In almost every interview that has ever taken place in the history of job hunting, three standard questions return time and time again. I am always amazed at how poorly candidates answer these, when it would have been so easy to spend 10 minutes preparing their answers and getting them right, before the big interview.

"What are your strengths?"

As a job hunter, getting this answer right should be at the top of your list. To not be able to articulate your strengths well to a prospective employer, is a bad start to any future employment relationship.

To answer this question well, think about the skills and expertise the employer is seeking for this vacancy. Usually these attributes are captured in detail within the job description. Once you have determined the appropriate "job specific" strengths, assess which you are genuinely skilled at, then talk about these in your answer.

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It's important to ensure you can back these up when pressed for further details, so make sure you have good examples of how you used these strengths in the "real world".

Another way to determine your strengths is to complete one of the wide range of "personal strengths" assessments available online.

These tools help you determine specific attributes you can share in detail with your prospective employer, helping you to look that bit more professional.

"What is your main weakness?"

This question can be framed in a whole lot of different ways; however, the essence comes down to your level of self-awareness. I have honestly had numerous candidates reply to this question - "I have no weaknesses." To me this is an immediate 'fail' in the interview, as they are showing no emotional self-awareness, most probably causing issues later on if they are employed.

To answer this question well, choose a genuine area of weakness prior to the interview, then determine what you are doing to overcome it. Overcoming a weakness is actually developing a strength, so if this is done well, this question can really make you shine in the interview process.

"Why do you want to work for our organisation?"

This is probably the most important question of all, as the employer is trying to determine your "fit" within their company. Do your research first, then briefly share your knowledge of their business and comment on how your skills, experience and personality would match their organisational culture.

Talk about the development opportunities the business offers, your interest in the industry and/or their strong brand in the marketplace. An employer wants you to be excited about their company, and will always hire someone who has a genuine passion for the firm, over someone who shows limited interest.

Be Prepared

Doing your homework to best answer these three (almost) guaranteed questions, will ensure you stand out near the top of the pile at your next interview.

Contact Tom for a free Linkedin or CV review, or to be your personal career coach. Visit www.CV.co.nz or www.CareerCoach.nz, or email tom@cv.co.nz to find out more.