Job interviews are nerve-racking at the best of times. You’ve got to look good, smell nice, smile and, most importantly, be able to convince your potential employer that you’re good enough for the job. It ain’t easy but it’s a necessary skill. You’ll definitely have to do a job interview at some point.

So how do you nail it? Well, let’s go through some common interview questions and how to answer them.

“Tell us a bit about yourself!”

This question sounds really simple, but you’ve got to keep your guard up and answer it as professionally as possible. Don’t go into a rant about all your interests and hobbies and relationships and insecurities and bad habits. Better to summarise yourself in a sentence or two, then go straight into some specific qualifications, achievements or experiences from the past. Eg, I was school captain, which helped me with public speaking, or I worked at a restaurant a year and learned a lot about customer service.

“What do you know about the company?”

Again, it seems like a simple and genuine question but it’s not. The interviewer expects that you’ve done a bit of research on the company, that you can recite that information and then align yourself to it. Say you’re going for a job at Woolworths, you might say, I know that Woolworths has been around for almost a hundred years and it’s now the second biggest retailer in Australia. That appeals to me because it’s got such a strong reputation.

“Why do you want the job?”

This one requires a prepared answer. You need to be familiar with all the criteria for the job and explain how it matches your skills, experience and your aspirations. If the Woolworths example above is for a sales attendant, then you might say, I want to be a sales attendant because I really enjoy talking to people and I think I’m suited to a customer service role.

“What are your weaknesses?”

This is such a stupid question, because it’s the one where you can’t tell the whole truth, so it’s going to feel like you’re lying. You’re not going to say, I’m really forgetful and I’m always late to work, even if you actually are. Instead, you’re expected to say some bullshit like, I’m a perfectionist, or I’m a workaholic. These are also pretty lame answers though, and most employers will see right through them. The best compromise is to talk about something that you’ve recently learned and you’re still getting the hang of, like, I get nervous about public speaking so I’m working on getting better at that.

“Tell me about a challenge you’ve faced in the past and how you dealt with it.”

This is called a behavioural question and it’s basically designed to predict how you will act in the future based how you’ve acted in the past. There’s a very specific way to answer these questions. It’s all explained in the acronym CAR, which stands for Context, Action and Result. So you pick a specific example, explain the context of it, the action you took and then the result.

For example, When I was working at Woolworths, I was in a managerial role and I realised that one of the staff members was shoplifting (context) I told my manager above me that it was happening (action) and that person lost their job (result).

Hopefully your answer is a little more uplifting and positive than that one, but the formula is there.

Pretty much all job interviews will involve a few behavioural questions, so your best bet is to choose a few specific examples where you’ve done something right and use those examples to answer the questions.

 

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