The purpose of any interview is to enable the interviewer to gather sufficient relevant information to enable them to select the appropriate candidate for the role and the organisation. Therefore, whilst it is important that the interviewer asks appropriate questions in an unambiguous and succinct manner, it is equally important that you understand what information they require and are able to deliver your answers accordingly. The following examples are questions that have been asked during interviews and are accompanied by a brief explanation of what information the interviewer is likely to require.
1. Can you tell us something about yourself?
This is an open question that gives you the opportunity to stress the aspects that you would like the interviewer to be aware of. In answering this question, focus on your skills, qualities and achievements to date that are relevant to the job you are applying for. You may want to mention interests, hobbies, brief life history etc. Your answers should allow the interviewer to get a better picture of you as a person.
2. What did you do in your last job?
Do not tell the interviewer everything you did in your last job as if reading from a list. Mention the skills you used, particularly those that are of relevance to the position you are being interviewed for. The question also allows you to tell the employer about any specific responsibilities or projects you have worked on.
3. What are you greatest strengths?
Personal qualities that are relevant to the vacancy such as team orientation, customer focus, ability to organise and attention to detail are all important. This is your opportunity to sell yourself and all your positive attributes.
4. What are your main weaknesses?
Do not give the interviewer any reason to reject you; they are not expecting you to reveal any dark vices. This question is designed to identify your self-awareness of areas for improvement; but it may advisable to discuss those for which you have already identified a solution.
5. Why do you want to work for this company?
This is where the research into the company pays off. It is an ideal opportunity to tell the employer what you know about the company, its products/services, reputation and how you could be an asset.
6. What experience can you bring to this post?
It is vital that you are familiar with the job description and person specification in order to ensure that you highlight skills that are relevant in the immediate term. In addition, your knowledge of the company and history of the role will enable you to identify skills that may be of longer term benefit to the company.
7. What personal qualities could you bring to this post?
This question is asking you about your personality and qualities such as patience, reliability, enthusiasm, sense of humour, etc – where possible, support your answers with anecdotal evidence demonstrating how these qualities have allowed you to make an effective contribution to previous roles.
8. What interests you most about this job?
Again mention qualities of the company and main areas of the position that interest you based on the job description and your research.
9. Competency based questions, e.g., “Describe an occasion where you dealt with a difficult situation.”; “Tell be about a time when you contributed to the success of a team”.
This type of question is generally designed to determine how you work as opposed to what you have done.In preparation you should consider specific experiences that will enable you to demonstrate relevant qualities such as customer orientation, teamwork or work management skills.
10. Why did you leave your last job?
Your answer should always be positive with an emphasis on how you want to move forward as opposed to what you wish to leave behind.
11. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Be practical with your answer. If you want to be MD of the company consider whether this is the most appropriate role to start from. However you choose to answer this question be prepared to support your answer with some evidence of planning.
12. Do you have any questions?
Always prepare three or four questions which are relevant to the role for which you are applying. As well as acting as a prompt, your list of questions will also serve as a checklist to ensure you have all the information you need from the interview.
13. At the end of the interview, remember to confirm your interest in both the company and the position.