Careers Advice

Interview questions - the basics

You got the interview; you know where to go and how to get there, you’ve even been for a look at the pub/bar/restaurant/hotel to get a feel for the business. Next is actually doing the interview and crucial to your success will be taking the time to prepare.

There are many questions that you can be asked in an interview, so make sure that you’ve given the interview plenty of thought, studied the job description and have lots of examples to show you’re the perfect person for the job. Be yourself, be positive, be enthusiastic and engaging and you’ll know you’ve done all you can to get that job.

Take time to write notes about these regularly asked questions and give yourself a head start on the interview.

  1. Tell me about yourself. This common icebreaker is there to settle you into the interview. You need to be prepared but without sounding like you are trotting out a well-rehearsed script. Keep it brief. Education, career and current situation. This is not the time for your life story!
  2. Why do you want this job? Firstly, don’t talk about money; no one likes a mercenary. Talk about career development or personal development. Be specific with examples of how you fit the job description and what you can contribute. Have three examples that set you apart from other candidates.
  3. Why should I hire you? This old classic rarely gets left off the list. Know the job description and have examples ready of what you have done or can offer that matches the specification. Try to emphasise what makes you different or unique to help the interviewer remember you.
  4. What would your colleagues or boss say about you if asked? If you don’t already know this, then it could be worth finding out. If you’re just out of education, look at your reports, particularly personal statements, to identify what your work persona will be. Focus on dependability, adaptability and how you work in a team, all of which are crucial attributes in the hospitality industry.
  5. How do you handle stressful situations and working under pressure? This question can be answered in many ways, and you might well thrive under pressure. What you don’t want to say is that you panic. Give examples of stressful situations you have encountered and what you did to overcome them. Saying that you will ask for assistance is fine as this shows you understand getting it right is more important than personal pride. It is equally acceptable to say that you work best under pressure if this is true.
  6. What are your weakest areas? Don’t be afraid to talk about your development needs. No-one is perfect at everything and by identifying any weaker areas, you’re demonstrating a willingness to improve rather than giving the frankly arrogant impression that you know it all already. There is always something to learn.
  7. Where do you want to take your career? Honesty is always the best policy, and your career goals are personal to you, but be sure you have given them some thought. This is where you show that you are working towards something and demonstrating how this job fits into that plan, rather than it just being a job that pays a wage. Describe what you think you will gain from the job and how that feeds into your long-term goals.
  8. Do you have any questions for us? This again is an interview staple so have something ready that shows you have given the job, company and interview some thought. Focus your questions on how you can become an asset to the business. Ask about training and ongoing professional development to show how seriously you are taking this job and your long-term commitment to it.