Those Interview Questions We All Hate and How to Handle Them

by | Jun 22, 2018

If you’ve made it to the face-to-face interview stage, congratulations! But now for the hard part… the interview.

Interview processes have gone through some major changes over the last ten years and some employers now adopt a more informal approach to interviews and assessment. Innovative organisations like the Attlassians and Googles of the world have been behind some of these changes, but some of the old rules still apply so expect to be asked some of these classic questions:

Tell me a little bit about yourself?

While this seems like a fair question and innocent enough, but it can be tricky to answer! The interviewer is asking you this question to gain a better idea of how you communicate, how you articulate yourself and how you react under pressure. They already know a lot about you from your resume so this question is a fantastic opportunity for you to solidify your qualifications.

Now, the interviewer is not looking for your life story here. Your answers should generally relate to your professional accomplishments and how that relates to the job opportunity on offer. Take special care to avoid making your answers too personal and ensure you tailor your answer to the specific job requirements.  The secret to setting yourself up to ace your interview is to nail this question!

What not to say:

“I was born on the 22nd January and have 3 brothers, 1 sister and a cat called Felix. From there I went to primary school, secondary school and then university where I studied Engineering for three years. After that I worked in Coles for a couple of months before I was fired, and now I’m here.”

This tells the interviewer nothing about your relevant skills and experiences that you need to be successful in the role.

Example of what to say:

“I am a recent Accounting graduate and have been working in retail for an extended period of time, where I learned to focus within a group environment as well as honing my organisational skills through the day-to-day running of the business. Aside from my work, I am an active individual and part of my local football team. I am now keen to implement my theoretical knowledge gained at University into practice in this role.”

What’s your biggest weakness?

Chances are you WILL be asked this question in one form or another.  It can be confronting and difficult to answer, but don’t panic! Your interviewer wants you to be open and honest about your weakness. They want to see authenticity and self-awareness here. The trick to help you answer this question is to tell the interviewer your weakness and follow it up with evidence of how you are working on it.

What not to say:

“I’m a perfectionist’’ or “I work too hard’’. The interviewer has definitely heard these answers before and they can seem disingenuous. Remember that no-one is the perfect fit for any role. Weakness can be largely subjective. Each interviewer is looking for something different. A weakness in one role can be a strength in another.

Example of what to say:

“My biggest weakness has been managing a large number of tasks at the same time, but I’ve recently adopted a strict timetable approach to help me manage my time during busy periods.”

Or

“My biggest weakness is my lack of practical experience as I am a fresh graduate, but I have recently completed an internship placement to help gain real life industry experience’’.

Why are you the best person for this role?

And so we come to the question that strikes fear into the hearts of most interviewees! But let’s try to turn this into a positive and see it as your biggest chance to sell yourself to the interviewer by relating how your skills and experiences really do make you ‘the best person for this role’.

The key to getting this question right is RESEARCH! Researching the position description is key as it will often contain a list of “required skills and abilities” that you can highlight in your response and tailor to your own abilities and experiences.

Researching the company is next and the company website is always a great place to start. We want to find out as much information as we can about the company’s culture. Reading the company’s mission statements and values is a must. Pay close attention to the company’s social media accounts, LinkedIn page, corporate blogs etc. as this can give great insight into how a company does business and what they value in their employees. Always remember to include the research in your answer.

What not to say:

“Because I’m the best person for the job!’’ Authenticity and a great attitude go a long way in a job interview. The interviewer is looking for an honest answer and wants to see that you’ve done your research.

Example of what to say:

“Based on what you’ve said and from the research I’ve done, this company is looking for a Junior Accountant who has strong communication and teamwork skills. I believe that my experiences at University and Coles aligns well with that, and makes me a great fit.

During my time at Coles I acted as Team Leader to a team of 8 sales staff successfully.  Understanding different communication styles and communicating regularly with my team ensured this success. I believe I can add great value as a Junior Accountant and I’d really love to continue to build upon my skills and grow with this company.”

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

By Cerys Rogers

By Cerys Rogers

Business Development Officer

Cerys Rogers has over 10 years’ work experience in the Education and Recruitment sectors across the UK and Australia. She is currently a Business Development officer at UTS Careers, and has previously worked for some of Australia’s leading accounting and legal recruitment specialists. In her role at UTS, Cerys has a strong focus on engaging and networking with industry in order to create employment opportunities for UTS students.

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