10 of the Most Common Interview Questions & How to Answer

One can never be too prepared for a job interview, that’s what you should always tell yourself. It’s the key to success and will put you ahead of all the other candidates.

Here’s another way you can prepare for your interview, by practicing the 10 most common interview questions asked, along with some ways to answer them.

1. “Tell me about yourself”

Talk about yourself and your career in a summary fashion. Do your best to avoid rambling and ‘going on’ about absolutely everything you’ve ever done, just focus on your achievements and what you’re most proud of.

sotellmeaboutyourself

2. “What are your strengths?”

Focus on discussing what you’re particularly good at, and be prepared to back them up with solid evidence / instances of how you’ve used them.

Try to avoid using a load of adjectives like ‘dynamic’, ‘team player’, ‘synergy’, as they won’t portray the real you at all.

3. “What are your weaknesses?”

The first thing to never do with this question is say “I have no weaknesses”. If you do, it’ll seem like you haven’t prepared for the interview at all.

At the same time, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by ‘under-complementing’ and saying “I work way too hard”.

Try to think about a genuine weakness that you’re making an effort to fix / resolve. The interviewer will be impressed that you’re being honest with yourself and that you’re trying to improve.

4. “Why should we hire you?”

Demonstrate how driven you are to be hired for this role. If you have everything that the Hiring Manager is looking for, then point it out, immediately! Talk about the other things you can ‘bring to the table’ and what they could do for the company.

Do NOT compare yourself with the other applicants.

why-should-we-hire-you

5. “Where do you see yourself five years from now?”

Take this opportunity to talk about your goals and future plans. Speak to them as if your a person with vision.

6. “Why are you looking for a new job? / Why did you leave your previous job?”

Keep this one as positive as you can, even if you’ve had a negative experience (such as getting fired), don’t go into drama, that’s not going to impress anyone. Discuss how you want to develop yourself and your career, not get more money (definitely don’t mention that).

7. “What do you know about our company?”

This can be an incredibly easy question to answer and impress on IF you do your homework. Try and learn as much as you can about the company and their offering, have they received any awards recently? Been in the news? Who are their main players? (same previous two questions apply to them as well).

By answering this effectively and confidently, you’ll show that you really do have a genuine interest in them.

8. “What do you consider your biggest achievement to date?”

This is a tricky one and requires an answer which is relevant to the job.

Sure, talking about how you decreased the companies IT costs by 21% is interesting, but pretty irrelevant if you’ve gone in for a Sales Manager role…

Talk about how you developed a fantastic sales offering / package which increased company profits by **%, that’s going to impress them!

9. “What are your salary expectations?”

A very tricky and dangerous question to answer during an interview. If you’ve researched the position enough and are confident you could give the company what they want, then it may be worth putting a figure on the table.

Then again, if you want to avoid talking about it, then say money isn’t really a motivator and you’re just looking to develop yourself and your career. You might also try an approach that Liz Ryan (Forbes – Human Workplace) recommends, which is by saying “I’m focusing on jobs in the $50k range” Is this position in that range?”.

filthy-rich

10. “Do you have any questions for me?”

The grand finale! This one comes up almost every time unless the interviewer just forgets to ask it.

Make sure you have some questions prepared, as this will (once again) show that you have done some research and are keen to know / learn more about them and the job.

But really, ask some questions that you genuinely want answers for. You’re interested in this position, right?

Keep in mind that this is only a very small offering of interview questions that might come up. Interviewers and Hiring Managers are getting more and more creative by the day with what they ask, so make sure you go armed with good answers.

5 Ways to Scare Away Your Pre-Interview Nerves

Even the best of us have been there. We’ve fully prepped ourselves for a job interview and are on our way to it and then….the dreaded pre-interview nerves work their way into your system to wreak havoc!

You’re certainly not alone though. In a survey taken in 2013, 92% of respondents (American) stressed over one or more aspects of a job interview, with 17% feeling nervousness dealt the most stress, so you are most certainly not alone.

In today’s post, we’re going to discuss 5 of the very best ways to banish those pre-interview nerves and worries.

