Dealing with the standard interview questions

A frequently asked question from our clients is “what are the questions most commonly asked at interview?”

Although we believe that rehearsing standard, generic answers is the wrong way to approach the interview, it is very helpful to have a strong sense of how approach the ones regularly asked. So here goes.

1. What are you strengths?

This is not an opportunity for you to ream off a list of random, empty adjectives that seek to describe how great you are. Rather is it is an opportunity to actually sell your real strengths as applicable to the role you’re seeking.

Give real-life examples of how you can add value to the organisation. If you are a good sales person, telling them that you are ‘good at dealing with people’ will not hack it. It doesn’t go far enough. Give them actual examples of your previous successes, of how you made a difference to the organisation.

Have a thought process before you go into the interview. If the role is in nursing, think about the strengths that would make a good nurse. This would differ for an engineer and differ again for a school teacher.

There is very little point in actually listing off that you enjoy working by yourself if this is a team-building environment. Always remember to support your strengths with definitive, real-life examples of where your strengths lie.

Keep the answer reasonably tight. Know what you want to achieve from the answer. A long list will only bore the interviewer. It will not help you stand out from your peers.

Finally, your strengths should already be noted in your CV and cover letter. Highlight them again with the interviewer.

2. What are your weaknesses?

This is not the time to let the interviewers know that you hate Monday mornings! Let the interviewer know about a weakness from your past, and how you have corrected it over the years.

Try to make the end of your description a positive. For example, you can say that one of your weaknesses is that you sometimes get easily frustrated with yourself or others if a job isn’t completed to a high standard. However, this is simply because of your aspiration to do everything well.

In other words, turn your weaknesses into strengths.

3. Why do you want the job?

Do not let them know that after sending out 50 CVs, they’re the first company to reply!

Prepare and learn about the company. Talk to people in the industry. Find out the real benefits of working in the company.

Again have a thought process and come to the opinion about why you should work in that company. Too much flattery in an interview can backfire but enough will let the interview warm to you

Enthusiasm is very important here and without it, people can sound flat and bored. It is important for the person recruiting that they are giving it to someone who is enthusiastic and passionate about the role.

Sli Nua Careers (tel 094 95 42965, carry out CV Preparation, Mock Interviews, Interview Training, and Career Direction. For your free e-book on interview & CV tips, email They provide online CV makeovers at