There’s a certain number of questions that get asked by employers at every interview. These questions may seem cliche, but they are as important as ever when it comes to making or breaking your chances of getting hired – knowing how to answer them can be the key to success.

What would your manager and colleagues say about you?

how-to-answer-interview-questionsThis question should be seen as an opportunity to sell your skills and promote yourself through others.

One way to answer this is to quote your previous/current managers comments from your last appraisal/performance review. By quoting, you’re not in danger of coming across as overly confident or arrogant, but still able to promote your skills and accomplishments.
If you’ve received any awards or made any notable achievements in previous employment, then you could mention these, again, by using quotes from managers and how they thanked you or mentioned you in a meeting.

If you’re not able to use quotes, then you can simply state “my manager would say”, and then detail your strengths, such as improving sales or driving campaigns and initiatives to a successful conclusion, were a strong self-starter and team player, as well as being more than capable of working to deadlines on your own.

What is your biggest weakness?

biggest-weakness-interview-questionThis one question can be the difference between success and failure in an interview and is asked at pretty much every one you’ll ever attend. The interviewer is interested in two things by asking this question:

  1. Will your weaknesses affect whether you can do the job effectively?
  2. How well can you handle and answer the question?

First things first, don’t say you haven’t got any weaknesses, everyone has. If you answer that you don’t have any, then it will demonstrate that you’re not being truthful and that you haven’t prepared for the interview correctly or that you’re blind to your own flaws, which could equally be a problem in the future.

Also, don’t answer with ‘I’m a perfectionist’, this is an answer that the interviewer hears from almost all other candidates and won’t impress or set you apart from the crowd. The trick is to pick a weakness that doesn’t damage your personal brand or chances of getting the job. Having difficulty disconnecting from your job at the end of the day for instance or that you used to be a bit disorganised, but put a time management system in place which has helped greatly.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

future-plans-questionBy asking you this question the interviewer is trying to ascertain a number of things about you as an applicant:

  • Your career goals
  • Your motivations
  • What you’re looking for in a job

The interviewer will be looking for an answer that gives them confidence that you’ll fit their current requirements, as well as someone who is applying for a role to further their future career as opposed to applying for just a job for the short-term.

If your 5 year goal is to be in a role completely irrelevant to the one your currently interviewing for, then this’ll ring alarm bells and seriously question your commitment should you be given the job.

Answer the question by explaining that you’re looking for a long-term career, but would have hoped to have progressed through the business in that time. This will show that you’re committed to the business, but that you’re also passionate and ambitious when it comes to your self-growth and improvement.

If you can include skills, attributes and values that will benefit the business, then all the better, but try not to be too specific when it comes to how you’d like to progress through the company, as you’ll not be familiar with their internal processes. It’s also a good idea not to pigeon-hole yourself by being too specific or inflexible with where you want to be; if a different opportunity presents itself, then your prospective employer needs to know that you’re the right person for the job.

What motivates you?

what-motivates-youIf you’ve done your research (which you should have done) about the company you’re interviewing for, then you’ll be able to align the things that motivate you with the business values, initiatives and working practices.
Try not to make it too obvious, but subtly mention things that you know are part of the culture.

By asking the question the interviewer is looking for an answer that reaffirms that the business can offer you what you need to be a happy and productive employee, who’ll not leave the company after a couple of months through a lack of motivation.

Motivation isn’t (just) about material rewards. Purpose, values and self-satisfaction at a job well done are all legitimate motivators.

Tell me about yourself?

The interviewers not looking for your life story, so keep your answer to the point and relevant. In fact, they’ve probably already researched you online and discovered everything they need to know about your interests through social media. They are, however, looking for an answer that will assure them that you’re looking for a career as opposed to a job for 6 months while you look for something else.
Your answer should be professional and avoid getting too personal, the interviewer wants to hear mostly about how you’ll apply what you know to your role and how the brand will benefit from hiring you.

Explain where you are in your career currently and then speak about the past and skills, qualifications that you’ve picked up along the way. Finally, explain your aspirations and life goals, but keep them relevant to the role you’re applying for.

Why should we hire you?

why-are-you-differentThis is your chance to sell yourself to the interviewer and confirm to him/her that you’re the best person for the role.

Highlight your experience and achievements and what you’ll bring to the role. Have these details ready in your mind prior to the interview and ensure that you mention everything that you feel will make you stand out from the other applicants. If you’ve worked on your personal brand, then chances are that the statement given as an answer to this question will be similar to your summary on LinkedIn, for instance.

Why do you want this job?

why-should-we-hire-youIn order to answer this question you’ll need to have researched the company you’re interviewing for thoroughly. If there’s an area or areas that the brand is particularly passionate or proud about, then use these to your advantage and mention them in your answer.
Being able to demonstrate that your skills, attributes and interests are a good fit for the brand and its values will be beneficial to your chances of success.
If your own values match those of the business, then you’ll be seen as an applicant who’ll be passionate about the work you do and how you conduct yourself.

If you can’t answer this question with any relevance to the role you’re applying for, this may demonstrate that you’ve not taken the time to learn about what the business does and that you see it as just a job.

Have you got any questions?

You should always have questions, never just say “no”. During your research into the brand you should have come across a few areas that you are unsure of, as long as these are relevant and intelligent questions then ask away.
It’s also quite likely that you may have a question regarding something that’s been said during the interview.

Questions regarding career development, requirements of the role, challenges that might be faced or the road-map for the business are also welcomed and demonstrate interest.

Don’t ask questions regarding holiday entitlement, sick pay or how the interview has gone so far, as they won’t do you any favours where the interviewer is concerned.