Tag Archive: Interview questions

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.

Top Interview Questions (part 2)

The next list of interview questions pertains to work experience:

  1. Can you tell me about a time when you discovered a more efficient way to do a work task?
  2. Do you always double-check your work?
  3. Tell me about a time when you were given an assignment, but you were not clear of how to go about it. How did you tackle this situation?
  4. Can you tell me about a time when you backed off in a meeting because you felt someone else should speak or have an opportunity?
  5. How would you show co-workers the importance of cooperation?
  6. Give an example of a time when you assisted a co-worker to enhance their work skills?
  7. Tell me about a situation when you were given job instructions and you were unable to comprehend the instructions. How did you go about completing the task?
  8. How often do you discuss and work with colleagues to think up new systems and styles of working?
  9. Can you tell me about a time when you did something extra, which was not part of the routine activities assigned to you, but you did it for the benefit of the customer?
  10. Describe a time when you took on additional work to help your team meet a crucial work goal?
  11. Tell me about a time that you undertook a course of study, on your own initiative, in order to improve your work performance?
  12. Tell me about initiatives you have taken to improve procedures at work? Were you successful? Would you do anything different now?
  13. When you need to create an order of job tasks that need to be completed, how do you decide which task has priority?
  14. When was the last time you used an inventive method to draw out company resources beyond a level that is usually met?
  15. Explain to me how your work experience is relevant to this position.
  16. What relevant experience do you have?
  17. Could you have done better in your last job?
  18. Discuss your educational background.
  19. What’s the most important thing you learned in school?
  20. Why did you choose your major?
  21. Why did you choose your university and what factors influenced your choice?
  22. Why did you choose your degree subject?
  23. What computing skills do you have?
  24. What is a suggestion you’ve made at work that was implemented?
  25. Tell me about your experiences at school.
  26. What has been the most rewarding university experience?
  27. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your vocabulary and grammar skills?
  28. How has your education prepared you for your job?
  29. What college subjects did you like best? Why?
  30. What college subjects did you like least? Why?
  31. If you could do so, how would you plan your academic study differently? Why?
  32. What have you learned from participation in extracurricular activities?
  33. Do you have plans for continued study? An advanced degree?
  34. What changes would you make in your college or university? Why?
  35. Tell me about your education.
  36. What were your favorite classes/activities at school?
  37. In what ways have your college experiences prepared you for a career?
  38. Describe your most rewarding college experience.
  39. Did you enjoy school/college/university?
  40. How do you think you have changed personally since you started school/college/university?
  41. Why do you think graduates in [your degree subject] would be good [job role you have applied for]?
  42. Do you feel your GPA reflects your academic ability?
  43. Knowing what you know now about your college experience, would you make the same decisions?
  44. What contributions have you made to a group project?
  45. Do you have education or training relevant to this position?
  46. What parts of your education do you see as relevant to this position?
  47. Is grad school important?
  48. Are you currently taking or enrolled to take any job related educational courses?
  49. If you could change or improve anything about your college, what would it be?
  50. How will the academic program and coursework you’ve taken benefit your career?
  51. Are you the type of student for whom conducting independent research has been a positive experience?
  52. Describe the type of teacher who had the most beneficial influence on you.
  53. Describe the type of professor that has created the most beneficial learning experience for you.
  54. Do you think that your grades are indication of your academic achievement?
  55. How was your transition from high school to college? Did you face any particular problems?
  56. How have you differed from your professors in evaluating your performance? How did you handle the situation?
  57. Give two examples of things you’ve done in previous jobs or school that demonstrate your willingness to work hard.
  58. Describe the last time that you undertook a project that demanded a lot of initiative.
  59. How has college changed you as a person?
  60. Does your work relate to any experiences or studies you had in college?
  61. What courses have proved to be the most valuable to you in your work?
  62. What courses do you wish you had taken that would have better prepared you?
  63. If you were a college student again, what would you do differently to prepare for this job?
  64. How important are grades or GPA for obtaining a job in this field?
  65. What is the best educational preparation for this career?
  66. How do you think [name of your school]’s reputation is viewed when it comes to hiring?
  67. If you were entering this career today, would you change your preparation in any way to better facilitate entry?
  68. Do you apply the skills and knowledge learned at school in your work?
  69. What do you like best about your school?
  70. Please describe your own roles and functions in school, college, job, clubs, or other groups.
  71. Do you feel that grades are a good indicator of your ability?
  72. What would cause you to miss an assignment or be tardy?
  73. Tell me about your undergraduate university experience.
  74. If you were hiring a graduate for this position, what qualities would you look for?
  75. What do you know about our company?
  76. What interests you about this job opening?
  77. What salary range are you looking for? OR What do you feel this position should pay?
  78. What were your expectations for the job and to what extent were they met?
  79. What can you do for this company?
  80. Why should we hire you?
  81. What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make?
  82. What is more important to you: money or work?
  83. Where else have you applied? OR Who else have you applied to/got interviews with?
  84. Are you willing to relocate or travel? Why should we hire you?
  85. How do you handle pressure?
  86. What questions do you have for me?
  87. Aren’t you overqualified for this position?
  88. Would you lie for the company?
  89. What can you tell us about our company?
  90. What do you know about our competitors?
  91. How did you hear about this position?
  92. Would you work holidays/weekends?
  93. How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?
  94. How would you fire someone?
  95. Why do you want this job?
  96. What is the most difficult thing about working with you?
  97. Are you willing to make sacrifices for this company?
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