Interview Questions & Answers – Expert Advice

scenario interview questions

Pre-interview, we have hundreds of questions running through our head… everything from wondering if we’re dressed appropriately, ranging to anxiety about arriving too early (which can be a thing!) As such, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to answer your burning questions, that way you’ll ace the interview and bag your dream job in no time flat.
How to answer interview questions
Questions to ask at an interview
How to answer tough interview questions
How to prepare for an interview
What types of interview questions are there?
What questions should I ask at an interview?
What questions should I not to ask at an interview?
How do I follow up after an interview?
How do I answer what is your greatest weakness?

How to answer interview questions

Tell me about yourself

This can be a tricky question to answer, as you don’t want to come across as boastful. Instead, be confident in your abilities (but not overly so), and match your skills to the job at hand. Just be sure to back-up your answers with work-relevant examples. Platitudes like “I’m a hard-worker” or “I’m passionate” are essentially meaningless, and won’t impress so much as bore the interviewer. This is an opportunity to reiterate your most impressive strengths – so make the most of it!

What is your greatest weakness?

Instead of revealing a real weakness, take this time to show the interviewer that you’re not only self-aware, but also looking for ways to improve where you fall short. It’s also imperative that – if you state a weakness – it isn’t one that would hinder your work. Saying you have poor time management will almost immediately eliminate you from the running. Alternatively, don’t pick a clichéd response like “I work too hard” or “I’m a perfectionist”. Instead a small weakness, like a fear of public speaking or being a bit shy, will suffice. Not to mention it won’t present itself as a threat to your doing a good job!

Find out more ways to answer what is your greatest weakness.

Why should we hire you? 

This can be a tricky question to answer, as you don’t want to come across as boastful. Instead, be confident in your abilities (but not overly so), and match your skills to the job at hand. Just be sure to back-up your answers with work-relevant examples. Platitudes like “I’m a hard-worker” or “I’m passionate” are essentially meaningless, and won’t impress so much as bore the interviewer. This is an opportunity to reiterate your most impressive strengths – so make the most of it!

Questions to ask at an interview

When you hear the ill-fated words, “do you have any questions?” make sure you’re prepared with the following:

When can I expect to hear from you and what are the next steps?

We’ve all been there – you’ve come to the end of the interview, and you’re wondering how you’ve done and when you’ll hear back from the employer. If they haven’t volunteered this information yet, then do ask about the next stage in the process; this way, you won’t have to wait in suspense for the ever-elusive phone call, plus you’ll have an idea of what to expect next, as every company’s application/interview process is different.

Do you have any doubts about whether I am suited to this position?

This is a bit of a brazen question, but it will help clarify any reservations they might have about you (which you can then address) in addition to reaffirming why you are in fact he right person for the role.

Is there an opportunity to grow within the company?

Try to err away from these types of questions. You don’t want it to sound like you’re only concerned with career progression – you should also be excited about the job at hand! They want to know you’re keen to be doing the work, and that it’s not just a tactical move. However asking about an opportunity for growth shows that you want to stay with the company and to contribute in a meaningful way. They want someone who’s ambitious and who won’t rest on their laurels, just make sure you convey this passion and drive the right way.

In what way do you measure performance?

This question shows that you’re goal oriented and results-driven, a quality that all employers can appreciate.

How to answer tough interview questions

We teamed up with The Daily Mirror’s Careers Editor, Tricia Phillips to offer a free webinar on how to answer tough interview questions. We sent a survey towards the end of last year and wanted to know what questions you got in an interview and needed advice for. We received some great responses, some very surprising and some common so we decided to cover them in the following webinar.

How to prepare for an interview

  • First and foremost, practice your interview technique! Opportunities need to be filled quickly, so you might not get much time to prepare beforehand. Have a few mock trials with a friend before the real thing, so you’ll be well-versed in what you want to say. Be sure to also spend a bit more time on the tricky questions, that way you won’t be phased if/when they come up during the interview process.
  • Find out as much as you can about the companies you’ve been invited to interview for. A good place to start is the company’s history: this will give you a good idea of where the business has been and where it’s headed. You’ll also want to be up to date on the latest in company and industry news, as well as any recent developments within the sector.
  • Have lots of examples and answers prepared for the questions they’ll ask. Recruiters and employers always want concrete examples to demonstrate your skills and experiences. Have at least two prepared for each skill area in case there’s cross-over or they ask an unexpected question. Make sure you keep your answers focused on their question.  Be sure to also use real and concrete examples of when you’ve used utilised applicable skills.
  • Plan your wardrobe. It sounds so simple, but you don’t want to waste vital preparation time choosing your outfit or going to the dry cleaners. If you haven’t been to an interview in a while, it might be time to throw out that ill-fitting suit, and to replenish your career wardrobe. Make sure you have all the essentials – a power suit, a nicely laundered shirt, and smart shoes. Once you’ve checked those off your list, you’ll be ready for world domination.
  • It’s crucial that you prepare questions to ask at the end of the interview – this shows that you have a real interest in the role, plus it’s a great opportunity to find out more about the company and the work you’ll be involved in. Make sure the questions you ask are appropriate and relevant however. Topics like salary and benefits should be left out!

