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Preparing for interview questions
The first rule is preparation, preparation, preparation! Find out as much as you can about the company and job you are being interviewed for prior to the interview. It is also useful to plan questions you want to ask at the end of the interview, as this demonstrates your motivation and interest in the job.
Answering tough interview questions
One classic question asked at interviews is "what is your biggest weakness?" Many people struggle to think how they can answer it. Here are some tips to help prepare for this tricky interview question:
Describe a true weakness and show how you have overcome it
1. Think of a weakness you really have. Pick something that is not too serious or essential to the job that you are going for. For example: “In the past I have struggled a little with presentations to large groups.”
When describing your weakness in the interview, try not to emphasise it. The key is to show that you have struggled a little with this aspect in the past. This ensures that the interviewer doesn’t worry too much about how it will affect you in the role.
2. Then show how you have overcome your weakness. Did you complete a training course? Did you practise overcoming the problem? Did you ask for advice from a colleague or get support from your line manager?
3. Once you have explained how you dealt with your weakness, follow up with a success story. For example: “I recently gave a presentation to the regional managers. Because I practised beforehand, it went really well and I got some great feedback.”
If you follow these three steps you will have an example of a weakness that you struggled with a little, an explanation of how you overcame the problem and a success story, proving that you have made progress with your weakness.
Why showing a weakness isn’t a bad thing
Pinpointing a weakness in an interview can help to show an employer that you are able to look at yourself objectively, spot a need and resolve that need with training, practising, or by seeking advice. This demonstrates your commitment to personal development and growth, which is important to employers. Being able to spot our own weaknesses can be the key to developing strengths.
Other interview preparation tips:
Try to anticipate the questions you are likely to be asked and have some good examples of how you have demonstrated the skills and qualities they are looking for.
Practise answering interview questions with your employment specialist or a friend.
Make sure you plan your route in advance with plenty of time to arrive on time, and have all the documents required with you.
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