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Our top tips to the perfect interview answers

How to answer the most common interview questions

How to prepare the most commonly asked interview questions

You nailed your CV, now you have been invited to an interview, but how can you prepare your answers in advance for the most commonly asked questions?

Introduce yourself: A common icebreaker

The classic opening question, “Tell me about yourself,” often serves as an icebreaker to help candidates feel comfortable before diving into deep or more technical questions. The interviewer has already reviewed your CV, so they want to determine if you’re the right fit for the role. Resist the urge to rehash your CV out loud, but also avoid providing an overly personal life story. Discuss your current role, its scope, and perhaps a recent accomplishment. You can touch on hobbies, stress relievers, or any voluntary work you might be involved with. Then, discuss your work history to help the interviewer understand your background, and highlight any relevant experience for the position you’re applying for.

Explaining your interest in the company

Your future employer wants to know why you’re interested in this specific position at their company. This is your chance to demonstrate that you have researched the company and shared its values. Explain what drew you to the company, which aspects of their work culture resonate with you, and the elements of the role you find most appealing. Proving that you’ve done your homework not only showcases your professionalism but also indicates that you’ve thoughtfully considered your potential fit and long-term future with the company. Top tip: this is not an opportunity to say ‘because it pays well’, an employer is looking for a more task-based answer which is going to see you as a perfect match for them.

Discussing your weaknesses

There’s a wealth of advice online about answering the “biggest weakness” interview question. Common responses like “I work too hard” or “I’m a perfectionist” have been used time and time again, and chances are, your interviewer has heard them all. Instead, be genuine and mention a real weakness and explain how you address it. For instance: “I used to struggle with speaking up in social settings. As a website developer, I rarely had to give presentations. However, when I moved into a managerial position, I enrolled in an online public speaking course and now feel comfortable presenting to small groups.”
An answer like this demonstrates to potential employers that you are self-aware and actively working to overcome your weaknesses.

Showcasing your greatest strengths

Conversely, the “greatest strengths” question allows you to differentiate yourself from other candidates. Rather than listing multiple adjectives, choose one or two qualities relevant to the position and support them with examples. Use this question to emphasise skills or attributes that align with the company culture and haven’t been discussed yet in the interview. But be sure to not go overboard, while an interview is an opportunity to sell yourself, the employer will be put off by arrogance.

Specific competency-based questions:
Question: “Can you recall a time when you had to meet a tight deadline?”

Your response to this question demonstrates your time-management skills. First of all, have an idea for this question in your head, prepared and ready for the interview room. Think of the situation, task, action and then the result. Be sure to have covered off all of these points with your answer:

  • Did you meet the deadline?
  • How close was it?
  • What did you learn?
  • What will do you differently next time?
  • How did it make you feel?
Question: “Tell us about a situation where you had to collaborate with a colleague whose personality or work style was very different from yours.”

This type of question allows you to demonstrate valuable soft skills, such as adaptability and collaboration. You could describe how you took the initiative to organise the task, utilising both of your strengths to achieve the best results. This question also allows you to highlight your communication skills and ability to work effectively in a team.

Question: “How do you handle difficult clients?”

While it may be tempting to provide a generic answer to this question, doing so might imply a lack of experience in conflict resolution. Keep your response professional, detail your role in the situation, explain your problem-solving approach, and describe the outcome. You can also touch on if this is a common position you see yourself in, and what you’re doing to help with the situation.

Question: “How do you approach problem-solving?”

When addressing this question, explain the tools and techniques you employ to tackle problems, such as breaking them down into manageable steps. Emphasise your ability to take the initiative and think critically before taking action.

Demonstrate that you can:

  • Identify the problem
  • Analyse the solution
  • Implement the solution
  • Help, inform and educate others

How to answer your interview questions:

Mastering the STAR interview technique

The STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method is an effective way to structure your answers to competency-based interview questions. Briefly set the context of the situation, explain the task or activity, describe the action you took, and summarize the result or lesson learned. Interviewers want to understand what you gained from your experience and how you might have approached things differently. Preparing examples using the STAR technique can help boost your confidence for the interview.



Need more help?

You can contact our dedicated team at OLG Recruitment to get further advise with your interview techniques and any other recruitment questions.

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