Although there is no set format that every job interview will follow, there are some questions that you can almost guarantee will crop up. Here’s a list of the most common questions and a guide to the kind of answers your interviewer wants to hear.
Tell me about yourself - This is usually the opening question and, as first impressions are key, one of the most important. Keep your answer to under five minutes, beginning with an overview of your highest qualification then running through the jobs you’ve held so far in your career. You can follow the same structure of your CV, giving examples of achievements and the skills you’ve picked up along the way. Don’t go into too much detail – your interviewer will probably take notes and ask for you to expand on any areas where they’d like more information. If you’re interviewing for your first job since leaving education, focus on the areas of your studies you most enjoyed and how that has led to you wanting this particular role.
Why should we hire you? or What can you do for us that other candidates can't? - What makes you special and where do your major strengths lie? You should be able to find out what they are looking for from the job description. “I have a unique combination of strong technical skills and the ability to build long-term customer relationships” is a good opening sentence, which can then lead onto a more specific example of something you have done so far in your career. State your biggest achievement and the benefit it made to the business, then finish with “Given the opportunity, I could bring this success to your company.”
Why do you want to work here? The interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you’ve given this some thought. If you’ve prepared for the interview properly, you should have a good inside knowledge of the company’s values, mission statement, development plans and products. 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. Never utter the phrase “I just need a job.”
What salary are you seeking? You can prepare for this by knowing the value of someone with your skills. 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. If they have provided a guideline salary with the job description.
You should always have some questions for your interviewer to demonstrate your interest in the position. Prepare a minimum of five questions, some which will give you more information about the job, and some which delve deeper into the culture and goals of the company.