Better Interview preparation: 1. Preparing your answers

We bang on about better interview preparation a lot, so we decided to write a series covering exactly how to go about preparing thoroughly for an interview. This is the first in the series and we’re talking about preparing your answers for interview.

The questions that will come up

Some question you just know are going to come up in just about any interview for just about any role, if you don’t prepare your answers to questions like these then you’re not giving yourself the chance to perform to the best of your ability.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

Tell us about your previous role at xxxx?

Why do you want to work here?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

What skills can you bring to this role?

Why should we hire you?

What do you like to do in your spare time?

What are your 3 main weaknesses?

What are your 3 main strengths?

What has been your greatest achievement?

What motivates you?

You mentioned xxxx on your CV, can you tell us a little more about that?

You also need to be prepared to answer competency based questions on the main transferable skills – leadership, team work, organisation, problem solving, responsibility, etc etc.

These question will normally take the form of – ‘describe a time when you…’  i.e. describe a time when you lead a team to achieve a goal.

Crazy questions

You’ll never be able to predict every question that will come up in your interview, and often interviewers will ask crazy questions to see how you respond – I was once asked to roughly calculate the annual turnover of the London Eye.

A few other wacky examples we’ve come across:

You’re a miniature person trapped inside a salad bowl – how would you get out?

Pick two celebrities to be your parents.

If you could choose one superhero power, what would it be and why?

Would you rather be a fork, a spoon or a knife?

What the interviewer is looking for here is not a “correct” answer but how you approach the question. They want a bit of insight into how your mind works, what you’re like when you’re put on the spot and the logic you use to come to your answers. So don’t worry about your actual answer, just reason the question through and provide sound arguments as to why you came to the conclusion that you did. If it’s a funny question they’re also probably testing your sense of humor, are you someone they want to spend time with every day?

Be prepared for off the wall questions and don’t let your brain freeze at the mention of giant horse sized ducks.

The question you really really don’t want to answer

Dear reader have you met Sod? According to the abiding law of Sod those things that you really don’t want to talk about, the things you tried to brush over/cover up in your CV and cover letter, will definitely come up, probably just at the moment you were starting to think the interview was going well.

It’s no use crossing your fingers and burying your head in the sand, you need to prepare how you’re going to handle these questions so it doesn’t ruin your chances.

Try to imagine the worst possible question an interviewer could ask you and then prepare an honest but positive answer.

Resources for further research

Check out these great resources for preparing answers:

Past Interview Questions Database via Grad Diary

How to answer 150 common questions asked at graduate interviews via The University of Kent Careers

Example Graduate Interview Questions & Answers via The Graduate Recruitment Bureau

Tricky graduate interview questions via Target Jobs

25 tough interview questions via Glassdoor

Read the next in the Better Interview Preparation series – Doing your research

4 thoughts on “Better Interview preparation: 1. Preparing your answers

  1. Pingback: Graduate Rescue's Blog | Better Interview Preparation: 2. Doing your Research

  2. Pingback: Graduate Rescue's Blog | Questions to Ask at Interview

  3. Pingback: Graduate Rescue's Blog | Better Interview Preparation: 3. Practice Makes Perfect

  4. Pingback: Graduate Rescue's Blog | Better Interview Preparation: 4. All the other bits and pieces

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