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Answering interview question

The interview is your chance to tell your employer why you are the right person for the job. How you handle interview questions is likely to have a significant impact on whether or not you get offered the role.

Although we can’t guarantee that we know what you’ll be asked at interview, some questions do tend to be asked regularly. Here are some of the most common interview questions and suggestions on how to answer them.

Tell me about yourself

This is usually the opening question and it’s your chance to tell the interviewer about the highlights in your career history and any relevant qualifications. You don’t have to explain everything you’ve done. It’s much better to give an overview of what you’ve done and achieved than to go into lengthy detail about your responsibilities. To help you structure your answer, you can follow the timeline of your CV, giving examples of achievements and the skills you've picked up along the way.

What are your strengths?

This question is a perfect opportunity for you to explain what you do well and why that means you’re right for the job. Pick the three attributes that you think are the most important for the job you’re applying for and give examples of how you have used these strengths in a work situation. These could be tangible skills, such as proficiency in a particular computer programme, software system or a foreign language, or intangible skills such as good team management.

What are your weaknesses?

Don’t answer this question as it’s been asked. It’s much better to answer the question ‘what are your weaknesses and what have you done to overcome them?’. So don’t give examples of things you’ve not done well if you don’t also have an example of how you’ve learned from it or worked to improve your skills as a result.

Why should we hire you?

This is where you get the chance to tell the interviewer about the skills, experience and attributes you have that mean you should be hired. When preparing for the interview, check the job description and try and include some of the phrases in your answer (if they are relevant). Whenever you talk about a skill or attribute you have, make sure you relate it back to the company or the role. Don’t just list your experience without explaining how it could benefit the organisation.

To help you structure your answer, you can follow the structure of your CV, giving examples of achievements and the skills you've picked up along the way

What are your goals?

You should answer this question in terms of both short-term and long-term goals unless it’s asked in specific terms such as ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ time?’.

Tell the interviewer about the kind of job you'd eventually like to do and how you plan to get there. Relate this directly back to the position you're interviewing for. Show the employer you have ambition, and that you have the determination to make the most of every job you have to get where you want to be.

Why do you want to work here?

You may feel like you’ve already answered this, but what the interviewer is looking for here is for you to spell out how well your skills, experience and attributes match the requirements of the role and the company or organisation’s ethos. Make sure your answer is really powerful. Practice what you’re going to say so that your answer is clear and that the interviewers are left in now doubt that you should be hired.

What salary are you seeking?

Don’t be tempted to come up with a figure in the interview because it could put you in a weak position when you come to negotiations later on. You can prepare for this by knowing the value of someone with your skills and they have provided a guideline salary with the job description, you could mention this and say it's around the figure you're looking for.

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