…and how to answer them.
Getting a job interview isn’t easy – that’s why you can’t just leave it up to chance. Here are 15 common questions that you are likely to be asked, either directly or indirectly, during the selection process. Preparing for them well will help you to stand out from other applicants.
Common interview questions
“Can you tell us about your professional experience?” Summarise your curriculum, putting emphasis on work relating to this job offer. It’s all about explaining your career to date without it sounding like you’re making it up
“Have you done any extra training recently?” The aim is to evaluate your interest in continuing to progress professionally. Talk about seminars, conferences, courses, etc. that you’ve attended and how you’ll apply what you have learned.
“What experience have you had relating to the responsibilities attached to the vacant role?” Be precise and speak about tasks that are specific to the role you are applying for. If you do not have previous experience, concentrate on similar tasks that you have performed.
“What have you achieved during your career?” Go over your successful professional experiences and convince them that the decisions and attitude that helped you with these achievements are also of value to their company.
“What are your strong points?” Remember that, in general, companies value attitude and aptitude as much as or more than knowledge: analyse your skills and highlight the most appropriate ones for this job offer, giving arguments with examples for each of them.
“What are your weak points?” Nobody’s perfect. It’s about showing that you are aware of your weaknesses and your capacity for minimising them. But beware an attack of over-sincereness! Don’t share all your weaknesses, and try to present each fault in light of what you’re doing to correct it.
“What have you learnt from your mistakes in previous jobs? Reflect on a professional target that you did not meet and speak about the actions you would implement now in order to meet it. Also highlight what you have learnt from each failure. There are two mottos that are worth remembering: “To err is human” and “You learn from your mistakes”.
“Why did you leave your last job?” If you are working, you will be asked why you want to change job. In any case, focus on your professional aims or your desire to progress, but never criticise your previous or current company: this is one of the answers that is most penalised by personnel recruiters. Speak about yourself and be positive!
“Do you like working as part of a team?” Companies closely link team work and productivity so the expected answer is a firm “yes”.
“What do you know about this company?” Learn about the company, speak to them about what you like most and even (if you feel it’s suitable) propose action for improvement. This is the best way to show that you are proactive and interested.
“Why should we hire you?” It is not enough to say that you are capable of doing the job. Analyse all of your experience, knowledge and aptitude; contrast it with the requirements for the job offer and put it all together in one sentence that shows that you are ideal for the role.
“What salary do you expect to earn?” Avoid giving a figure: if you are chosen, then you can begin negotiation. It is best to comment on factors that you consider more important than salary and say that you expect a salary adapted to your responsibilities.
“How do you see yourself in the future?” Companies like people who know what they want and have a clear career/training plan to help them achieve it. Show them that you are one of those people!
“Do you have children?” Although it’s actually illegal to ask this kind of question in the UK, be prepared that the topic may come up in a roundabout way. Focus on underlining your abilities. You can refuse to answer but do it stylishly - with another question, like: “Is that question relevant to my ability to perform the role?” You can also subtly change subject with questions such as: “If you are wondering if I have commitment, I have to say that…” Above all, never take it personally.
“Do you have any questions?” Yes, of course you do! Ask for details regarding the role you are applying for – show your enthusiasm. If you also show interest in the company’s business culture, its values and global strategy vision, you will be showing that as well as being able to perform tasks, you want to fit in with company interests. And these candidates are the most sought-after ones.
We wish you lots of luck in the selection process and we’d love you to share your job interview experiences with us! As well as these common interview questions, you can read about more interview tips and tactics here.
Image: Microphone thanks to Pete (CC)