6 love-hate questions in job interviews

No matter what the style of interrogation in job interviews or promotions, chances are there are a number of key questions you won't be able to escape.

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Interviews – some love them, others hate them, but if you’re applying for a new role or pushing for a promotion, they’re a necessary evil.

Many recruiters and managers are moving away from the standard question-answer style of interviews, in favour of more behavioural, presentation or simulation style interviews.

But chances are you will probably come across a number of age-old questions no matter what the style of interrogation.

Here’s what could be asked and how you might prepare a response ahead of schedule.

Tell us about yourself? This is not the time to list off your qualifications and job history as the interviewer has already reviewed your CV and knows these details.  Instead, talk about ‘you’, why you’re in the job/industry/profession you are currently in, what you enjoy about it (skip this if you hate your current role or industry – don’t speak negatively in an interview).  Talk about more personal details, but those that are relevant to your career – have you always wanted to become a vet, do you have a passion for caring for others, a love of architecture or design, what led you to your chosen career….?

Why did you leave or are looking to leave, your current role? Be honest about this as reference checks will probably uncover the truth.  Be positive with your reasons – are you looking for more of a challenge, is it time to take the next step in your career, was there no further opportunity for advancement with your previous employer, are you changing career to follow a passion, did you find yourself unsuited to a role and instead want to leverage off other strengths…?

What is your greatest strength? Think carefully about this one.  Keep your answers job-specific but try and come up with something different.  Don’t talk about organisation, time-management or communication skills – they are a given.  Do you have skills in an ancillary area that whilst not essential for the role you’re applying for, would be a great asset?  Do you speak another language, do you have coding skills, is project management your forte, are you a social media guru (professionally), fundraising whiz or a stellar salesperson?  If possible, ask a previous work colleague or manager what they thought your strengths were.

What is your greatest weakness? We all have a weakness, so don’t pretend that you don’t.  Don’t however discuss a major problem that may be of detriment to the role (and if it’s too big a problem maybe think about your suitability for that role).  Keep your answer positive and talk about what you’re doing to overcome the weakness, don’t just mention an issue that you’re not working on.   

Why do you want to work for us? Make sure you’ve done your homework so that you can talk about the business.  Are they an industry leader, do your values align with their organisational values, do they offer exceptional training and development programs, is it somewhere you could see yourself establishing and building a long-term career, does their work with human rights/medical research/climate change/disadvantaged children.…resonate with you?

Why should we hire/promote you?  Don’t be modest, but also don’t be arrogant. What makes you different from all of the other candidates and what value will you bring to the organisation?  Why are you right for the role now, what can you offer them in the future, how will you deliver results, how will you integrate seamlessly with their current team?   

As Benjamin Franklin said “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.  Putting in a little work before your interview could see you reaping the rewards afterwards.

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