How to answer the 5 most common interview questions — Tips and examples

24 March 2021 Projectus Consulting

How To Answer The 5 Most Common Interview Questions — Tips And Examples

What do I want? A new job! When do I want to go through an interview process? Erm…not right now, not ever really? Yep, if only. Even we can’t get you a job without putting you through a formal interview process first.

Over the years we’ve seen more qualified people lose out to great roles because other candidates sold themselves better and didn’t let seemly obvious questions throw them off guard. We’ve seen people provide track records with meticulous detail down to the last decimal point but ask them 'tell me about yourself' and they freeze.

“If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”

Wise words! Make sure you don’t get caught out by having a practice run with some of the below. We will cover the first five most popular interview questions with handy tips and example answers. See our blog about using the S.T.A.R. Method (Situation. Task. Action. Result.) to structure your answers as you go along.

 

1. Tell me about yourself

Bet you either just sighed or facepalmed? And that’s OK, we get it! However, this question serves an important purpose. The reason people ask you this is to see how confident and at ease you are with yourself. That’s right. Read the question again. This question is testing how comfortable you are in yourself. Behind your CV is a real-life story so make it interesting. Start by summarising your timeline in a short story. Begin with why you got into that field, one key thing about each role and why you moved on. Relate your interests to what they do and add a fun fact about yourself to make your story more memorable and pop!

Example

“Well, I’ve always been a bit of a numbers geek but I didn’t want to be an account like my dad. I wanted to bring numbers to life and my fascination for technology and it’s impact on people’s lives led to me pursuing a career as a software engineer in medtech. I got my first role as a junior software engineer at (…) where I provided user requirement analysis, design and programming support for an application accessed by 2 million people worldwide. I left for a promotion as a software engineer at (…) where I helped design a project management tool seeing it through from definition to deployment and achieving (…) sales in its first year. As for me personally, I love comedy and actually used to do a bit of stand-up in my spare time. Recently, I’ve got back into podcasts and spend most weekends programming for fun or in the park with my golden retriever, Ted.”

This question should trigger what’s authentic to you. Show enthusiasm like hearing your own story out loud makes you feel happy. After all, if you don’t enjoy hearing your story, who else will?

 

2. Why do you want the job?

We’ve all seen spoof responses to this classic question on satire media sites! While we won’t advise any of those we will offer tips based on great client feedback. Don’t be generic or falsely charming. They’ll see right through it (remember they’ve been watching the same satire sites you have).  Define what aspects of the company, skills or projects involved makes this role a highly valuable asset to achieving your personal ambitions.

Example

“What really caught my eye about this job was how much your company has grown over the past two years. I’m motivated by the setup of your team structure and how the role will allow me to direct the efforts of your development teams. Your product portfolio covers some of the most interesting concepts I’ve seen on the market so far and your pair programming scheme offers a great opportunity for me to continue learning from others. I was also impressed with your employee mental health programme and your women in tech campaign last year. I’m excited to have the opportunity to talk more about my experience and how I can both help you and develop my career in this position.”

 

3. How do people describe you?

First off, skip generics like “outgoing, bubbly and confident.” Your objective should be to get your personality across throughout the interview regardless. A great way to tackle this question is to start with “Something thing I’ve noticed people always come to me about is…” It could be to bounce ideas off when people are stuck, to check for risks in strategy proposals or even for help with managing conflict. Conclude with a trait that example suggests others must see in you.   

Fun tip: If you’re stuck about how to describe yourself VIA is a free 10-minute scientific assessment that provides a suggestion of your strengths and weaknesses. Best still talk to us about our behavioural analysis recruitment platform Edge that helps both you and the company get a better understanding of your skills and character profile throughout the hiring process.

 

4. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This question is so much more than just cheche and the less cheche your answers are the more you will benefit from it coming up in your interview.  Companies ask this question with the intention of sussing out how self-aware you are and how well you cope when confronted about your weaknesses.  Avoid transparent answers like “I work too late” or “I’m a perfectionist.” Instead, think of a tangible weakness and conclude with a trick you’ve implemented to tackle it better. Tip: Use the S.T.A.R method to turn a weakness into a triumph.

Example

“I’m bad at general admin.  I used to see it as a low priority but in a performance review, I suddenly realised the knock-on effect it was it was having on delivering key projects and that I needed to do something about it. After the meeting I blocked out a dedicated admin power hour in my calendar every day after lunch so I couldn’t start my afternoon without tackling some key admin first. The knock-on effect it had on improving results across my key deliverables including 22% more overall targets and projects completed makes it worth it.” 

When picking strengths, look for glaring traits required in the job spec. Don’t take this opportunity to show off what a great public speaker you are if it’s not a core requirement of the role. For instance, in the case of a position selling critical care technology to an ICU unit, stating your fantastic ability to read the room or remain calm under pressure would be a great shout.

 

5. Why do you want to leave your current job?

The key to this one is wording it correctly with the intention of turning your answer into a fantastic reason for why you are interviewing with their company now. Remember, change is good and respected. Set the tone of your answer that way and how your reason for leaving is why this role a better match for you now. Here are some examples covering different personal circumstances for inspiration. 

Examples

“Recently, the priorities for the role at my company have changed and become less about the projects I wanted to focus on in my career. This role seems to give me more opportunity for *insert personalised example*
 
“I love my job. I’ve grown a lot at my current company both as a person and in the skills I acquired in the role. I’m just ready for change and feeling really energised and ready for a new challenge right now.”
 
 
“I had a real think about what I wanted in my career and if I was still on the right track. Eventually, I determined that I wasn’t because *insert one example*. I realised I needed a role more like this one which *state better focus/benefit in this position*
 
 
“I stopped work to re-evaluate what I really wanted in my career. My last job was my primary focus and occupied a lot of my headspace. I took a break to find the clarity I needed to determine what I really wanted out of my career and to conduct a thorough job search, which led to me interviewing for this role today with you.”

 

So, there are the first five questions in our popular interview questions series - answered! We hope we’ve given you enough to get started but our consultants are on hand to answer any further questions you may have about your interview process in general.

 

Get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

 

Related reading:
How to answer the most popular interview questions using the S.T.A.R. Method.

 

Projectus provide cutting-edge staffing solutions for the global medical technology and software sector. Contact us today about your next role and discover how we use pioneering recruitment software and A.I. to get you noticed by the world’s best technology employers. 

 

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