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Twenty common interview questions

  1. What are your strengths?
    Make it relevant to the job.  If it’s a sales job, talk about being self confident with new people.  If it’s a buying job, talk about your negotiation skills.  If it’s a retail operational job, talk about leadership and people management.
  2. What are your weaknesses?
    Again bear in mind the job for which you are applying.  Please avoid the clichés and, most of all, do not say "I don’t suffer fools gladly." This is the most clichéd answer of all and is cringe worthy.  Saying that you’re a workaholic isn’t a bad one, nor is being a perfectionist.  Do not highlight something that you know you are bad at, as the interviewer will dwell on it.
  3. Why do you want this job?
    • Good answers include: "I love the brand, I know your reputation, I can develop."
    • Mid answers are: "It's more money, its better hours, work life balance."
    • Bad answers, are: "It wasn’t my first choice, the agency sent me, I don’t know."
  4. Why should we give you this job?
    • "Because I know I will be good at it."
    • "Because I will make you more money."
    • "Because I have lots to offer." Give examples
  5. And why should I not give you this job?
    • "I can’t give you a reason."
    • "If you have someone who is even better."
  6. Who do you consider to be our competitors?
    This seems innocuous enough but can be a disaster if you cite the wrong people.  For example if you were to say "Primark" when you're interviewing at Harrods.  Do your research.  Have some answers ready that will possibly flatter the client.  Try to find something about the employer that is unique.  To be able to say: "You don’t have a direct competitor" is always positive.
  7. Have you been in one of our “stores/restaurants”?
    If the answer is no, you’ve lost the interview already.  You must have visited at least one site and have a opinion on it.
  8. What did you think of our stores?
    This is fishing for a compliment.  You are expected to say something good.  If you have a constructive criticism, be very careful.
  9. What do you know about us?
    • You must be able to speak about anything recently in the news - especially if its good.
    • You must know how many stores they’ve got.
    • If they’re a public company you must know their trading results and share price.
    • If you haven’t looked at their website, you have already lost.
  10. What motivates you at work?
    Again, it depends on the job.  A sales job will be "Making sales!" A retail manager's job is “putting money in the till”. An HR job is about "getting the most out of people."
  11. What demotivates you at work?
    "I rarely, if ever, feel demotivated at work"
  12. How well do you accept criticism?
    • A bit of honesty is always worthwhile.  No one likes to be criticised.  Avoid the old cliché about constructive criticism.
    • Try, “when someone tells me how to do something better than I am currently doing it I enjoy it."
  13. What is your management style?
    • Again please don't say, “I don’t suffer fools easily.”
    • Good words are “calm”, “measured”, "empathetic" and "fair."
    • Don’t ever say “firm but fair.” Everyone says it.
  14. Who do you admire and why?
    • You're normally safe with sports people.
    • Be very careful of politicians in case the interviewer is on the other side
    • Your ex-bosses are always positive; it says you're easy to work with.
  15. What would you do if your current employer counter offers you?
    ​The only answer they employer wants to hear is that you are committed to moving on.  And you should be.  Accepting a counter offer from your current employer is almost always a mistake.  Remember this, they are doing it for their own expediency.  Once you have accepted a counter offer, they will begin planning for your eventual departure.
  16. Are you looking at other employers?
    Normally, a good thing to say is "yes." Don’t be over enthusiastic about the others though, even if you are.  Best to be neutral.
  17. Following on from 16, who would be your first choice?
    Unless you tell the employer that they are your first choice, you won’t get offered the job anyway.  Its actually quite insulting to tell an potential employer that they are second best.
  18. How do you see the market going in the next 12 months?
    This will only apply to commercial jobs. You must have an intelligent view on this.  If the economy is looking rocky then you may want to highlight that there will be challenges.  On the other hand if you know that the company is doing really well, then you should be very optimistic.  More than anything, you must have an informed view.
  19. What do you think our challenges are going to be in the coming year?
    As with 18, you must have a view.  If you know there is a competitor in the market, then say so. But be upbeat.  If there is legislation that is going to affect their market, you should know.
  20. How do you feel this interview went?
    • You enjoyed it.
    • If you made a gaffe, acknowledge it.
    • If you discovered something you didn’t know, highlight it.
    • Confirm your enthusiasm (even if you’re not that enthusiastic about it).  Getting the job offer will do wonders for your confidence.  Getting turned down for a job, even if you didn’t want it, is a blow.