Typical interview questions and how to answer them
Over the next few months, many students will be graduating from their degrees and moving into the world of employment. To help you gain the role you want, you should review typical interview questions and prepare thoughtful and considered answers for them.
“Tell me about yourself.”
It’s inevitable that an employer will ask you the above question; interviewers ask this question to help them understand if you’re the right cultural fit for the company. The best approach to this question is to outline what you’ve been doing with your life prior to applying for the role. If you’ve been studying at university, tell the employer about your course and why you chose it, or if you’ve been working, you could explain a bit about your current role and what you enjoy about it.
To add a more personal feeling to your answer, you can also add in any hobbies you have or activities you do to fill your time.
“What are your biggest strengths/weaknesses?”
Before the interview, spend some time reflecting on your previous work/study experiences and examine what you were good at and not so good at. This is ultimately what the employer is looking for; they’re trying to see whether you’re self-reflective.
In terms of your weaknesses, always answer in a way that’s constructive. The employer wants to see that you can identify your weaknesses and have strategies for overcoming them. For example, you might be someone who is too focussed on detail. To overcome this, you might ask a colleague to have a quick look over some work you’ve produced for a second opinion. Alternatively, you could ensure you don’t spend too long on a specific task. Knowing your weaknesses and how you can work around them is crucial at work.
“What skills do you have that would help you in this role?”
Before the interview, make sure you read the job description carefully. Jot down some of the skills you have that match the responsibilities you’ll be required to undertake. For example, if you’re going to be in a role that has lots of deadlines and is very time-pressured, you should think about whether you have effective time management skills. The employer is checking that you have the right skillset in order to perform well at the job.
“What do you know about our company?”
Interviewers want to see that you’ve made an effort to find something out about their company to evaluate how dedicated you would be to the role. Prior to the interview, look up the company’s mission and values. You should also have a look at their social media feeds and blogs to gain an idea of what they do and the sectors they work in.
“Tell me about a time you….”
This type of question is incredibly common. Employers might ask about a time you were challenged, led a team, or were involved in a project. Here, the employer is testing your problem-solving ability and how you would act in common scenarios within the role. You should describe the scenario and then focus on the outcomes. Ultimately, you want to evidence you’ve had the experience of the scenario and that you could handle it again.
“What type of working environment do you enjoy best?”
Realistically, we’d all like an environment that has a casual dress code, beanbag chairs and the radio on in the background. However, not everyone can work for Google!
Think about conditions you were in when you produced your best work. Do you enjoy working in a team and collaborating? Do you prefer putting your headphones in and powering through a big workload? Consider in which scenario you have been most productive in. This is for your benefit as much as the employers. In asking this, the employer wants to check that you’d fit into the company culture.
“How do you deal with failure?”
Don’t be afraid of this question and answer “I’ve never failed”. Of course you have, even if it hasn’t been a failure that changed the entire course of your life.
The employer wants to see that you’ve failed and been able to pick yourself back up again in a mature way. They’ll also want to know that you learned something from the failure.
The questions you should be asking the employer
To show your enthusiasm for the role, it’s always good to think of a few interview questions to ask at the end. If you’ve read something interesting on the company blog or have a question about a particular aspect of the job, use this as an opportunity to find out the answer.
GISMA Business School students have access to the Career Centre, who run training sessions and seminars to prepare students for every aspect of professional life. If you’re interested in becoming a GISMA student, take a look at our available programmes.
– Written by Emma Chadwick