, this question is designed to get a response that demonstrates the decision making skills and future planning that went behind your university choice. Explain how you came to your decision and where you hope it to get you in the future.
Have you got any questions for us?
Try to prepare some constructive questions to ask the interviewer to show your enthusiasm for the role. Think carefully about what to ask because many questions may have been answered already during the interview, and you don’t want to come across as if you weren’t listening. Good topics to think about are the work itself, career development.
Remember, this is simply a rough guide as to what questions you may be asked in an interview. Don’t rehearse exact answers word-for-word as this will come across forced and unnatural. Be prepared for many different types of questions and if your confident that your skills and experience is right for the role, this will come across in your answers, regardless of what questions the recruiter may throw at you.