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8 Interview Questions that Catch Graduates Out

Interviews Job Search Tips and Advice

Many candidates fail to prepare enough answers for their graduate interviews, only considering the most common questions that they are likely to be asked. Although all interviews will want to cover the basics, the trickier questions will be the ones which will give you a chance to show yourself off. Luckily for you, the consultants here at GRB have shared with us their pearls of wisdom and we have compiled the top 8 Interview Questions that Catch Graduates Out.

1. What is your biggest weakness?

This graduate interview question is a classic and gives the interviewer a great indication as to how honest and genuine you are as a person. No one’s perfect - so you won’t be fooling anyone by saying you have none. Instead, explain one of your weaknesses but signify to the interviewer what you are doing/ have done to address this.  Definitely don’t give any cringey cliché answers such as “I’m a perfectionist”. They will have heard this 100 times before so you’re not fooling anyone. As long as your given weakness won’t majorly interfere with your ability to succeed in the role, they will respect your honesty and acknowledge that you are taking constructive steps to improve. Similarly, you may be asked “What are your strengths/weaknesses?” so the same thing applies here.

2. Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

This will help the hiring manager assess whether you plan to stay and progress within the position and that you’re not a flake who just needs a job ASAP. They will also be looking to see if your long-term goals will help grow the business, so answers that reflect this will be favoured. No one expects you to know exactly what you’ll be doing in 5 years’ time, but giving an answer which is completely unrelated to the position in question will be a red flag.  If you’re really unsure what to say, reassure them that you are ambitious and would like to see where your role can take you within the company.

3. What attracts you most to this role?

First and foremost, this will indicate whether the candidate is clued up about the position and if they have actually bothered to read the job responsibilities in the description. Use this as an opportunity to show that you fully understand what’s involved and demonstrate how you would flourish in such a role. Give examples of any experience you have in similar positions so that you can reassure the interviewee that you know what you’re talking about and haven’t just applied on a whim.

4. What do you know about the company?

Again, demonstrate that you have done a good amount of research on the company, and show that you know not just basic facts but also things like their culture and company values. Don’t just regurgitate what’s on their website as your answer won’t stand out – have a look at their social media accounts, blog posts, and their reviews to get some more information on them. It’s crucial that you get all of this information right so don’t say anything that you’re unsure of. Remember, if you come across anything during your research that confuses you, make a mental note of it use this as an opportunity to ask questions at the end. If you fail to show any research then they will assume you’re uninterested, so this can really make or break your interview!

5. What interests you in a career in X?

Similar to question 3, the interviewer wants to gauge your interest and knowledge on the chosen industry. They will look for an answer which shows that you are realistic about what the career path involves, and that you can also show how your skills and attributes would make you a good fit. Avoid being too generic, and don’t just give an answer such as “it’s interesting” or “exciting”, as this doesn’t really tell the interviewer anything. Instead, tell them specifically why it interests you, and link this back to your motivations, interests and experience. For example, if you were to say that you love working with numbers, elaborate on this statement by exemplifying any mathematical work you have undertaken in the past and what the outcome was. You could even show them a snippet of a university project to demonstrate how you have dealt with things such as quantitative data sets or statistical analysis, and which aspects you enjoyed the most.

6. Name three words you would use to describe yourself

This question can challenge your self-awareness. Your answer can reveal a bit more about your character and how you perceive yourself, so choose your words wisely! It’s hard to sum yourself up in as little as three words on the spot, so think of a few of these prior to your interview. Choose a good mixture of words that all connote different qualities - for example don’t choose ones that are too similar, such as ‘driven’, ‘hard-working’ and ‘determined’.  Instead, select a mixture of traits such as ‘resilient’, ‘creative’ and ‘ambitious’.  The interviewer may also (or instead) ask how your friends would describe you. This is often asked to show more of your personality attributes and can also assess whether you’d be a good cultural fit within the company. Remember to be honest with this but also stay professional!

7. What motivates you?

Many candidates are thrown off by this question as it can often be misinterpreted.  Make sure that your answer is honest, but also that your motivations are suited to the job at hand. Consider the key skills the role requires, for example, if the job involves hitting KPIs, perhaps explain how you find satisfaction in reaching targets and having challenges to work towards. When explaining your motivations, be sure to back them up with examples and link this back to any of your past work or university experiences. Try to avoid being too blunt and don’t just say “money”, as you may come across as a bit insincere!

8. Do you have any questions for us?

This is an absolutely vital question, but one that a surprising number of graduates are caught out by as they spend so much time preparing answers that they forget to prepare any questions.  As mentioned before, when researching the company, note down anything that you don’t understand or would like to know more about and bring this up at the end. Make sure that your questions are relevant and don’t ask things that you should be expected to already know. Remember, failing to prepare questions suggests a lack of interest in the role! Read more on questions to prepare for your interview here.

Preparing for your next interview? Check out more of our articles in the careers advice section!

kathryn woodward grb author

Kathryn is an English Language & Linguistics student at the University of the West of England and is currently doing her Industrial Placement as a Marketing Assistant at GRB. She enjoys watching Netflix and looking at  Gemma Collins memes in her spare time.

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