There are thousands of possible interview questions out there. Although you cannot predict exactly what your potential employer may ask you, you can prepare yourself by doing a little research and thinking from their perspective. We have lifted the veil on 7 different types of interview questions, so that you can improve your chances at getting your dream job.
Have you ever had a problem with a co-worker?
Many interviewers ask this question to find out how you deal with conflict and if you are the kind of person who causes problems. Stating that you hated all of your previous co-workers and had many confrontations may impact the likelihood that they will hire you. Employers want to know that you will get along with co-workers and deal with conflict appropriately. Equally, declaring that you have never had a disagreement with someone may suggest you are a pushover or appear dishonest, even if it is not. In this case, think realistically and consider the hypothetical, e.g. “I have never had a disagreement with my colleague, but if I did, I would deal with it appropriately by. . .” It is always best to be honest in an interview, for both yourself and the employer. However, for this question, you need not share more than necessary. Answer honestly and in a way that highlights your problem-solving skills.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Employers will often ask you to reveal your future aspirations. Firstly, they ask this in order to find out if you actually have any ambition. If you have no idea where you would like to see yourself in 5 years then you give the impression that you are not committed to this career path and are aimless. This is not a valuable asset for a potential employer. They will want to know that you have drive and want to progress. But, beware – if you overestimate yourself you may come across as arrogant. This leads onto the second reason they ask this question: they want to see if your ambitions are realistic. Asserting that you will run their company or work for a much larger, more impressive company suggests that you have an inflated ego and may not work well with others. Thirdly, employers use this question to ascertain whether you are committed to a career in the same industry as the job for which you are applying. If you are applying for a job at a marketing agency, but you state that you see yourself studying to become a vet in 5 years, then you clearly are not committed to the role on offer. Yet again, honesty is essential when answering this question. Lying will only waste your time and your interviewers. Being honest should not be problematic if you are applying for a job that you genuinely want.
Why are you suitable for this job?
To the employer, this question reveals whether you have researched the job, how much you want the role they are offering and it forces you to open up about yourself. Researching the company and role conveys your forethought and preparation. It also shows that you care about the role and are not just mindlessly applying for any job. Similarly, the ability to argue your suitability for the role at hand highlights your passion and genuine interest in the position. This question forces the candidate to open up about their intentions and experience. The best way to prepare for these questions is to do some research into role and company and consider your relevant skills and interests. Think about the day to day activities the role will entail and how you are prepared for these.
Why do you want to work for our company?
Similarly to the previous question, an employer will ask you why you want to work for their company in order to find out if you have researched their business. Researching a business beforehand indicates that you care about the role, show initiative and are prepared. If you can think of no reason why you want to work for the specific company at which you are interviewing, then you will come across as indifferent and somewhat lazy. In order for your interviewer to see what is special about you, you must show them you know what is special about them. An awareness of their brand and placement within their industry suggests your passion, forethought and highlights that you care enough about this role to put in the work – an attribute they will want in whomever they offer the role. So, ensuring that you research the company and industry at large will help you make a good first impression.
What is your biggest weakness?
A mean, yet common enquiry, employers ask this question both to trick you and genuinely find out if you would cope with the position. A candidate who answers: “I have no weakness, or I try too hard”, will come across as disingenuous and unlikeable. On the other hand, revealing your fundamental flaws may impact your chances. Once more, you must balance honesty with sharing too much information. You do not want to undersell your abilities but you do not want to come across as arrogant. Before your interview, consider your weaknesses from the perspective of your potential employer. This will help you prepare a response that is both honest and undamaging. If you have a weakness that would severely impact your ability in the role, then maybe this is not the job for you.
What is your salary expectation?
Many interviewees have a problem with this question. Employers ask you for your salary expectations to find out if they can afford you, how you compare to other candidates and how much you value your skills. Obviously, you do not want to vastly over or underestimate the salary they would potentially offer you. Overestimating your pay by a great deal suggests that you are interested in the money more than the role. Underestimating your pay indicates desperation and a lack of confidence in your abilities. It may also impact the amount they offer you, so beware of self-sabotage. Before an interview, research the average salaries for this prospective role. Take location and experience into consideration, as well as the size of the company with which you are interviewing.
A riddle, e.g. the combined price of a hammer and a nail is £1.10. The hammer cost £1.00 more than the nail. What is the individual cost of each item?
Now, asking a candidate a riddle is particularly cruel. Do not fret: riddles are not overly common interview questions. Some employers do ask riddles however, in order to ascertain whether you think logically or emotionally. Obviously, you cannot predict the answer to a riddle you may or may not be asked. The best action to take in this situation is to remain calm. The worst that happens is that you do not come to the right answer. It is best to offer a wrong answer than not give one at all. Nonetheless, bear in mind that with riddles, the easiest answer if often wrong; that is the trick. Ask for a piece of paper and a pen if you think that you could work out the riddle but need slightly more time. Or even better, take out your own pen and pad! Show that you are prepared and will at least try.
(The hammer costs £1.05 and the nail costs 5p. Most people assume that the hammer is £1.00 and the nail 10p, but this would be a difference of 90p, not £1.00).
Interviews are stressful and it is easy to feel flustered when you are caught off-guard. Before your interview, research the company and role for which you are applying. Have a rough idea of your responses to generic questions and interpret these from the perspective of your potential employer. Finding the balance between brutal honesty and sharing too much information is often the key to a good interview.