How to answer typical graduate interview questions

So you found the job you want, you’ve devised a winning CV and you’ve been called up for an interview! Exciting! But also frightening? If you’ve been to plenty of interviews or if you’ve never been to one before, don’t worry – it’s ok to be nervous.

Preparation is the key to controlling those jitters, and we’ve got a wealth of good advice for you. Start here with the kind of questions you can expect, and then move on to wondering what you should wear and how early you should be. No matter how snazzy you look on the day, the way you answer their questions will be the key to your success.

Here are the top most asked questions of graduates, and how to answer them. (Yes, you’re welcome to print and take them along, but we don’t recommend you let the interviewer see that!)

Wait, are you really ready? Do you know what you're wearing? 

Why do you want this job?

This should be easy to answer. After all, you wanted it enough to study towards the role for several years, apply, dress up and arrive at the required time, so be honest with the interviewer and tell them what you liked about the job ad, and what you think you will gain from the job. If your impression was horribly wrong and you aren’t hired then surely that’s only a good thing too?

Example answer: I was excited by the title because it fits in exactly with my area of study, and I thought that a company of this size would be a great one in which to grow my experience while using my knowledge and skills to their best advantage.

Describe a situation where you worked in a team?

The ability to work as part of a team is important in almost any job you’ll ever have, and employers want to know that you can handle the effort it takes to communicate, delegate and accept the responsibilities of team work.

Example answer:  At university we were often put into groups and tasked with presenting a project, and I learned many valuable skills in those situations. I also learnt that I prefer to avoid conflict, but that I am happy to take on the responsibility of designing and submitting the final presentation.

What are your weaknesses?

You’ve probably already been told to give an example of a weakness which is actually a strength, such as being a perfectionist or a workaholic. But employers are on to that one, so instead be honest but also describe how you’ve worked (and continue to work) to overcome this flaw.

Example answer: I struggle with confidence sometimes, and have found myself speechless in group situations. I realised that this was not going to aid my career growth so I started to work on this aspect while at university. I took advantage of social clubs and events, and made myself join the debate team so I would learn how to speak in public. It’s an ongoing process but I’m proud of my progress.

Why did you choose to study that degree and why at that university?

The interviewer is listening for your evidence of decision-making, planning and logical reasoning skills. So even if you just choose the closest or cheapest university, talk about what you like about the university, the courses offered and bring up ways in which the university is unique.

Example answer: I choose to go to this university because it was close to home, meaning I could rely on family support which enabled me to focus my attentions on my studies. I also appreciated that the university is one of the top for offering excellent classes in the qualification I completed.

These are only a few of the many questions you will need to be ready to answer, but check back here for our next article in the series, coming soon – we’re here to help