Interview Tips and Tricks to Win that New Job!
1. How was your journey here?
2. Tell me about yourself?
Interviews normally start with developing rapport and setting the scene. Typical rapport questions: How was your journey? Tell me about yourself. Rapport type of questions come at the beginning. In fact chatting about the weather or something current can go on for some time. This is a vital part of the interview, because both the interviewer and interviewee are becoming more relaxed and feeling relaxed in each other’s company.
At the end of the day people offer posts to people that they want to work with. You don’t need to prepare answers to these types of questions. Answer in a friendly way and don’t be in a hurry to move on.
CV/Resume Focused Questions
3. What have you enjoyed most in your career to date?
4. What achievements are you most proud of?
5. What does your current job involve?
6. Can you give me evidence of a time when you demonstrated initiative in a job?
7. How IT literate are you?
8. What changes would you make if you could go back in time?
These types of questions follow the rapport questions, and the interviewer will probably make them with your CV in front of them. If someone else designed your CV make sure you are totally familiar with it, as you could be asked on any particular aspect.
Be particularly prepared if there are any obvious gaps of employment, too many moves, exam failures and be prepared to explain reasons. Don’t be over concerned about them. I have not met or read about any successful person yet who did not have failures along the way, it is called learning and experience.
If you want an example of someone with a great deal of failure on the CV read the biography of Abraham Lincoln quoted above, or try Aristotle Onassis, Walt Disney, Henry Ford. The past does not necessarily equal the future.
All of the questions above are easier if you spend twenty minutes at least on them before an interview, making notes. Think your answers through now, considering what reaction you would expect from the interviewer.
Future Opportunity Questions
9. What do you know about us?
It's amazing how many people at interview know very little about the company they are visiting. This does not come over as though you have much interest. You may have a string of interviews but each interviewer is looking for someone who finds them special for some reason. You can give yourself a major advantage over competitors by taking the trouble to research the company and the opportunity beforehand. They will probably have their own Internet site, there will be directories at your local library. This is the information age it is easy to find out about companies. You could ring their company secretary and ask for a copy of their current report and accounts. This will show how big they are, if they are profitable and what their growth plans are. You will come over far better if you know something about them and can translate this into why their company especially appeals to you.
10. Why have you applied to this job?
Interview practice by doing the rounds, can be used as a cheap form of gaining experience. There is nothing more annoying to an interviewer than someone who is just “doing the rounds” to see what is out there. You will not perform your best and the negative feedback can erode your confidence. You should be very fussy about what interviews to go to. If you are not fired up with interest and enthusiasm for the position you probably should not go. If you are, then you should tell the interviewer all about it. Remember genuine enthusiasm usually sells much more than higher qualifications and experience!
11. What are your ideal criterion for a new position?
For your own sake you should know this anyway. Otherwise how would you know if you saw your ideal position? So, what are your main criteria, money, more responsibility, challenge, a job nearer home, a chance to use some special skills, to work for a larger firm, etc. Whatever they are, figure them out, even before you apply to jobs. That way, at interview you can come straight out with them and come across as someone who knows exactly what they want.
12. What can you bring to this job?
The key thing in your answer is to not just list your top qualities but match them to their needs. Listing your skills in itself is a bit like a shopkeeper telling a vegetarian about all their fine cuts of meat.
13. What are your long-term career plans?
Often the interviewer is less interested in what they are than checking out if you are thinking long-term. People with clear long-term goals to achieve are directed and thus motivated. Motivated employees perform better. Just make sure that your long-term goals are a possibility with them.
14. What exactly are your career goals?
Again, similar thing. Even if your career goals are very simple and straightforward knowing what they are is vital. Bear in mind that if your career goals are not compatible with what the interviewer wants to hear then this is not a good job for you anyway. I recommend that you stick to your career goals and keep looking until the right opportunity for you is found. Sometimes the wait can be frustrating, but keep looking and it will come.
15. What is your attitude to authority?
16. How would you deal with a difficult person?
Questions like the two above probe your ability to communicate, particularly getting on with others. The first question suggests a short answer such as,” I do what I am told with respect to the job I am employed to do.”
