So you’ve secured an interview and it’s for a job that you really want but you are very nervous. Below is a list of common interview questions to help you prepare. We have tried to break each section down as to what questions you will be asked, what the interviewer is trying to find out and finally so examples of good answers.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
What can you do for us that other candidates can't?
What would your colleagues and friends consider as your best qualities?
Why should we hire you?
What the interviewer really wants to know: can you do the job?
Know your strengths, and mention ones that are relevant to the job you're being interviewed for. It's important to quote examples of when you used the skills; it's not enough to just say you have the skills. Typical strengths employers look for are:
Communication - the ability to get on with a wide range of people
Team working - the ability to be an effective team member
IT skills - most jobs these days need some IT skills
Good attitude - hard worker, honest, polite, motivated, driven and co-operative
Problem solving - using your initiative to identify solutions especially if you are a new graduate. Clients are looking for you to come to them for guidance but with a plan for how the case should be dealt with
Enthusiasm - employers like someone positive
Quick learner - so you can take on new tasks
Flexibility - doing a variety of tasks to achieve a common goal.
If you're asked about weaknesses, don't list many - only mention one! Choose a minor flaw that isn't essential to the job. Turn it into a positive, such as how you've worked on the weakness. Or you could present it as an opportunity for development.
Good answers: Weaknesses: 'I have not gained enough experience in exotics but this is something I am keen to develop further. I am a quick learner with a positive attitude to take on new challenges.’
Why do you want to work here?
What do you know about our company?
What can you do for us that someone else can't?
What the interviewer really wants to know: Do you know what we do? Why have you chosen to apply to this company?
The interviewer wants to know you've done your homework and that you know about the organisation and its aims. They want to know you've thought it through and you've chosen to apply to them for a good reason. Show your knowledge of the company by having some facts and figures at the ready, such as:
the size of the organisation
what the product or service is
the history, goals, image and philosophy of the employer.
When talking about why you want to work for the employer, focus on what you can do for them, not on what they can do for you.
Good answer: 'The Vet Practice is a respected firm with a reputation for high quality animal care, and I'd like to be part of that success. The quality of my work is important to me, so I feel I'd be at the right place. I've also heard you invest in your staff by training and developing them.'
ABOUT THE JOB
What will the main tasks and responsibilities be in this job?
What do you think the main challenges will be?
What would you do in the first day/week/month/year?
What the interviewer really wants to know: Do you know what the job's all about?
The interviewer wants to know if you fully understand what the job will involve. They want to know why you think you'd be good at it, and how you'd approach it if they offer you the job. To answer this question well, make sure you read the job description thoroughly and research how the organisation operates, ask your recruitment agency for more guidance.
What are your goals?
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
What the interviewer really wants to know: How ambitious are you?
This is your chance to show how enthusiastic you are to get on. (You should avoid sounding too aggressive and over-ambitious: 'I want to become a partner in three years'.) Avoid sounding unenthusiastic and passive: 'I'm not sure - I'll see how it goes'.
To avoid this, you could talk in terms of short-term and long-term goals. Remember you are at the interview for that particular job - so your short-term goal should be to get that job for the time being. Then you can start talking about moving on higher.
Good answer: My immediate aim is to get a good all round exposure to practice first opinion life and become a valued member of staff. In the future I would lie to pursue a certificate at some stage but feel I need good all round exposure to enable me to move onto the next level.'
YOUR WORK HISTORY
Why did you leave your last job?
Tell me about a typical day in your current/previous job
What experience have you got from previous jobs?
What the interviewer really wants to know: What have you done in your previous jobs?
When talking about previous jobs, focus on the positives. Even if you think your previous or current job wasn't very demanding, if you jot down the tasks and responsibilities it will sound more impressive than you think. You will have learned something, so mention it. Focus on the skills and experience that are relevant to the job you're being interviewed for.
Don't bring up negative things like having a dispute with a colleague or your boss. And don't criticise previous employers.
Good answer: In my current job I have developed my knowledge of small animal work but I am now keen to further develop my interest in Dermatology. I have seen on your website that you have a certificate holder in Dermatology so I would be keen to learn more from them.’
What motivates you?
Which tasks do you get the most satisfaction from?
What the interviewer really wants to know: What makes you tick?
By finding out what motivates you, the interviewer can find out which environment you'll perform well in. Try to think of examples of when a work task excited you.
Good answer: I like problem solving - that point you reach in a project where you come up against something unexpected, and you have to think creatively to come up with a solution.'
What makes a good team?
What makes a good team member?
What makes a good team leader?
What the interviewer really wants to know: Can you operate effectively in a team?
Employers value team-working very highly. They want to know you can work effectively in a team, whatever your role within it is.
Good answer: A good team needs to have clear objectives and goals, and procedures to work towards these. Each person needs to be clear what their role is, and what is expected of them. There needs to be openness and trust, and clear communication.'
Typical questions: this is the one that can really throw you and is will make you loose your nerve so be prepared!!
If you were a biscuit, what type of biscuit would you be?
If you were an animal, what type of animal would you be?
What the interviewer really wants to know: Can you think on the spot and come up with a sensible answer?
You probably won't have prepared for this, so the interviewer is seeing if you can think on your feet. Take your time over this question, and think of something that generally reflects you, but also has positives you could apply to the world of work.
There is no ‘good answer’ but just be prepared for this sort of question.
Finally relax and try to be yourself.