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Interview tips and techniques - at the interview


1.       Common Interview Questions


Below are some Common Interview Questions.   We would recommend reviewing these prior to your interview and trying to think of potential answers to them.


How you see yourself

·         Tell me about yourself or How would you describe yourself?

·         What are you good at? What are your strengths?

·         What 3 major qualities do you possess? How will they help in this job?

·         How have you been effective in your work?

·         How do you behave in a crisis/when under pressure?

·         What motivates/ drives you?

·         How would you describe your style/ leadership style/working style/ philosophy?

·         What does success mean to you?


How you see and interact with others

·         How would you describe your favourite boss? How would you describe the best/worst boss you have worked for?

·         What sort of people do you most like working/associating with?

·         When have you had to do something that was difficult or unpopular? How did you tackle it and overcome objections/difficulties?

·         What sort of people do you find most difficult to work with? or How have you handled a difficult person?

·         How do you get on with your peers? How well do you fit into a group/ team situation?

·         What contribution have you made to a group/team?

·         What are you looking for in your next boss/team .... ?


How others see you

·         What would your boss/peers/referees say about you?

·         What would your last boss/peer/staff say about your ability to plan and organise?


Positive things about your work

·         What do/did you like most about your time in your last job/company?

·         What gave you the most satisfaction? What are you most proud of?

·         What was the most interesting or rewarding job or assignment you have ever tackled?

·         What have you done to make a significant impact in your time in your work?

·         What would you have liked to have done more of in your last job?


Negative things about your work

·         What are your weaknesses? What do/did you find most difficult or like least in your work?

·         What was the biggest problem you have ever had to overcome?

·         What was the toughest decision you have had to make?

·         How do you handle criticism/rejection? Describe a situation when your work was criticised?

·         If you had your time over again what would you change/do differently?


What you want from your job/motivation

·         How ambitious are you? How interested are you in promotion?

·         What are your long-term career aims? Where do you see yourself in 2/5 years time?

·         What are the most important factors you require in a job?

·         How important is employment stability, money, status etc. to you?

·         What is the ideal job for you? What other careers have you considered and why?

·         If money were not a consideration, what would you really want to do?

·         What experience do you have of this type of work?

·         What would you bring to this job? What would be the first thing you would take action on?


Research & Fitting in

·         What do you know about this company?

·         Why do you wish to work for this company? What attracted you to apply to this


·         What interests you in the job/position?

·         Why should we employ/choose you? What makes you think you will fit in?

·         How do you think you will adjust to a different working culture?

·         What level of salary are you expecting?

·         How did you decide to apply for this job?

·         What preparation did you do for this interview?

·         What steps did you take in the decision-making process before applying for this job?

·         If you were recruiting for this post, what would you be looking for?


Personal Development & Relaxation

·         What qualifications/training have you taken in the last year?

·         What evidence do you have to show of your interest in personal development?

·         What have you learned/did you learn from your last/current role or assignment?

·         What was your biggest learning opportunity? What did you learn? How do you learn best?

·         What have you done to increase your effectiveness recently?

·         What or who had the greatest impact on your career/personal development?

·         How do you keep up to date with changes in technology?

·         What do you do in your leisure time/when not working?

·         How do you unwind from the stresses of life?

·         How do you handle change?


2.       Situational/competence-based questions


These questions are aimed at finding evidence of your competence “Tell me about a time when…. " and will be followed by funnelling or probing questions.


These are often referred to as STAR stories (Situation, Task, Action, Result)


Again, we would suggest reviewing these before your interview and trying to think of possible answers.


·         Describe a situation when you wish you had behaved differently with someone at work. What did you do? What was their reaction? What did you learn?

·         What are some of the most difficult meetings you have had with subordinates?

Why were they difficult? How did you/others behave? What was the outcome?

·         Describe a situation when you were too persistent. What happened? What was the response of others? How did it affect your reputation?

·         Give some examples when your ideas were strongly opposed in a discussion.  What were your reactions?  How did you encourage your team to communicate and share information?  How did you brief or prepare them? What was the most successful aspect of the communication?

·         Can you think of a specific example of when you had to plan and co-ordinate the activities of others? How did you plan the task/event? What did you consider? What was the outcome?

·         Give me a recent example of a time when you had to make a key decision.  What were the issues at stake? What did you do? What was the outcome? What would you do differently if you were in that situation again?


3.       Responding to common interview questions


Here is some advice on how to respond to some common interview questions:


a)      Tell me about yourself

Be brief. If this question comes at the beginning of the interview you can be sure that the interviewer is interested in a brief run down of your career so far. Prepare a summary to include:

·         A logical summary of your career progression

·         One or two of your proudest achievements

·         Your career objective


If this question comes at a later stage, it may well be that the interviewer wants to know more about you as a person, your interests. Assume nothing, if you are unsure as to what is being looked for, ask for clarification.


b)      Why did you leave your last job?

State your reason clearly and simply. If you left through redundancy, simply say 'my job was made redundant'. Be brief and matter of fact, avoid becoming defensive. Above all, do not criticise or blame your previous employer.


c)       What were your major achievements in your job?

Many of these achievements should be in your CV. Focus on the most recent and relevant experience. Then let the interviewer probe.  It is perfectly okay to be positive and proud of your achievements without being boastful.


d)      What are your major strengths?

Be prepared to list four or five strengths that are relevant to the position under discussion, and to give brief examples.


e)      What are your weaknesses?

Give a weakness which is honest and has substance. Choose something which you can show you have recognised and taken steps to remedy. Do not therefore select a weakness which will take you out of the competition.


f)       What are your career goals? Where do you want to be in five years time?

These questions are designed to establish fit, ambition, and future direction. Be careful, remember you are being interviewed for the role under discussion, so concentrate on that. By doing this, you may be able to ask questions about how the role and area may be developed within the organisation.