Article by Clodagh Murphy January 30th, 2023

5 Interview questions that aren't as scary as you might think

Congrats on securing an interview. It’s important to be prepared. Why? Because preparation has the power to turn fear into confidence; doubt into assurance. It’s true for everything from hosting a dinner party to taking your driving test. And it’s definitely true for interviews.

Yet some interview questions seem more daunting than others. They can catch you off guard. And that’s half the point. Your interviewer wants to test you. Here’s a little assistance with how to approach some of the peskier interview questions you might face. As you’ll see, they’re not nearly as scary as they seem.

1. Tell me about yourself

Ugh, could your interviewer be vaguer? Where on earth do you even start? What’s worse, this question is often asked at the beginning of interviews, before you’ve really had a chance to compose yourself or suss out the person firing questions at you. Okay, don’t panic. You’ve got this.

A nice structure to follow is present-past-future: you start with where you are now, move on to how you began your career and end with your ambitions for the future. Finishing with a quick line about a hobby outside work is a neat way to build rapport with your interviewer and will help your personality come through.

Short, sweet and simple is the way. Don’t talk for longer than a few minutes.

2. How would your colleagues describe you?

You have no idea because you’re just too modest to imagine your colleagues singing your praises. Relax. The secret to nailing this question is knowing what your recruiter is looking for: a testimonial. Use a real-life example based on an occasion where you went beyond the call of duty.

Example: “My colleagues would call me meticulous and a team player. I am sometimes called on to review code for quality and structure. Often colleagues will ask me to check their code for errors and I'm happy to do this as I enjoy helping my teammates and getting a great result for the business."

3. Why are you leaving your current job?

No matter how dissatisfied you are with your current employer and your colleagues, this is not the time for mud-slinging. Instead, stay positive and focus on the opportunity, what you can learn in your new role or the new experiences you can enjoy. Aim to show that you have had your head turned by a fantastic opportunity, rather than suggesting that you are trying to jump ship by any means possible.

4. What are your weaknesses?

Huh? You are meant to be selling yourself! Why would you ruin your chances of getting hired by listing all the things you’re bad at? Well, it turns out your interviewer is in search of your ability to look at yourself objectively and analytically as well as your approach to personal development. Try this formula: identify a weakness and explain the steps you are taking to improve it.

5. Where do you see yourself in five years?

This is all about showing just the right amount of commitment and ambition. Your recruiter wants to test your understanding of the available role to check that your short-term life goals are compatible.

Spend some time thinking about your professional goals. Once you know what you are looking for in your future career, you can think about how the position you are interviewing for can help you achieve your goals.

“I’d love to study for X qualification – the experience I would gain in this role would be invaluable.”

“In the future, I’d love the responsibility of managing a team. Joining a company with so many respected leaders offers a great way to learn.”

“My goal is to eventually become a Full Stack Developer. Working with such a broad range of technology will give me solid foundations across the tech stack.”

Ambition is good but if you are interviewing for an entry-level role, it’s a bit previous to puff out your chest and declare that you see yourself running the company in five years' time. Oh and keep your answers career-based, unless you are specifically asked to expand on your life outside work.

Over to you...

So there you have it. Not so scary after all, hey? Prepare well and you will give yourself the best shot of impressing your recruiter.

Article by Clodagh Murphy

January 30th, 2023

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