Preparing for interviews – OurWarwick

Preparing for interviews

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Harriet Waldron | Mechanical Engineering Contact Harriet
Anything about anything!
Find out more about me Contact Harriet

As promised from my last post – here is a blog about preparing for interview questions, which I’m drawing from my own experiences.

As a disclaimer, all interviews I have been to are for internships or placements, and so if you’re interviewing for a job, grad role, university interview, or something else, your experience may differ more significantly. Although hopefully this will be useful, regardless!

Common interview questions:

  1. Please can you tell me about yourself?

I’ve also had this phrased as ‘I’m going to introduce myself, and then I want you to introduce yourself’. I can’t think of an interview where this wasn’t the first question. It’s really simple – and doesn’t seem (on the face of things) like something you need to prepare for. But WRONG – please prepare! This is where it’s easy to slip up – it’s your interviewer’s first impression of you, and it’s a chance to break the ice. Best to prepare a little spiel – including name, what you’re doing currently and where (e.g. I’m a mechanical engineering student at the University of Warwick), and something relevant about yourself (a previous interviewer stated his hobby when he introduced himself, and asked me to do the same). Also possibly good if your hobby/interest has some sort of relevance to the role. I also don’t think it hurts to give a sentence about why you’re here and interested in the role – like why you like the company/organisation – to help give the interviewer an insight into your career interests

2. Why do you want this role/what makes you a good fit for this role?

Quite open ended. Makes it difficult! To help, have a think about the role, and come up with answers the questions below to help you come up with a response:

  • what stood out to you most in the job description?
  • What makes the role a good fit to you, specifically? E.g. do you like customer-oriented work?, or solving a type of problem?
  • What will be you be able to bring to the company? E.g. ‘I’m interested in … and it’s something I do in my spare time. From this, I’ve learned skills such as …  and because of my passion for it and its relevance to this role, I feel like my knowledge can really benefit the company.’

Do not say things like ‘because the pay is higher than other jobs’, or ‘it was the closest to me so I don’t have to move house’, or anything else that essentially makes it look like you don’t care that much about the job or company itself.

3. What’s your favourite aspect of the company?

I’ve also had this phrased as ‘what’s your favourite thing about our mission statement?’. This is the interviewer’s way of seeing how much homework you’ve done. I recommend having some bullet points that you can memorise and reel off when necessary. Ideally you’ll have already done a bit of company research prior to applying. Try and make it not generic – talk about a few different things, but not solely the most obvious!

4. Tell us a time when you were part of a successful team


5. Tell us about a time when you were challenged to think differently


6. What is an example of a time when you had to take ownership of a situation – how did you  make improvements?

The above questions 4, 5, and 6 are all asking you to draw from your own experiences and morph them into something positive that showcases your abilities. You don’t know what question you will get – and there are many more variations of similar questions that you could be asked – the best way to prepare is to think of as many different scenarios as you can where you can apply the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Try to think of at least one or two scenarios which involve:

  • Group work/working together as part of a team to reach the goal
  • Individual work whilst being part of a team of people with different experiences from you (this could be a university group project, or an internship, or work experience in an office)
  • Leadership examples
  • A time when something did not go to plan (but make sure you manage to find the positives and lessons from this scenario to talk about, too)
  • Proactively showing initiative, or an example of an innovative solution to solve a problem.

For the above – if possible – it’s best to orient your answers to what the company’s interests are. E.g., for working in a customer/client focussed company, can you incorporate examples of how you took a client’s ideas and expanded upon them?, or perhaps you proactively did something new with the intent of helping the client?

Uncommon/unusual interview questions:

I’ll be brief, here. But, occasionally, interviewers may ask you questions that have been designed to be impossible to prepare for, and are designed to be on-the-spot. E.g,: ‘I drop an unopened fizzy drinks can into the ocean. What happens to the can?’. This doesn’t sound bad, maybe, but this particular question essentially kept going as we followed through the scenario. ‘why do you think the can sinks? – what principles and theories are you drawing upon?’. And then, ‘what happens to the can as it sinks?’.

My advice – just go with it, and try not to freak out. I think it’s less about you getting the question 100% right, and more about a way for the interviewer to see your thought process and ability to cope under pressure.

I haven’t mentioned it yet – but interviews are a two-way communication! Please remember to prepare questions that you have in advance, but you can also try to incorporate questions during your interview as well, if possible. One good way to show you’re paying attention might be to ask something about an aspect of the company or the interviewer’s role which they mention when they introduce themselves.

That’s all from me for now – thanks for reading!

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Harriet Waldron | Mechanical Engineering Contact Harriet
Anything about anything!
Find out more about me Contact Harriet

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