How to answer the most common interview questions
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Interviews are a part of everyone’s employment journey, however like most things in life they are a learned skill. Expecting to show up to an interview without preparing, is comparable to turning up to a test without studying and expecting to ace it- not likely. For many people they may not have interviewed in a while - maybe you have been employed with the one organisation for several years, maybe your last role was secured with an introduction from a mutual connection and a coffee catch up.
Regardless of how you find yourself sitting in the hot seat, there is one thing you can be assured of there are going to be questions asked that are common or a version of the same thing.
As experts, we are often asked how I answer the most common interview question? Simply put YOU PREPARE! Here are my top tips for answering the most common interview questions:
1. Don’t fall into the trap of answering in vague sentences
What do I mean by that? We have all been in ‘that’ interview where you are asked to explain your strengths and weaknesses, and we probably stumbled on this first question.
As a recruiter I can tell you I have heard everything from people listing 10 weaknesses to explaining their strengths at football, PlayStation, knitting…… the list goes on. I can confirm neither of these answers is going to have you acing the interview.
The best way to answer “Please describe to the panel your strengths and weaknesses”
For strengths chose a specific work-based example that highlights a specific strength. For example, if you see communication as one of your strengths (and it is a prerequisite for the role you are applying for) focus on one example that highlights your strengths as an effective and efficient communicator.
The hard one is weaknesses because let’s face it, we all have them, the key here is to paint your weakness in a positive light. For example, if we use communication again, you may use an example where initially your communication caused confusion (an email interpreted incorrectly), and then focus on the positive of using your effective communication skills to pick up the phone to solve the issue.
2. Prepare for the inevitable
At the end of your interview, you will be asked if you have any questions and while you are probably thinking is this over? Get me out of here? it does pay to ask a question, but not just any question! A good question!
So what’s constitutes a good question, the first thing would be ensuring you don’t ask anything that was mentioned during the interview or was sent to you prior to the interview, as this comes across as you not listening or doing your pre-reading. So what can you ask? Depending on the role you could ask things along the lines of
- So what do you see as being the key deliverables for the successful applicant in this role in the first 6 months
- What are the current challenges facing this role?
- What personality do you think will be best suited to succeed in this role?
- Is there anything the role is not currently achieving that you would like to see achieved
- What has the incumbent currently succeeded at in the role?
When people think of common interview questions. They think of the tell me about yourself, or the whats your strengths and weaknesses questions. However, in my humble option, most interview questions are common. If you are applying for a couple of roles at once, you have probably discovered that the position description and job advert are very similar across the different roles. So, if that is the case you can guarantee that the interviews asked at the interview will also be similar or a variation of the same thing.
So make sure you prepare, if you see a theme of teamwork or problem solving across the position descriptions or job adverts, then make sure you sit down and devise a couple of examples to this. DO NOT have one example and remember it word for word, that guarantees you to fail- instead of having already thought of a couple of examples- allows you to listen to the question being asked of you and not having to think of a panicked example while trying to listen to the question in an interview.
That might all sound great and simple, but I appreciate that once you are in the hot seat with many sets of eyes watching you answer questions a whole new level of nervousness comes into play. If you prepare you do however put yourself in a better position to combat these nerves and perform.
Realistically the common interview questions are often the hardest to answer, but with these couple of tips, you are bound to feel more confident in your ability to answer strongly.
If you however would like a more in-depth one-on-one coaching session, please reach out to KLC Recruitment and engage one of our experienced HR and Interview Technique Consultants.
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