Preparation is key
You are unlikely to be able to predict the type of questions you may be asked at interview. Make sure you invest adequate preparation time and don’t forget to practice your techniques.
It’s your opportunity to excel
Interview questions should not be feared - see them as opportunities to excel. They allow you demonstrate why you are the ‘best fit’ for the job. They key is to impress the interviewer by giving better answers than anyone else, and that’s where your preparation comes in.
Your selling points
Identify and make a list of your skills and abilities, strengths, achievements. Give some consideration to any areas for improvement you may have. What qualifications, skills, experience, knowledge, background, personality traits do you possess that would apply to this particular job? Think up the phrases and descriptions that 'sell you‘ and work them into your answers.
List of questions
Make a list of possible questions you might be asked and prepare your answers. Questions generally fall into one of a number of categories designed to identify your suitability in terms of skills, experience, behavioural fit, personality and motivation. Compile a bespoke list of questions you think you may be asked by carefully studying the job description and placing yourself in the interviewer’s shoes. See our example interview questions below as a guide.
Example interview questions
Skills related interview questions
Prospective employer related interview questions
New job related interview questions
Ambition related interview questions
Experience related interview questions
Motivation related interview questions
Product/Service related interview questions
Teamwork related interview questions
Personality related interview questions
Interests related interview questions
Unusual interview questions
Practice your answers
Write down your answers to your bespoke list of questions. Enhance them by incorporating any phrases and keywords used by the employer on their website, corporate literature and job description. Go through the cycle of reviewing and modifying your answers until they feel natural.
If possible practice your answers so that you are comfortable and confident in responding to different types of questions. Try and anticipate topics and questions you may face. Don't learn phrases parrot fashion, as you will sound rehearsed, but do think of specific examples you can use in the interview to show your experience.
Facts tell but stories sell
Wherever possible, prepare your answers by wrapping a short story around them; giving specific examples of your experiences makes your responses more memorable for interviewers.
‘What’s in it for me?’ – The question behind every interview question
Here’s an important tip. Whilst many interviewers ask questions that appear to focus on your past accomplishments, what they really want to know is what you can do for them now and in the future. Structure your answers in a way that exemplifies how relevant your past accomplishments are to the job in question. Always keep your interviewer’s perspective in mind.
Prepare your top 5 questions
You will be invited to ask questions yourself, so prepare some in advance. This is an important opportunity for you to learn more about the employer, and for the interviewer to further evaluate you as a job candidate. Try not to ask questions that have already been covered during the interview as this obviously implies that you may not have been listening.
Pre-prepare 5 quality questions to ask, concerning the job, the company and the industry. Prioritise them in order of interest as you may not have time to ask all 5 questions.
Ensure you include questions about the job, environment, culture and people within the company. The interview process is not only about the employer evaluating your suitability for the job, but also about you ensuring whether the company is the right fit for you.
Your questions should indicate your interest in these subjects and that you have read and thought about them.
‘I read in last months asset leasing publication that... what impact do you think this may have on your operation?’.
‘I can see that you have ambitious growth plans, how do you see this role developing in line with the growth of the company?
‘I noticed on your website that you have entered the middle ticket market, what barriers to sale have you experienced?
‘Your latest annual report states …. how has this impacted upon your credit policy?’
‘Your marketing literature refers to… how has this been received by your end-users?’
Additionally, you may want to include in your top 5, questions which can help you find out whether you really want to work for the interviewer or company:
‘What’s your ideal employee like?’
‘How does an employee succeed in your team?’
Avoid red flag questions
It makes sense not to prepare questions that may raise concerns. For example, asking questions about holiday entitlements at this stage may give the impression that you are more interested in taking time off than the actual job. Asking about tuition reimbursements, gym memberships and other such questions are best avoided at this stage of the process. If it is imperative that you ask such questions, then make sure the interviewer understands your reasoning why.
Be three dimensional
Don’t prepare questions about one topic only as this may be perceived as either having a poor understanding of the company and role or having a one dimensional approach.
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