interview questionWhen you’re looking for work, there are few things more stressful than preparing for interviews. Particularly when you have your first interview all lined up, it can be very difficult to know what we be expected of you. That said however, you can cut down on the amount of stress that goes into planning answers for every possible question, if you are at least aware of some of the most common questions that are likely to come up.

Here’s what you can expect…and what hiring managers will expect to hear from you.

Tell me about yourself

In a way, this should be quite an easy question – what topic are you more qualified to talk about than yourself? The way the question is framed makes it quite broad however, and jobseekers can sometimes find themselves unsure how to answer.

Don’t respond with your entire work history, and definitely don’t say “What do you want to know?”

Instead give a more specific overview of your current situation and recent accomplishments that are relevant to the role. You can read more here.

Why did you leave your last job?

When talking about your last job, your answer to what made you leave will depend entirely on the actual circumstances. Situations in which you might tell the truth include wanting to try something new, or if the culture or management was hard to deal with. Ultimately though you should avoid badmouthing your former employers – even if they deserve it – and you should try not to give the impression that you’re likely to up and leave the role you’re currently interviewing for without good reason.

For example, if you say you’re leaving your current role because it doesn’t pay much, this can give the impression that you are not loyal enough to employers, and might make your interviewer think you’ll leave them for more money as well, as soon as you get the chance.

Unfair? Yes, but you just need to be diplomatic and try to see your answer from the interviewer’s perspective.

This is especially the case if you were fired. If this was the case, you can describe the circumstances to make your departure seem more mutual, or make a big deal out of what you learned from the experience. Whatever you do, don’t lie.

Why are you the best candidate for the job?

This question can sometimes trip up those who are a little more modest about their achievements. Here you’ll be expected to confidently point out your relevant experience, skills and qualifications, and talk about your passion for the company or role.

Of course when the question is worded like this, it can’t really be answered literally. You can’t say why you are the best person, as you won’t know who else is in the running, but you can make a strong case for having a lot to offer.

What are your weaknesses?

In addition as being able to talk about your strengths, you may be asked to talk about what you don’t do so well.

People have different ways of answering this question – you obviously don’t want to make yourself seem unsuitable for the role, but saying that you have no weaknesses isn’t much of an option either. The best solution is probably to talk about an actual weakness you have – poor time management or having a bad short-term memory. Then follow it up by describing the ways that you are trying to improve the problem, or that you have managed to sidestep it altogether.

Everyone has weaknesses, and there’s no point in pretending you are an exception. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still give a great answer to a tricky question.

Of these questions, not all of the will come up, and when they do they may take slightly different forms. But almost regardless of whether you’ll face these exact questions, you’ll probably find that employers will ask you questions very much along the same lines. It therefore pays to do a lot of research into the interviewing process, seek out interview advice and familiarise yourself as best as you can with presenting your skills and experience in the best light.

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