Interviews are always stressful, even for job seekers who have gone on countless interviews. The best way to reduce the stress is to be prepared.
In short, here are the key factors:
- Take time to consider obvious questions you might be asked and practice your responses
- Look carefully at the CV you have sent to the company
- Be ready with plenty of examples to illustrate your skills, and how you could contribute to the company
During the course of the interview you might be asked a number of fairly standard questions. Let's take a quick look on some obvious ones:
- Tell me something about yourself
- What do you think are your key strengths and weaknesses?
- Describe some major achievements in your career
- If you could change anything about your career so far, what would it be?
- Describe your greatest career challenge so far
Know your CV by heart
You must know your CV inside and out. Be prepared to explain any decisions you've made on previous career moves. Prepare to be confident about talking about your key achievements. But also think hard about previous interviews you have had where some of the questions asked proved difficult, or some of your own answers seemed unsatisfying.
Take a look at these frequently asked interview questions:
- What brings you to the job market at this point in your career?
- Why would you like to work for this company in particular?
- What attracts you to this role?
Weaknesses in your CV
Try and identify areas of weakness in your CV. Get friends to have a look at your CV, and ask them to honestly point to areas which may concern a potential employer. You then need to prepare to be asked about these areas, and have explanations ready.
Weaknesses to prepare for:
- Gaps in your work history
- Short periods with an employer
- Not being promoted
- Weak exam results or degree results
Why are you leaving your job?
Some questions are harder than others. It depends on the weak spots in your CV and your personality. Consider for instance this question: Why are you leaving your job?
You must be direct and focus your interview answer on the future. Especially if your leaving wasn't under the best of circumstances.
Why were you fired?
Perhaps you are dreading this question. A possible answer to this could be: "I usually have good relationships with everyone, but this case was an exception. We just didn't get on well. I'm not sure why."
Other tough questions
If you haven't done it already, you must run through the lists of uncomfortable questions you might be facing. Prepare your answers, otherwise you may struggle. Often the hard ones are about personal relationships:
- How would your colleagues describe you?
- Describe your management style
- What do you look for in a manager?
- What would you say about your current employer?
This is your life
Let's sum up the key preparation you can do:
- Have the basis of your response thought out in advance
- Be honest
- Don't position yourself as a team player if you are a loner. It may get you the job, but in the long term you will be unhappy.
- Don't excuse yourself making a positive statement into a weakness
- Identify your personal strengths and weaknesses, e.g. through Self-Evaluation Guide
- Make your statements as relevant to the job you have applied for as possible
- Keep your answers as short and succinct as possible, using specific examples or scenarios to demonstrate your experience, ability and knowledge
- Ask friends to give you mock interviews in advance
- Remember what a world-class sportsman once said: 'The more I practice, the luckier I get'.
Do some more preparation for frequently asked interview questions:
- What do you want from your next role?
- Name key things that motivate you?
- Describe your preferred company culture
- Where do you see yourself in five year's time?
- What really annoys you in the workplace?
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