INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

It's your big day and the interview has arrived! You are well-prepared and have covered every eventuality - or have you? How you respond to the interview questions is very important. You need to think about not only how your construct your responses to the questions, but also how you intend to follow up any probing questions. The first type of interview question is usually a set of 'warm up' questions.

These types of questions are usually asked at the beginning of an interview. They are sometimes used by an interview panel to give you the opportunity to warm up in preparation for the assessable questions.

Q. How was your journey here today?

This question is very easy to answer. However, avoid single word or short replies such as:

“Yes it was good thanks.”

Try to add more substance to your response and use it as an opportunity to talk to the panel and also show them that you have some great qualities such as organisation and preparation.

“Yes it was a good journey thanks. I’ve never been to this building before so I carried out a dummy run last night. The last thing I wanted was to be late for the interview so I made sure that I prepared fully. I got up early this morning, checked the travel news and then set off with plenty of time to spare. I arrived here 30 minutes early so I sat in my car, composed myself and re-read my notes about the job and your company.”

Q. Why have you decided to apply for this job?

This again is a very common interview question and one that needs to be answered carefully. Remember that an interview panel will have heard all of the usual responses such as “I’ve wanted to work in this kind of role since I was a child”, and “This job just really appeals to me”. These types of standard responses will gain you few marks.

It is crucial that you provide a response to this type of question that is unique, truthful and different to all of the other candidates.

Consider the following points:

- Provide a response that demonstrates you’ve carried out plenty of research. During your research something has caught your eye about the job that is very appealing. This will demonstrate to the panel that you have looked into the role. Remember that most candidates will apply for many different jobs all at one time, and as a result they will fail to carry out any meaningful research.

- Consider providing a response that demonstrates you have the key skills required to perform the job competently. An example would be:

“I understand that this role requires very good communication and team working skills. I believe I am very strong in these areas, and therefore I would be a valuable asset to the team. Having researched the job and organisation extensively I have noticed a common theme appearing time and time again – professionalism. I have also spoken to people who already work within this team, and the feedback I have received has been excellent. I really want to work for this team and the skills and experience I have already gained will allow me to contribute towards the organisation’s goals in a positive manner.”

Warm-up questions can come in any format. The main aim for you is to make sure that you speak and communicate with the panel. Always avoid single word answers or short responses. The easy questions are your opportunity to get warmed up, and they are also your chance to create a rapport with the interviewers.

We will now take a look at a number of main interview questions.

Question 1 – Tell me about you?

This is a common introductory question that many interviewers use to break the ice. It is designed to get you talking about something you know – You!

A big mistake usually made by the majority of people is that they focus on their family, children, hobbies or home life. Whilst you may have some interesting facts about your personal life you should either avoid these, unless specifically asked, or keep them very brief. Try to answer this type of question based around your own personal achievements, educational background and ongoing studies. It is good to say that you are motivated or enthusiastic but you MUST ensure that you provide examples or scenarios where this has been proven. For example you might say, “I am a motivated person – whilst working for my previous employer I achieved ‘XYZ’, which enabled the company to achieve its goal in relation to increased profit margins etc.”

Giving specific, brief examples is positive. Remember that anyone can tell an interview panel that they are ‘motivated’, ‘enthusiastic’ or ‘determined’ but not everybody can prove it. Try to think about and use some of the following key words when structuring some of your answers:

- Motivated
- Self-starter
- Responsible
- Enthusiastic
- Dedicated
- Committed
- Reliable
- Trustworthy
- Initiative
- Team player
- Organised
- Focused

It is also a good idea to think of occasions where you have initiated projects or ideas at work, which have gone on to achieve results.

There now follows a sample response to this question. Once you have read it, use the template on the following page to create your own, based on your own individual situation:

“My strong points are that I am focused, enthusiastic and dedicated. For example, whilst working for my current employer I was successful in achieving my annual appraisal sales target with 4 months to spare.

I like to ensure that I maintain a healthy balance between my personal and professional life. This helps me to maintain a high level of performance at work.

I recently embarked on a Diploma course, which I am now halfway through. I enjoy new challenges and like to take care of my own self-development.

I am an active person and enjoy visiting the gym 4 times a week. Some of my other hobbies include art, walking and cooking.

I am a caring person and when I have the spare time I try to get involved in community events in my local town. I recently ran a half marathon raising £450 for a local charity.

Overall I would say that I am a reliable, self-conscious and hard-working person who always looks for ways to improve.”

TOP TIP

Take any literature or evidence that you have along with you to the interview to prove to the panel that you are genuine.

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