Interview Questions

18th November 2019

There is only one reason for interviews and that’s to identify the most suitable person for a vacancy. Some questions may seem silly and make you feel awkward by turning up the brightness of the spotlight on you. However, they’re not asked to try and catch you out. Different questions are designed for different reasons such as to establish your career hopes, your personality, how you communicate or how you deal with pressure

Here are a few questions, with guidance on how to answer

Tell me about yourself

This is usually a warm up question. Try and not be tempted to waffle on about things that are irrelevant to the position that you are applying for and your life history. Give a brief history of your professional career

Why should we hire you?

If you had done some research and probed your interviewer about their requirements and expectations then that should have given you some help with what your answer should be. You can answer this by linking your skills, experience and what appeals to you about the jobs and your personal goals with the client’s needs 

Why did you leave your last job?

Try and keep positive when answering this, though it may be hard. The situation could turn uncomfortable if the chat turns negative. It’s a good idea to have a prepared reason like “I’ve learned loads and really enjoy working there but there’s no room for progression” or “I haven’t been actively looking to change jobs and really enjoy where I am. This job was brought to my attention and there’s X about it that I knew that I’d kick myself in the future if I didn’t go for it”

What are your weaknesses?

Think of a genuine weakness, we all have them. Something that you think “oo, I could do that better”. How are you trying to improve? More experience? Research? Training course? Shadowing a colleague? For example “I used to get stressed out trying to please everybody. Now, when another job comes in, I have learnt to re-assess my workload regularly, adjust priorities and advise all involved of any amended delivery times”. Another approach is by looking at one of your strengths, think about the potential downside and what you would put into place to overcome this

What motivates you?

You could say that home time and the weekend excite you or a pop star’s salary or holidays. However, that won’t excite your employer. Maybe mention something like exceeding sales targets, reaching deadlines on time, seeing the team work together and reach their goals. Remember to make this about the position

When were you most satisfied in your job?

What gives you jobs satisfaction? Look at the job spec of the job that you are interviewing for and think about what aspects of the job would give you satisfaction the most. Then try and draw from your past experience where a task or situation gave you satisfaction and try and link it to something in the job description of the new job

Give an example of when you showed initiative

Have a think of a time where you may have thought outside of the box to find a solution. Maybe you researched something. Give an example where you put your idea into practice so that you can explain what the outcome was rather than giving an example of just an idea of that wasn’t put into practice

How would your colleagues describe you?

You can speak about your colleagues as a collective but also focus on some special relationships that you may have. Again, think of things that can relate to work, such as motivated, good time keeping, organized, professional, attention to detail, a team player etc. Consider who will be best at providing references for you. If you have an example to go with your answer, that would be good. For example, my manager would say that I’m a team player because I’m always happy to stay late without hesitation, where I can, in busy periods

What are your salary expectations?

Try and find he pay range before the interview. Also investigate what the market average salary for that position and level of responsibility is. At least then you can have an idea in your head prior to the interview. Try and know what the lowest amount would be for you. Of course, you may have an idea in your head and then hear something about the job in the interview that makes you think “I’d love this job, I’ll accept less” or “this is more responsibility than I thought….”. If you don’t know the salary you can ask what range they typically pay someone with your background. Or you could say something like “I’ve done some research and was thinking within this range”

Here are some other questions:

What are you most proud of in your working life?

What is your most significant work achievement?

If you were an animal…..plant….car…..meal…..what would you be?

Are you innovative?

Describe a time where you dealt with a difficult situation

Give an example of lateral thinking

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Have you ever had a bad experience with an employer or colleague?

What has been your biggest failure?

How do you handle stress?

How do you deal with conflict?

Give an example where you have faced an ethical dilemma

How would you deal with a client complaint?

Try and not leave your answer with just a negative example. Try and finish off your answer with a positive: was there a positive outcome? Did you learn something from it? Did it make you a stronger person? How? 

Don’t forget that if you are asked a question and simply can’t think of a reply straight away it is fine to ask to come back to it later. Giving yourself a little time may help. If it doesn’t, saying that you simply can’t think of anything there and then and would think about it and let them know after the interview shows that you are human. I have known people that have done just this and they got the job. It’s better to be honest rather than saying just anything for the sake of it 

In addition to preparing for an interview for talking about your career history, for example, you shouldn’t neglect preparing for different types of questions that you may be asked. Yes, you can’t pre-empt every question and you’re no doubt going to have to think of your feet from time to time but the internet is awash with examples of questions that will make you feel more confident

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