1. Laughter really is the best medicine

Laughing has been scientifically proven to help cure various illnesses and diseases, but it’s especially effective at reducing your cortisol levels (stress hormone) and anxiety.

Think about the last time you had a really good laugh and try to repeat whatever caused it! Was it a good movie? Something a friend said? Anything! Try to get yourself laughing a few hours before your interview to beat down those nerves.

2. Music, music, music!

Just like laughter, music can have an incredible effect on how we feel right before an interview. Music will either put you into a low-stress state or will give you a huge confidence boost or ‘pumped up’.

Choosing the right song can also help you to feel a sense of inspiration, which will help you out enormously during the interview!

listening to music

3. Eat away the nerves

Most times, nerves leave us feeling nauseous or sick and the worst possible thing you can do to exasperate this is by going into the interview on an empty stomach.

Eating the right foods before your interview will give you energy and help your brain to function correctly. It’ll also make you feel good if you eat something particularly ‘yummy’; just try to avoid sugary snacks and treats!

4. Have you done your homework?

The worst, worst, WORST thing you can do is arrive at an interview without having done any research or homework beforehand.

By learning about the company, you’ll be able to talk confidently about them and what they do, and by learning some common interview questions and answers, you’ll hopefully be able to answer (almost) everything they throw at you.

5. You are a boss!

Take this into account, why have you got this interview? Why are they giving you their valuable time to interview you for this job? It’s easy…because you earned it! These people want to talk to you!

Your strengths and skills have got you this interview, that’s an excellent accomplishment, whatever the job.

If taking this into account doesn’t fill you with a sense of achievement and confidence, as well as ANNIHILATING those pre-interview nerves, then I don’t know what will.

you da man

Being nervous and anxious is a part of life, which we can come face to face with at any time. However, there is absolutely no reason why you cannot get over your nerves with ease.

Heed these tips and make that interview yours!

Which Employability Skills Are Favoured The Most?

Whatever your age or experience level, you should make it a regular task to try and learn new skills and capabilities that can help you.

Careers are changing more and more every day, and you need to demonstrate a willingness to adapt any new task’s that might be given to you.

You need employability skills to ensure success in the workplace, and can be learned, developed and kept with you over your career.

In today’s post, we’re going to discuss 10 of the most important and sought after employability skills you’ll need if you want to succeed in your job search.

Communication / Interpersonal – You need to be able to explain what you mean in a precise and clear way, written and spoken. You also need to be able to listen and relate.

Problem Solving – You must be able to demonstrate a logical and analytical approach to solving issues.

Self-Motivation / Own Initiative – For this, you must be able to identify opportunities, act on initiative, come up with new ideas which can become a reality.

Working Under Pressure / Meeting Deadlines – If working to tight deadlines and under pressure, you must be able to take control of the stress that comes with these tasks.

Organisational – Employers will want you to be able to plan and organise your work, ensuring that it meets targets.

Team Working – You’ll need to show that you’re a team player, but can also manage, delegate, and take on responsibilities. You need to show that you can build positive, professional relationships.

Negotiation – You need to be able to put forward your ideas, but also be able to understand what the other person is saying, should there be any disagreements or suggestions.

Flexibility – For this, you should be able to demonstrate a willingness to adapt successfully in a changing environment, and to changing situations / tasks.

Computer / Technical Literacy – Most employers now require some sort of basic knowledge of computer software and hardware. Use of word processing software, spreadsheets, email and social media are the main things they will look for.

Commercial Awareness – This one is about knowing your industry and business inside out. You should be able to know how they both work and what commercial realities can affect them.

There are loads more employability skills that we could cover, but these are just the main ones we decided to feature.

We’ll have more on this subject for you soon!

Lost Your Career Motivation? Let’s Get It Back!

So the time has come again, it’s time for….Monday!!!

A lot of you might absolutely hate me for saying that and genuinely hate Mondays with a passion, I apologise, it was uncalled for to mention…Monday.

