Wednesday 6 August 2014 9:02 am

The top 10 interview questions you really should know the answer to

Interviewers like consistency, they enjoy being able to judge each candidate by a set benchmark. This is why the same interview questions come up time and time again. Doing well in a job interview is down to you being able to express yourself clearly and coherently, communicating your message (i.e. your provable and evidenced differentiating skills and abilities) and explaining why you are the one they should choose.

Of course human chemistry, emotional intelligence and soft skills also play huge roles – but knowing the answer to these key and standard interview questions is a prerequisite.

Doing well in a job interview is reliant on several factors. You must be confident and relaxed. You need to be, or at least sound, knowledgeable and you should be able to present new ideas clearly. Your ability to do well in all of these areas comes down to preparation. Winging it is no longer an option.

These are the top 10 interview questions on my list of 50 Top Interview Questions:

1. Tell us about yourself. This is so often a wasted opportunity as well as a huge danger. It is essentially an opportunity to ‘showcase’ yourself but also an opportunity to throw the interview away. This is your best chance to sell yourself and secure the job. Do not start with your age and your degree – tell stories.

2. What are your biggest strengths? Do not answer this question by rattling off a long list of all the skills you have ever used. Consider the job description and outline what you bring to the table. Choose three differentiating positives that are relevant to your potential employer and tell the stories that prove you possess them.

3. What is you biggest weakness? Be honest and explain how you are working on, or have worked on, improving yourself. Do not tell them that you are “too hard working” or a “perfectionist” – this tactic is overused, transparent and they have heard it a thousand times before.

4. Why do you want to work here?  Show that you have done your homework. Discuss the trajectory of the company, how the company is moving into new exciting areas, or how it has stayed ahead of its competitors. Do not go to the interview without having done your research!

5. Why should we hire you? This is an opportunity to restate your case and sell yourself. What do you bring to the table? This is an open-ended question, giving you the ability to take the conversation in any direction you wish. Match your stories with your understanding of what the company needs based on your research and the job description.

6. Where do you see yourself in five years' time? Employers want workers who want to do the job they are applying for, but they also rate ambition. Show commitment to the job under discussion and express your desire to develop and advance your career with the employer. Don’t be a smart-arse and say you want the boss’s job!

7. What are your hobbies? Show that you are not a faceless number in the corporate machine. Show that you are well rounded, healthy and have a balanced life outside of the office. Activities that include physical or mental challenges, teamwork or leadership, will usually be winners. 

8. Why did you leave your last job? Be honest about your previous job, but do not start ranting about your previous employer. That is very dangerous – employers value discretion.

9. Give an example where you have worked under pressure? Tell a story, describe the challenges you faced, the environment, the possible choices and potential outcomes and then outline what you did, how you did it and detail the outcome.

10. Do you have any questions for us? Always have a couple of questions for your interviewer to show that you have thought about, and processed, what has just been said and that you are a grown up. The questions should be open, forward-thinking, focused on the future of the company and should NOT be about pay, conditions, pension, etc. They should demonstrate that you are excited about being part of the future of the company and wanting to be part of its development. 

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