Now that you’ve secured yourself an interview and brushed up on the basics using our Complete Interview Guide, it’s time to start thinking about the interview itself and the questions you’re likely to be asked. Read our general pointers for answering interview questions effectively; we’ve then provided examples of questions you are likely to be asked, and guidance for the best ways to answer them.
• Listen Carefully: Pay close attention to the interviewer’s questions and take a moment to consider the question fully before responding. This will help you craft a well-structured and relevant answer.
• Be Clear and Concise: When answering questions, be clear and to the point. Avoid rambling or going off on tangents and focus instead on the key details that highlight your skills and experiences.
• Use the STAR Model: For behavioural questions, utilize the STAR model (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to organize your responses. This framework allows you to provide concrete examples of your accomplishments and problem-solving abilities. Read more about the STAR model here.
• Highlight Relevant Skills: Tailor your answers to showcase the skills and qualifications that are required for the position. Draw from your previous experiences and demonstrate how you can apply them to the new role.
• Stay Positive: Even when discussing challenges or past failures, maintain a positive tone. Emphasize what you learned from those experiences and how you have grown as a professional. Refrain from speaking negatively about previous employers or colleagues. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of your work experiences and what you hope to achieve in the future.
• Be Authentic: Be yourself during the interview. Authenticity is obvious, and it will go a long way in building rapport with the interviewer. Try to showcase your genuine enthusiasm for the role and for the company as best as you can.
• If in doubt, ask: If you are unsure about a question, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. It shows that you are engaged and genuinely interested in providing the best possible answer.
• Show you understand their company culture: During your responses, try to align your answers with the company’s values and culture. Demonstrate how you can contribute to the organisation’s success and growth.
• Practice, Practice, Practice: Finally, practice your responses to common interview questions with a friend or in front of a mirror.
How to answer specific questions:
Below are some examples of questions you are likely to be asked in an interview, and strategies for answering them effectively. Keep in mind that every interviewer will likely be assessing your responses on the basis of three main criteria:
1. Are you capable of doing the job?
2. Are you willing and enthusiastic to put in the effort to make the job a success?
3. Are you manageable and able to fit in well with the team?
So, without further ado, read on for our example questions…
Why do you want to work here?
To answer this question, you must have researched the company thoroughly and be able to demonstrate that your own career interests align with their values and goals. Try to reply with the company’s attributes as you see them and use this as an opportunity to showcase your belief that the company can provide you with a stable and happy work environment that would allow you to perform to the best of your ability. Try to include examples of the company’s impact within the industry or on their customers, as well as your own skills that make you a good match.
What would you like to be doing five years from now?
This is an opportunity to show off both your ambition and realism, so it’s important to balance both. An example answer could include reference to taking on increasing responsibility, continuing professional development, and building leadership skills (if this is applicable to your desired route). Showing enthusiasm and drive is important, but showing adaptability and open-mindedness is also important.
What are your biggest accomplishments?
Try to ensure the achievements you have selected to speak about are relevant to the specific position or setting you are applying for. Take some time to prepare ahead of the interview and reflect on your career history in order to identify the achievements that best highlight your skills and capability. Try to relate these accomplishments to the job itself and be sure to remain humble and give any credit to other parties where it may be due!
Tell me about yourself
This is an opportunity to make a good first impression, but it can often trip interviewees up and lead them to ramble, which can set the interview off on the wrong foot. Ensure you focus on your professional background principally, and definitely avoid sharing personal details that are unrelated to the job. Your name and a sentence summarising your professional and educational background is a good place to start. You could also refer to one or more of your key personal qualities, such as honesty, integrity, being a team player, or determination.
How well do you feel other people rate your work performance?
This question is asking both how you perceive your own work performance, as well as how others see you. It’s important to be honest and show self-awareness here, to avoid coming across as disingenuous or arrogant. If possible, it’s best to refer back to specific feedback you may have received from supervisors, colleagues, or your clientele in order to support and qualify your answer. Better yet if you have tangible letters of recommendation or written evaluations from current or previous employers that you can provide. If you don’t have written evaluations, try to quote verbal appraisals. While this is certainly an opportunity to highlight your strengths, it’s also an opportunity to acknowledge your areas for improvement, where you are actively working on enhancing your skillset or overcoming obstacles.
What is your greatest strength?
Though some people baulk at the idea of talking themselves up, there is no better an opportunity to do so than during an interview, when asked the ‘greatest strength’ question. So, answer this question by isolating some high points from your background and building in a couple of your key personal qualities, such as pride in your work, reliability, and the ability to stick with a difficult task, yet change course rapidly when required. Be authentic and confident in your response and choose a strength that genuinely reflects your greatest abilities and corresponds to the role you’re interviewing for. Provide concrete examples to support your answer.
What is your greatest weakness?
While this question is an interview cliché, it does still crop up regularly, so it’s important to be prepared for it. While you may be tempted to twist this answer to highlight one of your strengths, we would recommend opting for more candour: this question is all about showing how you address potential negatives and turn them into a positive. So, select a genuine weakness, but ensure it isn’t one that is critical to perform the job you are applying for, then explain how you are actively working to address the weakness or improve upon it. Answering honestly shows self-awareness and integrity, and a willingness to put in the effort to better yourself.
What are you looking for in your next job?
For this question, avoid saying what you want the company to give you, but instead, highlight what goals you feel you can achieve within the new role that are mutually beneficial for both parties; for example, progression, the opportunity to utilise your talent and skillset to the best of your ability, and to take on new challenges and responsibilities.