The second question can be answered in many ways. Here the interviewer is testing you to see how you react. Do you um and er. Personally I would answer it by saying something like, “Well first of all, if you start with the belief that the person is being difficult you are already on a negative footing. So I would first keep an open mind and listen to them, which in itself calms most people anyway…” This is just one potential answer. The interviewer is probing your communication abilities. They are not looking for an answer of the type, “Give them a wide berth”.
17. What do you do with your spare time?
Tell them. Hobbies and sports tell interviewers a lot about the sort of person you are. Prepare now before any interview in what way your pastimes will help you in this position. For example if you do a lot of sport your peak fitness could be useful. If you play football for example, emphasise that you understand the needs of being a team player. They probably want to see that you do more with your life than just watch TV every night.
Sometimes they are also looking for anything that might clash with work. Perhaps a night school course that will stop you working late, or being regularly away on business, if required. Remember also that people like people that are like them, that they have something in common with and you might just strike lucky.
18. How well can you communicate?
In reality your whole demeanour and presentation will give an impression about your ability to communicate. Every question you answer will show your ability to communicate. This means body language as well as words. Maintaining a similar posture to the interviewer is a good general rule. Show enthusiasm on your face that sends the same message as what you are saying. (There is more on this in my special report on interview technique.) If you have thought about and prepared for these questions ahead of time you will come over as a good communicator.
19. What motivates you?
Key information. Is it money, praise, recognition, status, promotion prospects? Whatever it is tell them as they now have a challenge to deliver with the reward to them of having a very motivated employee. If you get the job this will be vital to know how to get the best out of you. You must know what does motivate you, why are you there? What is your dream?
20. What would you do if you won the lottery?
Interviewers asking this question are amused by how many people immediately give a list of things that they would like. New car, house, holidays etc. A different sort of person focuses on what they would do for others. “I would buy my mum … etc. Many people however pause and have no idea what they would do. Personally The first thing I would do is count it ! Don’t be afraid to come over with a little humour. Remember people buy people first and whatever else second. They might go on to probe if you would retire from work. If your answer is yes, it throws some doubt on your passion for the job.
21. What is your definition of success?
Interesting one this, because people come up with a great variety of answers, showing their philosophy for life. Explore this one now, it will also help you focus on which positions to go for. Having an answer, whatever it is, means that you will come across as someone that knows where he or she is going. Good answers could be, “achieving what you set out to achieve,” “ Never giving up,” “Desire, Dedication and Determination” Whatever your definition think of it now and be ready.
22. Describe the process you go through to make a decision?
My answer would be, “Know my objectives, establish the facts of each opportunity and go for the one that meets my goals best.” Most people actually make decisions in the same way whether it is choosing a meal in a restaurant or choosing a career. You may prefer to write all the options down and see them clearly. Perhaps your style is to ask others perhaps wiser for their opinion. In a restaurant for example, some people will always order the same dish, some ask advice from the waiter, others will choose the first thing that looks good, some read through he whole list several times and consider every single option. I am not saying there is a better way, but there might be a way that is more appropriate for the type of job you are going for.
Many people get very pressured making decisions and will quite often avoid making one if at all possible. It depends on the nature of the job you are going for and how important this is. If the position involves making important decisions, and most do, then the interviewer will want to be convinced that you have an effective way of making decisions.
23. How well can you handle stress?
The question suggests that there is a lot of stress with the job, which I would immediately want to probe. Talk about stressful situations you have been in and how you handled them.
These often come up ironically when you are doing well. They are impressed with you so far and deliberately want to put you under some pressure to see
how you take it. So the first rule is keep fighting, even if you think you answered a question badly. I have offered jobs to many people who afterwards
admitted they thought they answered badly. I was not so much interested in the content of their answer but that they kept fighting, showing enthusiasm
for the job and self-confidence in doing it well.
They might directly test your convictions in your abilities. For example, to a graduate an interviewer might say, “I admire your academic achievements, but this job is for someone more practical and hands on, what would you say to that?” The same interviewer will say to a non-graduate for the same job? “ One problem is that you lack a good solid formal education, we ideally were looking for a graduate for this job, what do you say to that?
Most people go away with the believe that they had the wrong profile whereas what had really happened is that the interviewer wanted to scratch the surface to see if you could fight you corner.
