How to tackle interview questions
During an interview you could be asked any number of questions and it is crucial that you know how to answer them. So how should you tackle the questions you are asked? Here are some hints from the director of Conduit Recruitment.
1. Why have you applied for this job?
This is a great chance to sell yourself but don't waste the opportunity by reciting your CV. Describe the skills you can offer which are relevant to the role and express the depth of your interest in the job. You might have developed an early interest in the field, had relevant work experience, or you may have talked to people who are in the profession. Your answer should be enthusiastic and confident and show you have done your research. Leave the interviewer in no doubt that you are the perfect person for the job.
2. What are your weaknesses?
This question usually strikes terror into the hearts of all interviewees. The best way of tackling it is to pick one thing which you know has been a weakness but you have taken some steps to overcome. For example you might say: "I used to be very nervous about giving presentations but I have taken a course and have asked for feedback from others to improve my performance. I am still nervous but now it does not show so much."
3. How do you see yourself fitting into our team?
You will need to illustrate times where you were placed in a new team or group. It doesn't matter how long or short term the role was. Show what steps you took to make sure you fitted in, show how the group was not disrupted by your arrival and, if relevant, describe any positive impact you had.
4. Can you work well under pressure?
This is a closed question to which you could just reply "Yes"! Even so use the opportunity to give an answer focusing on several clear-cut examples showing your ability to cope under pressure.
5. Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Try not to sound overly ambitious by saying: "part of the management team or board of directors within this organisation". The interviewer will be pleased with your desire to progress but be more modest. You could express simply your desire to grow and advance within the company, possibly citing some areas of the business which currently interest you.
6. You don't seem to have achieved great results during your studies.
Anytime that you have to deal with a weak element in your application, it is important to avoid being evasive or vague. Meet the question head on. For example "Yes, that is true. I know that I did not get the right balance between my extra-curricular activities and my academic work. Since then I have developed my time management skills and learned to say no to some activities. My results now show what I can achieve." If this is your second interview, you are likely to find some probing into the weaker areas which emerged at first interview.
The most important thing to remember is that you are looking for any opportunity to communicate your skills and abilities, supported by examples of what you have already achieved. Most employers are looking for staff who are not only capable of, and committed to doing their job but who will fit the corporate culture.
Date published: 16 October 2008