Tag Archives: competency based Interview questions

Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Article by Belinda Fuller

Common Interview Questions and How to Prepare for ThemCongratulations if you’ve secured an interview! Now comes the all-important preparation. Even the most confident and fearless individuals can be terrified of interviews. Whilst they can be nerve wracking experiences, taking time to prepare yourself can make all the difference to the outcome.

You have more than likely applied for a role you are qualified for, you think you have the experience and skills to succeed, and you like the sound of the role or company – so making an effort to prepare as best as you can prior to the interview will give you the best chance of success. Depending on the type of role, level, and company you’re interviewing with, the questions will vary, however to help you get started with your preparation, we’ve provided 10 common questions with suggestions on how to respond:

  1. Tell me about yourself. The recruiter is looking for a brief summary about you and is interested in your professional background – not your hobbies, relationship status, and favourite foods. Try summarising recent professional achievements in less than two minutes, and relate what you say back to the role you are interviewing for so the recruiter can immediately recognise your potential value. Include a summary of qualifications as well if that’s important to this role.
  2. Why do you want to work for us? It’s essential to research the company and role beforehand and have a good strong answer to this question. You could talk about the market the company is in, your interest in that area, the role itself, and what appeals to you. Relate your future aspirations to the position, then reiterate why you’d be an asset in the role. Make sure you understand the company and role and discuss specific aspects so the recruiter recognises you are genuine about working there.
  3. Tell me about a time you improved on something. This question is a great one to prepare for using the STAR technique. It could relate to anything – a process, a relationship, an approach, or a competitive situation. Identify a relevant example beforehand and make sure to include just enough detail about what you did, why you did it, and how you did it, then summarise the eventual positive outcome.
  4. Why do you want to leave your current role? Focus your response on the fact you are seeking new or greater opportunities, responsibilities and/or challenges. If you’re trying to break into a new industry, mention it and the reasons why, then try making a link to the new focus. For example, you could showcase why you think you’ll succeed in this new area, based on what you’ve achieved previously, and how you want to extend yourself.
  5. What are your strengths? The interviewer is looking for your strongest qualities that relate to the role you are applying for. We suggest providing three key strengths with examples that demonstrate those strengths in action.
  6. What are your weaknesses? Most employers don’t want to hear something basic like “I’m a perfectionist”, or “I work too late”! The most important part of this question is to emphasise what you’ve done to overcome and/or mitigate your weakness. This question is all about how you turn your answer into a positive.
  7. Describe a time when your best laid plans didn’t work out. Give a specific example of a particularly difficult situation you encountered in the workplace. Again, prepare for this question using the STAR technique so you can discuss what went wrong, how you went about resolving the issue, and the eventual outcome. Ensure the outcome is positive though – don’t use negative examples and show the interviewer what or how you learnt from the experience for next time.
  8. Do you have any questions for us? This is one of the most important interview questions you can prepare for. It’s essential you have some well thought out questions prepared. It not only demonstrates your interest in the role and the company – but will also help you decide if you want to work there. Your questions could focus on the company and its future direction, the industry, competitors, recent news or events, the department’s direction and how it fits with company strategy, why the incumbent is leaving or where the work has come from (for newly created roles), the expectations of the role, scope for expansion down the track, performance expectations, success measurements, company culture, the timeline for a decision and/or next steps in the recruitment process.
  9. Why should we hire you? The best way to respond to this question is with specific examples of your skills and accomplishments that relate directly to the role. Compare the job description with your expertise, maintain a positive approach and showcase the value you could provide.
  10. What do you know about us? Again, it’s important to research the company so you can respond in an intelligent way to this question. Check their website and social media pages to see the latest promotions and information being shared. Look up the person or people interviewing you on LinkedIn to gain some insight into their interests and background as well.

Preparing in advance by doing some research about the company, the role, and the people who are interviewing you will ensure you put your best foot forward in the interview.  Of course, interviews are two-way and while the interviewer needs to determine if you are right for the company, you should also assess whether the company is right for you. Feeling confident and in control is all about preparation, so do as much as you can.

Do you struggle with nerves or knowing how to answer questions in interviews? If so, Interview Training can help prepare you for your next job interview. Please see our Interview Coaching Services for more information.

Interview Questions You Need to Prepare For

Article by Belinda Fuller

Interview Questions You Need to Prepare ForEven for the most confident and fearless individuals, job interviews can be terrifying. In order to have the best chance of success, many candidates prepare answers to long lists of questions they perceive as being challenging to answer. One issue with this approach is that it can be difficult to predict exactly what line of questioning a recruiter will take and the process may leave you feeling more anxious with long lists of questions and answers that you’ve tried hard to memorise. Worse still, you could end up sounding false and/or over prepared in the interview.

