I felt it was only suitable, since many young people will begin to look for jobs this summer, to write the most cliché post about interview questions, but with a twist and some honest brutality! I found the most asked interview questions from The Telegraph (https://jobs.telegraph.co.uk/article/10-most-frequently-asked-interview-questions/), and I’m going to translate them for you. Aren’t you lucky? ‘But Lauren, they are simple’ you say? There, you are mistaken…
So, in no particular order:
‘Tell me about yourself‘
What it may appear to mean: The interviewer is interested in you as a person, and wants to know all about your hobbies and the mates that you hang around with, and that one time your cat ate your goldfish. How lovely of them to ask.
Honest, brutal translation: I don’t actually care about you, or what you do when you are outside of these offices, but my manager says I can’t phrase it like that, in case we do hire you. I want you to give me the character profile of who we are looking to hire, and try and make it at least a little bit convincing, I’ve had five people in before you who were plain terrible at lying.
My advice: Research the type of people that already work at the company (without gaining a restraining order), and try to see what their qualities are. Obvs, be sensible with this; do not say you are into computer science (because you saw one of their employees had a degree in this), if firstly you are not, and secondly you are applying to a completely unrelated job, e.g Chief Tea Maker. Finally, it’s not worth changing yourself completely for one job, you won’t enjoy it as much if you can’t actually be yourself.
‘What are your key skills/strengths?‘
What it may appear to mean: This is secretly a challenge, I want you to list as many good things you have done in your life in thirty seconds, GO!
Honest, brutal translation: I need you to let me know that you actually have the skills to fulfil the job that you are applying for, otherwise you’re completely wasting my time. Oh and for gods sake make the skills relevant.
My advice: You can’t just list random skills, they have to relate to the job you are applying for. Don’t try to list as many as you can, prioritise your best and most relevant skills. Tip: Strength does not mean physical strength. I can tell you many horror stories of people that have mixed this up, but that’s for another time.
‘What are your weaknesses?’
What it may appear to mean: Wow, up to now you appear like the perfect person for the job, please dear immortal, tell me where you flaw. I’m certainly going to believe you if you say ‘I don’t have any’.
Honest, brutal translation: Every other interviewer in the history of interviews asks this question, so I should probably do it too, you know, to keep up. Plus, if you’re cocky and think you’re amazing at everything your co-workers are probably going to hate you, and that’s even more paperwork for HR.
My advice: You have a weakness. If you think you don’t have a weakness, make one up. If you’re a crier, like me, please avoid anything that is going to start the tears flowing. For the love of god, the interviewer doesn’t want to know that you are emotionally unstable. Plus, here’s a top tip, show how the weakness can be improved quickly by getting the job you are being interviewed for. No cheesy stuff, avoid the cheese.
‘Why did you leave your old job?’
What it may appear to mean: OOO give us some juicy detail on that MASSIVE argument you had with your boss.
Honest, brutal translation: Show us you can have some confidentiality and handle yourself well in pressurised situations. We don’t like a gossip.
My advice: Unless it’s for legal reasons, you don’t have to tell the interviewer everything. The best thing to say when asked this question is something along the lines of ‘I felt like I could not advance any more where I was’, or something more suitable that proves you are serious about this new job.
And finally, the gut-wrencher…..
‘What are your salary expectations?’
What it may appear to mean: IF YOU SEEM GREEDY IN ANY WAY YOU ARE NOT GETTING THE JOB. TIME TO WORK FOR FREE, SUCKER.
Honest, brutal translation: Money is pretty important, that’s kind of one of the main reasons you will be working for us. Let’s test you and see what your priorities are.
My advice: You don’t want to get into a difficult situation with money that causes an argument in your interview, so handle this properly if you get a job offer. During the job offer, try and emphasise that salary is negotiable, and when asked for a figure give a realistic range of numbers that isn’t going to scare them away from you…