It can be hard to know how to answer interview questions, especially if you have been out of work for a while. Sometimes the most straightforward questions can be the trickiest because you don’t always know what to include. We have put together a guide to some of the most common interview questions and how to answer them.
We have split up this guide into three parts, taking ten questions per blog. Keep an eye on the news section of our site for parts two and three.
Tell us about your strengths.
This question can make people feel uncomfortable because it can be hard to talk about what we are good at and our strengths. However, before going into any interview, you must remind yourself of your best qualities and feel confident in your abilities. To answer this question, pick one or two things that you know you excel in and use some examples to prove it.
Tell us about your weaknesses.
On the flip side, this question can leave people feeling confused; it’s natural to want to hide any weaknesses from potential employers, not highlight them. There needs to be a fine balance when talking about your weaknesses; you want to show the interviewer that you can be honest and reflect on yourself whilst not putting them off. Choose a weakness that you recognise and are working to improve on, such as “I sometimes tend to take charge and speak for others, but I am learning to listen more and take a step back.”
Why do you want this job?
It’s essential that you answer this question with specific details. Don’t just answer it about the role you could do at any business; make sure to include details about this particular job. To do this, you will need to have become very familiar with the job description beforehand. And use it as a chance to show some of your skills and how they connect with different parts of the job description.
Do you have any experience in this role?
If you don’t have direct experience in the role you are interviewing for, then focus on the experience you have of the skills you will be using in the role. So, for example, you may have never worked directly in marketing before, but you may have experience in understanding customers, creating content and managing a team. You can speak about all of these skills like experience in marketing without having worked in marketing.
Tell us about yourself.
Make sure to answer this question in a professional way that is relevant to your work. It’s not a chance to chat about what you like doing at the weekend, but you can use it as a time to talk about what kind of person you are. For example, instead, you may say you are a lively and friendly person, which can be beneficial to some jobs.
Describe a challenge you faced and how you overcame it.
When answering this question, you may want to use the STAR method. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. It is a way to help answer interview questions that require you to give an example of something you have done. So, start with the situation you were in, so in this case, a challenging scenario, and then focus specifically on the task at hand. After you have described this, move on to tell them about the action you took at that moment. And most importantly, give them the result of your action, and show them how the situation resolved.
Why do you want to work for this company?
Similarly, to answering a question about why you want a job, when asked about why you want to work for a company, you need to make sure you have researched their work and ethos thoroughly. This is important because you want to show that you know what makes them different from other companies in the industry.
Can you explain why there is a gap in your CV?
If you are returning to work after a period of absence, there may be a gap in a CV which an employer will want to know more about. For specific advice for ex-offenders, visit our dedicated guides. When answering this question, an employer will want to see that you can be honest about your life and experience. Try to describe what you learnt from this period of absence from work and why you now want to get back into work.
You may find it hard to talk about changing your career as you may not want to mention any negative parts of your previous job. Instead, try to focus on the positives of finding a new career; employers will be impressed that you are being proactive and searching for more satisfaction or challenges at work. Avoid discussing negative details about your previous jobs, such as difficulties with your boss or co-workers.
How do you work in a team?
If working with others will be part of the role, an employer may want to know what kind of team player you are. Try not to answer this question with a short, closed answer, such as “I work well in a team.” An employer will want to know whether you naturally take the lead or whether you prefer to work in smaller teams than bigger ones. This can be another good time to discuss some of your strengths.
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