Getting an interview is always a challenge, even more so nowadays. So when you do get one, it makes sense to be as prepared as possible.
Online interview checklist – Tick
If you google ‘preparing for an online interview’, you will usually come up with a checklist that includes the following items…
- Check your technology works (internet, audio etc.…)
- Find a good place to sit with a good background (or at least not one that shows some extreme political leanings or cult following)
- Consider your lighting (as best you can in your home)
- Try to ensure there are no distractions (although there is not much you can do about your neighbour suddenly drilling into your wall)
- Dress appropriately (as if you were meeting someone face to face)
- Do some research on the company and role (read their website, check for any recent news)
- Read, and re-read your CV
- Prepare a few insightful questions to ask them (two is enough)
- Practice the interview questions that they could ask you…
The last point is highlighted because that’s what this blog is all about, and it is something most people don’t really tick off properly. And that’s understandable; it’s not easy.
But help is at hand…
(By the way, anything we have to say on the other points has been noted above or in another blog. From now on, we are talking only about practising interview questions.)
How can I prepare for the questions they are going to ask me? – They could ask me anything I hear you say…
You might be thinking that preparing for interview questions is pointless because how can you know what they might ask you?
Well, it turns out that there are some very, very common interview questions that are asked. So having some answers up your sleeve for those will stand you in excellent stead.
You see, although interviewers will ask you about stuff you have written in your CV (so you should definitely be able to discuss it in more detail), they also need to be consistent in what they ask, to compare apples with apples as they say. Having a set of fixed questions to ask makes that a lot easier.
Also, there are only so many questions that work well in interviews, especially for lesser experienced roles.
Let’s test this out. Take a minute to answer this question…
What are your strengths?
How did you get on? Were you happy with your answer?
This is definitely a question that you should prepare for. Why? Because it’s one of the most popular questions, if not the most popular question. They might even ask you this question first!
Just having a well-prepared answer to this one question alone means there is a good chance that you will get off to a flying start.
So how do you best answer the question ‘What are your strengths?’
Aim to communicate about three strengths.
What’s really important is that you can evidence them. Provide at least one example of where you had to draw upon your strengths, and do this without them having to ask.
You should be able to do this in about a minute. If you have more examples, you could ask the interviewer if he would like to hear about other times where you have drawn upon your strengths.
Ok, with that question well and truly smashed… what next?
What about the other questions you might get asked in an interview…
Interview questions can be categorised into three types which require you to either:
- Discuss your present status;
- Reflect back on a past experience, achievement, challenge; or
- Look into the future.
Let me go into a bit more detail on these…
Questions that relate to your present status
These are generally the most straightforward questions, although not always.
They include questions like ‘What are your strengths?’ and ‘What are your weaknesses?’ as well as ‘Why do you want to work here?’ and ‘What are your salary expectations?’
Answers to these questions should generally be brief. As mentioned earlier, it’s always a good idea to provide examples to support your statements and then be led by the interviewer as to whether you should go into more detail on how you became so skilled at, say, ‘negotiating’.
Questions that ask you to refer back in time to a past experience
Examples of these include ‘Tell me about an achievement you are most proud of’ and more challenging questions like ‘Tell me about a time you overcame an obstacle.’
These questions are specifically asking you to reference something that has happened in the past and are best answered in a structured manner following, for example, the STAR model:
- S – explain the situation
- T – highlight the task you had to undertake
- A – detail the actions you took
- R – finish off with the result
Following this approach ensures you communicate your answer in a structured manner, ensuring the interviewer gets the nuggets they are really looking for.
Questions that require you look into the future
These are usually fairly straightforward, especially for junior positions. Examples include ’What is your dream job?’ or ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’. It’s good to have thought through answers to these two questions in advance as well.
Occasionally an interviewer might ask something trickier like ‘How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?’ which would be relevant for someone applying for a customer service job. In these situations, it’s best to relate your future scenario to a past experience if you can.
Practice Practice Practice
The purpose of this blog is:
- Is to convince you to dedicate time thinking about how you will answer some of the most common interview questions
- Provide some structure and understanding of the types of questions that might get asked and how best to handle them.
If you now think that practising a few of the typical interview questions makes sense, let me introduce you to the C-Me Interview Practice Zone.
The C-Me Interview Practice Zone
The Interview Practice Zone is a place where you can practice answering the Top 50 most commonly asked interview questions.
To make your interview practice engaging and rewarding, we have structured the questions into the categories above. We have also graded them easy, challenging or in-depth.
That way, you can progress through the questions in stages rather than suddenly finding yourself thrown into the deep end.
As soon as you finish recording, our Video Analysis technology goes to work and reports back with insights that will help you improve your answers.
About C-Me Video Analysis
The Video Analysis tool gives you insights into both your content and delivery. It is packed with valuable information.
Firstly, it transcribes your recording for you and alerts you to the latest words that recruiters like and, more importantly, don’t like because they are overused, a bit vague, or cliche.
Using leading Natural Language Processing software, it then determines your content’s vibe (software that larger recruiters sometimes use to screen one-way video interviews).
C-Me Video Analysis also displays your voice flow and calculates your pace so you can see if you are in the typical range.
Finally, it checks for repetition and reports which words you have used most frequently.
A final word on interview practice…
Please don’t be daunted by the idea of preparing for questions that an interviewer may ask. It really isn’t as hard as you might think, and the payback is massive.
And if you do check into the C-Me Interview Practice Zone, enjoy… it will be a fun experience!
You’ve got this!
The C-Me Team