So you’ve reached the interview stage (well done!) and now you need to prepare. You’ve done all the research on the company, looked at how your skills are well-suited to the role and now you need to think about how to answer those interview questions.
This may be your first interview since leaving the military - but even if it is not, interviews can be daunting. But just try and remember that this is a chance for you to show off your skills and experience - and employers are not out to trick you. They understand that there will be nerves and they want you to do your best. Although you never know what questions may be asked, it is good to be prepared for the most common questions most likely to be thrown at you.
Here’s some tips on how to tackle 10 of the most difficult interview questions.
1. TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
This is one of those questions that most people hate and wish they could avoid but on the most part, the majority of interviews will start with this question. So make sure this is one you are prepared for!
Answering this question does not mean a full account of your CV - or your entire life story, treat it as a short pitch to the interviewees on why they should hire you. What can you bring to the table?
So firstly start with the now - what is your current job role, are you in resettlement? Are you job seeking?
Then mention a little bit about your past, relevant to the skills and experience you gained in that position and the skills relevant to the job you are interviewing for.
Now move on to future - why do you want this role?
2. WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?
When interviewers ask this question it’s a genuine way to find out about your flaws - and see how you deal with them constructively and how you are dedicated to improvement. Try not to think of them as weaknesses - more areas for improvement.
Avoid cliches such as “I’m a perfectionist.”
Use this question to point to a strength. For example, use the values and standards of the British Armed Forces (which are admired by employers by saying something like "I do struggle dealing with people who do not share the same values and standards, in my case those instilled in me by my service in the Armed ForcesTurn a negative into a positive: If you can highlight a weakness and then explain how you are working on improving, with examples, the employer will be impressed.
Don’t pick out a key skill that is the mentioned as a requirement for the particular job role as your weakness!
Just be honest and transparent - everyone has flaws, the interviewers won’t expect or want a prospective candidate to be the polished article, as long as you can show you can acknowledge your weaknesses and want to work on them.
3. WHY DO YOU WANT TO CHANGE JOBS?
This question could possibly be quite an easy one to answer, especially if you are in resettlement or this will be your first job out of the military. But if not - they want to hear you want to change jobs for positive reasons - not because you might hate your boss! Emphasise the right reasons, good examples include:
4. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS?
This can be translated to “what are your career goals within this position?”, that is what interviewers want to know.
Keep your answer general - don’t be too specific. Ambition and set goals are important but if you are too specific, you run the risk of stating goals that are not achievable within the position you are interviewing for.
Be truthful - but broad enough that it shows you would be a good fit for the organisation.
Stress your interest in a long-term career with the company.
5. HOW WOULD YOUR COLLEAGUES DESCRIBE YOU?
Ask them, and prepare accordingly!
6. WHAT DID YOU LIKE MOST/LEAST ABOUT YOUR LAST JOB?
7. TELL ME ABOUT A MISTAKE YOU’VE MADE
8. DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL WORKING ENVIRONMENT
It isn’t rocket science to work out what answers the interviewers are looking for in the context of their specific role, but you need to have thought it through if you are going to articulate them convincingly.
9. DESCRIBE A TIME YOU HAD DIFFICULTY WITHIN A TEAM
You listened; you worked it through; things turned out fine. And you learnt from it!
10. WHY SHOULD WE HIRE YOU?
The interviewers job is to hire the best person for the role so this question is particularly important as it can help set you apart from your competitors.This is your chance to truly impress with reasons why they should hire you - why you stand out from the crowd and a chance to reiterate your strengths.
Brainstorm: Review the job description and look at your CV and decide what are the most important qualifications/experience/skills and in which of these areas do you really excel, think about what are your most impressive accomplishments and what makes you stand out from other candidates.
Keep it concise - in the 1-2 minute range.
Although like all the questions, it is important to practice the answers and to come across enthusiastic and confident - you don’t want to end up sounding like a robot. So practice so you are confident and comfortable answering the questions ‘off the cuff’.
Once you’ve prepared how you will respond to each of these questions you need to practice your interview technique. Rehearsing your answers will help you to convey your skills and abilities with confidence, which in turn will help you to make a great impression during your interview.