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Common interview question – what an interviewer is looking for when they ask these questions

Common interview question – what an interviewer is looking for when they ask these questions


Interviews can be a daunting experience. In order to perform to the best of your ability, a cool head and thorough preparation are key to your potential success. Whilst it is virtually impossible to predict exactly what an interviewer will ask you on the day, there are a handful of common questions that are most likely to crop up. We aim to take a look at what these are, why the interviewer will be asking you these questions and what the best answer is for you to give.

An easy one – or so it seems – to start off with.

Tell me about yourself

This is often an interview ‘ice-breaker’ but don’t trip yourself up by missing the point of the question.

What the interviewer is looking for: you to tell them concisely why you are a good fit for the role on offer and how you might fit into the existing team

Best answer: keep it relevant – they are looking for a potted history of your work history and achievements to date as well as why you are looking to make a move

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Whilst it may seem odd that the interviewer wants you to highlight potential negatives about yourself, there is a good reason for this.

What the interviewer is looking for: they will know that nobody is perfect and it is important that candidates and employees can realistically appraise their own skills and abilities

Best answer: ensure that you can evidence your strengths with genuine examples and select a weakness which demonstrates how you have made – or intend to make – improvements in this area

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Depending upon the stage that you are at in your career, five years can seem like a lifetime away or hardly any time at all – take time to consider your current status before answering.

What the interviewer is looking for: someone who has goals and ambitions that can grow with the role available; they want you to demonstrate a commitment to the potential of joining the company and what you – realistically – hope to achieve with them

Best answer: try to marry up your own personal career ambitions with the objectives of the company and indicate how you can see yourself progressing within the role and how your contribution will be of benefit to your employer

Are you a team player?

We have all, at some stage in our careers, been required to work as part of a team. Interviewers will be keen to know what part you play within a team and how you balance your personal workload with the overall team or department goals.

What the interviewer is looking for: you to demonstrate that you know the importance of team work and can understand how your contribution benefits and impacts on your colleagues.

Best answer: select a specific situation where you can illustrate the value of team work – perhaps an example where people had to come together for different departments, had a particular problem to solve or implemented a solution to an ongoing challenge. Ensure you can talk about your role within the team and the benefits of working with others.

Why should we hire you?

It can often be the case that people can be reluctant to shout from the roof tops about themselves or come across as arrogant – strike the right balance and you will give the answer the interviewer is looking for.

What the interviewer is looking for: someone who understands the skills and attributes that they have and can relate these to the position available

Best answer: you want to stand out from the other candidates to focus on specific skills and experience which will demonstrate not only your ability to deliver in your role but give the interviewer an insight into your character, values and enthusiasm for the opportunity

Why do you want to leave your current employer?

It may be tempting to see this is an opportunity for a bit of a gossip – steer clear of any answers which could potentially paint you as a bit of a trouble-maker!

What the interviewer is looking for: a well-thought through, reasonable response as to why you have decided the time is right to make the move. This is not the time to bad-mouth your current employer – many industries can be quite close knit and it won’t do you any favours.

Best answer: focus upon your professional ambitions, desire for a new challenge, increased responsibilities – keep these realistic and relevant to the stage that you are at in your career. Also bear in mind that how these fit with the length of time in your current job – have you changed roles frequently or have you been with one company for a considerable length of time?

Is there anything you would like to ask me?

This can often be the most difficult question to answer; you have spent all your time preparing your answers and brushing up on your CV, skills and experience that it can be easy to fall at the final hurdle without a well-thought through response.

What the interviewer is looking for: someone who has given consideration to the company that they are looking to join and the potential role available

Best answer: focus upon the future of the business, how the role you would be doing could develop, what contribution you will be making. Avoid asking questions about salary and benefits – whilst relevant you don’t want to come across as someone who is more interested in the perks than the role itself.



Sharp Consultancy specialises in the recruitment of temporary, interim and permanent finance professionals and the full spectrum of HR roles.  With offices in Leeds, Sheffield, Doncaster and Manchester our highly experienced team of consultants recruit for positions throughout Yorkshire and beyond.


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