Preparing for Interviews

Tips in answering interview questions.

Tell about yourself

Keep to the point and don't include obvious details such as your name or age. Give a brief summary of your employment, your skills and why you want the job.

Tell about your work history

Again, be clear and precise. Summarise your jobs, starting with the first and ending with the most recent. Briefly explain what your job was, and your key responsibilities.

What attracted you to this job?

Be enthusiastic! Talk about what most appeals to you about the job or company. Refer to things you found during your research (by looking on the company's website for example) - this should really impress the interviewer.

What do you know about our company?

If you've done some research, you'll be able to answer this easily. Look on the company's website, if they have one. Phone their office to ask for a brochure, and read it in advance. Your consultant can also help with your research.

What do you think this job involves?

The interviewer wants to know how much thought and effort you've put into applying for the job. If you've seen a job description, relate to the interviewer what you understand about the job. If you haven't, you could say something like: "I haven't seen a job description yet, but the advert really appealed to me."

You haven't got any direct experience for this position. How will you get up to speed?

Your answer could be something like "I haven't done this exact job before, but I do have lots of relevant skills and experience. I am a quick learner and I ask lots of questions".

This kind of answer shows that you are realistic and you know how to learn.

Tell me about your last job - describe a typical day.

Here the interviewer wants to know what you've done before, how you organise your time, and what decisions you've had to make on a day-to-day basis. Try to relate what you did in your last job.

Why did you leave your last job?

It's best to be honest here. If you were sacked, there's a good chance the interviewer will find out anyway, so tell the truth and explain why it happened and what you learned from it.

What skills can you bring to this role? / What are your strengths? / Why should I offer you this job?

This is your chance to shine - and really sell yourself. Don't just list your skills or strengths - give examples of how you've applied them in previous jobs and elsewhere in your life.

What are your weaknesses?

It's best to give an example of a weaker area that you've grown and learned from. Such as: "I work very quickly and I'm thorough so I used to get quite impatient with colleagues if they couldn't keep up or they made mistakes. I'm now much more patient and I realise that different people have different strengths and skills."

What didn't you like about your last job?

This is a bit of a trick question. You can't say 'nothing' as that's not believable but you don't want to be too negative either. The best answer is to say you didn't like doing something which you won't need to do in your new job. Be careful though this question can tell the interviewer a lot about you.

Why have you had so many jobs?

Again be upfront and honest, and explain why you left jobs or why you've worked in lots of different companies. It may be that your personal circumstances changed or you wanted more varied experience.

Why have you been out of work for so long?

If you've been unemployed for a while, it's important to be prepared to answer this. Again most people will appreciate it if you're honest. But they'll also want to know that you've been spending your time constructively. If you can, explain how you've maintained or improved your skills while you've been out of work. The key is to turn your unemployment into your selling point.

What is your biggest achievement?

Try to say something which shows that you have initiative, leadership skills, perseverance or creativity and try to give work-related examples.

Do you enjoy teamwork? What do you think makes a good team?

It's not a good idea to say you don't like teamwork because you'll need to work as part of a team in most jobs. You could say something like: "Yes I enjoy working as part of a team. I think a good team is one with a good variety of skills and personalities."

Tell me about a problem you've faced. How did you solve it?

Talk about a problem you've faced in your life, either at work or elsewhere. Here the interviewer wants to know if you're a good problem solver and that you can show initiative.

What's important to you? What are your priorities in life?

Try to answer this honestly. The interviewer wants to get to know the 'real you'. You could say your family or succeeding in your career. Or perhaps you want to make a difference in some way.

How do you feel when your work is criticised?

You could say something like: "I understand the importance of constructive criticism. I want to keep learning new skills and by getting feedback I can hopefully develop faster. I try not to take it personally."

How do you manage your time?

Most jobs need you to manage your time in some way. So explain how you prioritise your work the interviewer wants to know you can plan, and that you can work out what order to do things in.

What are your career plans for the next five years?

It's best to say something like: "It's hard for me to say at this point. I'm really keen to develop my career and learn new skills. I hope that, over the next five years, I'll able to make a valuable contribution at work."

Timesconsult assists thousands of businesses in employments and hundred thousands of job seekers in careers.

Copyright © 2019 Timesconsult. All Rights Reserved.