Welcome back to Part 2 of my Business Skills series on how to answer job interview questions in English. Part 1 proved to be a real success and I thank you all for sharing my post and for your generous comments. I am once again indebted to Business English Pod for their excellent resources.
In Part 1, I stated that the most commonly asked questions in a first interview were:
- Current responsibilities
- Personal characteristics
- Proudest achievement
- Greatest strength and weakness
- Reasons for leaving your current job
- Questions you may have for the interviewer
Part 1 covered the first three questions. In this post, I will cover the remaining questions, so let’s explore.
“Tell me about your proudest achievement.”
With this question, the interviewer wants to know how you solved a problem. It’s not enough to simply answer with the outcome/result, for example:
“I think my proudest achievement was when I increased our delivery times by 100% in six months”.
The interviewer’s question above could be followed by these questions:
“How did you go about fixing/solving the problem?”
“What were the results?”
Therefore, it is important that you give some background to put your achievement in context. So,
- state what the problem was;
- describe what was the cause of the problem;
- explain how you went about solving the problem
Some expressions that could be used for giving the cause of the problem could be:
It was down to/because of…….
The delays revolved around the issue of…….
We finally identified the root cause as being ……
The problem went/stemmed back from the time when……
Greatest strengths and weaknesses
“What would you say are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?”
Let’s take strengths first. Depending on the job you’re applying for, you will be aware of the characteristics that are highly valued. These are usually highlighted in the job advertisement (ad).
Take a look at the skills below taken from a job ad for an investment analyst:
Ability to step back from time to time and think strategically and is willing to challenge
Role requires good interpersonal skills, intellectual curiosity, strong work ethic and the practical ability to manage multiple work-streams and deliverables to deliver high-quality results. (Source: reed.co.uk)
With that in mind, make a point of emphasising the characteristics they’re looking for. Don’t lie, though! Remember you will be asked to provide examples to back up your claims.
How about your greatest weaknesses?
In answering this question, it’s always important to sound sincere and demonstrate self-knowledge.
First, identify something in your personality and work habits that can be interpreted as a strength AND a weakness. For example, being detail-oriented can be a positive, but being overly concern with detail can be a negative.
First, use the positive side of the weakness. You could say:
One advantage of this is ………
The good side to this is ……..
Then, briefly identify the negative side:
The downside to this is……
One drawback to this is……..
Finally, describe how you’ve started to overcome your weakness.
“By being aware of my tendency to overwork, I’ve learned to pace myself more and to work less over time“.(Source: Business English Pod)
Reasons for leaving your current job
“Why do you want to leave your present/current job?”
With this potentially sensitive question, one of the best ways of responding to it is to emphasise that you’re looking for bigger and different challenges.
Stay positive – don’t say anything negative about your current company, job or boss.
Focus on the future – here’s a great phrase:
“My goal is to grow to be a stronger performer and contender in the workplace”. (Source: Business English Pod)
Questions you may have for the interviewer
Towards the end of the interview, candidates are often asked if they have questions they want to ask the interviewer. It’s very important to ask questions. By asking questions you:
- learn important information about the company and the position;
- demonstrate your knowledge about their company;
- show that you take the position seriously.
Here are some questions you could ask:
What’s the five-year plan for this company?
How important does senior management consider the function of this position?
Could you give me an overview of your organisational structure?
What are the company’s strengths and weaknesses compared to its competitors?
How will my performance be measured? By whom?
I hope this two-part series has given you some useful information and guidance. If you feel that others could benefit from this post (Part 2) and Part 1, please share them. And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to receive my posts automatically to your inbox.
Ciao for now
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