Don’t get caught out by these commonly asked interview questions!

Interviews are designed to do just one thing: identify the best possible candidate for the advertised job, not to catch you out. Some questions aim to establish how well you cope under pressure, others will be to reveal your personality or to see what your career aspirations are. Prepare and shine!

"Tell me about yourself"

This is perhaps the most open-ended question of them all and is typically used by interviewers - resist the temptation to start talking about your life history just a two or three minute snapshot of who you are and why you are the best candidate for the job.

“I started my nursing career three years ago, whilst continuing my studies and gained enough experience to become Lead Nurse. I am now responsible for training and developing a team in what has now become the best performing clinic in the group.

"Why should we hire you?"

What the interviewer is really asking you is ‘What can you do for my business?’ Your response needs to answer that question. For example:

“As I understand it, you are looking for someone who can increase your cosmetic treatment sales and who has experience of motivating a clinic team. I have a proven track record in successfully managing and developing new business within this sector, having increased our turnover 100% over the last year”.

"Why did you leave your last job?"

Always remain positive about your current and previous employers because you never know when your paths may cross again. Besides, who are you going to turn to for a reference? For example:

"I learned a lot from my previous employer and enjoyed my time there. However, promotional opportunities were few and far between and I am keen to advance my career sooner rather than later."

"What are your weaknesses?"

Here you should take one of your strengths and portray it as a weakness. For instance,

“I used to struggle to plan and prioritise my workload. However, I have taken steps to resolve this and now I now use a planning tool and diary system on my laptop”.

"What motivates you?"

Try and give a constructive answer that will excite your interviewer into understanding what benefit you will bring to his business. For example:

"I get a real kick out of seeing my team exceed their clients’ expectations and coming in over our target for the month."

"How would your former colleagues describe you?"

This is a sure sign that the interviewer likes you and is already thinking about contacting your previous employer for a reference. And this is the time when you realise how important it is to choose your referees carefully. So answer this question in the way that you would like to think your employer would respond. For example:

"I have an excellent working relationship with my manager and we have mutual respect for each other. He considers me to be hardworking, dedicated, reliable and able to work well using my own initiative."

Body language is also important so remember to sit facing your interviewer, engage in plenty of eye contact, and smile wherever appropriate.