We’ve all heard the stories from candidates of the unusual, challenging and sometimes just plain weird questions they were asked during an interview. Bizarre questions like, “Would you rather be a ninja or a pirate?” or “How many golf balls would you fit in a bus?”
Thankfully most of these are now banned in the big companies and you can expect a more straightforward series of questions. Interview questions can vary depending on the role and industry, however, there are common interview questions you can prepare answers for. Here are three common interview questions and how best to answer them:
1. Question: “Tell me about yourself”
This is probably the most popular interview opener. Surprisingly it still catches some candidates off guard if they are unprepared for it. It is designed to break the ice and make you feel more relaxed. It is also a quick and easy way for the interviewer to assess your personality type.
The best way to answer this question is to start talking about something unrelated to your professional career. You could begin by talking about a personal interest such as a hobby you enjoy or a sport or activity you take part in.
If a candidate talks about a sport or physical activity, it demonstrates key desirable characteristics to the recruiter. Namely; self-discipline, self-motivation and a desire to keep healthy and fit. Furthermore, if you play a competitive sport, this may impress the recruiter who is looking for someone in a sales or development role.
Other than a personal interest or hobby, you could discuss any volunteer or community work you are actively involved with. This helps build a profile of your character but also shows that you are a social, empathetic person who is committed to a cause. Don’t mention activities involving political, religious or controversial organisations or campaigns.
Furthermore, try to match your interests as best you can to the role. For example, if you are applying for a job with a company who has recently invested in sustainability, the environment or green technology, you could mention your support for environmental charities or mention how you cycle to do your part in help protecting the earth.
You should keep the first part of the answer short and to the point and then shift to talking about your professional career.
An example might be, “Other than my personal interests, my professional life has shaped me hugely as an individual.” Pick two or three main attributes that you think are most important for the job. They could be an acquired skill, such as proficiency in a language. Or a skill learned through experiences such as management and communication skills.
This allows you to steer the conversation in the direction you want and bring up the topics of your skills, strengths and experience to be further explored later in the interview.
2. Question: “What do you know about the company?”
This one is simple, they want to test your knowledge of the company, determine if you have done your research and truly motivated to work there.
In preparation for the interview, you should research the company, their products/services, competitors and customers. Also, look at their website, social media accounts and any news articles relating to them.
Most large organisations publish their mission statement and organisational structure and it is a good idea to have read both. You should also learn about any new initiatives, marketing campaigns, planned developments or expansions for the company.
The more you learn about the company, the better prepared you will be to answer any questions that may arise. If you know anyone working there, ask them to meet you to get a sense of the culture and management styles.
A candidate who has an in-depth knowledge of the company will impress the interviewer. In addition to the above, it’s also a good idea to find out if the company supports any causes. For example, if you find out are interested in sustainability make sure to mention that at this stage too.
Avoid talking about anything controversial related to the company such as any legal disputes with customers, suppliers or competitors. Also, don’t use this opportunity to tell them what you think they should improve on.
3. “Why should we hire you?”
This is an opportunity to really sell yourself and explain why hiring you over another candidate is the right choice.
Again, the best approach to answering this question is in the pre-interview preparation. Study the job description carefully and identify your qualities and skills that make you suitable for the job.
This is your opportunity to explain to the interviewer what you can do for them. This could be increasing revenue, bringing in new business, introducing a new system or boosting brand awareness. Think about the ways in which your experience makes you unique and the best candidate for the job.