Job interviews are the stepping stones to jobs you want, first you need a great cover letter and CV. Once you’ve passed that stage you will be on to the next stage which, in reality is where things get really difficult. For tips on how to write a great cover letter, click here, and for CV tips, click here.

An important thing to remember when going for your interview is that the recruiter or hiring manager has been doing this a long time, you may be the first of the day but they would have already seen plenty of candidates that week. Also, no matter how well thought out your answers to questions may seem to you, it is probably safe to assume they’ve heard it all before.

This advice is coming straight from recruiters, HR professionals and career coaches, don’t go for cliché answers that aren’t specific to your personal skills and experience as it means nothing. They would have heard the same thing 10-15 times before, possibly that very same day so this tactic won’t help you stand out.

Question: Tell me about yourself

Usual answer: Personal life, professional jargon, political or religious views

Saying anything personal is not a good idea unless asked specifically and even then you should try and bring up examples of your personal life that would benefit the job. These things may be held against you later on down the line, even if you get hired. The important thing to remember is there will always be many people applying for this job, so anything the recruiter isn’t too sure about will work against you.

Better answer: Work experience so far that relates to the job

Talk about your corporate work experience, any volunteering or even networking events you attending that fits in with the job role. This shows that you are committed and your sights are set on getting the job done well. If you want to give a few details on your personal life, show sides of your life that paint you in a good picture, interests in reading self development books or literature on the industry you are applying for, hobbies that show you can work in a team etc.

Question: What do you know about us

Usual answer: Stating the obvious, citing their industry etc

Failure to research a company you are interviewing for shows lack of preparation, laziness and basic interview etiquette. All things that will ensure you are put on the bottom of the list of potential candidates for the job. It really doesn’t take long at all, to be prepared fully for an interview requires no more than 15-20 minutes of your time. Have a look on their website and show that you care.

Better answer: Talk about their actual offerings, who their target market is, their competitors and what you can make of their business model

All the above can be found very easily on the internet, then spending some time research their competitors and making a few notes on them will go a really long way. Sometimes you may find a mistake on their website, commenting on that will be appreciated and will show that you have an attention for detail.

Question: What makes you a good fit for this position

Usual answer: I’m passionate about this job and the company, I’ll work hard

Everyone is a passionate hard worker, that is an obvious answer, they are not expecting you to say you’re not passionate about it and you’ll do your best to make the job as easy as possible for yourself. I am going to come back again on the point of being specific, make everything relative to the job.

Better answer: What will you bring to the position

What kind results can be attained if they hire you over someone else, if it is a sales based position, what kind of KPI’s have you achieved in the past or how have you nurtured an account in the past to give a greater ROI. This is what you are trying to portray in your answer, all the interviews, salary, recruiters fees etc is an investment in the perfect candidate, what return will you give them on that investment.

Question: What weaknesses would you say you have

Usual answer: I work too hard or I’m a perfectionist

Really? No one is perfect in this world and everyone will have weaknesses, this answer just makes it look like you don’t think you have any and you think you’re being smart by saying something which is regarded as a weakness but in actual fact it is good. Acknowledging real strengths and weaknesses show that a person is confident and comfortable with who they are and are looking to grow and improve.

Better answer: Be honest

It is as simple as that, if you find it hard to multitask or maybe you’re an introvert. It is ok not to be perfect at everything, the important part of this answer is to acknowledge your shortcomings and show how you are working on improving them.

Question: Where do you see yourself in 5 years

Usual answer: Still doing this job to a great level

This may seem like it shows loyalty to a company and it could well show that, but at the same time it shows that you lack ambition, something no one likes. Companies would like to know that whoever they are hiring wants to continually improve themselves and grow. 5 years is an extremely long time and if you show you have no desire to better yourself that won’t go down well.

Better answer: Research the role, look for routes of progression

Try and research the company culture and different positions they have within that company. Commenting on the positions higher up the food chain than the position you’re interviewing for will show that you have done your homework. Talking about further educating yourself in that particular field or doing a part time Masters or MBA will show great determination to succeed. Maybe you want to ideally be in a different department later on down the line, something that offers you the chance to do more of what you’re good at etc.

The 5 questions listed above are common and will come up in interviews, make sure you are prepared for them and you’re giving yourself the best chance for getting that offer letter. The job market is getting more and more competitive for candidates, you deserve to get that job just as much as the next guy but they may perform better in the interview.


Prepare properly, be confident and most importantly, be yourself. GSY