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Even though every interview is different, and questions often change depending on the role and company. There are a few common interview questions that you should have prepared answers for, which you can then tailor to each interview you attend.
This open-ended question is often asked at the beginning of an interview in order to get the conversation started and get to know you better. Though your answer should involve a bit about your personality and what makes you ‘you’. This is a perfect opportunity for you to talk the interviewer through your relevant experience, biggest career ‘wins’ and ambitions. This can really set the tone for the interview and is definitely a question you should prepare for. It’s an opportunity to break the ice and build rapport with the interviewer, at the end of the day people want to work with people they’re going to get along with. Start off by explaining who you are professionally, then highlight your areas of expertise relevant to the role, then finally link it back to why you want to work for the company.
If you’ve made it to the interview stage, the interviewer assumes you’ve already read their website, visited their social channels and have an idea of what the business does. Therefore, this question aims to determine whether you have a genuine interest in the business and understand their goals and values. Try to demonstrate why their mission or core values resonate with you, and ultimately attract you to their company. It’s also useful to mention something other candidates may not, for example, if the company has been in the news recently or have published an article you found interesting.
47% of interviewers said that they wouldn’t offer the job to a candidate if they had little knowledge of the company.
This question is designed to not only learn about what sort of conflicts you’ve encountered in the past, but more specifically how you deal with conflict. You may not want to pick anything too serious, but at the same time, you don’t want to pick something trivial and come across as petty. Employers want to see that you have conflict resolution skills and can navigate difficult situations and people. The ideal answer to this question is to highlight the problem and outline how you handled it in a professional, productive and fair manner, in order to come to a reasonable compromise.
Using the STAR Method is always an effective technique when addressing this type of question.
This includes describing the Situation and Task you had to handle or complete, then outlining the Action you took to resolve the Situation, then finally what the Result was.
When outlining your greatest strength, ensure you pick one that is accurate, relevant to the role and specific, so that you can give a concrete example. Try reading over the job description before your interview and look for the key skills necessary for the role. Ideally, you’d like to relate one of these to your greatest strengths, with the use of a solid example. Conversely, when talking about your greatest weakness, you want to talk about a real weakness that you have, that isn’t vital to the role.
Answering this question should detail your weaknesses and the steps you’ve taken to overcome it, for example:
In the past, I have sometimes found it hard to say no to certain projects and have ended up spreading myself too thin. I am very much a people person and wish to help everyone, which I believe is the reason why this happened. However, after recognising this pattern I have since taken steps to ensure I’m not over-committing myself, which has proven to be successful. I’ve been able to prioritise more effectively and enhance my project management skills.
Ultimately, in order to properly answer this question, you need to be able to demonstrate that you are self-aware and can recognise your downfalls, albeit you need to prove that you’ve taken steps to address your weakness and overcome it.
While it’s best to include why you want to work for the company, it’s important to really home in on why you would be perfect for the role. The interviewer wants to know how you’ll fit into the culture, what your motivations and career goals are, and whether you plan on staying long term. Therefore, your answer should be focussed around why you are specifically attracted to the company, why the job itself is appealing and why you would be a great cultural fit.
Everyone can’t always agree all the time. This question aims to get an understanding of how you behave when you disagree with something or someone. Ultimately this question aims to test your political savviness and willingness to speak up and voice your opinion. A great response to this question is to pick a scenario where you influenced a key decision maker and persuaded them to agree with you. Demonstrating a scenario where you have persuaded your boss to agree with you, where the outcome was positive, can attest to your leadership skills.
Now it’s time to demonstrate your knowledge of the business and the role, whilst combining that with your prior experience. You need to outline how you would approach your first few months in the role, whilst addressing what the most urgent tasks are and how you will make an initial impact. This may involve tackling projects or tasks that had been pushed aside while the role was vacant, or assessing the current state of the department and determining the most important assignment.
Use this opportunity to address any questions you may have about the role specifically, the company or even the culture. This is also a good time to try and incorporate any points you wanted to make during the interview, that hasn’t already come up. Make sure you have a few questions prepared, just in case you can’t think of anything throughout the interview. At the end of the day, an interview is a two-way street. It’s just as much about getting all the information you can and determining whether you’d like to work for the company, as it is the other way around.
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