Job interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences, made even more intense if the interviewer goes off script and asks something unexpected.
NationalWorld has spoken to a graduate careers expert from Prospects and career coaches to get their insight on the best answers to the most common interview questions.
Here is some invaluable advice if you have an upcoming job interview.
What is some general interview advice?
Sarah Brookes, graduate careers expert at Prospects said: “Employers will want to know why a candidate is a great fit for a role and why they want that particular job as well as how their personality will fit with the company’s team and culture.
“Preparing ahead and having thought through how to best respond will help candidates feel confident and perform well.”
What are the best answers to common job questions?
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
Ms Brookes said this is one of the most common opening questions and it is “all about first impressions”.
She said: “Candidates should think about the job description and try to summarise how they meet it with their skills and experience.
“Examples of achievements are important to demonstrate suitability.
“The aim should be to answer in around five minutes or less.”
Why do you want to work here?
Ms Brookes said this question is all about showing an understanding of both the company and the role you are applying for.
“A look through the company website and social media will help build knowledge to answer this question,” she said.
She added: “Candidates should pull on what they enjoy and the skills they have, relating this to why they were motivated to apply.”
Who is your hero and why?
Heather McArthur, from Raeburn Career Coaching, said this question is asked “to get an idea of your values.”
She said: “You can apply that to the advertised job, because they too have values they want to display.
“It’s all about getting a sense of whether that person would fit into the organisation.”
Tell me your biggest weakness
John Lees, author of Knockout Interview, said it has now become “almost a habit” for interviewees to ask about strengths and weaknesses.
He advises interviewees to talk about areas of development.
He said: “Bring up things you know you can improve on and therefore are doing so.
“Say you’re understanding training or working with a mentor in an area.”
Ms Brookes advises interviewees to frame the answer to this question positively, taking one of two approaches.
She said: “A candidate could pick certain attributes that they’ve taken steps to develop or explain how they’ve overcome the downside of a strength.
“For example, working well in a team may mean learning how to deal with conflict.
“Perhaps embracing constructive feedback has helped overcome difficulties accepting criticism due to low confidence.”
What’s your coping mechanism when you’ve had a bad day?
Mr Lees said the best way to answer this question is to give the interviewer a good example.
He said: “Say, ‘let me tell you how I dealt with this problem’, listing everything that went wrong and how you fixed it.”
This question is “looking at people’s self awareness and how they respond under pressure,” Mr Lees added.
What’s the most selfish thing you have done?
Ms McArthur advises interviewees to turn this question into your advantage.
She said: “Maybe say you’ve been focused on your career and weren’t spending as much time with your friends and family.
“But add that you’ve turned that around now.”
She said it is vital to go into the interview with a “clear plan” to get across your skills and experiences.
What would you ask the CEO if you could ask them anything?
Mr Lees said interviewers like to ask this question because it is a “good way of showing you have done your homework.”
He said: “Hopefully, if you are going to an interview you know enough about the business to be able to come up with something interesting.
“It should probably be about the future of the organisation.”
“It might be relevant to ask about some challenges it has faced in the past, but the future is a good bet,” he added.
Do you have any questions?
This is the most commonly asked end-of-interview question.
Ms Brookes said interviewees should always say yes to this question to “have a good chance of getting the job”.
She said: “Try to come up with five questions so that if anything is covered during the interview you still have something to ask at the end.
“Questions such as ‘how can I impress you during the first few months’ or ‘can you describe the culture’ show enthusiasm and interest.”
Ms Brookes added: “Leave questions about things like salary and holidays to the time of the offer.
“It’s more impressive to focus on anything to do with the work itself or career development, using it as another opportunity to highlight suitability and best fit.”