24. You may have to tell the occasional lie in this position, are you Okay with that?
This question is a trick because it suggests either a yes or no answer and both of those options have serious consequences. Interviewers do not want to hear, “No problem,” which is a little worrying. To the interviewer you are either a liar that will no doubt lie to him or you are someone, which is far more likely, that is trying to give you all the answers you want to hear. If they are genuinely okay with you lying then you must have serious doubts as to the individual, and company you would be working for. So I suggest that you say no you are not all right with it, if that is required you are not the man for the job. I can be diplomatic tactful and sensitive to people but I do not deliberately lie and deceive people.
25. Tell me something that makes you angry?
The question is a trick one because it assumes that something can make you angry and secondly gets you to focus on something negative i.e. anger. They are just testing and probing you to see what you are made of. Think now of what your actual answer would be, considering the implications for the recipient.
26. Are you more creative or practical?
This is a trick question because it gives you an alternative choice suggesting that if you are creative you cannot be practical and vice-versa. The danger here is that you quickly respond with one of the alternatives and then they stress the importance of the other one for the position. Be on your alert at all times for questions that make assumptions and challenge them when appropriate. If you have one that is stronger, this will put their focus on the weaker one. If you recognise it as the weaker, and it is important to you, and the job, state that you are taking steps to develop your skill in this area.
27. What is more important to you money or power?
Same comment as above. Neither or both of them in practice might be important to you they are not trade-offs.
28. Sell me that pen?
Very common in sales interviews but also common generally as it tests your ability to communicate in a practical simple way. Most people start describing the biro, where what is perhaps looked for is how the benefits of having this particular biro might match a need of the interviewer. Personally I always like to answer with humour and respond a little differently than expected. Don’t copy me, I merely want to suggest to you to let your personality and sense of humour come out fully. “No I won’t there is not enough profit in it to bother! What I will tell you though is that I can supply you these in bulk at a price I guarantee that you cannot get elsewhere. Do I have your interest?” Of course he has to say yes to this and you have got him, but you have also come over with a sense of humour, a personality, an understanding of human nature and that you can think. You might have responded. “ Can I ask who is responsible for buying pens for your company, because he is the person I need to talk to.”
29. What are the three things I should know about you?
Have prepared your three most powerful attributes that are relevant to the job. List them out straight away and then be quiet.
30. What are your weaknesses for this position?
This is perhaps the one question that finding it hard to answer goes down well. If you have a weakness for the job focus on how you recognise it and what action you are taking to turn it into strength.
31. What question would you least like me to ask you?
Your mind will probably fairly quickly go to just that. As it is the question you would like least to be asked prepare for it just in case he/she asks it. Secondly I would probably go for humour, “Are you willing to work for £10000 a year on 12 hours a day?” If you give him/her the above question they will then ask you for your answer. By definition he has trapped you in to talking on what you would least like to talk about.
32. What questions do you have for me?
Consider that it is quite acceptable to take a list and bring it out and go through it in the interview. It is not a memory contest.
a. Why is the position vacant?
b. What was the last holder of the post like?
c. What criteria will you use to come to a decision?
d. What would my key responsibilities be?
e. What are the company’s growth plans?
f. How secure financially is the company?
g. How would you describe the culture or atmosphere?
h. Why do people that are here, stay here?
i. So, do I get the job?
33. Why should I choose you?
Because I am the best and most appropriate for the job. Mainly because I want it more than the other candidates which means I will put more into it. This approach is better than just listing out your experience on your CV, they already have that, and another candidates CV on paper might be better. This question incidentally is one that you might also like to ask them.
34. What salary do you require?
Before you talk about salary in great detail you want to be the one that they will offer. So ideally you want to be a little vague until you have really sold them on the benefits of offering you. I also suggest you adopt the policy of first choosing the position that is the perfect one for you and then negotiating for the best deal possible. This in fact could be your response to them. When talking numbers stress regularly what they are receiving in return for it.
35. If we did offer you’re the job, how would you react?
I would take it, thank you very much, when can I start? Interviewers like to make offers to people they know are going to accept. Sounds obvious when you think of it from their point of view. Therefore if you say something like, I need to think about it, that is fair enough, but you are not helping your chance of getting the offer. So I suggest you show enthusiasm all through the interview, having got this far, all the answers will be there for you when you need them.
To your success!
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