Three anxious people awaiting interview

There's nothing worse than drawing a total blank when you're asked to talk about yourself, or for your salary expectations. We’ve got answers for tricky interview questions so that you're fully prepared.

Tell me about yourself

The trick is to not give your entire life story – just the bits that show you're a capable, enthusiastic candidate. Mention skills, experience and qualifications that will help you to do the job well. You could also mention relevant personal interests or passions.

‘Always be honest and positive.’ Ian Eker, Hays

How do you like to be managed?

Be honest here, but make sure you frame your answer in a positive way. Say ‘I like to be…’ instead of ‘I don’t like to be…’ If you like a manager who trains you up and gives you the confidence to manage your own workload, say so. 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

This can be a tricky one if you hope to be doing something very different from the job you’re applying for. Get around potential stickiness by being positive, but not too specific. Say you’d like to be in a position of responsibility doing a job that challenges and excites you.

What are your salary expectations?

Post it stuck in diary with 'pay day' written on it

Have a think about your salary expectations before the interview. Do a bit of research into what similar jobs pay and think about how much you’ll need to make the job worthwhile.

You don’t have to be too specific in the interview. Turn the question around on your interviewer and ask them if there’s a salary range for the job. That way, you can avoid giving an embarrassingly low or an outrageously high figure. If they can’t give you a range, be ambitious, but not unrealistic.

Why do you want to leave your current job/Why did you leave your last job?

Be positive about what a new job could offer you such as career progression, new challenges and more creativity. Don’t say because you hate your boss, you want more money or you’re stuck in a boring role.

If you were fired from your last job, you need to be honest. Explain the circumstances in a calm and rational way and talk about what you have learned from the experience.

What’s your biggest weakness?

The important part is not what your weakness is, but that you’re aware of it and have learned to overcome it.

Don’t feel you need to say something like, ‘I’m a perfectionist’ or ‘I work too hard’.

The important part is not what your weakness is, but that you’re aware of it and have learned to overcome it.

For example, if your biggest weakness is that you sometimes act too quickly, tell your interviewer you have learned to make a thorough checklist before starting new tasks or projects.

Do you have any questions?

Woman with question marks above her head

This question stumps a lot people.

Ian Eker, Director for Permanent Appointments at recruitment agency Hays, recommends having a couple of well researched questions prepared ahead of time.

‘This shows enthusiasm, intelligence and a genuine interest. Employers want employees who want to work for them.’

If your mind goes blank, ‘what kind of training does the company offer?’ or ‘will there be opportunities for promotion?’ are good fall-backs.

What next?

Not sure what to wear to your job interview? Check out fashion stylist Victoria Martin's tips.