We’ve all been there – seated before a panel, being interviewed for the job of our dreams. Our outfit is totally on point, and so far, we’ve managed not to spill our glass of water all over ourselves. But then someone on the panel asks a question that throws us. And it all seems to come undone before our eyes.
We’ve rounded up the top 5 questions that tend to make candidates sweat, and show you the best answers to totally impress your new boss.
1. ‘So, tell us about yourself’
Why is it that if someone asks us that question in a bar, we can rattle off our bio without missing a sip of sav blanc, yet in an interview, we have no idea where to start? The point of the question is to help break the ice, sure, but it’s also your prospective boss’s way of finding out if you’re going to fit in with the other team members.
So keep it balanced. It’s a good opportunity to share a little about yourself, but always relate it back to the professional world. For example, you could say, ‘I love keeping fit and healthy, and I find this gives me mental and physical energy to be successful in my job’. Suggesting that you like to go out heavy drinking on weeknights is probably a trait you should keep to yourself.
2. ‘Why do you want to leave your current job?’
Never, ever mention your boss in this answer, and whatever you do, never talk negatively about a specific person or the company overall. Not only does it make you look unprofessional, your interviewer may also know someone there. What you should focus on, is the opportunity for growth. Refer to your ambitions and and how you see this particular role as a chance to really move forward in your career. Explain that your current role doesn’t offer this opportunity, and make sure you have an example prepared to give evidence of this.
3. ‘What would you say your weaknesses are?’
Don’t be tempted to say you don’t have any. You’ll look arrogant and your interviewer won’t believe you anyway. Instead, have a few examples ready, but ensure that those examples aren’t core requirements of the job. For example, applying for a journalist’s role and then suggesting you’re not really good with deadlines or time management won’t go down well. But saying you can sometimes get too involved in a story, is something that can be worked on.
4. ‘What are your salary expectations?’
Talking about money is awkward and uncomfortable. Asking for too little can make you appear to be undervaluing yourself, but asking for a ridiculous amount and make you seem completely out of touch. Do your homework before the interview. Check what the market rate is for that role and how that fits in with your experience. Then, consider the company itself. If it’s a small start-up, it probably won’t be in a position to offer a full, structured package with loads of benefits. But if, on the other hand, it’s a huge multi-national, you can aim a little higher, while pointing out to the panel the differences between your current workload and the new one and why you feel this salary would be justified.
5. ‘Do you have any questions for us?’
This may seem like a throwaway, end-of-interview topic, but it’s an important one. Mumbling, ‘No, I don’t think so,’ can suggest that you haven’t really done any research on the role, or aren’t all that interested. Make sure you have at least three questions based around a broad range of topics, such as the culture of the work place, the manager and team, and the ambitions of the business. And the big one: why did the current employee resign from this role?