Top 5 interview questions

26th December 2019

Every candidate that comes to Oaklands Global brings a different set of expectations to the interview. As recruitment consultants we are aware that each person has spent the last week (at least!) addressing a flurry of questions inside their own head or with family and friends. What should I wear? Should I appear formal or relaxed? How do I prepare for this interview? What will they ask me?

The final question is something we can help with – to a point. Of course every job description, every recruiter and every candidate sets a completely different scene for varied conversations but some questions are ubiquitous and sneak into most interviews.

So although we can’t divulge exact questions, we can hint strongly that these 5 will almost certainly feature in some form – so you have no excuse to be underprepared! And we can let you into a little secret. Between you and us – sometimes the questions mean something a little bit different. Reading between the lines is an extremely useful interview skill!

  1. What we may ask: Tell me about yourself.

What we really want to know: You look smart and confident. Are you really?

The interviewer is trying to find out why you’re an excellent fit for the job. They have an overview of your education and experience on your CV for but this question is aimed at probing deeper. Although they don’t want too much personal information, a short chat about hobbies or travel or childhood can paint a picture of what motivates you and showcases your personality. This is not carte blanche to disclose your entire background. Be brief.

  • What we may ask: What are your most challenging weaknesses?

What we really want to know: Do you recognise your flaws and can you find workarounds?

No one is perfect, we all have downfalls. An interview requires you to turn weaknesses into strengths by sharing examples of areas where you have improved, how you have recognized a flaw and the steps you have taken to correct it. Do you take risks, acknowledge failure and, most importantly, learn from mistakes? Give an example of something that does not hint to inexperience or ineptitude. Tell us about a situation where, looking back, you realize that something should have been done differently. Finish with ‘This is what I learned and how I improved.’

  • What we may ask: Why should we hire you?

What we really want to know: Let’s have some concrete proof that you possess the experience and skills for the job at hand.

We don’t want to know whether you have all the required qualifications – that’s clear from your CV. We want to know that you can harness your skills to do the job well and that you possess attributes that set you apart from other candidates. This is the perfect time for a little bit of showing off. Give us numbers, evidence and examples of you at your best. Prove that you’re a shining star!

  • What we may ask: Why do you want this job?

What we really want to know: Are you financially driven? Is this a stopgap? Or do you genuinely want to fulfil this role to the best of your abilities?

Grab this opportunity to demonstrate that you have applied research skills to your interview preparation and have taken the time to learn as much as possible about the job and the company, its products, services, culture and mission. Mention aspects of the brand and position that really appeal to you.

  • What we may ask: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

What we really want to know: Are you ambitious enough to stay around and eventually take a leadership role in the organisation?

This question is designed to ascertain whether you’re going to stick around or move on as soon as a better opportunity comes along. Reiterate that the position aligns with your long-term goals. Be realistic and emphasize your desire for personal growth, alongside your commitment to the business. Let them know that you want to work for an organization where you can build a career. Now you have an idea of the questions that may be coming your way. Start planning your responses now and remember – read between the lines!

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