Student Life

Five interview questions you can expect – and how you can deal with them

The Frank Recruitment group recently did a survey of the top five most Googled interview questions. As you might expect these are quite generic and often focus on how self-aware the candidate is. How easily could you sum yourself and your career to date? Why should the recruiter select you? What are your strengths and weaknesses? (why does the recruiter want to know about weaknesses?!). How much of a career plan do you have? What ideas do you have for your career progression? And the scariest one of all, ‘why do you want this job?‘ But in the words of the late Douglas Adams: “Don’t panic!”

Worried about how you would answer these questions? Relax they aren’t that scary at all. Think about what it is you want to say about yourself. Then start to think how you can frame your possible answers. There are many frameworks but the two that Careers Consultants focus on are STAR and CARR/CARE. Here at Warwick, students and recent graduates also have access to the ECareersGrad package via our website to practice your questions so register now and use it as well as booking in with the Careers Consultants, Project Officers and the Job Search team for support. Also you can use Apply Moodle

Tell us about yourself

A common first question that many candidates find difficult to answer effectively

This is an icebreaker question. A way of getting to know more about you. You may worry about what to say or how much information to give but it is all about what links you to the job. Start by giving a brief overview of where you are now in your career. Give examples about yourself in terms of your success and what you have learned about yourself. Think what is it that motivates you, what is important to you then how this connects you to the company and the role.

‘Why should we hire you?

So, start thinking of what are your key arguments for this question? Is it your degree? Work experience or your amazing skills and ability to quickly pick up new information and learn new tasks? Are you flexible and reliable? Think of examples that offer evidence to support your statements. Give them the proof that they need. Look at the job advert or even better the Job description and think of the evidence you need to give them. Think what do you know about the company? Have you done your research on them?

‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?’

Don’t think of this question as a crafty way to catch you out into talking about reasons not to employ you! This is about you demonstrating self-awareness. Yes, tell them about your strengths – your ability to be creative with new ideas and to be a great team player but also think about what you can develop. Think how can you improve? How can you grow and develop? There isn’t any such thing as perfection so don’t try to be someone or something you are not. Think what makes you great for this role then give an example that shows how you have developed the required skills and attributes. You may want to think of some examples of how you have overcome an issue in the past, such as a fear of public speaking for example. Avoid the answers that hint at perfectionist tendencies or joke answers such as “Well, my weakness is chocolate!” They want the real you.

‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’

Don’t worry that this is the employer trying to catch you out again. Instead, frame your answer to this question in terms of your career path, Have you thought about where this role is going to take you? You may want to talk about how the role will develop you and whether you see management as the next stage. Again, all of this depends on the company that you are applying to. If it is a large company that you are entering as a graduate recruit, which of the different role rotations appeal to you most and why? How do you see yourself growing within the company?  If it is a smaller company or a start up what aspects of the role will you want to develop?

‘Why do you want this job?

Why do you want this job, what’s your motivation?

This is quite similar to the ‘why should we hire you?’ question, this is a chance for you to show how you are suitable. So, think of the examples of the skills and experiences that you bring to the role. Talk about what attracts you to both the role and the company. Commercial awareness is a key skill to demonstrate here, so be able to talk about your knowledge of the company and why you are such a great fit for them. Think about what you know about them. Do you follow them on LinkedIn? Do you know people who work at the company? Alumni or friends and family? What is it that made you want to apply for the role? Great training? Are they a market leader and what does that mean to you? Think about what the company does and for whom?

If you are looking to do well at an interview here are four important things to remember:

1. Know yourself and have clear and relevant examples to offer an interviewer

2. Think about your skills as they relate and match those of the job

3. Do your research on the role (Check out Prospects for help)

4. Research the company as much as you can and know why you are applying to them (Use MarketLine Advantage a resource available from the University Library or Warwick’s Careers website).

Good luck!  

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