Hindsight is a wonderful thing, imagine knowing what the hiring manager will ask! Unfortunately we do not have the ability, so we need to plan and plan again prior to an interview!

My first recommendation is to research, get to know what the company are about, fully read the job description, and take a look over the company’s website, source the history, mission statement, the hirer will be pleased you know so much about them!

These top ten most commonly asked interview questions will hopefully give you the next best thing to hindsight!

1. What do you know about the company?

Research is key however do be careful not to reiterate word for word from the ‘about’ page of a companies website! Share that you understand the company and what they do, and the mission and growth of the company, however the most important part of answering this question is something that you find important about them, for example part of the business model could be that they want to help the environment, using key words such as ‘I really believe in this approach because……’ This makes you stand out by the fact you share the same approach to that matter in question.

2. Why should we hire you?

This question I get asked how to answer more than any other question, it is quite intimidating! However you are there to sell you, you need to make sure that three key areas are covered here, that is your skills, you fit in within the team and that you deliver great results, make sure you sell your skills relevant to the job your going for, talk about successes that you have had in previous roles and the results you bought, even provide some case studies if you can, and be confident that you are the better hire than any other candidates. Confident but not overly confident! Give them the assurance that you will do the business justice!

3. Tell me about yourself?

This is quite a crucial question and not many people prepare for this one, yet its quite common! You need to prepare a short pitch on this question, a compelling one that makes you the right fit for the position, talk about 2-3 life experiences and accomplishments then follow this on with how the experience has stood you in good stead for the position you are sat there being interviewed for! Do not make the mistake of giving a full life story or be too personal!

4. What is your greatest achievement?

Do not hold back when answering this question! Choose one great achievement, go brief into the reason for the achievement however what you want to spend most of your time describing is the action of what you did in order to reach the goal!

5. Talk to me about how you have dealt with conflict or a challenge and how you dealt with this?

This question is merely the hirer wanting to understand how you will respond within a difficult situation that may arise within the working environment, we can all be very pleasant and have the patience of saints however if someone for instance in the sales team is demanding or getting in your face, your interviewer will of course would like to know that you remain professional in a  situation that potentially could get out of hand, focus more on how you handled a particular situation rather than how the conflict started, talk about how it made you feel and how you professionally handled it productively and for the ending, talk about the resolution or compromise.

6. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

This question can sound like a trick one, in all my years of recruitment my strongest advice is to find out firstly the progression of the role, if a particular role you are going for is not going to get you the next management position then be realistic with yourself, if you want management in 5 years yet the position will not take you that far then stating this in an interview will completely put the hiring manager off, purely they do not want to take on someone that will leave for progression if the role does not offer that, I have come across companies that do not want to be utilised as stepping stones short term for people.

Be honest but at the same time telling them what they really want to hear, is the position in line with your overall goals? You might say something along the lines of “I would like to be seen as someone within your business as the expertise within this sector, I feel I will have great opportunities to do this, I am excited to take on more responsibilities as the role allows me and feeling a sense of achievement, hopefully as the business allows taking on more projects”

7. What are your salary requirements?

Firstly what is the current position you are being interviewed for offering? Be honest and realistic and always come between a range and we highly recommend a higher number of course taking into account your experience and skills etc.. On this question you need to add in how valuable you are to add your skills sets to this company without compromising the ability to negotiate, for example you may be highly qualified but if the job is offering 30k you do not want to start your offering at 40k! So really think about your range before you step in for the interview.

8. How would your boss or co-workers describe you?

This is your chance to talk about you in a positive light, however I would advise to use facts, and would reiterate a conversation within a review scenario, that way you can use words such as “trustworthy, dedicated” without cringing. Something like:

“Within a recent review back in September my manager described me as someone who does not walk away from hard work, shows great initiative. A go to person that the team rely on as it is usually up to myself to fix it.” Referencing this certainly makes it a lot easier to utilise how your management would describe you.

9. How do you deal with a stressful situation?

The interviewer is looking for a story, a short story here, you must be able to demonstrate what and how you have handled a situation previously, so your probably thinking what stories do I share? Run through the job description, what skills are featured? Then come up with an example of a moment you utilised one of these skills, it could be that a skill is the ability to work independently, so a situation previously could be of a story about how you dealt with a pressured project on your own, how you adapted this and how you overcame pressure and timescales to deliver.

10. Any questions?

This is the moment that you can ask questions that are important to you, I have always said this to my candidates, that although the company are seeking the right fit for them, you are also seeking the right fit for you, so this is your opportunity to ask anything that is important to you if they offered you the position, some questions to give you an idea, however ask what is important to YOU:

You want to be completely sure and understand exactly what the expectations of the company are of you, so asking questions like can you give me an example of a typical day? What immediate projects need addressing? will help you assess the initial workload. Other useful questions to ask are;

Can you provide examples of current projects?

What attributes are you looking for?

Why has this position become available?

Do you foresee any changes within this role in the next 6 months?