However, some of you might absolutely love Mondays, and jump out of your bed every morning with enthusiasm and energy. Congratulations, this article isn’t for you!

If you’ve found yourself at a crossroads in you’re career where you wish the week away, and only want it to be Friday afternoon, then you’ve definitely lost your motivation.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, you can actually change this feeling right now and turn it all around! Take control of your career and life again with these tips we’ve put together:

Appreciate – This is probably the most important point on this list. People often lose career motivation due to not appreciating what they have, and what they’ve achieved.

You might feel that you’re not achieving anything worthwhile in your current position, or maybe you’re not earning enough, however, there’s got to be something that you’re grateful for!

Take a look back on what you have achieved / accomplished, and all of the good things that have happened in your career. How did you get into your current position? Was it because you did something fantastic in the past which was praised by your employers?

This will really make you feel better, and give you that boost you needed.

Do Something About It – Sure, you might have experienced some disappointments in your career, but is that an excuse just to sit back and give up? No! Absolutely not!

You can take the ‘helm of your career’ again by doing two things. You either find a new career, one where you know you’ll be able to accomplish tasks and feel good about yourself. Or, by putting yourself into overdrive in your current position.

The worst thing you can do is…nothing at all, your career motivation will plummet even further if you do this.

When you try one of these two things you will escape this hole that you’ve found yourself in, you’ll have something new and exciting to focus on.

New Challenges – Another way to escape this rut you’ve found yourself in is by challenging yourself with new skills and tasks.

If boredom at work is damaging you, then ask your boss or manager for some new responsibilities. Get trained in a new skill, apply for a new position (internally or externally), try something new that will make your work exciting again.

Gooooaaaaals – A lack of career motivation is often due to not having any goals or direction. Think about what would make you spring out of bed in the morning with a smile on your face and set that as your goal.

Get a plan in place as to how your going to achieve this; you have to set SMART goals if you haven’t already, they will help you out immensely.

Feedback – This is another huuuuge motivator which you must, must, must push for in your career if you’re not receiving it already. You’ll get an amazing boost when you know you’ve done a good job, and the feedback can also help you to focus on skills that need working on.

It’s incredibly easy to lose your motivation without feedback, as you have no idea whether what you’re doing is up to scratch or not.

Ask your manager for a monthly meeting to discuss your progress and what needs working on and what’s doing well.

I could go on for quite a while about this subject, but I’m going to unfortunately have to end it there!

I hope you’ve found this useful and now have a plan of action to get your career motivation back.

The Notorious “Why Do You Want To Work Here?” Interview Question

Strange question, right? You may think it odd that an employer wants to know why you want to work for them, but you really do need to persuade them and prove that you’re interested.

This is interview question favoured by most employers is one you will most certainly be asked from time to time, that’s why you need to master it.

The “why do you want to work here” question can sound easy to answer, sure, you could just go for the short answer which is “I just need a job”, but you don’t want to do that, ever. You need to stand out from the crowd when answering this!

Here are some tips to creating yourself a killer answer for this somewhat killer question:

Research – Check sources like Google for articles about the company, particularly any successes or awards they may have received. How about the industry they are a part of? Has that had any recent developments or boosts?

You could also visit websites such as Glassdoor, which allows current and ex-employees to publicly review the companies that they have worked for, this can give you some excellent insights into the company and should not be overlooked!

Topics To Use – there’s a load of topics you can discuss when answering “why do you want to work here”, the main ones include the company culture – what’s it like to be a part of their business, the (previously mentioned) company successes / awards / challenges, development opportunities and training offered, and the main one…their product and / or services and why they interest you.

Know the position as well and why you think it would be a good challenge for you and what you could be doing for them.

Topics To Avoid – Being too honest can sometimes guarantee interview failure, an employer isn’t going to be impressed if you sit there and say something like “I’m desperate for work, I’ll do anything here, I’ll take any wage”. You must also avoid saying something like “this just looks like a great company to work for, I’d love a job here”, that’s just generic and doesn’t demonstrate any evidence that you’ve researched the company.

