by Tony Restell
Preparing for the job interview questions you might face has to be one of the more stressful aspects of changing jobs. Here we share insights you can put to work in your interview preparation right away.
What does your job interviewer want to uncover about you?
The starting point for success in responding to job interview questions is to understand why those questions are being asked. So what reassurances is your interviewer looking for during your interview?
– Can you do the job?
– Are you someone who’d fit in and be a good addition to the team?
– What risks are being taken by employing you?
– Will you take the job?
– What would be your motivations for taking the job?
Can you do the job?
Sounds obvious right? Yet unless you are moving between two competitors to perform the exact same role, your ability to do the job needs to be established. Your challenge in preparing to face job interview questions on this topic is to understand the job as thoroughly as you can.
Firstly this means revisiting the job advert and picking through the key requirements specified. Try to play detective and figure out why those criteria are important. What can you infer by reading between the lines? What contacts do you have who may be able to shed additional light on the role and the company? Have you researched the LinkedIn profiles of people in similar positions at the company, their descriptions of what they do – and their recommendations – may prove very telling. Who can you find who has recently left the company and who you could reach out to for insights?
What you’re most interested in identifying are i) the factors that are of greater or less importance than at your existing company (so that you know which strengths to play to in the interview) and ii) the differences that exist between you performing strongly in your current role and in this potential new role.
Examples would be there being greater political infighting to deal with; poor morale to contend with; different systems than you’re used to working with; different sales challenges to overcome; organisational challenges or deficiencies in capabilities that you’ll need to learn to work through.
In all respects that the role is similar to the one you already hold, your answers should pretty much take care of themselves. It’s the aspects that differ from what you’ve shown you can do that need to be bridged.
Are you someone who’d fit in and be a good addition to the team?
One key function of job interview questions – and the hiring process more generally – is to establish that there would be a good personality fit between you and the company. This takes two forms. Firstly companies have characters and an ethos that your earlier research may well have uncovered. It may be a very goal-focused business; innovative; focused on work-life balance… Whatever it is, you being a fit rather than a clash with that culture is a key hiring consideration.
Secondly – and no less important – you will be slotting into a team somewhere within the company. That team will have its own personality and traits that are a function of the existing team members. How you are likely to blend with them is another key consideration.
The topics so far are best addressed by doing your research before the job interview; and by asking as many questions as you can during the interview to fill in the gaps in your knowledge. As far as possible, you want to know the answer the interviewer would like to hear before you answer any question or show your hand.
What risks are being taken by employing you?
Everyone involved in the hiring decision is taking a risk with their careers by rubber-stamping you as the best person to hire. The candidate who looks best for the role may not always be the least risky hire. The most talented candidate may be likely to become dissatisfied in the role (and leave for greener pastures). They are more likely to be in the running for other openings and drop out of the recruiter’s interview process altogether. This explains why those willing to take a demotion and paycut to get back into work are often left frustrated. They’re considered overqualified precisely because they could become dissatisfied or receive a better offer once hired.
Similarly, those with inconsistencies in their application or unexplained developments in their careers can generate anxiety that undoes an otherwise strong performance. That’s why you need to think carefully about your shortcomings and how best to handle any anxieties these may cause. It’s better that you address these concerns directly than leave your interviewers to stew on them behind closed doors. And related to this point you also need to address…
Will you take the job?
Come the final stages of the hiring process, your interviewers probably have a number of candidates they’d be happy to hire. What they’ll be loathe to do is offer the role to someone they think may well not accept it. In doing so, they risk losing all the other candidates in the running. This doesn’t reflect well on the interviewers and could be a serious setback for the company if they find themselves without a key hire for an extended period as a result.
In answering job interview questions, I’ve seen good candidates come unstuck if they’ve left the interviewer with the impression that they might not accept an offer. It’s fine to challenge an interviewer on why you should think their role is more compelling than your other career options. But unless you’re the only candidate in the running, you probably don’t want the interview to come to a close without having made your interest in the position clear.
What would be your motivations for taking the job?
Your reasons for being interested in the role can also be very telling – and make you a better or worse fit for the position. During your research you may have uncovered what makes employees in this organisation tick; or when asking your own questions you may have gained some insights. Be wary of revealing motivations that are not consistent with what you have learnt about the organisation. They could be your undoing.
So now you have a better understanding of what your interviewer may be trying to uncover with their job interview questions. You know how to tailor your answers for a better chance of achieving a successful outcome.