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How to answer common interview questions

How to answer common interview questions

Lioness Recruitment share their tips on how to answer the most common interview questions.

Without the benefit of a crystal ball, it’s impossible to know what you’ll be asked in an interview and some interview questions are easier to answer than others. Whilst you can’t predict exactly what you’ll be asked, any question has the potential to trip you up – unless, of course, you’ve prepared in advance.

There’s a wide range of questions which you might be asked so here’s a list of some of the most common ones:

What are your weaknesses?

This is one of the most popular questions interviewers ask. It’s also probably the most dreaded question of all. The best way to handle it is by diminishing your weakness and highlighting your strengths. Stick to professional attributes rather than personal ones and give an example “I have a tendency to get side-tracked with starting too many tasks at once so I’m working at completing one thing before starting another”.

Why should we hire you?

The interviewer wants to know what makes you better than similarly suitable interviewees. What’s the advantage in hiring you above other candidates?

Go through the job description and look for the reason the organisation needs to fill the vacancy and then think about how your skillset and experience would help solve any problems or skills gaps they have. Give real examples from your career so far, demonstrate the soft skills you'll use to your advantage, and outline how you'd approach scenarios or tasks listed in the job advert.

Why do you want to work here?

Many interview questions are trying to find out whether a job is a good fit for a candidate or not. By asking "Why do you want to work here?" the interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you've given this some thought and are not sending your CV all over the place indiscriminately. You could respond with something like “I’ve chosen companies who have good social values and like to add something back into society” or “I’ve read about your product and it’s really interesting to me because…”

What are your goals?

It’s a good idea to discuss your short-term goals rather than any plans in the distant future, so you could say something like “Right now I’m looking to settle in a company who are actively looking to grow and my long term plans will depend on the direction the company goes”.

Why did you leave, or why are you leaving, your job?

The most important thing to remember is to never badmouth a former employer. Even if they were awful, don’t say anything negative. Always be positive when discussing redundancy or being unemployed. If you are employed it’s best to focus on what you’re looking for in your next job “I like where I’m working at the moment and I’ve learnt a lot but I need a new challenge as I’ve gone as far as I can in the role”.

When were you most satisfied in your job?

The interviewer is trying to find out what motivates you. If you can relate an example of a job or project when you were excited, the interviewer will get an idea of your preferences. "I was very satisfied in my last job, because I worked directly with the customers and their problems and that is an important part of the job for me."

Remember planning really helps with interview success so it's worth putting some time into your potential responses. It'll give you a confidence boost plus an edge on the competition.

Lioness Recruitment, our 2022 Recruitment Business Partner, have almost 20 years’ experience recruiting for social housing technology and IT roles. Find out more here.