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The answer to a great interview (it’s all in the answers).

How to gain the advantage over the other candidates.

Rule number one. Always ensure that you have researched the company and are fully prepared to answer any question.

Work out your best answers to the questions you think you might get before the interview. Anticipate the questions you’re likely to be asked, then go over them thoroughly and work out your answers.

Repeat your answers out loud –believe it or not, it really does help with delivery and confidence. Better still, try and get a friend to help you do a ‘mock interview’.

Practice, practice, practice. Then practice some more.

Be upbeat and positive when you’re answering. Be clear and don’t waffle on. Don’t be vague. Try not to ‘um’ and ‘ah’. Don’t repeat yourself or use irritating phrases like ‘you know’, ‘to be honest’ and ‘know what I mean’. Your interviewer will know precisely what you mean: that you don’t know what you’re talking about!

You’ll obviously be asked questions to find out how good you are and what sort of an employee you would make.

For example,the interviewer will often ask you to:

‘Tell me about yourself’.

In this situation, always be honest with your answers. Focus on your personal and professional qualities.
Highlight your best attributes, especially those relevant to the position you are applying for. Tell the interviewer about the achievements you are most proud of and what goals you still want to achieve.
Remember to tailor your replies to the job you’re applying for. By carefully studying the job specification/description you should get a good idea of the sort of skills, experience and even the sort of person the company’s looking for. Think of the interview as your own personal advertisement and see it as your one and only chance to sell yourself.

Your interviewer might well ask:

‘What has been the greatest achievement of your career so far?’

In this case, give specific details of how what you did helped the company you were working for. Tell the interviewer what you did, how you did it, and what the results were. Try and make this relate to the position you’re applying for as employers like things that relate directly to them, can reduce their own costs, raise revenues, solve problems or enhance their company’s reputation.

‘What are your greatest strengths?’

Here’s a chance to highlight your best skills. Focus on your top three or four, whether it be leadership, team-building or administrative. Think about which would be the best match for the position you’re applying for. For example, if the job description calls for handling multiple tasks, you could say :’I’m good at organization, prioritization and time management. But my greatest strength is my ability to handle multiple projects and deadlines’.

‘What are your greatest weaknesses?’

Whoa. Scary. This one could throw you but it shouldn’t. After all, no one’s perfect and everyone has things they’re especially good at and things they’re not. So be honest. Don’t try the old trick of trotting out positive qualities thinly disguised as weaknesses! Instead, honestly identify a weakness but explain how you’ve tried to overcome it.

For example, you could say: ‘I have trouble with delegating as I always feel I could do better myself. This sometimes backfires and I end up with so much work that the quality of my work suffers. However, I have taken courses in time management which have helped a great deal’.


Take care to ensure that the weakness you identify is not a particular strength you’ll require in the position you’re applying for.

‘How do you cope under pressure?’

Here you should give some examples of stressful situations you have dealt with successfully in the past. Mention how you used time management, problem-solving or decision-making skills to defuse a potentially stressful situation. For example, say how you find ‘To do’ lists helpful, or taking a short break or even exercise. If it’s really the case, respond by saying that you actually work better under pressure.

‘What was the most difficult problem you’ve had to face and how did you resolve it?’

Don’t personalize the problem but relate it to the company you were working for. And the bigger the problem you had to deal with the better. Give specific examples of how you managed to resolve the problem, itemizing the skills and techniques you used and highlighting the success of the methods you employed. But don’t try to hog all the limelight. Clearly identify your specific role and the input you were responsible for but, equally, be generous in recognizing the contribution of other team members. Your interviewer will quickly see through it if you start laying claim to superhuman talents you obviously don’t have!

‘Why do you want this position?’

This is where all the research you did (you did do it, didn’t you?) about the company will come in very handy and help you stand out from all the other applicants. Explain how you’ve always wanted the opportunity to work with a company that shares your philosophy, vision and values and explain how your qualifications and goals in life tie in with the job on offer.

‘Why are you the best person for the job?’

Once again, be confident and enthusiastic in answering this one. Never say you are the best qualified person because of course you won’t know the qualifications of the other applicants. However, do itemize key reasons why you think you should be hired, for example: ‘I have extensive experience in (a specific field) and I feel I have the skills you are looking for. I am a fast learner and adapt quickly to change. I’m dedicated, enthusiastic about helping your company achieve its goals and keen to produce top-quality results. I take pride in my work and I’m confident that you’ll have no regrets in hiring me’.

Questions you won’t be expecting:

Interview answers can only be prepared to a certain extent. You simply cannot predict every question in advance. The permutations are endless. But don’t worry. Because you know there will be unexpected questions, unlike most applicants you’ll actually be expecting them and ready to turn them into opportunities to make yourself stand out! Simply memorize a list of your best features and selling points. Use them at every opportunity in answering an unexpected question.

Questions you should ask:

The interviewer’s last question usually is: ‘Do you have any questions for me?’ If you don’t have any questions, you will show a lack of initiative and give the impression that you’re really not that interested in the job. So, once again, stand out from the other candidates by asking questions.

Have these questions prepared in advance.

Relate them to the company (your research will again help here).

Don't ask questions that show you haven’t done your homework.
Don't ask ‘When will I get my first pay rise?’
Don't ask about holidays at this stage.
Don't bring up the sordid subject of money at all! Do that after you’ve got the job.

Simple questions you can (and maybe should) ask:

‘What do you enjoy most about working here?’

Of course, first make sure the person you ask actually does work for the company. Some organizations employ interview panels using personnel from other companies.

‘Is there anything I’ve said that makes you think I’m not the best candidate for the job?’

If the answer to this question highlights something that’s bothering them about you, such as a lack of experience, this gives you one last chance to change their opinion by saying, for example: ‘I know I have limited experience in this field, but what I lack in specific experience I make up for in enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn’.

‘When do you expect to make your final decision?’

Do remember to ask this one. Failure to do so may give the impression that you’re not that Interested in the job after all. Also, you’ll need to know the best time to follow up with a phone call.

So now you’ve all the answers, all you’ll need is one more thing.

A little bit of luck!