Tips for answering common interview questions

Hey guys!
Today’s blog post topic is about something we all have to go through at some point if we want to get an internship or a job. No matter if the interview is face to face or via skype or telephone there are some questions that get asked time and time again. And because they get asked so often you can prepare your answers in advance. Going for an internship can be a stressful experience and even more so if you are not doing it in your native language. For this reason, good preparation is even more important and will give you the best chance of getting the internship.

General advice
As soon as you know which company you’re going to have the interview, you can start doing some research on the company. Almost everyone gets nervous before an interview, but preparing well and practicing beforehand can help a lot. Definitely practice talking about your work history so you confidently talk about the dates and places where you have already gained some work experience (or other experiences). This will also help you not to forget them under the pressure of the moment.

As I already said most of us get nervous at an interview (the employer probably knows that too) but try to stay as calm as possible. This might include taking a deep breath before answering a question and focusing on speaking slowly and clearly. Staying as calm as possible can help you to answer the questions more properly. Always remember too use formal language! If you didn’t understand what the interviewer asked, it is quite ok to ask him/her to repeat the question – it is okay if you don’t understand everything.

This link provides a good overview of the typical questions that are asked during an interview: . It is worth preparing an answer for each of these types o questions.

This website offers some good practical tips for an interview:

Research and preparation are really important and this video covers preparing 3 areas – researching yourself, the position & organisation, and industry, as well as some very practical tips: [EMBED]

Tips for during the interview
Always smile during the interview as it will make you come across as more friendly and welcoming. You can keep a glass of water next to you in case you get a dry mouth but never chew gum or eat during the interview. Keep your CV next to you as a little help. I, personally, tend to speak very fast when I get nervous ( and maybe you tend to do it too) – but try to speak slowly and clear so that the employer can understand everything that you say. Don’t interrupt the interviewer, and always let them finish their sentence. When you are done answering a question wait for the interviewer to speak again. And if you are doing a Skype interview, don’t forget to make sure that your Wi-Fi and microphone are working before the interview starts.

tips common interview questions 1

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
This is one of the most common interview questions and often acts as an icebreaker. This is a great opportunity to talk about your experiences in the past and skills you gained. Rather than going to start rambling and talking about everything you have ever done, be prepared to talk about the most important things that you think are relevant to the internship. When you prepare think about what lets you stand out from other applicants, so basically what makes you unique (based of your qualities and skills for the job). When describing yourself, you can think of it like selling a product just that you “sell” yourself. Think about what will make you memorable.

common interview questions 2

What do you know about the company?
Now is the time you can use your prepared research. It is a great way to show the employer that you are prepared what makes a good impression. You can find a lot of information at About on the company’s website.

What are your strengths?
When answering this question, it is important to answer with the truth and not just tell the interviewer the strengths you think he wants to hear. If you don’t answer truthfully the employer will notice the lie at the latest when you are working at the company what will make a very bad impression. Just as the question above you should focus on the most relevant strengths instead of listing all. You can use examples from experiences to demonstrate why you would say that is a specific strength of yours. If you speak more than one language tell the interviewer about it. Speaking more than one language is a great strength. To get more ideas what strength you have ask family, friends, colleagues, teachers, etc. they may recognize strength that you didn’t see in yourself.

What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
This is not a bad question that will downgrade your chances for the job and you should answer with some true weaknesses because everybody has them so if you say you don’t have any you’re not saying the truth. And as always preparation is the key, make a short list before the interview with some of your weaknesses (and strengths!). Keywords can avoid stuttering or rambling. Try to avoid a back-handed compliment like “I work too hard”, this does not count as a weakness. You can also mention what you do to work on your weaknesses. Just as the question above you can ask people in your surrounding helping to prepare for this question.

common interview questions 3

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Now is a great time to talk about your ambitions and goals for the future. If you’re not sure about the answer to this question you could say that this experience/job can help you figure out what you want to do exactly in the future. Since you probably studying at high school or university you can tell the employer about what graduation you want to have in that time or what you want to do after school or university.

What are looking for in the internship?
One of the things why you’re coming to the UK is to improve your English skills. This is something you could say in the interview or maybe something such as “I want to gain work experience abroad”, etc. A part of your travel to the UK is a new and different culture to yours at home. You could say working in an English company gives you a good inside of a native’s everyday life.
How would your teacher, boss, co-worker, etc. describe you?
This is another chance to point out strengths and skills.

Why is there a gap in your CV?
If you don’t have any gaps in your CV this question of course does not apply to you. But if you may have a gap in your CV you should be able to explain why there is a gap. A gap does not necessarily have to be bad maybe you took a break and travelled or something like that. The best thing is to have an answer prepared so that you aren’t caught off guard.

What do you like to do outside of work?
With this question, the employer can find out a little bit about your personality. You should have listed some interests and hobbies on your CV and so you can talk about these in your answer. It is still best to stay as professional as possible. If you play a team sport for example it shows that you have team work abilities. If you are working in addition to school mention the job. It is important to tell the employer your work experience even if the job sector is not the sector you want to work in in the future. You will almost certainly have gained skills in your side job which are also useful for the job you want.

Do you have any questions?
Even if you already talked about everything you wanted to cover, asking a question can be a great way to show your interest in the job. Your questions can be questions like “Do you have a dress code?”, “What does a typical day look like?”, “What is your [the interviewer] favourite thing about working here?”. Don’t be scared to ask questions if there is something that is unclear to you. The interview is also about you working out whether the company is a match for you.

Don’t forget to thank the interviewer for the interview at the end!

Always remember the right preparation is the key! I hope I could help you for your interview and good luck. 😊


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