The final one is to not give the silly unfunny answer such as “you may as well throw all those other CV’s away! I’m your Man!”.

In a way, you do want to get that final one across; you need to show off your skills and talents, just not in an overly cocky and annoying way like that.

Do YOU Want This Job? – You should take the time to think about the position and whether you really want it. Is this a company that you really want to represent? Do you really feel passionate about their product, service or industry? Is the position a step up or drop down?

You need to ask yourself the question “why do I want to work here?”.

Hopefully, now you’ve got a good idea of how to answer the “why do you want to work here” question.

If you think we’ve missed anything then please feel free to share it with us on here or our social channels, which can be found in the navigation bar on our main website.

Don’t Accept That Counter Offer

Step Away From The Counter Offer!

So you’ve just accepted a job offer from another company and now it’s time to give your notice in.

You’re sitting face to face with your employer in the resignation meeting and have just been told that they were going to give you a raise within the next week or two, as well as a promotion and a bonus.

They may have also (or instead) said that they would match or better the offer that the other employer has offered.

Your employer is going to try and keep you for as long as they possibly can; when an employee says that they are planning on leaving, a Manager will almost one hundred percent of the time try to talk them out of leaving with a financial incentive.

Let’s get on to the subject of this post, why accepting that counter offer is a bad idea:

1. Your employers trust in you will almost certainly be weakened if you take that counter offer. If you have been speaking to other employers out there, then that trust is always going to be damaged. They might say “oh I’ve forgotten all about it”, but they’ll probably still become suspicious when you book a days holiday off.

2. Do you really have to give your notice in just to get a promotion? Is that really the kind of company you want to be employed by? If your employer wants to give you a raise or promotion based on your skillset and work for the company, surely they would have given it to you by now! Instead, they’re giving it to you because of the threat of you leaving, and for them to have to pay a lot of money to get someone else recruited.

3. When we look for another job, it’s very rare that it’s just for the salary increase. Most of the time, it’s something to do with relationships between yourself and someone else in the company, you want to develop yourself personally, want more responsibility, or want to work in an environment where you’re appreciated and rewarded.

Accepting that counter offer just for a bit more money isn’t going to solve this problem, you’ll probably end up leaving anyway! So consider that before / if you accept it!

4. Accepting a counter offer may also cause problems between yourself and your colleagues. They are probably going to lose respect for you and your boss who gave you that raise. They may resent you and become jealous. You don’t want to work in an environment like that, right?

Got any more cons to accepting a counter offer? We’d love to hear them! Put them in the comments below or send them to us through Twitter or Facebook.

The Ultimate CV Checklist

CV Checklist! Get Your CV Checklist Here!

The time has come to update your CV because you’ve decided that over the weekend you’re going to apply for some jobs!

We’ve put together this cv checklist to help you create an interview and hopefully job winning CV:

Is your contact information visible? 
You must, must, must have contact information somewhere on your CV. Use your name, personal address, email and telephone number/s (choose between home, mobile or both).

Ensure that your email address is appropriate as well; Hiring Managers and Recruiters won’t be impressed if you’re using something like “walrus_dandruff@hotmail.co.uk”. Make sure you also have a nice, professional voicemail set as well, just in case you miss any calls.

See our CV mistakes post for more info on the above.

What did you do and where? 
Ensure you’re displaying your most relevant qualifications, skills and experiences to showcase your ability to do the job. Sure, putting in your summer jobs when you were 16 in is nice, but an employer is really interested in the later / recent ‘good stuff’ that you have done.

Have you got a summary? 
This section is imperative and needs to include any achievements / qualifications that you are particularly proud of, but more importantly, should tell the employer why they should hire you. Get them excited about your skillset and how you could help them!

Have you tailored your CV? 
The chances of you getting an interview and maybe even the job could depend on this! Use strong keywords and strategic placements to tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for. Give them good reasons for offering you the job!

Have you spell and grammar checked? 
This is easy and only takes a minute or two; use the built-in Word spellchecker or Grammarly to check over your CV, it’s worth it!

