Classic Interview Questions: Part II

Welcome to Part 2 of our classic interview questions series. It's just a little something we’ve put together to guide you through the bewildering world of graduate job interviews!

Not content with your 5 (fantastic) answers from part 1, these nosy employers are also likely to fire these other 4 Qs your way too. Learn how to give the interviewer the exact answers they’re after by following the tips below.

1. What are your strengths?

What your interviewer is thinking: Do you have the particular assets needed to succeed in the role?

The key to answering this question is to avoid rattling off a generic list of positive attributes. For guidance on the kinds of clichéd utterances to avoid, read this.

Your best strategy is to talk about three of your strengths that relate directly to the position you are applying for and to back them up with personal experiences. Take a look at the job specification again and use the qualities and/or skills listed on there as a springboard for your answer.

For example, if applying for a management position you could list your strength as having good organisational skills and go on to say that ‘While working at GradTouch I was responsible for organising the schedule each day for articles to be posted across various social media channels.’

2. What are your weaknesses?

What your interviewer is thinking: Do you know how and where you need to improve? Are you proactive about improving yourself and combating your weaknesses? Are you self-aware?

This is a tricky question to answer because you don’t want to give your employer a list of reasons not to hire you. However, responses such as “I work too hard” or “I’m a complete perfectionist” are sure to induce some eye rolling  from your interviewer and show that you haven’t properly considered what they’re asking of you.

The best way to tackle this question is to admit that you have a weakness but show that you are making a concerted effort to combat it.

For example, you might say “My computer programming language skills are lacking but I am making the effort to improve this by undertaking a programming language course.” This can then be perceived as a positive attribute; that you have the strengths of self-evaluation, motivation, progression and self-improvement.

3. What would somebody you have worked with in the past say about you?

What your interviewer is thinking: Can you identify and assess your individual contribution to a group task and  do you work well with others?

This question is akin to ‘What are your strengths?’ although by asking you to frame your answer as a former colleague’s review, it prompts you to give some context and to support your answer with a particular work related example.

For example, you could say “My past work colleagues would say I am organised as I implemented a waste disposal schedule for the group to follow while we were working in the laboratory.”

4. What would somebody you have not got on with at work say about you?

What the interviewer is thinking: How do you approach social situations, particularly difficult ones?

Once again, this is not the time to lie and say that you have got along swimmingly with absolutely every single person you have ever come into contact with. You need to identify the reasons why you did not connect with a particular person in past employment and then show what steps you took to address the situation.

For example, “When I was working in the laboratory, I did not gel with Tom. We often differed in opinion when we discussed our respective research projects. To avoid this happening I decided to talk to him about topics we had in common and only discuss each other’s work in research group meetings when it was required".

It is important to avoid strong negative words such as ARGUE or CLASHED.  Phrases such as ‘did not gel/connect’ or ‘difference of opinion’ do not sound as negative. Teamwork is an essential 'soft' skill in any line of work so the aim here is to show that you are mature enough to resolve any issues should they arise and won’t let personal differences affect your ability to do a good job.

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