A great way to prepare for an interview is to think about the following three key areas and then try to relate each question back to them:

What are the skills and experience required to excel in the role? By thinking about this question and relating your own expertise back to it, you can answer many questions fired at you. Identify all the technical or specialist skills, qualifications and experience you need as well as the ‘soft’ or generic skills required – areas such as communication, leadership, teamwork, flexibility, and initiative. Once you have prepared for this question you can more succinctly answer many standard questions without going off on a tangent. Questions such as tell me about yourself, why should we hire you, what can you offer us that other candidates can’t, and what challenges might you face in the role, all relate back to the skills and expertise you possess to ensure success in the role.

What is the company, industry and market going through? Finding out as much as you can about the company and its industry in general will help you demonstrate enthusiasm and interest. Having an understanding of the company’s market position, strategy, where it’s headed, current industry and economic influences etc. will help you to answer the obvious questions like what do you know about the company and why do you want to work here, but will also help with more difficult questions such as how your ambitions fit with the company’s, where you see the company heading/succeeding, what challenges you think the company or industry is facing, and why you think the role is a good fit for you.

What is the company culture? Whether or not you are a good cultural fit is a key area of focus for recruiters because many candidates are a perfect fit in terms of qualifications, background and experience, however their personality and/or work style will preclude them from succeeding. Every company has their own unique way of working – establishing this cultural fit with candidates is an important part of the overall recruitment process. As a candidate, it can be difficult to determine the detail behind a company’s culture, but it helps to talk to other employees (past and present) if you can. If you’re applying for a job through a recruitment company, talk to the recruiter before interviewing with the client – they should be able to help. If all else fails, you can research online. A specific site that might help is a site called Glassdoor where employees provide reviews of what it’s like to work for certain companies – of course the data is only as good as the people contributing and it is largely opinion based, so take it in the context it’s provided and don’t assume 100% accuracy. Once you have an understanding of the company’s culture you’ll be able to answer questions that focus on your work style, how you’d describe yourself, how your colleagues or superiors would describe you, and what makes you an ideal candidate for the role.

Of course, interviews are two-way and while the interviewer needs to determine if you are right for the company, you should also assess whether the company is right for you. Prepare questions focused on the same key areas – ask about training and development opportunities and how you could improve your skills and expertise, discuss recent company news or events, the department’s direction and how that fits with the company strategy, and ask why the incumbent is leaving the role OR for a newly created role, where has the work come from? Feeling confident and in control is all about preparation, so do as much as you can.

Do you struggle with nerves or knowing how to answer questions in interviews? If you would like assistance with preparing for a job interview, see our Interview Skills Training and Coaching Service.

How to Handle Behavioural Interview Questions

Article by Belinda Fuller

When using behavioural interview questions, the interviewer will usually identify core behaviours they’d like to see in a candidate. Obviously these behaviours are based on the position and the requirements of the specific role they are recruiting for and will vary accordingly.

There is absolutely no need to be scared of these types of questions – in fact quite the opposite – behavioural questions provide you with the ideal opportunity to showcase why you’d be perfect in the role. It’s important to remember that the recruiter will be looking for specific examples that demonstrate how you behaved in certain situations – not hypothetical answers on how you think you’d respond or behave.

You need to think back to previous roles and detail real-life examples from your work. To prepare for these types of interviews, you should first ascertain the competencies you think the employer might be looking for. This is where research is important. You can search for similar jobs online, read job ads and more detailed job descriptions, talk to the recruiter and ask their advice, and speak to trusted colleagues or superiors in your network. Most companies will be looking for some common skills that you can prepare for as standard, then you’ll want to consider what other competencies they’ll need that relate specifically to the role. Common competencies could include communication, leadership, teamwork, flexibility, and a proactive/innovative approach.

The best way to prepare for behavioural interview questions is by using the STAR technique. I’ve written articles before about how to prepare STAR responses – click here for detailed information. Briefly, thinking about examples in the context of STAR helps you formulate clear and concise responses to behavioural interview questions.

STAR stands for:

  • Situation – What was the circumstance, situation or setting you found yourself in?
  • Task – What was your role?
  • Action – What did you do and how did you do it?
  • Result – What did you achieve? What was the outcome and, if possible, how does it relate to the position you are applying for?

Once you have decided which examples to use for each identified competency, you simply write down your dot points next to each of the STAR points then formulate a response that you feel comfortable talking through. Don’t scrimp on detail – talk the recruiter through from start to finish but make sure you are concise and specific – and don’t ramble. You can use examples where the outcome wasn’t ideal so long as you explain how you learnt from it for next time.

The most important predictor of success with behavioural based interviews is preparation and practice. The more you think about and practice how to tell your story – the more concise you will be during the interview. Practice your responses so they flow – tell the recruiter some interesting stories about your real-life competencies and they’ll be more likely to consider you as a viable candidate. Have you been involved in a behavioural based interview? How did you go? How did you prepare?

Would you like to understand more about how to prepare for behavioural based interviews? Perhaps you’d like to put together specific responses that suit your experience and the roles you are seeking, as well as participating in a mock interview. If so, click here for our interview training services.