The Interview

Typical employer questions

Your recruitment consultant will tell you about the format of the interview in advance, but here we have put together some typical employer questions and how you should answer them.

Q: Tell me about yourself? (Interviewer thinks: I want to hear you talk)

A: This is a conversation starter and is nearly always asked to ease you into the interview. Talk about your qualifications, career history and range of specific skills. Particularly emphasise those skills that are most relevant to the position you are interviewing for.

Q: Describe your achievements to date: (Interviewer thinks: Are you successful?)

A: This is another really common question, so prepare it beforehand. Select an achievement that is career related. Identify the skills you used in this
situation and quantify the benefit to your past/ current employer.

Q: Tell me the most challenging situation you have faced recently and how you dealt with it? (Interviewer thinks: Are you logical? Do you show initiative? What is your definition of difficult?)

A: This is a trap question so think about your answer NOW! Select a difficult work situation that was not caused by you, the options available, how you selected the appropriate course of action and why and how you resolved it and what the outcome was. Ensure that it is positive!

Q: What are your strengths? (Interviewer thinks: I hope you are honest, what have you got thatis different? How can I use you in the team? What value will you add to the company?)

A: You are almost certainly going to be asked this question, so there is no excuse for not being prepared! Discuss your main strengths. List three or four ways they could benefit your employer. Strengths to consider include technical proficiency, ability to learn quickly, determination, positive attitude and your ability to relate to people and work as a team. Provide examples and be prepared to back them up with ‘proof’.

Q: What are your major weaknesses? (Interviewer thinks: I hope you are honest, what aren’t you interested in? What will you need help with? What’s your self-awareness like?)

A: Do not say “none” in response to this one – we all have weaknesses. There are two options available when asked such a question – use a professional weakness such as lack of experience on your part in an area that is not essential to the job you are interviewing for. The second option is to describe a personal or professional weakness that could also be considered a strength and the steps that you have taken to combat this.

Q: What decisions do you find difficult to make? (Interviewer thinks: Are you decisive?)

A: Your answer must not display weakness. Focus on decisions that have to be made without sufficient information. This will show your positive side.

Q: Why do you want to leave your current employer?

A: This should be a straightforward answer – looking for more challenge, responsibility and experience. DO NOT be negative in your reasons for leaving, positive reasons are better. It is not advisable just to say “I want more money”, employers want people who are interested in the job, not just what they will get paid.

Q: How do you deal with confrontation? (Interviewer thinks: Are you strong? Can you admit you are wrong?)

A: Again – this can be a “trap” question. Demonstrate that you’re willing to listen, implement changes where necessary, but that you have the courage of your convictions and will be firm when necessary.

Q: Why do you want to work for this company? (Interviewer thinks: Are you prepared and knowledgeable, what is the image of the company externally?)

A: Show you have researched into the firm’s position in the market, what the company’s strategy is, how long the particular department you are interviewing for has been around and what their corporate image is looking to project.

Other likely questions

How does your job fit into your department and company? (Gives an idea of level of responsibility).
What do you enjoy about the industry? Why do you want to work in this industry?
How do you respond to working under pressure? Provide examples – again with a positive outcome.
What kinds of people do you like working with?
How have you coped when your work has been criticised? (Give an example including the outcome).
What is the worst situation you have faced outside work? (Give an example including the outcome).
What kind of people do you find difficult to work with? (Be extremely careful when answering this question. Give an example and how you resolved/overcome the situation).
Tell me about the last time you disagreed with your boss. How did you resolve this?
What are your preferred working conditions, working alone or in a group and why?
How do you think you are going to fit in here especially as this organisation is very different to your current employer? (You may not be able to answer until you have established what he/she perceives as the differences).
What are you looking for in a company?
How do you measure your own performance?
What motivates you?
Why do you think you would be good at this job?
What changes in the workplace have caused you difficulty and why?
How do you feel about working long hours and/or weekends?
What example can you give me of when you have been out of your depth?
What have you failed to achieve to date?
What can you bring to this organisation?
What area of your skills do you want to improve? (Try to relate this to the role on offer).
Which part of this role is least attractive to you?
How do you see this job developing your skills and experience?
Why do you want to work in this area of this company?
What qualifies you for this job?
Where do you see this job going?
Why do you think you would like this role?
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Why should I give this position to you instead of the other people on the shortlist? (Strengths).
What reservations should I have about you as an employee? (Weaknesses).
What do you do in your spare time?
What will you do if you do not get the job?

Suggested questions to employers

The interview is a two-way process. As well as the employer interviewing you, you are also interviewing your prospective employer. Remember, employers ask questions to get information out of you – but it is a two way process – make sure you tell them the information you want them to hear.

Prepare questions prior to the interview:

What will my role entail?
How has this position become vacant?
How does my role fit into the structure of the overall department?
How will my performance be monitored?
Who will I report to?
Will anyone report to me?
What are the opportunities for further training?
Where is your company going? Expansion plans?
Will this position involve travelling?
What is the next step? What does my daily routine involve?
What is the objective of this organisation/department/team?
What sort of person does well here?
How might I influence my own future in the company?
Which of my skills are required to do this job?
How does the culture of this team, this organisation compare to others?
How will this role satisfy my drives for success/progression/travel?
What is it about this department and organisation that you (the interviewer) enjoy?

Closing the interview

  • If you are interested in the role, ask about the next interview stage if appropriate. If the interviewer offers you the job on the spot and you want it, accept it there and then. If you require further time to think it over, be tactful in saying so and qualify your reasons.
  • Try and provide a definite date as to when you can provide an answer.
  • Do not be disappointed if no definite job offer is made the interview stage. The interviewer will in most cases need to consult colleagues first or interview other suitable candidates.
  • If you feel that the interview is not going well, do not be discouraged. Sometimes this is part of an interviewers technique to see how you perform under pressure – and may have no bearing on whether you will/will not get the job. Display a positive attitude at all times.
    Ensure that you THANK the interviewer

After the interview

After the interview it is essential that you call your Truepark consultant and provide feedback. In most situations the consultant will not be able to get feedback from the client without speaking to you first. Any delay in providing this feedback can slow down the whole process. One of the most important learning aspects of interviewing is the feedback that you will receive from the recruitment consultants after they have spoken to your potential employer.

Whether it is positive or negative, it is essential that you take it on board and use it for future interviews. Feedback is a great learning opportunity for you.

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