Answering Graduate Interview Questions

There are a number of common graduate interview questions that, if you’re not prepared for them, leave you scrabbling round your brain for half-decent answers. We know, because we ask some of these questions of our candidates. Here is a list of the most common ‘awkward’ questions and some advice on how to answer them.

Tell me about yourself.

The dreaded opening question where you need to make a good first impression. Begin with your highest qualification, e.g. your degree, then run through relevant jobs you have held. You can follow the same structure as your CV, giving examples of skills and achievements along the way, but don’t go into too much detail as the interviewer will ask you to expand on specific areas later. Make sure you talk about your ambitions and what you are looking for.

Pick the three biggest attributes that you think will get you that particular job and give examples of how you have used these strengths in a work situation.

What are your strengths?

What are your weaknesses?

This is definitely worth planning before hand because you want to pick something that you have made positive steps to redress, or that might indirectly double up as a strength. Stating ‘being a perfectionist’ as your weakness is not always the best answer. Think about yourself and don’t give predictable answers.

Think about where your major strengths lie and what the interviewer is looking for from the job description. This can be backed up by a more specific example of something you have done so far in your career.

Why should we hire you?

What are your goals?

Talk about both short term and long term goals, the kind of role you want to progress to and the steps you need to take to get there. The role you are interviewing for should clearly be one of those steps. Employers like to see ambitious and determined graduates, but be realistic about time-scales.

Having done your research you should have a clear idea of the company’s values, mission, development plans, products, etc. Show off your research and use this information to describe how your goals and ambition match their company’s ethos.

Why do you want to work here?

What are your salary expectations?

As a graduate you might not know what salary is reasonable to expect when starting out in your chosen career. However, it is worth searching online to find out the value of someone with your skill set and the average salary of similar the role titles. Try not to give any specific numbers so there is room to negotiate later. If a guideline salary was provided with the job description, you could mention this and say it is around the same area that you are looking for.

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