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May 17th, 2024

How to answer common job interview questions

Group of people sat at a table conducting an interview, featured on XCL website

Going for a job interview can be daunting, however there are always certain questions you can almost bank on being asked every time.
Therefore, it can be a good idea to plan for these common interview questions, to help give yourself the best chance of being successful in getting a new job.
XCL Group have outlined these common questions below, with tips on how to answer them.

Why should we hire you? 

Often worded slightly differently - “why would you be the best person for the job?” - is usually one of the first questions you get asked and can be one of the most dreaded for some people.

From this question the interviewer is looking to find out how you think you would benefit the company, and to gauge whether the role is of genuine interest to you. It is also when they’ll get the first real impression of you, as it is one of the first questions to be asked, so you should plan and practice your answer to this prior to the interview.

When answering “why should we hire you”, think about your core strengths and how these could potentially benefit the company, as well as talking about how the role could benefit you too. Make sure to look through the job description before hand and emphasise on aspects of the role you’re most excited about and demonstrate to the interviewer what would keep you motivated were you to be successful in the role.

At this point ‘highlight’ is the key word, just keep your answers concise as there will be plenty time to go into more detail around certain points, throughout the course of the interview.


Walk me through your CV

To best prepare for this, go through your CV ahead of the interview, to familiarise your self with what you’ve sent them but also, it’s key to remember that the interviewer has already seen your CV – they’re wanting you to elaborate and find out more.

Go into more detail on the aspects of your CV that are relevant to the job, making sure to highlight the key skills and experience you’ve gained in your previous jobs, education etc, that are applicable to the job role you’ve applied for.

Again, keep your answers brief as you’re only needing to provide more information than can be gained just by reading your CV, you don’t want to give everything away at the start, otherwise you might struggle to find answers for questions later on in the interview.

Giving a good overview of your experience, should be enough for a CV walkthrough.


Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

By asking this question, the interviewer can see if you have ambition, as well as what your goals are – if they’re realistic and how they may fit in with the role you are applying for.

Therefore, make sure to think reasonably about where the job could take you. E.G. Will it help you eventually work up to a more senior position? Could it help you perfect certain skills, to eventually reach a point where you could be considered an expert in your field?

Alternatively, it’s okay to say that you’re not completely sure where you see yourself, so many years down the line – especially if you’re still early on in your work experience – but explain that you aim to gain more experience and skills, as you work towards building a solid career in the market.


Tell me about a time.....

During the interview, you may be asked to talk about events from previous roles.

Examples being:

·        “Tell me about a time you had a disagreement with a supervisor/colleague and how you handled it?

·        “Tell me about a time when you did something wrong or had to overcome a challenge?

From asking these questions, the interviewer can learn about how you work and how you handle different scenarios, so make sure you tell the story, showing the full picture of what happened and how the situation progressed.

It is key to prepare your stories in advance of the interview, have a look through the job specification and as well as the core requirements, identify the ‘soft skills’ required for the role, i.e. good communication skills, working in a team/independently, etc. that you can incorporate into the answers.

TIP: Prepare a few different stories, that each cover a number of different required skills.

To ensure the stories are focused and effective, use the STAR method:

·        Situation: Describe the context, what challenge did you face?

·        Task: Your responsibility in the situation. What did you need to do?

·        Action: How you achieved your task, focus on what you did, not what other people did.

·        Result: Explain the outcome of your actions. What did you learn?

Performing well in job interviews is a skill but the more practice you get, the more comfortable you will feel and the better you will do and perfecting your answers to these common questions will always help you get a head start!

For more tips on interview preparation, take a look at our February Blog

“Job Interview Tips”
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