The 10 most common interview questions and how to answer them

December 10th 2014 / Katie Robertson Google+ Katie Robertson

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Is an upcoming interview looming over your head? Make sure to nail every answer with a little help from expert life coach, Anna Percy-Davis

It happens to the best of us - we do a little bit of prep and light internet surfing the night before and the next morning walk fairly confidently into a prospective job interview - what could possibly go wrong?

Ten minutes in however, and you realise you don't actually know that much about the company, you can’t remember when you last demonstrated initiative and have proudly proclaimed that out of the entire animal kingdom your character would best be described as a shetland pony…

Thoroughly preparing for an interview is absolutely essential and is for the most part the make or break moment that can either lead you on into your dream career or send you packing back to unemployment.

So, to help ensure you never fall short again we reached out to Executive and Life Coach, Anna Percy-Davis, to compile an edit of the top ten most commonly asked questions and how best to tackle them in a calm, cool and collected manner - good luck.


1. Why are you right for this role?

You need to talk with conviction here which you can only do if you’ve researched and understood the role properly - be as specific as possible - the more specific you are as to why your skill set suits the role, the greater the chance there is of them taking you seriously for the position.

2. What’s your biggest character flaw / personality weakness?

This is such a tricky question but you do need to be honest - if you have a "weakness", try and shift the perception so that it can be viewed as a strength. For example, if you are a particularly slow worker, try to elaborate by saying that this means you are incredibly thorough and accurate with any work that you do carry out - as long as you don’t say anything too negative, there is always a way to find the silver lining.

3. What’s your biggest character positivity / personality strong point?

Try to find a strength that’s not just key to you but one that will also match the role in question - e.g. you might well be a ‘perfectionist’, however a job that requires leadership skills might prefer to hear that you work well with others and are a greatly motivating colleague.

4. What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?

This is a real opportunity for you to distinguish yourself - but be careful as this question can be such a gift if you handle it well and a real lost opportunity if you don't. Make sure you have researched the role thoroughly and have had a good think about how you specifically can add value to the company - remember bland cliches are not going to get you the job.

5. How would your friends and family describe you in three words?

These three words need to be accurate, clear and a little bit different - aim to ask those close to you before the interview to give you some suggestions - zingy, punchy words are always good (and again avoid the cliches!). Having these three words up your sleeve are a good idea as you can always weave them into another answer...

6. Where do you see yourself in 5/10/15 years

This is a bit of a trap question. If you say you want to be running the company in five years you may come across a little over ambitious. Equally however, if you say you want to have retired to write a novel by then it might suggest you have a serious lack of commitment. So, make sure to come up with something that demonstrates a loyalty to the job you are applying for rather than it just being a stepping stone to another role...

MORE GLOSS: 10 top tips to help you nail a job interview

7. Describe a time where you demonstrated key leadership qualities

Firstly, dig deep - is there anything you have done in any area of your life where you had to demonstrate leadership (think about everything from your hobbies to sports to even your home life). If you really don't have anything start introducing yourself to places where you can gain some leadership experience, such as volunteering or a sports team - even if they are a bit left field, it doesn't matter - at the end of the day if you communicate it well it could even make you look more interesting!

8. What has been your greatest achievement?

Definitely try and come up with something a bit different - think hard and think outside the box. If your answer is bland you have lost another opportunity to distinguish yourself.

9. If you were an animal what would you be and why?

This is a hideous question but can be very telling about a person. Definitely try and consider this before the interview and make sure your answer really reflects you (eg. if you see yourself as a lion but you are very low key and studious you need to come up with a compelling reason as to why you see yourself as a lion). It’s also worth thinking about the job too - if you see yourself as either a lion or a cheetah it’s worth considering which animal would suit the role better.

10. Have you got any questions for us?

It is absolutely essential to get these right - DO NOT ask about pay/working hours/amount of holiday - all of these are about you and not about the job. Questions have to be centred around adding value to the job perspective and demonstrate both an interest in the role and the company. Be careful though - make sure not to ask any questions that you could have found answered by looking at their annual report.


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