It’s impossible to know exactly what you will be asked in your job interview, but there is a good chance at least a few of the questions below will crop up. Here’s a guide to how to answer them to your best advantage. (Click here for part two of this article.)
1. Why do you want to work here?
The key here is to research the company well and to know what its key objectives are. You will need to demonstrate how your professional or personal aims line up with this vision. As well as earning brownie points for doing your research, this demonstrates that you are interested in the organisation as a whole rather than simply landing a new job.
2. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Avoid telling your interviewer your full life story here. Instead, give some key points relating to your personality and your abilities, making sure these line up with the job description. Give some career highlights that show what you are capable of and that you are trusted by your superiors. You can mention hobbies and interests but try to demonstrate transferable skills where possible.
3. What motivates you?
You may have covered this to some degree in the previous question, but think about what drives you in your current role or personal life. Do you love to travel? Are you looking for a new challenge? Do you enjoy giving presentations or undertaking extensive research? There isn’t really a right or wrong answer, but this question gives you the opportunity to show why you would be the best candidate for the job.
4. What is your best accomplishment to date?
Think about a situation in which you have made a real difference. This could be anything from winning a prize to building your own home. Avoid overselling your contribution but detail the actions you took to get the result you wanted and explain the positive results of these actions. What obstacles did you have to overcome to reach your goal and how did you go about this? Whatever the achievement, this question allows you to demonstrate perseverance, ambition and self-belief.
5. Can you tell us about something that went wrong and the steps you took to resolve it?
Everyone experiences failure or difficulty in the workplace at one time or another. Think back to a time when something went wrong and explain why you believe it failed (without blame shifting!). Then talk about what you learnt from the experience. So, for example, if you missed an important deadline, you could say that you now set yourself reminders and have never miss one since as a result.