How to give winning answers to 6 generic interview questions

How to give winning answers to 6 generic interview questions

Congratulations, after polishing your cover letter and updating your CV, you've reached interview stage for a role!

Popular interview questions are designed not only to expand upon your career details but also to bring your personality to light and how you would culturally fit in with the company, which is why similar questions are asked in many interviews. Whilst we can't predict what will asked, we've put together a simple guide on how to prepare for some of the most common interview questions:

"Tell me about yourself"

With adequate preparation, you can use the broadness of this question to your advantage and tailor your answer to specifically demonstrate how your passion, personality, skills and experience will enable you to perform the role to high standards and drive success within the company.

A good place to begin is to think of three – five points that demonstrate the following:

"What are your weaknesses?"

List all of the skills and strengths needed to complete the role and think about any weaknesses you have that are not on this list. For example, if you’re applying for a role as a Marketing Executive, avoid mentioning any weaknesses involving problems around your creative or analytical ability. Instead go for something that isn’t vital for the role or something seemingly trivial to your overall performance.

"Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years' time?"

When an interviewer asks this question they are really asking you if you see yourself working for their company in the long-term.

The best way to prepare your answer is to research career progression opportunities on their website and look at the LinkedIn profiles of senior employees within the company to get an idea of the path you would need to take to move into a position with more responsibility.

If you’re interviewing for a more senior role, explain how you could help the company achieve its vision. You could talk about the specific skills and experience you have or new ideas (be careful not to overdo this as you want to show your initiative rather than overconfidence or a tendency to be bossy) to drive success within the company.

"What makes you the best candidate for the job?"

The job market is competitive and there are plenty of people with the same qualifications and experience, so you need to think outside the box in order to make yourself stand out in an interview.

Try asking yourself what skills you used in previous roles that would come in useful in this role?

It’s important to use specific examples here to show the interviewer what you’re capable of. You can set these out like a story:

What additional responsibilities did I take on in my previous roles?

or example, did you take time out of your busy schedule to support others, were you a keen contributor to CSR projects within the business, or did you spearhead an employee benefit which really made a difference to the working lives of those around you. Think differently and think beyond the criteria expected of you specifically for your job.

Are you wanting to practice your interview skills? You can submit your CV here!

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  • Enthusiasm – How your ambition to work in the industry/role emerged, what you enjoy/what you think you would enjoy about the role or how your hobbies reflect your passion for your work.
  • Skills/Strengths – How you’ve used your skills to solve problems in previous roles or how your strengths will enable you to be successful in the role you’re interviewing for.
  • Experience/Qualifications – What you’ve learnt from your experience and/or qualifications and how you can apply this learning to the role.
    • Beginning: the scale of a problem and the effect this had on the company, customers and/or clients.
    • Middle: What you did to overcome the problem and the skills you put into practice/developed.
    • End: The outcome – i.e. how did your actions change the situation and what did you learn that will be useful when carrying out the role you’re interviewing for.