Interviews are a daunting process and no matter how hard you try to prepare for anything, you are always faced with the unexpected. Wouldn’t it be great to go into an interview knowing exactly what your interviewer was planning to ask and how to answer it? Unfortunately, we can never be too sure what we will be asked of in an interview but there are some common questions that do arise in interviews that you can prepare for.
- Tell me about yourself.
Every job interview starts with some sort of icebreaker so that the interviewer can get to know you on a more personal level. That being said, it is important to know what they really want to hear when they ask a question like this. They don’t really want to know a bunch of irrelevant things about you, they want to know how your personality fits in with their company and the role they are hiring for.
For example, if you are interviewing for a job that involves working with people one-on-one, you’d want to emphasise that you have great social skills or point out any team based hobbies that you undertake. Sports are usually a good one to talk about because they usually have a high social component involved or educational courses you have taken (e.g. a TAFE course) that relates to the role.
- Why are you interested in this job?
When interviewers ask this, they want to know if you are passionate about working for their company in particular or just looking for any job out there. This is a good time to talk about any knowledge you might have of the company such as company values, partnership charities, projects they take part in and anything else you find interesting about them. Usually, you can find most of this information on their website so be sure to check out your company’s background before you go into the interview.
Do not begin by saying you are interested in the salary, this is an instant red flag for most interviewers. If possible, try to avoid talking about the salary as much as possible. Be genuine when speaking about why you want the job as recruiters are good at spotting people who are not fully committed.
- What are your greatest strengths?
Be careful when you are answering this question, it is important not to be too arrogant (e.g. “I’m good at everything.”) or too modest. When speaking about your strengths, make sure they are relevant to the job you are applying for. Don’t spend ten minutes discussing how skillful you are at painting if you applying for a job in finance. Make sure your strengths relate to the key criteria for the role (e.g. “I am very good with numbers”).
Be sure to mention any extra qualifications you have completed (e.g. a TAFE course) that will help further your success in the role, as well as any anecdotes that can demonstrate what you are saying in a real situation. If you are worried about coming across as arrogant, try using someone else’s words (e.g. “my past employer used to say I was great at meeting deadlines).
- What are your weaknesses?
Try not to overshare when asked this question as that can negate the good impression you’ve made on your recruiter so far. Also, do not try and avoid the question completely by saying you have no weaknesses as this will make you look like you have no ability to self-reflect on your capabilities. Instead, try and talk about something that used to be an area of weakness for you, but through different experiences and self-learning, you were able to improve so that is it not an issue anymore.
For example, you could say that you used to find it difficult earlier on in your career to organise and handle large workloads, but through the use of day planners and efficient delegation of time, you were able to overcome this and you can now call it one of your greatest strengths.
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
While many people think that employers want to hear that they will be with the company for many years to come, it is actually quite unrealistic. If you genuinely do want to stay with the company for the next five years or more, tell them but if you have other career goals make sure you are able to communicate this to your employer as well (e.g. in five years I would hope to have a management role), this way they are aware of what your goals are and can help accommodate them.
Job interviews can be a scary process but with enough preparation, anyone can ace them!