10 interview answers everyone should have prepared

No matter what the job, the fundamentals are the same for any face-to-face interview. Take a look at these 10 answers you need to have at the tip of your tongue when the pressure is on…

Strengths
If you can’t sell yourself, no-one else will. You need to be concert-ready when it comes to blowing your own trumpet – without coming across as arrogant. You might not be directly asked ‘what are you strengths?’ – but there will always be opportunities to get this material in. Be positive and upbeat and don’t just focus on one aspect.

Weaknesses
Many interviewers will also want to explore the things you aren’t so good at. The important thing here is to be constructive. Try to show how you not only know what you’re not so good at, but that you have identified what you must do to improve and, hopefully, are working on it.

Why?
You need to formulate a constructive reason as to why you want the job. Yes, the real reason might be the pay or because your current position is a nightmare but when asked, stay positive and focus on the strengths of your would-be employer and why you would complement them. Show that you’ve done your research into the company.

Examples
You’ll undoubtedly be asked to tell someone ‘a time when…’ Be ready with examples of different sorts of good practice you’ve displayed, maybe even take along some supporting material if appropriate.

CV
Your CV is not something to be written and forgotten about. Chances are an interviewer will have this in front of them. Prepare to explain your background and career – and any gaps in your CV.

What’s next?
Where do you see yourself in 1, 2 or 5 years? It’s a common question. Prepare an answer that shows you care about your career development and that you’re prepared to work hard and take on responsibility.

Hobbies
You’ll probably have to talk about yourself at some point. If any of your hobbies are relevant to the position then mention them – but don’t be afraid to be more personal and bring in other things. These sections are often about showing that you’re a good well-rounded individual who fits in well as a person. Being a work-obsessed robot isn’t necessarily attractive.

Curve ball
Some interviewers like to throw you a curve ball, such as ‘who would play you in a film about your life?’ The trick to handling these, as with your hobbies, is not to try to prepare and rehearse an answer to trot out. Be yourself and say what comes to your mind. The manner in which you answer these questions is more important than the detail of your response.

Salary

You might well be asked to say what you are hoping for when it comes to a salary in your new position. Of course it might be tempting to say £1 million but you’ve got to be realistic and honest. Don’t undersell yourself – but don’t price yourself out of the market either. If possible, research the types of salaries people in similar jobs elsewhere are paid.

Question

Your answers are important but so too is the moment when the floor is opened up to you to ask questions. Don’t sit there silently – have one or two relevant things in mind. That might be about training opportunities or aspects of the operations at the business in question, for example. This is another chance to show you are interested in the employer and the role. 

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