preparing for a job interview - how to have a great answer for any question

preparing for a job interview - how to have a great answer for any question
At last! All your networking, job searching and tireless application writing has paid off and you’ve managed to land an interview for your dream role. However, the hard work doesn’t stop here, and although the interview process varies for every industry, there are a number of fundamental preparation methods you will need to consider beforehand.

As many people don’t interview very frequently, it’s worth reminding yourself of the following processes. 

The interview process

Forewarned is forearmed


Carefully review your CV and career achievements, but not in isolation. First, take the job description, and any supporting information you have, and highlight the skills and requirements mentioned. Now look at your CV and start matching what you offer with what the recruiter has outlined.

You should now be able to confidently demonstrate, with relevant examples, every area that the recruiter is most likely to want to hear about.

Think about answers to common questions


It’s also worthwhile to have answers prepared to common questions: some of the most frequently asked questions can actually be the hardest to answer well.

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?


Commonly answered with a whirlwind tour through your career history but best answered with a succinct elevator pitch that demonstrates exactly why you are perfect for the job.

2. How did you hear about this position?


Use this question to demonstrate your interest in this specific role and company and remember to be honest.

3. Why should I hire you?


There are three aspects to a great answer for this. The first should reference your skills (with examples), the second should outline your ability to deliver results (with examples) and the third is your chance to demonstrate your understanding of the company’s successes, key messages and core ethos and will make a great fit into their team.

4. Can you tell me about your last job?


This question is asking you to match your previous skills to those required, not to give a blow-by-blow account of everything you have done. Be selective with your description and try and remember what was outlined in the job description. 

5. What are your greatest strengths?


Your answer should reference strengths that are relevant to the specific role you are interviewing for and should be brought to life with examples of your achievements.

6. What are your greatest weaknesses?


The inevitable accompaniment to the previous question is best answered by using it to reveal self-awareness. Choose something that you struggle with but have worked hard to improve. 

7. Why are you leaving your current job?


Never focus on what you dislike about your current job, instead focus on the positive attributes you like about the position you are seeking and reference your desire for career progression.

Looking for tips around your job search? Check out our Career Hub for job search tips from writing a strong CV to asking for references. 

Becoming competent at competency-based interviews


Increasingly recruiters are using scripted interviews (often called competency interviews) rather than free-flowing conversations. Here, you will be expected to respond to a series of competency questions with specific examples of experiences or scenarios of how you achieved or were able to demonstrate desired skills. Depending on the job you are applying for these may include analytical, teamwork, leadership, interpersonal or motivational competencies (STAR method)

If you have reviewed the requirements for the role and matched them to your CV, this should be relatively straightforward to prepare for.

Give yourself the edge


So you are nearing the end of the interview and so far it has all gone well. Closing their notepad the recruiter asks if there is anything else you need to know.

This should be considered as another opportunity to show off your knowledge of the company and your desire for the role.  Ask something which shows you are a motivated individual, such as training opportunities or reference one of the company’s core principles and ask how it translates between departments or teams. Perhaps you will want to emphasise your team-focus by asking about the size of your team, company culture or evening activities after work.

Whatever you ask, make sure you have prepared at least five questions and something that will set you apart from other prospective candidates. 


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Posted: Friday, 21 March 2014 - 11:39 AM