In a tricky hiring market, every interview counts. So, how can you stand out and land your dream job? It all starts with thorough preparation.
The basics of interview prep
This isn’t just about rehearsing your resume or perfecting your elevator pitch; it’s about understanding the company, the role, and aligning your skills with their needs.
Here are some key steps to prep for any interview:
- Do your research. Understand the company’s values, mission, and any recent accomplishments. This knowledge will help you tailor your responses to demonstrate how you can contribute to their success.
- Know the job description. Familiarise yourself with any specific requirements of the job. Identify the key skills and experiences the company seeks, and be ready to discuss how your background aligns with these expectations.
- Prepare for common questions. Most (if not all) interviews will include at least some questions relating to your strengths, weaknesses, achievements, and challenges. Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your answers clearly and effectively.
- Ask questions! Prepare thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer about the company culture, team dynamics, and future projects. This shows your genuine interest in the role and the organisation.
Can you answer these questions?
For every overdone question, there’s an opportunity to stand out. Here are the most common interview questions you’re likely to encounter and tips on what to include in your answer.
“Tell me about yourself”
The right way to answer this question: Provide a brief overview of your professional background, emphasising key skills and experiences relevant to the role, and highlight your enthusiasm for contributing to the team.
“Why should we hire you?”
The right way to answer this question: Mention the key skills you bring to the table, your proven experience in relevant tasks, and your passion for specific aspects of the job.
“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
The right way to answer this question: Speak about a realistic career goal and how you can nurture the necessary skills in this role to help you achieve this goal within the organisation.
“What’s your greatest strength?”
The right way to answer this question: Mention specific skills and illustrate your achievements by referencing specific examples.
“What’s your biggest weakness?”
The right way to answer this question: Talk about a genuine weakness, and then focus on how you’re actively working on improving.
Unconventional questions (and how to impress when answering)
While traditional questions focus on your qualifications and experiences, some interviewers believe that unconventional questions reveal more about a candidate’s personality, creativity, and ability to think on their feet.
Here are a few of our favourite examples from prominent business leaders.
“What didn’t make it onto your resume?”
– Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder
This question allows the candidate to provide additional context to their career, whether talking about freelance work or interesting educational background.
“What’s your superpower … or spirit animal?”
– Ryan Holmes, HootSuite CEO
This is an excellent opportunity to show your creativity and thought process. There’s no right answer, but it’s a good way to get to know someone and see how they act on the spot.
“If you had 10 years left to live, would you take this job?”
– Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO
How you answer this question likely shows your commitment to the role, company, or opportunity.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
– Stewart Butterfield, Slack CEO and Co-founder
While unconventional, this question gives you a great opportunity to elaborate on skills you want to develop, and is a good indicator to the interviewer that you’re eager to learn.
“Who is the best in the world at what you do?”
– Drew Houston, Dropbox CEO
No, the interviewer isn’t going to headhunt and make an offer to that person instead. But it does show them that you’re passionate about your career and the people doing great work in your field.
Tips to navigate these types of questions
- Stay true to yourself. It’s tempting to try and tailor your answers to what you think the interviewer wants to hear, but authenticity is key. Be genuine in your responses, and let your true personality shine through.
- Think aloud. When faced with a puzzling question, verbalise your thought process. Interviewers are often more interested in how you approach problems than in the specific answer.
- Connect to your skills. Even with unconventional questions, find a way to connect your response back to your skills and experiences. This ensures that your answer remains relevant to the job at hand.
- Embrace the challenge. View unconventional questions as an opportunity to showcase your creativity and adaptability. Embrace the challenge, and use it to stand out from other candidates.
We can help!
Are you in the market for your next career move? We’re equipped to help you find the right opportunity. Our experienced consultants work with you to identify your career goals, and then match you with roles that suit your current and future ambitions.
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