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Preparing for Interview – a basic guide
An interview is an opportunity, not a trap. The interviewer wants to hire you, and if you are well-prepared, you will get the job. The job of the interviewer is to assess the following:
Do you understand the job?
Do you have the right hard and soft skills?
Are you the right fit for the company?
Do you have the right attitude?
Do you really want the job?
The core questions
The following core or standard questions will help you to prepare for any interview. Your answers must be clear and to the point. Once you know that you can handle these standard questions, you will feel more confident.
Tell us a bit about yourself
This question, usually the opener, tops the list of common interview questions. The first impression is critical, so make sure to focus here on your skills, work experience and – if you want – a little info on your family background. The aim is to show the interview that you are a strong candidate for the job. Allow yourself 3 minutes to answer, but try not to sound too rehearsed...
Why do you want this job?
Show that you've researched the role by discussing the skills and interests that led you to apply. Focus on examples from your academic, professional or personal life that show you are motivated and relate to the company.
What are your strengths?
Pick three or four attributes such as teamwork, leadership, personal initiative and work ethic. Whichever strengths you pick, ensure that you can back them up with examples. Variations of this question are
How would a friend describe you?
What three positive things would your last employer say about you?
What are your weaknesses?
Never say that you have no weaknesses, that you're a perfectionist, or that you work too hard. These are clichéd responses that portray you as arrogant, dishonest or lacking in self-awareness. If you mention a weakness, show how you have taken steps to overcome it. Similar questions that tap into weaknesses are
How do you handle stressful situations?
This question is the most common performance-based interview questions. It shows the employer how calm and reliable you are under pressure. Find a couple of examples where you coped with an unexpected problem, met a tight deadline or handled difficult customers.
How do you respond to criticism?
This is a chance to show your human side. We all make mistakes, but give examples of where you have learnt from constructive criticism
Why do you want to leave your current job?
Never speak negatively about a former or current employer or work colleagues. Stress the chance to grow professionally, work abroad or focus on the company product or brand.
What motivates you?
Talk here about a good project, results, teamwork etc.
What is your greatest achievement?
This is a chance to demonstrate relevant skills such as teamwork, communication, determination. Always prepare several examples.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
This is where you show the interviewer that you are ambitious and highly motivated. Outline short and long-term targets, relating your answers to the job, the company and your skills and work experience.
Do you have any questions?
Prepare questions in advance. If all your questions have been answered during the interview, say that the interviewer has covered everything you need to know. Remember to ask questions – but without interrupting – if they naturally arise during the interview.
Why should we hire you?
This question is usually the closer and allows you to demonstrate your value to the company. Outline your skills, interests and achievements but don’t boast. Make sure that you are very positive.