Is it an appropriate length? 
Hiring Managers and Recruiters don’t want to spend time going through a 5+ page CV which lists absolutely everything that you’ve ever done in your professional career. Make it no longer than 2 pages if you possibly can!

Everything else:
Is it visually pleasing? 
Is it easy to read and not cramped? 
Is it all neatly aligned? 
Is each section clearly labelled? 
Have you checked the continuity of the fonts and sizes? 
Have you listed some interests? 
Have you included keywords, action verbs, buzzwords and industry relevant acronyms? 
Have you included a referees section? 
Does the content support your career goal? 

Does it feature a:
Contact info section? 
Personal profile / summary section? 
Employment history / work experience section? 
Education and training section? 
Interests and achievements section? 
References section? 

Finally, have you read it and have you had someone else read it? 

You should now have an excellent CV to use in your next job application!

If this CV checklist has helped you, then please leave us a comment!

Ways To Boost Productivity at Work

Keep calm and stay productive!

It’s time for some more Wednesday Wisdom, today’s post is all about productivity at work and how we’re going to help you to ‘skyrocket’ it!

There’re two ways to increase your productivity, either by working more hours to ensure you get your tasks done or (the way myself and 99% of the population like to do it) by working smarter!

It’s time to time! – Timing / tracking and then limiting your tasks in my opinion is the best way to increase your productivity at work. You’ll often be surprised at how much time your spending on something and should then figure out a plan to more effectively get that task done in a shorter space of time.

I can vouch for this working, we implemented this at my last company and we saw a huge increase in productivity from the day it began!

There’s plenty of tools out there to help you such as WorkTimer, Toggl and Project Timer.

Have a break, have a [famous copyrighted catchphrase] – It might sound like the wrong thing to do, but scheduling in a break here and there really can help. This article posted on ScienceDirect discusses how brief mental breaks keep you focussed.

Give yourself a 5-10 minute break in the morning and afternoon if you can and see how it affects your performance, or be prepared to crash and burn!

Say no to multitasking – We usually think that multitasking is the way to be more productive, but it actually may be pushing you backwards rather than forwards. Researchers found that trying to do multiple tasks at once can actually result in losing time and productivity, so make sure you focus on one task at a time.

NOtifications – Try to ignore those personal phone and email notifications when they come in during work hours, instead, try to schedule in times to check them.

Prioritise for productivity – This is something else I can vouch for working, getting your tasks scheduled and prioritised! It will keep you focused and coordinated throughout the day. Even if you are assigned a random task during the day which isn’t on your list, you will still know what else needs to happen once you’ve finished it.

You also get that satisfaction of putting a line through something or checking a box once something is done.

Try out a tool like Asana or Slack and watch your productivity soar!

A tidy desk is a productive desk – I covered this in a post I wrote about stress the other week, it simply talks about getting your desk tidied up and to try and give it some colour.

Often we find ourselves with stacks of paper, stationery, and other things cluttering our desks; that’s not going to do anything for your productivity. Give yourself something interesting to look at, get a plant, a picture, anything to increase your happiness and productivity at work!

I hope this article has helped you, if you have found any of these tips useful then please leave us a nice comment below!

Rid Yourself Of Stress In The Workplace

Stress Begone!

Stress in the workplace is not uncommon by any means, everyone suffers stress in the workplace environment from time to time!

If it’s been bothering you for a while, then it’s definitely time to take action, your career shouldn’t ever make you angry, to the point where stress starts digging in! It could be affecting your productivity, health and personal life.

We’ve compiled a list of tips on how to rid yourself of stress in the workplace once and for all, let’s make your career fun again:

1. A Well Rested Employee Is A Happy Employee – I can’t begin to tell you how important sleep is when it comes to the whole ‘beating stress’ subject! Getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night can and will help you almost immediately.

If you find it difficult getting to sleep, then try to go to bed earlier and earlier every night, until you hit that ‘sweet spot’ that fits in with you and your busy lifestyle / schedule.

