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Five classic interview questions and how to answer them

two women shaking hands

Job interviews can be intimidating, but the right preparation can make all the difference, both to your nerves, and the outcome.  

Mastering interview questions is key to making a lasting impression on potential employers, and while we understand that you can’t anticipate everything that’s going to come up, there are somethings you can confidently expect.  

Here are five classic interview questions, and some suggestions on how to tackle them, which can help you go in feeling better equipped. 

1. Tell me about yourself 

The timeless “Tell me about yourself” question is often the first thing interviewers ask. It’s an open-ended question, which gives you a chance to make a strong first impression.  

It is also a good opportunity to address any potential concerns the interviewer may have, for example you may be a contractor looking for a permanent role, which can look like you’ve been jumping around. 

When answering, it’s important to start with a concise overview of your professional background, emphasising your education and relevant work experience. Make sure you highlight qualifications and skills that you think align with both the company, and the role you’re interviewing for. 

Example response:  

“I have a degree in marketing and five years of experience in digital marketing. I’ve successfully managed campaigns that have increased online sales by 30%. I enjoy using analytics to work out what works and what doesn’t, which is why I’m enthusiastic about the opportunity to join your team and contribute to your continued success.” 

2. What is your greatest strength? 

When asked about your strengths, it’s vital to pick something that directly relates to the role you’re interviewing for and support your answer with a specific example from your past experiences. This not only demonstrates your strengths but also shows what value you can add to your prospective employer. 

Example response:  

“One of my biggest strengths is my ability to perform under pressure. In my current role, I’m often working on projects with tight deadlines. For example, I recently had to produce a client presentation with only 24-hours’ notice. I managed to meet the deadline, and also received positive feedback from the client.” 

3. What is your biggest weakness? 

Addressing your weaknesses can be challenging, but it’s important to answer honestly and positively, which shows self-awareness, and a commitment to self-improvement. 

Example response:  

“I sometimes struggle with public speaking. While I’m comfortable with one-on-one interactions and small group discussions, I would like the opportunity to work on my confidence when it comes to addressing larger audiences.” 

4. Why do you want to work here? 

This question assesses your genuine interest in the company and the specific role. It’s important to research the company properly and then tailor your response to show that you’ve done your homework and that your career goals align with the company’s objectives. 

Example response:  

“The values and culture of your company resonate with me and align with my own beliefs and aspirations. Also, I’ve been following your company’s recent project on XYZ, and I’m excited by the opportunity to contribute my skills to similar projects.” 

5. Describe a challenging situation you faced at work and how you overcame it 

Behavioural questions like this one assess your problem-solving skills and resilience. We recommend using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) which will help you form a comprehensive response. 

Example response:  

“In my previous role, we encountered a sudden budget cut that affected a critical project. I was tasked with finding a solution, which included finding areas where we could cut costs without compromising quality. As a result, we not only completed the project within the reduced budget but also improved our processes.”

Practice your answers to these questions, and we guarantee it will take some of the heat off! Let us know how you get on.