You’ve made the decision that you’re looking for a new opportunity. You’ve put time and effort into finding that perfect job and then the call comes; ‘We would like to bring you forward for interview’…so what are your next steps???
Here at Oasis HR, part of the service we pride ourselves on is giving our candidates extensive interview preparation to ensure they have the best possible chance of succeeding. Over the years we’ve heard it all, so whilst this is not an exhaustive list, this blog aims to provide the underpinning points behind those key questions that are most likely to get thrown at you (and I’m not talking “how many grains of sand are on a beach?”).
Below are the four main categories interviewers will base their questioning around, so make sure you brush up on these areas and you’ll be one step closer to securing your dream role!
1. What do you know about the business?
It is vitally important to any employer that you show the initiative by researching the company prior to interview. Too many people view the first stage as an opportunity to gain this info once you are there, however you must be ahead of the game in order to impress; particularly in such a competitive market. Always remember, it is the interviewers’ target to assess your suitability against the criteria of the role/ company fit – not for them to purely give you info/insight into the business. For further advice on how to conduct this research, read The 10 Best Ways to Research an Employer Prior to a Job Interview
2. What do you know about the role?
Much in the same way as showing the initiative of researching the company prior to interview, it is the expectation that you are just as thorough around the role brief. If going through an agency, be sure to get a copy of the job specification and really quiz the recruiter around their interpretation of the reason for the role. In more cases than not, it is them who had the direct briefing call with the hiring manager so they are a great source of information; utilize their knowledge as much as possible!
So what to do if there is no job brief and the recruiter only has limited information? In this case, honesty is the best policy! Make sure you have gained as much as you can and use this as the basis for quizzing the interviewer. Rather than giving an impression that you haven’t done your research, prove that you can think logically and piece together the jigsaw.
3. What is your biggest achievement?
This is one of the most common questions and is incredibly likely to arise in an interview situation, purely because it reveals so much about you as a candidate. When selecting your biggest achievement, make sure you’re choosing one that’s tailored to the role you’re applying for and reaffirms the skill-set you’re proclaiming to have. There are two main criteria you should consider when thinking of your biggest achievement:
- It must distinguish you from other candidates
- It must relate to a skill required in the job you are interviewing for i.e. good communication, stakeholder management, project management etc.
4. What are your strengths?
Many people struggle to speak positively about themselves when being quizzed around their strengths. Be sure to find that happy medium between selling yourself and your skill-set, yet ensuring you don’t come across as arrogant. The key here is to highlight the relevant skills associated to the job brief and put the interviewer’s mind at rest that you can deliver on these. Recruiters will have lost count on the number of times they have been called by a hiring manager in a state of panic saying this hire is “urgent”. If you can confidently outline your strengths and translate this effectively, your chances of progressing with the opportunity are guaranteed!
5. What can you bring that others cannot?
Simply, you must utilise the information you have gathered from the job description and evidence that winning combination of being able to deliver on all fronts. Take note the word ‘evidence’ here – always have practical examples to hand of when you achieved something and how you went about delivering it.
6. What do you expect to be doing in 5 years time?
The response to this question will be entirely different for each individual based on the following criteria:
- The level of role you are interviewing for (i.e. graduate vs. director level)
- The length of role (i.e. a contract vs. a permanent role with career progression)
- The job brief (i.e. a position focused on delivery in a standalone role vs. a creative role in a team environment)
- The size of the company (i.e. a start-up business who are looking for long term buy in from their employees vs. large blue chip businesses where company turnover can be higher)
- The company culture (i.e. a business that focuses on career progression and retention vs. a hard hitting culture where skill-set and delivery are key)
There are of course other factors to be taken into consideration but always put yourself in the shoes of the employer and having done your research on the business, consider the answer you believe they would most likely want to hear from you (of course be honest about this as well!)
7. What type of company do you want to work for?
This is a great question that can be pivotal in an interview for both to understand whether this is the correct opportunity or not. It is incorrect to assume that someone would only go to interview if they were 100% onboard with the company/role. This not only gives the interviewee an opportunity to relay what information they have researched about the business but also for the interviewer to give insight on whether that interpretation of research is a true reflection of the business. In an ideal world, the interviewee would describe the exact culture of the business they are interviewing at – this of course is not always the case!
The key learning from this is to ensure you do your research on the company and align the business culture / ethos with your own personal goals. At this stage you can ask some really inquisitive questions and allow the interviewer to provide their insight. Guaranteed it will prove a beneficial question for both!
8. Why do you want this job?
For this question, it is worth taking the time out to really explore the job brief and think logically about what the opportunity can provide in addition to your current post. Consider your pull factors and elaborate based on your current experiences. Also take into account the ethos of the business and similarly align your own working style to this. Always pull out the positives and if you struggle to answer this question then you need to seriously consider whether this is actually the right move for yourself; it can prove very insightful!
9. Describe yourself in 3 words?
Much in the same way as describing your strengths, people tend to get embarrassed or struggle to depict their positives. However the skill to be able to self-analyze is something very attractive to employers so it’s time to get your thinking cap on! One of the best ways to get the most accurate descriptive words for yourself is to ask those closest around you for their thoughts – the last thing you want to do in this case is describe yourself as what you think the interviewer wants to hear.
10.Tell me about yourself
On countless occasions, I have spoken to people who have fallen down at this question; the reason being that it is so broad! Particularly during interviews, you want to ensure that you are not waffling and giving someone your life story. Being able to summarize and get to the point in a concise manner is crucial to succeeding in answering this question. The best way to go about it is to follow these 3 simple steps:
- Experience – i.e. I have five years recruitment experience and began working in I.T agency recruitment when I graduated from University and have since moved into internal recruitment.
- Strengths – i.e. I am particularly effective when working in internal recruitment as my relationship building is strong and this is key when dealing with senior stakeholders.
- Current Situation – i.e. I am currently working in a standalone position and am now seeking a role where I can be in a team environment.
A short quote I’d like to leave you with from our Managing Director himself – “The best interviews are two-way conversations” so don’t forget to quiz the interviewer yourself! For more info, check out his blog on The How, What and When of Asking Questions in Interviews.