I spent the early part of my career interviewing candidates for jobs in the pharmaceutical industry.
And every day since preparing others for media interviews and tough questions from often hostile audiences.
In a two-part blog, here I detail the five most common interview questions and how to answer them.
And next time, I’ll come back with the five most awkward.
It’s all about matching the right questions with the right points.
Stop feeling like you’re a victim of these questions and begin seeing them as an opportunity to score points.
It’s your chance to promote yourself, but always keeping a link to the benefit to your prospective employer.
Here are the five most common interview questions and how to answer them.
And remember, if you want to learn more, we’ve got an e-learning course on job interviews waiting for you.
As open as it gets.
The interviewer is opening the bonnet of the car and looking underneath.
Pick your biggest professional achievements and tie those in with your professional hobbies.
That time you landed a big contract, mixed in with the team you support every Saturday.
Explain why you’re in the job, why you’re looking to move on and what you’re looking for from your career.
You should also consider the stage of the interview.
If you’re one of 100 candidates, make sure you stand out. Tell vivid stories succinctly.
If you’re down to the final two, focus more on the benefit you can bring to the organisation.
Keep it succinct (to around the 90-second mark) to show you’re focused and well-organised.
This one is all about proof.
Anyone can say they’re a great team player or spectacularly motivated.
Be sure to give examples unique to you.
“I’m extremely motivated to succeed.
“When I was 12, I was selling sweets in the playground for some extra cash.
“Today, I’m juggling childcare with a full-time job training some of the most influential people in the food and drink industry.
“I’m even taking evening language classes to broaden my ability to do business with people from around the world.”
This one is all about relevance.
The fact you led a redundancy programme in your previous role is great.
But it’s less important to the new job, which requires you to hire a cohort of new specialist staff.
Find the example that relates most closely to the prospective role.
It’s so your employers can visualise you being successful alongside them.
Careful with this one. It often comes right at the end, as you’re picking up your jacket and leaving the room.
If you say you saw it on the job board, that could demonstrate you’re unfocused and just looking for anything.
If instead you tell the hiring panel you’ve been following them for years on LinkedIn and just had to jump on this opportunity, that suggests both focus and desire.
That’s someone I would want to employ.
This one separates the really focused candidates from everyone else.
It’s a chance for you to create a deeper connection with those on the other side of the table.
I like questions such as:
“Why did you join the organisation?”
“Was there anything specific you liked about my application?”
“What do you believe gives you the edge over the competition?”
An interview is a two-way process, so this is your chance to find if the employer is right for you.
Avoid getting too deep into questions of salary or flexible working.
That can wait until you’re offered the position, when your negotiating hand is stronger.
And finally, always ask about the next stage in the process, so you’re clear about what comes next.
So there you have it.
The five most common interview questions and how to answer them.
If you’d like to know more, you can preview and purchase our Virtual Job Interview Masterclass.
You’ll learn to prepare effectively, engage a virtual panel and answer any question thrown your way.
It’s time to invest in you.
Andrew McFarlan runs Pink Elephant Communications.
Read more about him here.
Photos in Five most common interview questions and how to answer them blog by Pink Elephant Communications.
Five most common interview questions and how to answer them blog written by Andrew McFarlan.
Five most common interview questions and how to answer them blog edited by Colin Stone.
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