Tips for answering interview questions

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First impressions count

Interviewers will start assessing you as soon as they meet you, so your presentation and attitude are important. To make a good first impression:

  • arrive on time
  • dress smartly
  • smile when you meet people
  • be professional as soon as you enter the building. The receptionist and anyone else you meet might tell the interviewer what they think of you.

How to answer interview questions

  • Speak clearly and vary your tone to show you’re interested and enthusiastic.
  • Take time to think about each question before answering so you can give a good response.
  • Listen to questions carefully and let the interviewer lead the conversation. If you don't understand a question, ask for it to be explained or repeated.
  • If you’ve had a job before don’t criticise previous employers or co-workers.
  • Give examples from your experience that demonstrate your knowledge and skills.
  • Show confidence in your skills and be positive about what you have done. For example, instead of using phrases such as "I only have..." or "I don't have…" tell the employer what you do have to offer.

Questions about your experience

When you answer interview questions about something you’ve done it’s best to use the STAR method (situation, task, action, result).

  • Situation – describe what the situation was.
  • Task – describe the task you had to do.
  • Action – describe what you did to achieve the task.
  • Result – describe the final result.

For example:

“When I was an assistant manager at Sally’s Sandals we hosted a VIP sales event for our loyalty card customers, and I was in charge of organising it. I needed to make sure that the store was decorated, we had food and drink for the customers, and we had enough staff members to work that evening. The event went very smoothly and we exceeded our sales targets for the evening by 50 percent.”

Common interview questions

Can you tell us about yourself?

Summarise your work and study experience and talk about your goals.

Why do you want to work for us?

Use your research about the job and organisation to answer this question.

What made you apply for this job?

Talk about your interest in the job and the organisation

What makes you the best person for this job?

Explain how your personality, skills and experience make you ideal for the job.

Have you done this kind of work before?

Discuss any skills or experience you have that will help you do the job.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Discuss your strengths and then talk about how you overcome your weaknesses.

Tell me about a time when you…

Describe a specific task or situation, what you did and what the result was using the STAR method.


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