Before the interview you’ll need to spend time researching the company you’re looking to join.
The methods you can use to do this vary in effectiveness and I don’t have the space to write about them here but generally speaking, the more research you’ll do, the more prepared you’ll feel.
Question 1) Tell me about yourself
The interview question, tell me about yourself if probably the most common of all interview questions.
You should expect this one as the opening line which is aimed at settling nerves and encouraging you to open up.
Obviously there’s no right or wrong answer but as first impressions are key, this is any important one to prepare for.
Be careful not to waffle so aim to keep you answer to under 4 or 5 minutes.
You should consider beginning with an outline of your qualifications starting with the highest ones such as those associated with professional membership.
If you’ve qualified as an accountant or surveyor then this is where you should begin.
Move on to giving an overview of the jobs you’ve held so far in your career and remember that while the specific roles might not be identical to the one you’re aiming for, here’s a chance to highlight the aspects from them which the interviewer will want to hear.
You don’t need to go into a great detail, remember the time you have on this one, you’re giving a taster for the interviewer to take notes and ask you to expand on specific points later.
Question 2) What are your strengths?
You should aim to give three attributes that you think will get you the job and give examples of how you have used these strengths in a work situation.
They could be tangible skills, such as proficiency in a particular computer language, or intangible skills such as good man-management.
If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at the job description. There is usually a section listing candidate requirements, which should give you an idea of what they are looking for.
Question 3) What are your weaknesses?
The dreaded question, which is best handled by picking something that you have made positive steps to redress.
For example, if your IT ability is not at the level it could be, state it as a weakness but tell the interviewer about training courses or time spent outside work hours you have used to improve your skills.
Your initiative could actually be perceived as a strength. On no account should you say “I don’t have any weaknesses”, your interviewer won’t believe you, or “I have a tendency to work too hard”, which is seen as avoiding the question.
Question 4) 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”.
This 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.”
Question 5) What are your goals? or Where do you see yourself in five years time?
It’s best to talk about both short-term and long-term goals.
Talk about the kind of job you’d eventually like to do and the various steps you will need to get there, relating this in some way back to the position you’re interviewing for.
Show the employer you have ambition, and that you have the determination to make the most of every job you have to get where you want to be.
Question 6) 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.”
Question 7) 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 could mention this and say it’s around the same area you’re looking for.