2. Application and interview advice

The most commonly asked interview questions and how to answer them

You can never predict exactly what you’ll be asked in an interview. However it is useful to know some of the most common questions that come up, understand why they’re asked and begin to prepare some potential responses. GlobalSportsJobs Chief Executive Will Lloyd has highlighted some of the most popular interview questions amongst employers and what they may be looking for in your answers.

What do you know about us?

This is your opportunity to show you’ve carried out in depth research on the organisation. The amount of candidates I’ve interviewed who haven’t even looked at our website still shocks me. This is one of the biggest deal-breakers. I want a candidate to demonstrate they’ve done their research and know about what we do, who our key competitors are and have an idea of where we’re going in the market. Maybe come up with some of their own ideas. You then need to be able to relate this back to why you want to work for us.

Tell us about yourself

Talk about how your experience and characteristics make you a strong candidate for the position, but don’t forget that by asking this question I also want to get an insight into your attitude and personality. Be prepared to be interrupted as interviewers want more detail on specific areas. Focus on key elements of your career, be distinctive, articulated, to the point, don’t waffle.

What makes you so special?

Think about what you can offer above and beyond other candidates. And remember that it’s not all about skills and knowledge. Ultimately, what you lack in experience, you need to make up in attitude. A candidate who can demonstrate their enthusiasm for the role is more appealing to me than a candidate who can simply recall a list of skills outlined on the job description.

Describe a situation when…

Competency-based questions cover a wide range of topics and will require you to give specific examples from your past experiences. Although difficult to predict, think of some key situations and successes that you may be applied to questions like these. And remember that regardless of whether you’re giving an example of when you’ve worked as a team, used your initiative, overcome a challenge etc., keep in mind the core characteristics that employers are looking for by asking these questions.

Where do you see yourself in the next 3 / 5 years?

This is a good opportunity to talk about your career goals, and link them to what the company offers in terms of promotion and career development. Try to not be vague. I like it when a candidate has clearly defined career objectives and can be confident of how working at my organisation is going to help them get there. In most opportunities, organisations are not looking for a ’lifer’, they want someone that will put in 3-5 years quality work and be rewarded by being developed through experience and skills.

Why did you leave your last job?

No matter how much you may have disliked your old job, this is not the time to complain, regardless of how you feel you were treated by the organisation. Openly slating your previous or current employer will make you come across as disloyal and unable to work in a group environment. Showing your professional attitude and approach. What has happened has happened, looking to focus on future not past.

Do you have any questions?

Always prepare some questions to ask the employer at the end of the interview. Avoid these being about holidays, pensions or any other benefits which are not related to the job role itself. I like candidates to ask thought provoking questions, such as What are the key challenges facing the company? Where do you see the company in 5 years? What do you see as your key competitive advantage over your rivals? What do you look for in the talent you hire? You can relate this back to your interview and follow up with a question relating to your suitability for the job in hand. And don’t feel that you have to wait until the end of the interview to ask questions. If any come up as the interview progresses, be polite and ask.