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Job interviews can be nerve-wracking at any stage of your career, partly because there’s no way of telling what the approach will be. Some are informal, friendly chats, while others involve a panel of interviewers and tough, competency-based questioning.
As a working mum, it might be that you haven’t had an interview for a while. You might be returning to work after a break, or you’ve been with the same employer for years.
While it’s impossible to prepare for everything, there are several interview questions that are likely to come up. It’s always wise to have some answers ready for these – it will boost your confidence and get you off to a good start.
Read on for the most common questions in a job interview:
This isn’t a cue to walk through your entire working life – they’ve already read your CV. Instead, have ready a short description about yourself as a professional and what you’re looking for in a role.
Here’s an example: “I’m an experienced customer services manager with excellent leadership skills. I’m looking for a new role where I can expand my knowledge of the energy sector and work with a great team of people.”
A great opportunity to show off some of your research about the company, as well as your key skills and your passion for the job. “I’m really attracted to [name of company] because of [reason]. I think that my background in [experience] will be an asset to your team and that I will fit well into the culture here.
A straightforward question but one that can stump you if you haven’t prepared an answer! Make sure you have at least one example of something you really enjoyed or got real satisfaction from. It’s an opportunity to show how passionate and enthusiastic you are about your work.
A similar question to be ready for. Find an example that shows you in a positive light. Perhaps you were instrumental in mentoring or developing a colleague; or came up with an innovative solution to a problem. Or it could be a major piece of work that generated excellent feedback.
This is an opportunity to show some personality, but make sure your answer fits with what the company will want from you. Demonstrate ambition but be realistic. Find a middle ground between “I want to be your Director” and “I want to be writing my first novel in a French chateau.”
The pitfall here is trying to sound too nice. Don’t get caught up in whether your colleagues like you or not – this is about whether you’re a good team player, you do what you say you will and can be relied on to get the job done well.
A simple one – but make sure you know the answer. Have a minimum in mind and perhaps some rationale, such as ‘this is in line with what I was paid in my previous role’ – but don’t be apologetic. Everyone is entitled to ask for a realistic salary.
Make sure you align your strengths with what’s needed in this role. If you’ll be managing people, highlight some skills in this area. Align your strengths to what’s mentioned in the job description – whether it’s creativity, diplomacy or relationship building.
One of the most famous interview questions! It’s a tricky one and not an opportunity for complete honesty. Stick to something commonplace and, ideally, talk about how you’re working on it. For example, you find presenting nerve-wracking but have actively sought opportunities to practise.
This is probably asked most often of all. Don’t waste the opportunity: ask at least three questions that will help you assess if you really want the job. Do bear in mind that you may be judged on what they are. Avoid questions about time off, perks or the lunch menu!