5 interview questions, and how to answer them (from the people asking)

By J&C Team

Interviewing for a new job can be a daunting prospect, especially when you have no idea how to prepare. In search of help, we took ourselves down to the Enternships Career Fair at Campus Party – running all this week at London’s O2 – to seek out some handy hints from industry professionals about impressing a prospective employer.


After some digging, we came up with five common interview questions and, with the help of our pals in the know, five ideal answers.


1. Why are you interested in working with us?


Brendan Gill, co-founder and CEO of Open Signal – a website that maps mobile phone coverage – seeks genuine enthusiasm in candidates and thinks it is immensely important to read up on your prospective place of work before the interview.

Tim Langley from CANDDi – a service that tracks who has visited your website – is similarly interested in why candidates apply to work with him and wants to hear from people who comprehensively understand what his company does.


An ideal response…


Having looked into your company extensively, I decided that the position you were offering suited me perfectly – both in terms of my experience and my passion for what you do. I strongly share your business ethos and would look forward to bringing my own experience and skills to the table.


2. What’s your motivation?


James Cook of academic social network Mendeley is keen to know what motivates prospective candidates – “what makes you excited about waking up and going to your job?” – and explains that he wants to see passion, relevant skills and articulacy, alongside an insight and understanding of current trends.


An ideal response…


My motivation is working for a company like yours, that embraces my skills set and makes me passionate about the work that I do.


3. How would you cope in a new situation?


Graeme Maciver of tech solutions agency Cohaesus is always keen to find out how people would respond when asked to undertake an unfamiliar task. Maciver stresses the importance of possessing resources that you can draw upon and, by extension, is always impressed when a prospective employee is engaged in a relevant side project.


An ideal response…


I started my own website three years ago, and running it has taught me how to adapt to new situations. I have also learned how to stay calm and level-headed when solving an unfamiliar problem.


4. How would you deal with an angry client?


Stephen Monk from digital media agency Web Media 360 wants to hear how job candidates would react in certain situations, and how their past experiences have equipped them to cope with new challenges.


Similarly, Ben Goldsmith from Level 39 – Europe’s largest accelerator space for finance, retail and technology companies – is interested to see how prospective employees would react to negative feedback.


An ideal response…


I would show empathy for the client and try to work out how I could fix the problem as soon as possible, and prevent it from happening again. If the negative feedback took place in a public forum (such as the company Twitter account) I would contact the client privately to try and ascertain the problem, and solve it calmly and professionally.


5. What kind of sandwich would you be?


Yes, we’re being serious. Interviewers will often throw in a curve ball question, mainly in a bid to see how you think on your feet. Chris O’Sullivan from tech start-up Forward Labs is always on the lookout for inspired answers, explaining that how inventive or boring your response is will quickly reveal your character.


An ideal response…


I would have to be an Emmental and mustard bagel because I’m tough, bright and just a little bit nutty.


By Florence Vincent