Interview questions require direct and thorough answers. Whilst they provide insight into your experience, they also test your ability to get straight to the point!
Below you will find a list of questions that you may get asked during an interview. Run through each of the questions and have an idea about how you would answer each.
Typical Interview Questions:
Tell me about yourself
- Keep your answer to one or two minutes; don't ramble.
- Do not go back to childhood experiences, just give a brief outline of where you are from and where you want to be going.
- Use your CV introduction as a starting base.
- Say only positive statements
What do you know about our company?
- Show that you have done your company research. Know what their products are, how big the company is, roughly what their annual revenue is, what reputation it has within the industry and on the street. Know the company's history, image, goal, and philosophy.
- Project an informed interest which allows the interviewer to tell you some more detailed aspects about the company.
Why do you want to work for us?
- Don't talk about what you want; first talk about their needs and what you can do for them.
- You wish to be part of their company: identify its strengths.
- You relish the challenge of solving their company problem/s.
- You can make a definite contribution to specific company goals.
What would you do for us? What can you do for us that someone else can't?
- Talk about successful past experience where you have helped an employer solve a problem and relate this to the job being offered.
- Stay positive and don't be seen to criticise other candidates.
Which aspects of our position do you find the most attractive? Least attractive?
- List three or more attractive factors and only one, minor unattractive factor. Aspects to pick up on could include; office location, company reputation, the chance to work with esteemed colleagues, training opportunities etc.
Why should we hire you?
- Because of the knowledge, experience, abilities, and skills you possess. Be very positive and confident in your reply, not vague.
What do you look for in a job?
- An opportunity to use my skills, to perform and to be recognised.
- The opportunity to develop further skills; throughout life we should be constantly learning.
- Relate your answer to the job for which you are applying e.g. "I enjoy a challenge and I believe this position would offer me that."
Please give me your definition of a ... (the position for which you are being interviewed).
- Keep it brief; actions and results oriented.
How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our firm?
- Keep it brief; actions and results oriented.
How long would you stay with us?
Management and Experience Questions:
What is your management style?
- For example 'Management by Coaching and Development (MBCD)' where Managers see themselves primarily as employee trainers. 'Open door' is also a good one.
Are you a good manager? Give an example. Why do you feel you have top managerial potential?
- Keep your answers achievement and task oriented.
- Emphasise management skills - planning, organising, leadership, interpersonal, etc.
- Describe relevant personal traits.
What did you look for when you hired people in the past?
- Discuss the qualities you think are important when hiring new employees. Maybe also mention things you would not consider to be important about a person when determining whether they are suitable for a role.
Did you ever fire anyone? If so, what where the reasons and how did you handle it?
- You have had experience with this and it worked out well.
- Describe how you spoke to the person and explained precisely but tactfully where they were underachieving.
What do you see as being the most difficult task in being a manager?
- Getting things planned and done on time within the imposed constraints e.g. budget.
- Do not imply that these are insurmountable difficulties.
What is your biggest weakness as a manager?
- Be honest but don't dwell on it and end on a positive note.
Industry trend questions:
Why are you leaving your present job?
- No longer provides a suitable challenge, time to move on, I wish to move into .…(the area this company specialises in).
- Give a "group" answer if possible, e.g. our department was consolidated or eliminated.
How do you feel about leaving all your benefits?
Describe what you feel to be the perfect working environment.
- Where people are treated as fairly and equally as possible.
- Don't mention 'naked Fridays!'
How would you evaluate your present firm?
Quantifying Your Experience and Accomplishments:
Have you helped increase sales? Profits? How?
- Imply that you have done so on many occasions, then concentrate on describing one in detail.
- Quote facts and figures.
Have you helped reduce costs? How?
- Same as above.
How much money did you ever account for?
- Be specific and recount a particular contract with facts and figures.
How many people did you supervise on your last job?
- Be specific - the more the better, but don't exaggerate.
Do you like working with figures more than words?
- Be honest but positive.
- Make it clear that you are confident and comfortable working with both.
- Don't say "depends on the figures -nudge nudge wink wink!"
In your current or last position, what features did you like the most? Least?
- Relate your response to what the new job can offer.
- Don't dwell on the negative aspects.
In your current or last position, what are or were your five most significant accomplishments?
- You could refer to the key accomplishments already identified in your CV.
- Keep it brief and use statistics if appropriate.
Your work style and habits:
If I spoke with your previous boss, what would he say are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
- Emphasise skills - don't be overly negative about your weaknesses; it's always safe to identify a lack of a skill or experience as a shortcoming rather than a personal characteristic.
Can you work under pressures, deadlines, etc.?
In your present position, what problems have you identified that had previously been overlooked?
- Keep it brief and be sure to say how you overcame the problems.
Don't you feel you might be better off in a different size company? Different type company?
- Depends on the job - elaborate slightly.
- Reiterate how your skills, qualifications and previous experience lend themselvesitself to the job you are applying for with this company.
How do you resolve conflict on a project team?
- First you would discuss issues privately and tactfully. If the problem is not resolved then action would need to be taken which, in a severe case, could mean removing a member of the team.
- You would operate within the company's disciplinary policy.
What was the most difficult decision you ever had to make?
- Attempt to relate your response to the prospective employment situation.
- Do not mention trivial issues e.g. the time you had to choose between Emmy Lou and her twin sister Scarlet O'Hara. Or whether to wear the blue or red tie to the interview.
How much are you looking for?
- Answer with a question, i.e., "What is the salary range for similar jobs in your company?"
- If they don't answer, then give a range of what you understand you are worth in the marketplace.
- You could also use your current salary as a base and say that you are looking to improve on this but be careful in case that lowers the wage they offer.
How much do you expect, if we offer this position to you?
- Be careful; the market value of the job may be the key answer e.g., "My understanding is that a job like the one you're describing may be in the range of .... "
What kind of salary are you worth?
- Have a specific figure in mind... don't be hesitant.
- Avoid joking and saying that they couldn't afford it!
What was the last book you read? Movie you saw? Sporting event you attended?
- Talk about books, sports or films that represent balance in you life.
- Stick to something fairly mainstream or classic.
How would you describe your own personality?
- Fair, honest, reliable, friendly, outgoing, etc.
What are your strong points?
- Present at least three and relate them to the interviewing company and job opening.
- Tailor your answer to meet the needs of the employer e.g. "I see myself as a goal-orientated individual who in my previous role achieved above projected results."
What are your weak points?
- Don't say you haven't any.
- Try not to cite personal characteristics as weaknesses, but be ready to have one if the interviewer presses.
- Try to transform your response and the question into a strength. "I'm the kind of person who likes challenges and gets involved. Some people may see that as butting in, but I'm sure it could be looked at as a strength because I like to make sure the job gets done correctly."