When preparing for your next interview, you may want to consider thinking about how you will answer these 5 questions as they are the most common ones we come across that many people get stumped on.

  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Tell me about yourself?
  • Why do you want the job?
  • Tell me why you’re the best person for the job?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

What are your weaknesses?

Most people struggle to answer this question as they either say they don’t have any weaknesses or start pouring their heart out about everything they are not very good at. Neither of these are the best way to tackle this question.

Your interviewer is wanting to find out how self-aware you are and whether you take action to overcome any technical or soft skill shortfalls.

Think about a genuine weakness or something you are not very good at and then think about what you have done to overcome this and become stronger as employers really value lifelong learners.

For example “I have always struggled with my confidence when I have had to speak publicly, so I have been taking an acting and drama course in my spare time to overcome this.”

 

Tell me about yourself?

A lot of job seekers I speak to think that this is a relatively easy question to answer, however they can often fall short with their answer as they are too vague and they don’t know what specific details they should share with the interviewer.

Often this is one of the first questions an interviewer will ask, which means it helps form their initial impression of you. It’s therefore crucial that you provide a good answer.

Usually they are wanting to know the following information:

  • Your relevant education / professional background
  • The key skills and expertise you have which directly relate to this job opportunity
  • What you are looking for in your next role and why this role appealed to you

When trying to answer this question, I would suggest that you start with a brief overview of your education and professional background, making sure that you only include information that relates directly to the role. Then talk about your relevant skills and expertise that make you suitable for this particular job, making sure to include a measurable example (use the STAR technique) to support your claims. Finally, explain why you want this particular role, at this organisation.

For example:

“I have recently completed my AAT level 4 whilst working as an accounts assistant for the past 3 years within the manufacturing industry.

During this time I have built on my knowledge of accounting practices as well as putting my training and qualification to good use as this was a stand alone role supporting the finance manager. Whilst here I have been able to update the debtors ledger and reduce the aged debt by £150,000 in the last 6 months.

This valuable work experience and training has taught me a lot and has brought me to you today. I feel like this exciting opportunity with your organisation will be able to develop me further within my accounting career as you seem to invest in the personal development of all staff.”

Why do you want the job

You may think that this interview question may seem similar to the question, “Why are you the best person for the job?” However, they want to know exactly why you want this ‘specific job’ within this ‘specific organisation’ right now. They want to gain an insight into how this vacancy fits your motivations for looking for a new job.

Try not to focus on financials here as that should not always be your motivator, instead talk about your enthusiasm for the organisation and job responsibilities, how this role fits with your career goals and why you are excited to be interviewing for the role.

Why are you the best person for the job

You should always know that you’re not the only person interviewing for this job.

The other candidates are probably just as qualified and possess the required skills just like you.

This question is your opportunity to show the why you stand head and shoulders above the rest. It allows you to sell yourself to the interviewer on what makes you unique.

You should think about your USP (Unique Selling Points / what makes you who you are)

Your USP consists of your top three or four strengths, with an example to support each one. They can be technical and/or soft skills, key experience or accomplishments. The only thing to remember is that they must link to the competencies required in the job so that they form a picture in the interviewer’s mind of you excelling in the role.

For example, “I have experience successfully managing projects through to completion, thanks to my experience as a project manager and PRINCE 2 qualification. I have the years of experience you require and thanks to an innovative approach to problem solving, I have created a customer satisfaction survey and increased our scores by 15%. My strong worth ethic and ability to go the extra mile have been recognised through a number of promotions and I’m genuinely excited about this opportunity and the possibility of working here.”

Where do you see yourself in 5 years

This question is generally asked in order to understand your career ambition, long term plans and whether this particular job aligns with your aspirations. Interviewers want to know that if they hire you, you’re not going to be looking elsewhere in 12 months’ time. Crucially, they’re also looking to see that you’re realistic – which is why “running this organisation” or “in your job” are answers to avoid.

Im sure that you have an idea of the path that you would like your career to take? Through your research into the company and the job, and speaking to your recruiter, you should be able to understand how this particular job would evolve and progress for the successful person.

The key to answering this question is to link the two. By finding the commonalities between your career ambitions and this job, you’ll reassure the interviewer that you’re committed to your field and have goals that align with this particular job.

For example, “In five years’ time I’d like to be seen as a valued employee who has deep expertise in XYZ. I believe I’d have the opportunity to develop such expertise over time in this role. I’d also like to assume people management responsibilities – I read that your organisation has a great leadership training program, so in five years’ time I’d like to have completed it and be further developing my skills to eventually take on a leadership role.”

For more information on interview guidance, please click here.