When it comes to interviews, some questions are easier to answer than others. Even if you can’t predict all the questions you will be asked, some are generally used by many recruiters.
Below, find the most common questions and some tips on how to answer them. Practice is the key, so make sure to be well prepared for your next interview and you are likely to stand out from the crowd.
Tell me about yourself
It sounds like a simple question, but many candidates make the big mistake and talk about their life story. In reality, the recruiter wants to hear a focused answer that includes 3-4 relevant characteristics that can be linked to the job vacancy.
The best way to answer is to structure a prompt response, between 2-3 minutes, that include information about your education, your interest in the field, experience and work history.
What are your strengths?
This is not the moment to talk about how great you are. Recruiters want to learn more about what you can bring to the company and if you meet the job requirements. Be sure to adjust your strengths to the position and highlight all situations where you have used these strengths in an earlier role. Don’t hesitate to illustrate your answer with examples and data or figures.
What are your weaknesses?
This question may be frightening, as no one wants to reveal their weaknesses for fear of disqualifying themselves from the job. Here is a quick way to solve this question:
• Name 2-3 weaknesses that you believe need improving, you can take examples from your education or work experience.
• Give 3 reasons why each of these weaknesses needs to be developed.
• Consider 3 examples of steps you need to take in order to improve these weaknesses.
Recruiters are looking for candidates who are constantly striving to grow. They will be impressed by the fact that you’ve already identified your weaknesses and are working on improving them.
Why should we hire you?
This may seem like a tough question but by tackling it in 3 parts you can impress the recruiter:
• Make clear that you believe you are the perfect match for the position
Go through the experience and skills required for the job and give examples of how you applied each of them in a previous job.
• Explain how you identified problems in previous roles and found solutions for them, this shows that you are a proactive person.
• Recruiters prefer candidates who take initiatives, so don’t hesitate to give examples in order to convince them of your capacities.
Why do you want to work for us?
Recruiters are looking for people who can fit into the company quickly and share the company culture.
You need to do your research to properly answer this question. Find out more about the company’s products, services, culture and values and highlight what is most appealing to you. A good answer could be: “Your organisation is known for the quality of its services and I would love to be a part of the innovative product development.”
Why is there a gap in your CV?
Honesty is the best strategy here. Whether you took time off for personal reasons or you take a career break to travel the world and explore new countries and cultures, just say so. Try to explain why you decided to take some time off and outline what you have accomplished and the skills you learned when out of work. For example, you could have worked as a volunteer and have gained experience in teamworking.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Recruiters are looking for ambitious future-oriented candidates who want to develop and grow within the industry. Since the recruitment procedures and the training of employees are long-term investments, the hiring managers want to make sure that you are willing to stay over a longer period.
You must cautiously tailor your answer to the position you are applying for.
If you are applying for an entry-level job, explain how you imagine your future career. For leading roles, explain how you would see the further development of the company and try to provide some information on how you could help the company to achieve its corporate objectives.
What are your salary expectations?
You need to be well prepared if you don’t want to risk to give an unrealistic answer to this question.
Do your research and find out the average salary for someone with your experience in this field. Be realistic, don’t overestimate your expectations. Your answer could be: “I would strive for an initial salary between €36,000 and €45,000.” Keep in mind that for big companies this isn’t something usually asked during the first interview.
Do you have any questions?
NEVER say ‘no’ to this question. This is your opportunity to show how serious you are to get the role. There are a lot of good questions you can ask and prepare in advance:
• “Does the company offer any training opportunities?”
• “What are the day-to-day responsibilities associated with this role?”
• “Is this role a new or existing one?”
• “What are the biggest challenges facing the company today?”
Once you are well prepared for an interview, it will no longer look like a frightening project. Try to prepare the answers to the questions above, but do not rely on the employer to ask you exactly these questions.
The key to succeed is to do your research about the company, to carefully read the job description and to check if your skills and experience answer the requirements. Do this and you will feel confidently enough to answer all the questions that will be asked by recruiters!