There are some common questions that can trip you up in a job interview. Be prepared ahead of time with a few good stories that highlight your strengths and get ready for the tricky questions.
Here are five of the loaded questions that can make even the most confident interviewees stumble:
WHY ARE YOU LEAVING YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
OK, so the truth is that your boss was a nightmare and your colleague tried to staple your head to the wall, but this is not the time for total transparency. If you've ever sat through a dinner while your date trash talks their ex, you'll know that this is a total red flag.
In the context of a job interview, talking your old workplace down makes you look like a disloyal employee. This is something that is not appealing in a new hire.
Instead, focus on how the job you are going for is the logical next step in your career and how your background and experience adds value to their company.
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT US?
It is baffling how many interviewees haven't done the research on the company they are allegedly interested in joining.
Go beyond just looking at the website. Find the company's social media presence, see what the CEO is saying in the press and go back a few years. Can you find their annual report? What strategic goals do they have for the next few years?
A good thing to talk about here is how you see your values aligning with what the business stands for. What problem are they solving for customers and why is that important to you too? How can you help them get to where they want to be?
TELL US ABOUT A TIME WHEN...
The behavioural interview aims to get to the bottom of how you actually behave in a situation, not how you wish you would behave.
The interviewers are looking for a few things in your story. Do you take responsibility where appropriate or do you blame others? Do you come up with a potential solution when you identify a problem? Are you diplomatic when you describe the actions of others?
Do you learn from the situation and if so, what did you do differently next time? What was the outcome of the story?
Story themes to have up your sleeve include: "The time I identified a problem, fixed it and saved the organisation time and/or money", "The time I collaborated with people from other parts of the business to get a good result", "The time I admitted my mistake, then made sure everything was fixed to the customer's satisfaction".
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS YOUR STRENGTHS OR WEAKNESSES?
If you tend to be under-confident, own your achievements and don't apologise. If you're the more "all guns blazing" superconfident type, aim to throw in a couple of comments that acknowledge fallibility.
A good answer to this is to acknowledge that there are strengths and weaknesses in every characteristic. For example, being honest is a strength and means that you have integrity, but it can also mean that sometimes you speak the hard truths.
Describe your strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of someone else: "I was the go-to person in the team for proofreading", or "I noticed that my boss sometimes had to repeat instructions to me, so I made sure I got a foolproof system to capture exactly what she needed first time".
DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS FOR US?
It's always good to have something to ask. It could be: "What do you like best about working for Company X?". Or about how to succeed: "If I got the job, and really nailed it, what outcomes would I have achieved in six months' time?" Or, "What would my day look like in this role?".
Ask about something that is important to you, "What is your approach to career development?" or "How do you know you're doing a good job at your organisation?"
But best to avoid, "Is it only beer and wine at the Christmas party or are spirits included?"
Remember that the interview is the time for you to work out if the workplace is right for you, not just for them to see if you are right for the workplace. Go to as many job interviews as you possibly can because the more you do, the better you get at them.