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How to ace your interview

Karina Oluwo

22 March 2022

by Karina Oluwo

( Words)
So, your application has been successful and now it’s time to take another step towards that new role by attending an interview! Although you may have had a job interview before, this time it’s for a position that could really get your career off the ground. To help you prepare, we’ve compiled a list of some of the standard and more challenging interview questions you can expect, along with some further insights on what interviewers are looking for in your responses.

Tell us about yourself

This is a popular ice-breaker question and a good opportunity to begin the interview well. For a broad question like this, make sure you stay relevant and succinct. Begin by talking about your latest education placement or job role, why you chose this path, and any highlights in your journey so far. Move on to talk about additional and relevant work experience, volunteering placements or internships you’ve had, pointing to specific accomplishments.

Why do you want to work here?

To answer this well, consider what it is you like about the company. The ethos? Its commitment to sustainability? Its adoption of new technologies? Relay your reasons in a way that conveys your specific knowledge of the business. For instance, “I see this as an opportunity to be involved in an industry I am enthusiastic about; your track record in technology and innovation is something that excites me.”

What are your weaknesses?

Focusing on your weaknesses in an interview feels counterintuitive, but here, an interviewer is looking to see how self-aware you are and how you approach self-improvement. Bring in a real-life example, for instance, if you have previously become overly invested in a project, explain that your enthusiasm took over and led to spending too much time in one area, but that you’ve since worked on and developed your time management skills. In a similar vein, an interviewer may ask when you last made a mistake as a way of gauging how you typically overcome errors. Briefly explain the mistake, then focus on how you navigated your way through it. Show how you improved and learned because of it and demonstrate how you do things differently now.

What is your greatest achievement?

With this question, the person interviewing wants to determine the value you place in certain areas, and gain more information on your proven abilities. Your answer should be recent, related to your education, work experience or voluntary work, and relevant to the position. Think about a time while at work or studying when you received good feedback, achieved an award or gained new skills. Be as detailed as you can in your response as this communicates honesty and adds depth and interest. An interviewer may want to dig a little deeper, so have more information at the ready.

Tell us about a time when you handled conflict

Conflict happens and businesses know that. They don’t want to know you haven’t experienced conflict, but instead how you managed it when it happened. This helps them gain a clearer picture of your personal characteristics, and how you may fit in to their company. Remain balanced in your response and focus on the positive result that arose. Use an example of when you had to deal with a disgruntled customer, or a time when you disagreed with a colleague. Demonstrate how you listened to the other party before reaching a resolution together.

What motivates you?

Before you attend the interview, ask yourself this question. It could be something like learning new things, helping others, achieving results, or solving problems. In the interview, introduce examples that draw upon your work experience or studies. Interviewers want to assess your suitability for the role, discover more about you, and consider the type of employee you may be. Here’s an example response: “My main motivation is seeking variation. When I was studying/in a previous role, I was able to get involved in lots of different groups and initiatives where we worked on new projects. I find that this variety drives me and brings out the best in me.”

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

This is a common closing question. Ace your reply by preparing ahead. Read the job description thoroughly and link it to the goals you know you want to achieve in your career. For example, explain how you see yourself as a sales manager in the future and would like to take advantage of the company’s management training programmes to help you progress to that level.

Finally, it’s important to remember that someone interviewing for entry-level positions or graduate roles is not expecting the finished article. Overall, they’re looking for someone who demonstrates the right attitude, enthusiasm and potential for developing and succeeding within their organisation.

Where to next?

Are you looking to pursue a career in a fast-growing, award-winning business? We've got the perfect opportunity for you!

Now that you've learned how to ace that interview, why not come and interview with us for one of our open roles?

You can view all our internal vacancies here, or get in touch with me directly if you'd like to learn more about our Associate Consultant Academy - the perfect career starter for graduates or second jobbers looking to develop quickly within a values-led company.

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