You’ve landed a job interview, congratulations! Now you have a choice: to turn up and go with the flow, or, spend the time before the interview preparing and giving yourself the best chance of getting the job.

Job interviews can be stressful, especially if you have not had any interviews for a while or if this is your first job interview since leaving school. Practicing your interview skills and being prepared for generic and more complex questions will calm the nerves and boost your confidence.

The first thing to recognise, is that each company has their own way of interviewing, based on various models such as:

  • Behavioural questions
  • Panel interviews
  • One on one interviews
  • Competency questions
  • Opinion questions
  • Think-on your feet questions

So to be aware of these models will help you prepare. The actual questions will be based on the key requirements of the role, so make sure you’re really familiar with them, then you can prepare yourself for all types of questions that might come up.

To start you off, here’s a list of common interview questions that employers usually ask, and the answers employers would expect.

1. Tell me about yourself

Many candidates struggle to answer this open question and are not sure where to start. What is your understanding of that question?

This is your elevator pitch, a good way to talk about your overall experience and expertise. You should start with a brief summary of your career history by giving an overview of how your career has developed and what you achieved and/or learned.

For example, you could say: I am a Finance Director with 8 years of experience in the media and tourism industry. I started my career as a Finance Administrator with Google doing reporting and analysis, after 2 years I needed a new challenge and I wanted to move up the ladder so I joined Apple as a Finance Officer where I was in charge of managing a team of two, involved in project work etc. After that, I secured another role with British Airways where I worked as Finance Manager in charge of… etc.

Your elevator pitch should not last more than 4 minutes as this is an introduction of your career history and the interviewer will have more in depth questions afterwards.

2. Why do you want to work for us?

For that question, you would have read about what the company does by checking their website, social media pages or Glassdoor (to get some inside information about what former employees say about the company).

The employer would expect for you know what they do, who they are, they competitors, their culture and values, their goals etc.

Your answer should tell them how you fit with who they are.

3. Why should we hire you? What can you bring us?

What the employer wants to know it is your “VALUE PROPOSITION”, so your answer should cover the followings:

  1. How you can deliver great results, by giving examples.
  2. How you will really fit in with the overall culture, department, team.
  3. Your motivation and dedication.

Basically, why YOU and not someone else with a similar work experience.

4. Can you give me an example of a time when you..?

This is called a competency based interview question, where the employer expects you to give a specific example so they can assess your suitability for the role.

To answer that question you need to practice the STAR technique. Listen to the question carefully and think of the event like this.

What was the Situation? 

What was the Task?

What Action did you take? 

What was the Result? (Even though the outcome was not successful, you could turn this around by saying what you would do next time).

Don’t forget the question is about YOU and what YOU did, not what others did. You might have worked as part of a team but the employer wants to know YOUR contribution.

5. What are your salary expectations?

Be honest and don’t say I don’t know nor it’s not about the money it’s about learning, etc.

You need to know YOUR WORTH, so do some digging and check the salary range that falls into your category of work.

6. Do you have any questions?

Think about interesting questions to ask your interviewer. You are marketing yourself but the employer as well, so asking interesting questions will show your motivation.

For example, you could ask:

  • What type of project are you working on?
  • Why did you join this company?
  • What makes this company unique?
  • Where do you see the company in 5 or 10 years’ time?

If you would like to practice your interview skills, I offer elevator pitch preparation and mock interviews. All you need to do is send me your CV and the job role you applied for.

Don’t wing it! It’s better to be prepared than going with the flow at a job interview.

Sylvia Nicolas

Sylvia Nicolas

Sylvia is a global career consultant and coach who helps people find the right job with CV writing, interview training and job search strategies. Find out more and book a free consultation.

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