What type of interview questions are there?

Behavioural questions are asked as a predictor of how you’ll act in certain situations – particularly those that involve your colleagues or workplace interactions.  These questions usually include:

  • Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation, and how did you cope with it?
  • When was a time you showed initiative and took the lead?

Competency questions are asked to discern – you guessed it – just how competent you are. This is your chance to establish what relevant skills and experience you have, and why this makes you the best candidate for the role. These questions include:

  • Can you tell me about a time when you found a creative solution to a problem? How did you get there?
  • How do you prepare for an important meeting?

Case questions are asked to determine your problem-solving skills, and to see the type of logic you employ. These questions might seem a little bizarre, but keep in mind, they’re just so they can understand your creative thought process. These questions include:

  • How many tennis balls are there in London?
  • How many gas stations are there in Europe?

Silly and irrelevant questions can also be asked on occasion. These are asked to get a sense of your personality – ranging from your humour to your deductive reasoning.

  • If you were a biscuit, what type would you be and why?
  • Tell me one fact about yourself?

Finally, if any inappropriate questions crop up (fingers crossed they don’t!) here are some examples of how to answer in a calm and collected way.

What questions should I ask at an interview?

When can I expect to hear from you and what are the next steps?
We’ve all been there – you’ve come to the end of the interview, and you’re wondering how you’ve done and when you’ll hear back from the employer. If they haven’t volunteered this information yet, then do ask about the next stage in the process; this way, you won’t have to wait in suspense for the ever-elusive phone call, plus you’ll have an idea of what to expect next, as every company’s application/interview process is different.

Do you have any doubts about whether I am suited to this position?
This is a bit of a brazen question, but it will help clarify any reservations they might have about you (which you can then address) in addition to reaffirming why you are in fact he right person for the role.

Is there an opportunity to grow within the company? 
Try to err away from these types of questions. You don’t want it to sound like you’re only concerned with career progression – you should also be excited about the job at hand! They want to know you’re keen to be doing the work, and that it’s not just a tactical move. However asking about an opportunity for growth shows that you want to stay with the company and to contribute in a meaningful way. They want someone who’s ambitious and who won’t rest on their laurels, just make sure you convey this passion and drive the right way.

In what way do you measure performance? 
This question shows that you’re goal oriented and results-driven, a quality that all employers can appreciate.

Steer clear of controversial questions

What questions should I not ask at an interview?

What are the salary/benefits for this role?
Unfortunately many job adverts don’t reveal salary. It can be frustrating to only know that it’s “competitive”, but if the recruiter isn’t willing to disclose these details, then it’s not for you to ask in the interview. While you have every right to know what you’ll be paid and what benefits you’re entitled to, there’s a time and a place for these questions – usually when you get a job offer and want to clarify the terms, or when you have a chat with the recruiter about the logistics of the role.

Don’t ask about drinking/party culture
Work culture is an extremely important aspect of any job. And sometimes work culture translates to drinking culture. You might find that the best way to get to know your colleagues is at the pub after five on a Friday, which is fine. But don’t ask the interviewer how common it is for all of them to go out together, or if they usually grab a drink after work. You can ask about office environment however – a more tactful, less direct way of getting to the bottom of how social the workplace is.

How quickly can I be promoted?
We admire your enthusiasm, and it’s always nice to see that a candidate is ambitious. But don’t ask questions that aren’t relevant to your immediate future at the company. Employers want to know that you’ll devote yourself to the job at hand, and that you won’t be waiting impatiently for the day you get a more important title or bigger salary. You can ask if there is opportunity for advancement though – this shows that you want to grow within the company, without going all Machiavelli on them.

How do I follow-up after an interview?

First be sure to send the employer a thank-you note; not only will they appreciate the gesture, but it will keep you on the company’s radar. Then try and sit tight until decision day. If you still haven’t heard back by the agreed date however, then it might be time to put in a personable, professional call or email.

If still no word, chances are the recruiter or employer are still deliberating, so badgering them for feedback won’t do you any favours. Even if you got on famously, don’t be tempted to get in touch before the agreed date or to send your interviewer an invitation via LinkedIn.

greatest weakness

Whatever you do, don’t admit a real weakness!

How do I answer ‘what is your greatest weakness?’

Instead of revealing your greatest weakness, take this time to show them that you’re not only self-aware, but also looking for ways to improve where you fall short. It’s also imperative that – if you state a weakness – it isn’t one that would hinder your work. Saying you have poor time management will almost immediately eliminate you as a candidate. Alternatively, don’t pick a clichéd response like “I work too hard” or “I’m a perfectionist”. Instead a small weakness, like a fear of public speaking or being a bit shy, will suffice… not to mention it won’t present itself as a threat to your doing a good job.

To read more on how to answer this question, visit our article on how to answer what is your greatest weakness.

 

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