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No two interviews are ever the same and there is no perfect way to approach them. However, there are patterns that have developed in the questions that are asked and the answers that are expected. Just as you tailor your covering letter and CV for each job, it is absolutely vital that you also prepare for each interview individually.
There are different types of interviews and loads of advice and tips for young people, the style of which will depend largely on the job that a candidate is applying for. The traditional form is the most common and will involve you speaking with either a sole interviewer or a panel. Usually these are conducted in the offices of the company that you are applying to work for and can last anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour. More recently, employers are asking candidates to take tests before they actually get to the interview stage.
For the traditional interview, you will have sent your CV and heard that you have made it through the first round. You have been asked in for an interview. You have researched, prepared and are now in front of your potential employer.
Bad answer: Because I got fired from my last job.
Good answer: I have read your literature and think that the company is progressing in the exact field I am interested in. I would love to be part of a team at the cutting edge of pushing this forward.
Bad answer: I was fired for gross misconduct.
Good answer: I felt I had gone as far as I could go in my last company given my role and its expectations. This company offers the perfect opportunity to progress whilst increasing my knowledge of the trade.
Bad answer: When I sent a client a personal email that they found offensive.
Good answer: We were working on a project that had a very tight timescale. We had to ask for a deadline to be extended but knew we would not be able to ask again. I motivated the team to work towards the goal and implemented strict but workable time goals for us to aim for. By breaking down the task into reachable targets we completed the project as swiftly as possible.
Bad answer: Sitting in the managing director’s chair.
Good answer: I see myself progressing upwards and steadily through the company following good results and my proven ability to work with my team whilst hitting company targets and deadlines.
Bad answer: I am an excellent skier.
Good answer: Having read the brief of what I will be asked to do I feel my prior experience in this field and eagerness to challenge myself will suit. Whilst I will need to take on more responsibility I feel that at this stage in my career and with my current attitude I can achieve this through dedicated hard work.
Bad answer: I get very angry in Monopoly.
Good answer: I once worked on a project where time management was an issue. The team was small and the workload was extensive. We hit our targets but at the cost of longer hours than I had expected and increased stress. Since then I have worked hard on my time management and now give accurate deadlines to both myself and my clients so as not to fail their or my own high expectations.
Bad answer: Until you find out about my past.
Good answer: I will always stay at a company that provides me the opportunities to grow both in terms of my ability and my role within the business. I enjoy taking on more responsibility and see myself as a team leader in the future.
Bad answer: I wanted to see what Australian beer tasted like.
Good answer: After school I embarked upon a gap year. As I was very young for my year I felt I could afford to take the one opportunity in my life where I will be able to live abroad. I broadened my horizons and learnt a new culture whilst helping out in a local school.