The only thing standing between and your successful employment? The interview.
But interview questions aren’t always so easy to deal with. If you’re naturally good at conversations, even the most basic questions can trip you up. So, to help you out, we’ve listed some of the most common job interview questions, and the best way to answer them.
1. Tell me about yourself.
There’s a 99% chance that your interview will start with this exact statement. While it may seem like an easy question, there’s tons of room for mistakes here. Firstly, remember why you’re there – the position, the company, and your need for the job.
This isn’t the time or the place to talk about your weekend hobbies and fun interests. Unless asked explicitly by the interviewer, avoid giving too much personal information. This is about you and your ability to fit for the job you’re applying for.
“I am a hospitality pro! I enjoy talking to customers, multitasking and working in a team. I have skills in waitressing, customer service and kitchen assistance. I applied for this job because I saw that you are looking for someone who has these skills and I think that I would be a great fit at your café.”
2. What are your strengths/weaknesses?
Recruitment managers have hundreds of stories of failed interviewees who took these questions the completely wrong way. How so? Talking about your strengths and weaknesses shouldn’t be used as an opportunity to “humble brag”, so to speak.
For example, your strengths shouldn’t solely be about how amazing you are – talk about stories and real examples of your great work ethic, instead. “Show, don’t tell”.
And as for your weaknesses, try not to repurpose one of your better qualities as a weaker one. Recruiters have heard it all, and you’re not as subtle as you think. Don’t try to pass off “staying too late at the office to finish a project” as a weakness, when we all know that’s a quality that your employers would love. Remember: be honest, not clever.
“One of my strengths would be that I’m able to multitask for example, I can take food out to customers when it’s ready and clear tables. This is something that I noticed you’re looking for within this position.
“When I think about my weaknesses, I look at what I think I need to learn or work on individually. Something that comes to mind is that I can sometimes lack confidence and get a little shy talking to people.
I’m trying to work on this and I think I can achieve this through this role as I will be able to have more face to face contact with customers.”
3. How do people describe you?
This question is all about focus. The wrong way to answer this is to talk about every quality you have. If you say that people describe you as a hard worker, a leader, a go-getter, and so on, you give your interviewer nothing to work with.
Every answer you give must contribute towards painting a clear image of who you are in the interviewer’s head, so don’t be vague. Choose a quality that you think this position will require and highlight that quality.
So, if you want to emphasise that you’re a hard worker, talk about what you do that makes you a hard worker. Maybe people describe you as someone who is always there to help get tasks done or someone who can be relied upon to get to work on time and leave only when projects are accomplished.
“People would describe me as hardworking. This is because I never leave until the work is finished, I help other coworkers if they aren’t finished their tasks and I’m always on time for work.”
4, Where do you see yourself in five years?
This question is a bit tricky, because it needs to apply to the role you’re being interviewed for. If you’re applying for a supervisory role in a large company, then an employer will probably want to hear about how you intend to climb that company’s ladder.
If it’s something smaller and more short-term, then focus on talking about you and your desire to better develop your work ethic, skills, and abilities. Simply put, the goal here is to show that you intend to grow.
“Since working in the hospitality industry, I’ve found that I really enjoy being part of a team and like the different skills and tasks you get to do each day. In five years, I hope to have gained more confidence when talking to customers and skills like making good coffee.”
Be honest, but be smart
If you could have only one quality to take with you into any interview, that should be the quality of being genuine. Succeeding at interviews is all about connecting with the interviewer, more so than it is about anything else.
If you have the skills, the talent, and the experience for the position, then you just need to show that you’re up for it.
Because at the end of the day, your interviewer needs to find someone who can be part of the team. It’s not about you – it’s about them.
Practice makes perfect
Preparing an elevator pitch and knowing your key strengths will not only make you for an interview, but it will also build your confidence.
Your elevator pitch should be clear and concise and communicate who you are. Keep it to 30 seconds to get your point across and remember to focus on the strengths you have. The aim is to sell it to them concisely and let them know why you would benefit their business.
Download our Elevator Pitch Templates to help you get started.
If you need further support to get you through your job interview, CoAct and our Service Partners can help build your confidence by helping you with mock interviews and working on that elevator pitch! Register as a job seeker today to get interview-ready and open the door to a world of opportunity.