Answering Interview Questions
Q: What job would you like to have in five years time?
A: It's a mistake if you haven't thought about this question and how to answer it. Your interviewer will use your response to gauge your desired career direction, your ability to plan out how to achieve your goal and what moves you are making to reach it. It will also tell them how real your desire to reach your goal is and to what extent their organisation can accommodate your aspirations. A good answer will include the following: an acknowledgement from you that you have things to learn; that you would like the company to help you with this learning; and that although you have progression within this department in your sights you will also consider other opportunities throughout the company, should they arise.
Q: Why do you want to work here?
A: This requires some forethought. It means that you go into an interview forearmed with facts and information about the company you are looking for a job with. If you've done your homework you have nothing to fear. Your reply should include the company's attributes as you see them and why these attributes will bring out the best in you.
Q: How do you work under pressure?
A: This question is offering you the opportunity to sell your skills to your prospective employer. Think of an example in your current job, explain how it arose and how you dealt with it. Do not say anything negative about yourself unless you can finish off your reply with what you have learned from the experience. You can also use this question to demonstrate how you can alleviate pressured work situations arising - that your own capabilities to plan and manage your time can reduce hasty decisions and panicked deadlines arising.
Q: Why do you want to leave your current job?
A: The acceptable answers to this question fall into two categories, how you feel about your career and how you feel about the company you currently work for. And your answer may include a combination of reasons from both areas. Regarding your career - do you want fresh challenges? More opportunity for growth? Would you like to develop new skills? With regard to the company, did you feel that your position was not secure? Was there nowhere else for you to go in the department? Does the company you are applying for a job with have a better reputation?
Q: What specifically do you have to offer us?
A: Start your answer with a recap of the job description of the post you are applying for, then meet it point by point with your skills. It's important that you also paint a picture of yourself as a problem solver, someone who can take direction and who is a team player, and of course someone who is not only interested in their personal career success, but the success of the company.
Q: What is your greatest weakness?
A: This question is an attempt by the interviewer to tempt you into casting yourself in a negative light - don't do it. Always turn your weaknesses into positives, and keep your answer general. Try to think about allowable weaknesses for example , a lack of knowledge in a certain area is an opportunity for development. Frustration with others may signal your total commitment to a project or a perfectionist nature.
Q: What are your greatest accomplishments?
A: Keep your answer to this question job related, think of past projects or initiatives which you have played a part in and which have brought positive results for you and the company. Do not exaggerate your role, if your greatest achievement occurred as part of a team, then say so. It not only shows your ability to work with others, but to share credit when credit is due.
Q: How do you handle criticism?
A: This question is designed to find out if you are manageable as an employee. In your answer you must present yourself as someone who will accept direction, but who also has a decent quotient of self-respect. Everyone deserves a reason and explanation for criticism. If your manager does this in a way which respects your situation then you should say that this is acceptable to you and that you will grow from it. If the correction is brusque, you should also say that you can accept this too - your boss may have something on his/her mind, you must show yourself as someone who can recognise the bigger picture.
Q: Are you willing to travel/relocate?
A: In this question you may find yourself caught between a rock and a hard place. If you say no - you might as well end the interview there and then. If you say yes, who is to say you won't end up in Alaska? Find out what they are really asking - is it business travel or is the company relocating? If relocation is the option there are two ways to play this - be honest, or veer towards yes whatever, after all your goal at interview is to get a job offer, without such an offer you have no decision to make, and no chips to bargain with.
Q: What kind of people do you like working with?
A: Easy, people like you! In this question you can again flag up your attributes as attributes you expect in others. Key words are pride, dedication, self-respect and honesty.
The SwindonWeb Guide to the Perfect Job Interview