Why do you want this job?
- Companies want applicants who are passionate about the role. You should identify a couple of key factors that show the role is suitable for you and express why the company or organisation appeals to you.
What are your greatest strengths?
- This is your opportunity to talk about what makes you great – and great for the role. When answering think “quality not quantity”. Pick a few specific qualities that are relevant to the role and illustrate them with examples.
What would you consider to be your weaknesses?
- This question provides the interviewer with the knowledge that you have self-awareness, are honest and able to critically reflect on your experiences. You should think of something that you struggle with but are working on to improve. They are not trying to catch you out!
Tell me about a challenge or conflict you’ve faced at work and how you dealt with it
- You should be honest and open about difficult situations that you have encountered (avoid going into too much detail like you would with a friend). Remain calm and professional when telling the story. Spend more time talking about the resolution rather than the conflict. Explain what you would have done differently in order to demonstrate that you are open to “learning through experience”.
Why was there a gap in your employment? (?):
- Maybe you took time off to care for children or parents, dealing with health issues or taking time to find the right job for you. Whatever the reason, be prepared to discuss it. The key is to be honest, but this doesn’t mean you have to share information you are not comfortable discussing. Discuss if there are any skills or qualities you have gained and how they will help you in the role.
Questions to ask at an interview:
What questions should I be asking?
- These are specific categories you should be thinking about when asking questions.
- The job: what are you being hired to do? Although this will be in the job description think about any additional information you hope to gain in order to get a bigger picture.
- What will you be doing exactly (if this has not been made clear enough)?
- How would your typical day look? Is it a reactive environment or is it more structured?
- Are there opportunities for progression & bringing your own initiative (if this is something you might be interested in)?
- Any other job specific questions that you’d like an answer to. You can ask about equipment, software, working hours, etc. You know the field!
- The requirements: job descriptions set out the requirements for the job role but often it may state that full training will be given if the candidate is right. You should ask yourself if you are fully prepared for this role? Is there anything additional you need to know in order to fulfil the position? What training is available that can help you develop your skills for the role?
- The expectations: It is important to understand from the outset what your employer expects of you. To ensure you meet the needs of the job, find out up front what the goals/ targets of the role are.
- What do you expect from someone if hired? What particular skills are most important to exceed in this role?
- Are regular reviews or supervision conducted? Remember, this might depend on the type of job.
- How do you measure performance?
- The people: who are the people you are going to be working with? Ask about them, will team work be involved? What is this like? How big is the team? The best job can become the worst if you are unable to get on with the people who you work with.
- The atmosphere: an important consideration to keep in mind is the culture of the company and role.
- What kind of place is it to work?
- What is the dress code?
- The waiting game: after your interview you should ask how long you should expect to wait to hear about the outcome of the recruitment process. How are you going to be contacted? Are there any further steps that need to be taken?
Remember! Don’t ask questions that are easily searchable online. This will just show that you haven’t done your research about the post or the company itself.
Don’t feel the need to ask all of the questions we’ve listed above, just go for a few that work best for you.
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In addition to the basic categories listed above, if you’re feeling especially ambitious, here are some other points you might want to include:
- Estimated start date (if provided)
- Where you found the job listing
- Company information, like its location, number of employees, size, recent developments, etc.
- Names and contact information of any network connections at the company
- Estimated likelihood of getting the job
- Your relative preference for the position compared to other jobs
This is just an idea. Looking for a job can be exhaustive and confusing. Especially when you’ve been applying for a lot of jobs and they’re beginning to sound and look like one another. You don’t want to answer a potential call with an invitation for an interview, and quote another job title for a different company!
- Be positive and enthusiastic
- Speak clearly and concisely
- Give real life examples to back up your points
- Relate your answers to the job you’re applying for
- Talk about yourself in a work environment
- Look interviewer in the eye – (Don’t stare!)
- Do your homework and base your answers on your research
- Know your main selling points
- Make the interviewer feel that you only want the job he/she is offering in his/her company
- Stress your flexibility
- Stop if you lose track of what you’re saying
- Ask the interviewer for clarification if you’re not sure what he/she wants
- Talk about your strengths
- Thank the interviewer for seeing you
- Arrive late
- Criticise your previous employer
- Stress negative points
- Make more than 3-4 points (max) per question
- Talk about being selected for redundancy
- Underestimate your skills and abilities
- Assume the interviewer can read your mind
- Ramble or waffle
- Be sarcastic
- Talk about what you won’t/can’t do
- Antagonise or argue with the interviewer
- Give one word answers
- Take outdoor wear into the interview room
Ways to look after yourself out of work
All the practicalities of job searching aside, it is important that you remain in the best mental and physical health possible when looking for new employment. Below, we have listed 10 ways to look after yourself when you’re unemployed:
- Create a Daily Schedule.
When unemployed it is easy to fall out of a routine. There is no pressure to get up, get dressed, or even get out of the house. In order to prevent you from becoming isolated put yourself on a schedule:
- Set an alarm to get up each morning
- Set aside a few hours each day to search for jobs – just a couple!
- Find time to socialise with friends and family.
- Make an effort to leave the house, even if it is for a walk around the block.
- Work Out
Fitting time in to work out within your schedule has countless benefits to your mental health and wellbeing. Afterwards, you will feel accomplished, gain a mood-boost from the endorphins and gain confidence.
- Ditch the Negative Self-Talk
Job searching can present countless barriers which can expose insecurities and cause us to doubt our self-worth. You may find yourself beating yourself up about not having a job, not making quick enough progress or not hearing back after interviews. You should practice talking to yourself like you were a close friend, with kindness and encouragement. This will lift your mood and promote positive job-searching.
- Give Yourself a Break
Job-searching can often be difficult, so it is important to not be too hard on yourself. Having a job does not define your worth! Job-searching can often induce unwanted anxieties, so you should step back when this begins to happen. Switch to something you enjoy doing, like a hobby to avoid becoming too overwhelmed.
- Embrace Flexibility
Take advantage of the flexibility and extra time you have while not working, and enjoy gaining different experiences from getting out and about.
- Sleep In
Although routine is important and setting an alarm in order to wake up and create structure is highly recommended, this doesn’t mean you have to get up at sunrise! Getting 8 hours of sleep will enhance your mood and outlook, get up when you like.
- Get Outside
Job searching is time-consuming, resulting in being attached to a screen for long periods of time. As well as the job search you are looking at a screen for all the components which come alongside, CV’s, covering letter, etc. Take a break from the screen and get out, whether this be for a walk, bike ride. Getting in touch with nature is a beneficial way to de-stress and reconnect yourself.
- Celebrate Your Victories
Especially the small ones! Although it may seem the only victory when job-searching will be getting hired, it isn’t. If you withhold all self-praise when job searching you may find yourself becoming de-motivated very quickly. Treat yourself when:
- You get a call back
- You have a productive day
- When you are offered an interview
These little boosts will keep your spirits higher and outlook brighter.
- Explore New Hobbies
Keep in mind that you should be keeping your job search to a minimum of 2-4 hours each day. This will allow you to have plenty of free time, giving you opportunities to find new hobbies and develop on yourself. Going ahead and doing something you have always wanted to try is important for your mental health, it is important to have personal goals which aren’t related to professional ones.
- Set Goals
Set yourself reasonable goals early on in the process. Whether this be daily, weekly or monthly goals, these will encourage you to stay on track. When creating your goals ensure they are achievable. Using the SMART goals format will allow you to digest your goals creating them into something manageable.
A few goals to get you started:
- Improve your CV
- Create your cover letter
A few simple, actionable goals will help you maintain momentum and confidence whilst job-searching.