2. Thank You For The Music – Blasting your favourite music at home (make sure you sing out loud), on the way to work (maybe don’t sing out loud for this one), and even whilst working (if your boss allows it) has an incredible effect on our emotional health, our focus, and even our decision-making process!

Determine your current listening habits, identify your preferences, establish your anchor song and get it going!

3. Clean Desk = Happy You – It’s one hundred percent true that a clean work environment is a happy work environment; if your desk is cluttered up with paper, stationery, etc, then get it off and keep only the essentials!

4. Let’s Chat – This should be one of the first things you do when you start getting stressed at work, talking about it with someone! Whether it be your Manager, a colleague, a family member or a friend, it makes a big difference getting it out in the open.

5. Hit The Gym – Exercising releases endorphins, which makes us feel happy and positive! Try exercising in the morning before you go to work and see how it impacts your day. Try to get in around 30 minutes+, 3+ times a week.

6. Eat Away The Stress! – Take a step back and look at what you’re currently eating on a regular basis that is considered unhealthy. Have a McDonalds for lunch every day and feeling awful? Swap it out for something healthier like a salad, (healthy) sandwich or pasta.

7. Smile And Say Good Morning – I’m hoping you already do this, otherwise you might be the unpopular one in the office! Make a conscious effort to smile when you come into work and say good morning to everyone; ask them how their evening was, have a nice chatty conversation before your day begins.

8. Leave Work At Work – Getting a healthy work-life balance will help you immensely; enjoy your weekends and time away from work, don’t spend it checking up on your emails / notifications every five minutes!

Try not to stay too late (if at all), as a recent study has shown that people who work late in the office have an increased risk of having a stroke or heart attack; get yourself home and relax!

If there’s anything I’ve missed off here then feel free to stick it in the comments below, it would be interesting to hear how you keep yourself calm and collected within the workplace.

The Job Interview Has Finished! Now What?

The Post Interview Survival Guide

You’ve done it! Well done! You survived the job interview and have hopefully impressed the Interviewer enough to either secure a 2nd / 3rd interview or maybe even the job (depending on what stage you’re at)!

Now this is where the scary part comes in, surviving the post interview wait. There are still some important things that you should do and keep doing as soon as you’ve left the interview, let’s discuss:

Say Thank You & Follow Up

You might be thinking “hey, the interview’s over, I just have to play the waiting game now!” Wrong! Now it’s time to prepare your thank you note and get it sent out. Make sure you get this out within a day or ideally on the same day as your interview.

You can choose between handwriting one, typing one (and then sending in the post) or by email. Play it smart, if for example your job requires email skills, then send one by email. If it’s for a formal organisation then a handwritten letter is going to be your best choice.

I would personally go for the handwritten or typed, printed and posted / hand delivered option. This is really going to help you stand out and be different to what others are doing!

The above can and should also be applied to following up; make sure you show the employer how grateful you were for them giving you their time, and to ask any questions you may have thought of afterwards.

Don’t Hold Your Horses! – 

Yes, the interview could have gone incredibly and you may have even secured yourself a new job, but it’s imperative that you don’t stop searching until you have an offer letter in front of you! Continuing your search and having other interviews will also ease the pain of receiving interview and job rejections. Hey! You might even find something better than the role you previously applied for!

A good idea might be to tap up the hiring companies competition to see if they have something similar which you could apply for.

What Worked And What Didn’t? – 

Take a bit of time after the interview to think about what went particularly right or particularly wrong. Compare it with a list of interview mistakes (like ours) and see what you can improve on next time! Turn yourself into an interviewing Jedi!

Feeeeeedbaaaaack

This is a very important point which people often neglect / forget about. If you didn’t get the job this time round, then make sure you ask the employer for some feedback, this will help you to improve and develop yourself for future interviewers. Ask them what was particularly good about the interview, so that you can make sure you do it next time!

interview feedback

Taking on these tips will help you develop a fantastic post interview strategy and will ultimately and hopefully help you find that perfect job!

We often share articles like this on our LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook pages, so make sure you’re following us so that you don’t miss out!

We’ll have more on this subject in the future, thanks for reading.