Job interview(Gallo)
1. Tell me about yourself
When asking this question, the interviewer wants to get a general picture of who you are and what you've done before. Prepare a one-minute long presentation or 'sales pitch' about yourself, talking about your educational background, previous work experience, key skills and career goals. Don't sound too rehearsed and focus on work-related items - the interviewer doesn't want to hear your life story.
2. What are your strengths?
A strength is something that comes easily to you; something you're good at. You could, for example, talk about your ability to prioritise, solve problems, work under pressure, get along with different types of people, or lead a team. Give an example of a specific situation in which you demonstrated the skill/ability in question. And, unless you have a very tangible example to back up these claims, stay away from clichés like "I'm hard working" or "I am a very quick learner".
3. What are your weaknesses?
Although it's important to be honest, this is not the time to reveal your major character flaws. If you say, for instance, that you have a tendency to be late or argue with customers, the interviewer is not going to be impressed. The trick is to choose a weakness you can overcome. You could say you get nervous when giving presentations, but tackled this by presenting group projects as part of your studies. The interviewer wants to see that you are aware of your areas for growth and that you've taken steps to work on them. Again, stay away from clichés, like "I work too hard". If this is a real weakness, explain the consequences of working too hard (e.g. high stress) and how you addressed this (e.g. allocated more time for a hobby).
4. How have you dealt with angry customers before?
These kinds of questions are called competency questions as they help the interviewer see how you would handle particular situations. You could mention that you use a balanced approach to diffuse difficult situations. Let your interviewer know that even though you're not dominating or aggressive, you're not a push-over either. Say that you listen and go the extra mile for customers. But remember, you need to relate your answers to specific examples to give the interviewer a better idea of your actual competencies.
5. Why do you want to work for us? 
Base your answer on the background research you've done about the company prior to the interview. Are you attracted by its reputation or perhaps the career development opportunities it has to offer? Sincerity is important here, and relate your answer to long-term career goals. If you cannot (for example, you simply need a salary to fund your studies), still try to find positive aspects to explain why you want the job, like the nature of the position will allow you to use your excellent customer service skills.
6. What are your salary expectations? 
If you request a salary higher than the range for the job, the interviewer will say you're too expensive - and this could cost you the job. If you request a salary lower than the range, the interviewer will say nothing - and you've just lost money. Rather say something along the lines of: "I'm interested in finding a job that is a good fit for me. I'm sure whatever salary you're paying is consistent with the rest of the market" or "what has been budgeted for this position and perhaps we can go from there." Don't be tempted to inflate your salary - many companies will ask for your latest payslip - you don't want to be caught out lying. Lastly, be persistent (but not pushy) - the employer will give in where they can if you're the best candidate for the job.
7. Where do you see yourself in five years' time? 
Be careful about saying things like you want to be a manager as that could be the interviewer's job. Tell them in more general terms that you're interested in management and your goal would be to proceed to that level moving forward.
Kati Mhone is a career and business coach based in Gauteng. For more information,