We dish the inside track on the top questions asked at interview, and how candidates should answer them to impress
“Why do you want to work for us?”
Explain why you see the company as an attractive employer. Financial package should never be given as a reason, but think about things like the company culture, training program, company structure, the ability to cross-train into different technologies, or the company’s ethic. Obviously these need to be relevant and well-researched.
“Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?”
Think about where you really want to be within a company: in a lead role with a team under you; or a lead consultant; or a director of the company. Be ambitious but realistic and have direction in your answers.
“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
Talk specifically about the positive things you’ve achieved to illustrate your strengths rather than generalising and make them relevant to the role you are going for. Try to show your weaknesses in a positive light and give examples of where you have addressed and overcome your weaknesses.
“Why did you apply for this job?”
The candidate should be careful not to mention a desire for promotion or money. They should really focus on the actual content of the job, referring to the possibility of learning, new challenges, or the prospect of putting their previous experience to work in a new role. They should always provide examples with their answer, rather than just simply stating ‘I’m ready for the next step.’
“Why should we hire you?”
Many companies will ask the candidate to sell themselves using their strengths. Prepare a list of your strengths beforehand and think about how they relate to the job. I would advise people not to be modest and to only speak about their weaknesses if they are asked directly. Of course you should avoid being arrogant as much as possible, but arrogance comes across in body language more than anything else.
“What are your major achievements in terms of your career, education and life to date?”
Achievement means different things to different people. For example, one person’s idea of achievement might simply be the fact that they have completed their studies, particularly if, say, they experienced a tough time going through school. Another person’s idea of achievement might be having secured a place on a good graduate scheme. It’s not so much the actual achievement that’s important in a candidate’s answer, but the way they present it. This question always provides a good indication of a person’s level of self-awareness.
“What motivates or drives you?”
For some people this could be learning or work/life balance, for others it could be money or professional acceleration. The answer really tells the interviewer about what makes someone tick. Not everyone wants to be a board director, and an interviewer isn’t necessarily going to see it as a weakness if you don’t. It’s important to be honest.
“Tell me about your depth of knowledge in your subject area?”
Most job interviews are going involve questions about your professional knowledge. We are always interested in how a candidate keeps up to date in their field – what magazines and journals they read, what sort of models they are using in their work, what their network is like, whether they go to conferences – all of these things tell us about how a candidate keeps up their professional knowledge