The best way to approach any job interview is to research the company you are applying for and practice your responses to potential interview questions. When it comes to interviews, however, no two are the same but there are certain questions that seem to appear in one form or another in most interviews.
To help you perform your best at your next interview, the Agile Recruit team has pulled together this list of the six most common interview questions – according to our candidates. So, if you gave a job interview lined up, prepare your responses to the following questions and practice them in front of a mirror or a friend/family member.
Question One: “What circumstance brings you here today?”
This is a similar question to “why do you want to work for us” in that the recruiter is looking for you to tell them what it is about the role that excites you and why in particular you want to work for their company. The best way to respond is to be positive about why you are looking for a new opportunity and why this particular role caught your eye. This is where your research will come in as it will allow you to talk compellingly about the business and what impact you hope to have on it, by matching the skills you have to offer with the skill set described in the job advert.
Question Two: “What do you consider to be your strengths and weaknesses?”
Talking about your strengths should be quite straightforward as these are the things that help you accomplish your daily tasks. Identify the qualities that the recruiter is looking for in the job advert and talk about a couple of examples of your own strengths that will help you to be successful in the role you are applying for. Some good examples of strengths include good communicator, collaborate well with others, flexible, and eager to acquire new knowledge and skills.
When it comes to weaknesses, you should still put a positive spin on things by identifying them as areas that you need to improve. Thinking about how you would answer this question beforehand, gives you the time to come up with a plan to address these weaknesses, which you can share with the interviewer. Just make sure you do not identify something that is crucial to the role as one of your weaknesses.
Question Three: “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?”
This question is harder to answer than it appears because you do not want to make the mistake of answering “in your job” or “in a bigger role at another firm.” What the recruiter really wants to know is if you have thought about your career, are you ambitious and how does the position you are applying for aligns with your career goals and aspirations.
You should always be honest with the recruiter, even if you have no desire to move into a management role – just tell them that. You could say that you do not know what the future holds but are hoping this position clarifies things for you and will help you make that decision.
Question Four: “What is your greatest achievement?”
This is a popular question among recruiters as it really helps them get to grips with what it is about you that makes you stand out from other candidates. This is a question, therefore, that is designed to help the recruiter discover what it is you value in life and how this aligns with the company’s culture, whether you have the drive to succeed and what soft skills you may possess. When you are choosing the situation you want to talk about in the interview, make sure you keep in mind the skills that the interviewer is interested in – as listed in the job advert.
The best way to answer this question then is to think about a work situation where you achieved something you are proud of, what challenges you faced during this task, what skills you used to overcome any challenges and what you learned from your experience.
Question Five: “Why should we hire you?”
When the recruiter asks you this question, what they are really asking is “what makes you the best candidate for this position?” They have a hole in their organisation which they need someone with certain skills to fill, and this is your opportunity to show them how you qualify for the role and how well you will fit into the company.
This is where your research will come into play, as you will have studied the job posting and have a list of the qualities that you possess which match the skills that the interviewer is interested in.
Question Six: “Do you have any questions for us?”
This question typically comes at the end of the interview, and most people usually panic and say “no”. Saying no is never ideal as it means you have missed the opportunity to find out the information you need to know about the company and the role they are offering, such as salary, holiday entitlement, job flexibility, bonuses, retirement and other benefits.
If you really want to impress the recruiter and stand out from all the other candidates, you need to ask some questions. You can prepare some in advance, but just keep in mind that the recruiter may cover the answers to these during the interview. Listen to what the recruiter is asking you throughout the interview and try and frame your questions around this.
The best questions are those that are well-researched and unique, and which showcase your enthusiasm for the role and your work ethic, such as:
- “I understand that this role will consist of xxx, ideally what would you like me to accomplish for you in the first year of the role?” – this shows an understanding of the role and your enthusiasm for it
- “How would you describe an ideal employee?” – this shows you are eager to meet their expectations and it will also give you a better idea of whether you are a good fit for the company or not
- “From what you know about me so far, how well do you think I will fit into the team? Why?” – this shows you understand the importance of settling well into the team
- “I am aware that employees have recently been involved in xxx (charity work, attending a conference, a story in the press), is that a typical opportunity in the role I am interviewing for?” – this shows an eagerness to go above and beyond your day-to-day role and that you are interested in the company itself and have researched them a little
- “From what you have learnt about me today, are there any aspects of my background and skills that are cause for concern in relation to this position?” – a direct question which will allow you to address any concerns that they have. It is important that you do not get defensive when they answer it, instead try and offer an example of how you can overcome this concern
If you are looking for a career in big data, and need some interview advice, or have gaps in your business skill sets that you want to plug, then please get in touch with the team at Agile Recruit via email at email@example.com