Interviews are, in my opinion are the adult equivalent of sitting an exam! They can leave you feeling slightly sick and with sweaty palms. They’re designed to find the best candidate for the job and not there to give you sleepless nights or catch you out!
Interviews are a great way for your potential new employer to see how you cope under pressure. Some interviews are designed to test your personality or reveal your career aspirations and some just to see how you’d fit in with the rest of the team.
There’s several ways you can prepare. Make sure you do your research on the company you want to work for, practice answers to some potential interview questions, and try to pre-empt some of the trickier ones that might come your way.
Things such as.
“Tell me about yourself” – Do they mean they want to know stuff like you put your toast in the fridge and you know all the words to “Barbie Girl”? No is the answer, they want a 2-minute snap shot of who you are and why you’re the best candidate for the job. Keep whatever you say relevant to the position you’re applying for.
“Why are you the person for the job?” – It’s a killer question and the one that could win or lose you the job! (No pressure with this one) Basically, what the employer is looking for is an answer as to what you can do for their business. For example, if it’s a sales job they’re looking for someone who can increase sales, so give an example of how you’ve done this in a previous job. Try and give examples to illustrate your point.
“If you were an animal what would you be?” – It could be that you’ll get asked something along these lines. Keep in mind there’s no right or wrong answer. The question is designed to see how you’ll cope with the unexpected. It might be worth practicing a few stock answers before going to the interview just in case and reasons why you’ve chosen them.
“What are your salary expectations?” - Obviously, there’s a temptation to come out with the figure for your dream salary, you know, the one that allows you 5 foreign holidays a year, a fancy car and a 7-bedroom mansion, BUT you do need to be realistic. Try and have an idea of what the market average is for the position. They may even have given an indication in the job advert. Typically, they’ll offer you the lowest figure so there’s room for some negotiation, but you don’t want to price yourself out of the market. Ideally if you can, deflect the question and ask what salary they have on offer.
“Why did you leave your last job?” – if this does come up, it’s not an excuse for you to rant about how awful your last boss was. Be positive about your last employers, but say you were ready for a new challenge and wanted to advance your career.
“What are your weaknesses?” - Turn this around and use it as an excuse to highlight something that used to be a weakness, but you have now turned into a strength. For example, you used to struggle to fit all your work into a working day, but now you’ve developed a system that helps you manage your time more effectively.
“What motivates you?” – It’s tempting to be brutally honest and say the fact you have to pay your mortgage gets you out of bed everyday, but instead make it work related and say you get a huge kick out of seeing a project come to fruition.
“How would your former colleagues describe you?” – Again whilst it would be easy to say something along the lines of “office clown”, “first one to the bar, last one to leave” etc. it’s not what your interviewer is after. It’s probably a sign they’re thinking of following up on references so make sure you pick your answer carefully and say something that’s true!
Good luck with your job search and remember it’s time to Be Spotted!