12 February 2016
Looking into a crystal ball

Although there is no set format that every job interview will follow, there are some questions that you can almost guarantee will crop up — usually about you, your previous experience and the role itself. To avoid surprises, RedBox Recruitment has gathered together the most common questions so you can get your preparation off to a flying start.

  1. Tell me about yourself

Interviewers love this question as they think it’s an easy ice-breaker for an opening question, but for you it can be a nightmare. Remember this isn’t the time or the place to spill your life story. They are looking to hear things that are relevant about the role you are applying for. Keep your answer short and sweet, beginning with your highest qualification then running through the jobs you’ve held so far in your career – similar format to your CV. If you’re interviewing for your first job since leaving education, focus on the areas of your course and how that has led to you wanting this particular role.

  1. What are your strengths?

This question has been designed to let the interviewer know why you are better than other candidates for the job. Pick your three biggest attributes and give examples of how you have used these strengths in previous roles. If you’re not sure where to start, revert back to the job description. There is usually a section listing candidate requirements, which should give you an idea of what they are looking for.

  1. What are your weaknesses?

The dreaded question of them all. The best way to handle this one is by picking something that you have made positive steps to improve on. Your initiative could actually be perceived as a strength. Think about a situation where you have asked for help or taken an extra course to improve your skills.

  1. Why should we hire you? or What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?

Your previous research into the company along with the job description will help you with this one. State the biggest achievement in your current or a previous role. Including facts and figures will also help to woo the person sat opposite you.

  1. Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

The perfect answer depends on your personal aspirations and the job role.  Show the employer you have ambition, and that you have the determination to make the most of every job you have to get to where you want to be. Don’t be overambitious as it will look like you are rushing past the first role. Instead, emphasise your enthusiasm for the current position and look to the next steps for building your career.

  1. Why do you want to work here?

This is where your research on the company along with their mission statement, values and products comes in handy. Resist the temptation to say “I want a job” – even if it’s true. Use this information to describe how your goals and ambition matches their company ethos and how you would relish the opportunity to work for them.

  1. What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?

This is a great time to brag about yourself through someone else’s words. Try to include one thing that shows your ability to do the job, one thing that shows your commitment to your work, and one thing that shows you are a good person to have on board.

  1. What salary are you seeking?

You can prepare for this question by knowing the value/ salary of someone with your skills or in the same job you are applying for. Search the job role on job boards to see what others are offering. The salary may have been on the original job description.  Try not to give any specific numbers in the heat of the moment – it could put you in a poor position when negotiating later on. Your interviewer will understand if you don’t want to discuss this until you are offered the job.

  1. If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?

Interviewers use this type of psychological question to see if you can think quickly. If you answer ‘a bunny’, you will make a soft, passive impression. If you answer ‘a lion’, you will be seen as aggressive. What type of personality will it take to get the job done?

  1. Do you have any questions?

This question is usually asked at the end of the interview so take a deep breath and relax. You may have questions pop in your head during the interview, so now is the time to ask. Always ask questions as it gives you the chance to build a relationship with the interviewer. This will show genuine interest for the role and the conversation you have just had. We recommend you ask questions such as “What are the biggest challenges facing the company right now? Where do you see the company heading in the future? What can you tell me about the team I’ll be a part of?”

For even the most competent and experienced job hunter, interviews are tough. While research shows it’s important to come across as professional, high-energy and confident what you say will also have a big effect on whether or not you get the job. The key is to prepare. If you have the above answers ready to fire, then you will be sure to impress. Good luck!

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