Interview Questions to prepare for - Career Advice
Employers aren’t trying to ‘trip you up’ with these difficult interview questions. They want to know what makes you unique. Here’s how to answer them successfully.
- Tell me about yourself.
Keep your answer to one or two minutes; don’t ramble. Plan ahead by researching the employer and the role in advance. Prepare a concise answer that focuses on your key skills, knowledge and experiences that are relevant to the position. Touch on personal skills and characteristics that translate to career strengths.
- What do you know about our company?
Do your homework before the interview. Spend some time online researching the organisation. Find out as much as you can, including media releases, products and services, size, reputation, image, management style, culture, company history, and philosophy. Project an informed interest—impress them with your knowledge and initiative.
- Why do you want to work for us?
Ensure you don’t talk about what you want from them. First, talk about their needs – you would like to be part of a specific company project; you have the experience to solve a company problem; you can make a contribution to specific company goals. Conclude by referencing their work environment, or corporate culture, and how you would work well in that environment.
- What can you offer us that some else can’t?
This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate how your past accomplishments and skills relate to their specific requirements. Use past experiences that demonstrate prior success in resolving issues comparable to those encountered by the prospective employer. Speak to results, not just initiatives. The interviewer wants to know that you are willing to go above and beyond the basic requirements of the position.
- What do you like and dislike about this role?
When answering this question, it’s important to focus predominantly on the positive and less on the negative to show your eagerness for the role and general optimism. List three or more of the attractive factors and try not to focus on the negative. Instead, you could ask them what they would consider the least favourable aspect of the position.
- Provide a definition of this position.
Keep it brief and provide a results-oriented definition which incorporates your proven knowledge and experience.
- How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our organisation?
Make it clear that it wouldn’t take long at all because you’re a fast learner and adapt easily. Mention you only expect a brief period of adjustment during the initial learning curve.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
The interviewer’s objective is to ensure that you wish to improve upon, and you will be satisfied in the position and you aren’t simply buying time until you find something better. Be realistic, however try to illustrate that you are goal-oriented, and you are looking to grow and progress within the company.
- What are your strengths?
If you’ve done your homework you should have an understanding of what the interviewer will be looking for in an ideal candidate. Focus your answer on the characteristics and skills that were listed in the job description, or those you feel are most relevant to the position.
Highlighting attributes that show you have a good work ethic will also impress the interviewer. Be prepared to support your claims with specific examples from past experiences.
- What are your weaknesses?
A common mistake in answering this question is to nominate an arguably positive attribute as a weakness. For example, the classic example, “I’m a perfectionist” will not get you very far. A better approach is to discuss a skill that you wish to improve upon and describe actions that you are taking to do so. For more advice on what to avoid in an interview, read Drake Infosheet 3: “Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Job Interview”.
- What motivates you?
Avoid mentioning motivators such as money, benefits, or holidays. You want to appear hardworking and motivated by the responsibilities and opportunities of the position. Focus on how you will benefit the company as opposed to how the company will benefit you.
- Why should we hire you?
This is generally a question that will be asked near the conclusion of the interview. It gives you an opportunity to reiterate the skills, experiences and accomplishments that will enable you to excel in the position. Think of it as a chance to summarise your relevant strengths and differentiate yourself from other candidates.
- Do you have any questions?
The wrong answer is “No”. Asking informed questions shows initiative and indicates that you are truly interested in the position. For information on appropriate questions to ask in an interview, read Drake Infosheet 4: “Asking the Right Questions”.
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