Top job interview questions and how to handle them

The purpose of the job interview

Although job interview questions may vary, the aim is always the same – to establish your suitability for the job on offer. The job interview questions are bound to be about you, your transferable skills, experience and achievements. 

The interviewer will also be trying to find out something about your personality and your ability to fit in with the rest of the team.  You can’t know what he is seeking here, so remember that honesty is the best policy. 

Typical questions

How was your journey   This is simply a polite opening question and requires you only to answer ‘fine, thank you’.  Don’t be tempted to go into details.

What do you know about this Company   Preparation is the key here.  Make sure you have done some research in advance.  A good look around their website should tell you most of what you need to know to answer this question.  

Tell me about yourself  Here again, you should avoid going into detail.   There must have been something in your CV which made you an attractive proposition, otherwise they would not be wasting time in interviewing you. If you have reviewed your CV in advance and identified what this is likely to be this will stand you in good stead with this question.

Why are you leaving your previous job   Remember to answer this question in a positive way.   Even though you may have hated your previous job never be tempted to say so.   If you have been made redundant, remember that it is the job that is redundant, not you.  The best reason for leaving any job is career progression.

Why did you stay with your previous employer for so long   You need to be careful that the interviewer doesn’t get the impression that you just couldn’t be bothered to get a better job.   Explain that you really enjoyed the job and that you fitted in particularly well with the team.   You could also explain that it involved different opportunities and experience and if appropriate that you were promoted within the firm.

You seem to have had a large number of jobs, why is that   Nowadays it is not usual for a person to stay in one job for a lifetime.   Explain that you needed to move outside the Company you were already in so that you could broaden your experience and progress your career.

How long would you expect to stay in this job   Say that you are looking for a long-term opportunity where you can work hard.   If there are prospects within the job you can say that you would be willing to work towards promotion and further career development.

What do you believe that we can offer that is not available in your present job It is not a good idea to mention money.   Say that you are looking for new challenges and the opportunity to work hard in a new environment.

What do you believe that you can contribute to this organisation This is your opportunity to talk about your skills and achievements.  Say that the job is particularly interesting to you because it represents the opportunity you have been looking for.

Do you have any reservations about the job we are discussing   This question calls for an honest answer.  It is a genuine opportunity for you to bring up anything that does worry you so that the interviewer may talk to you about your fears.

What would be your ideal job   Say that the job you are discussing is exactly what you are looking for at this stage of your career.   You could also say something flattering about the Company’s reputation either Nationally or locally.

What do you most dislike doing   Be honest about this one – remember that nobody likes doing absolutely everything.  You could say that although you don’t like a certain aspect of the job you recognise that it needs to be done, and the other rewards make it worth the effort.  

What problems did you encounter in your last job   If you give it some thought, this need not be a particularly difficult question to answer.  It could be a good opportunity to talk about a situation that you were able to resolve.   If you were a member of a team then be sure to give credit to the rest of the team as well.  

Do you feel you are ready to take on greater responsibilities   ‘Yes’ is the only possible answer to this.  You can describe your career to date and say that you now feel that the time has come for you to accept a new challenge.   You could also say that you believe that the job on offer represents an excellent opportunity for you to fulfil your further potential.

What is your management style   If you are going for a management job then this question is inevitable.   Remember, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ management style.   Good managers should know themselves and how they go about motivating their team.  If you are worried about your lack of formal qualifications it could also be your opportunity to explain that as you have worked your way up to your present level you are in a position to understand the situation of the people within your team.

Psychometric Testing

Our psychometric testing service will give invaluable help with interview questions and will highlight those questions which may be particularly difficult for you

see also job interviews 
how to prepare for a job interview
how to develop the best job interview techniques

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