Sunday, November 30, 2008

Interview Questions - Part 8

“What makes you think you’re qualified for this job?”

Sample Answer(s)

I studied for a diploma in computers which I enjoyed immensely. In my last job I was able to apply knowledge I’d gained on the course to do my job better. I streamlined many of the department’s manual tasks by moving them from paper to a computer-based solution. I’ve also got an advanced sailing certificate. This has helped me build many team-working skills. When I worked at XYZ Corp I voluntarily attended a series of in-house personal development training programs.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

This is an opportunity not only to specify your relevant educational and professional qualifications but also to describe their relevance to this job. A ‘qualification’ in the context of this question is not restricted to a certificate/diploma/degree. Feel free to include relevant work and/or leisure experience which makes you a better candidate for this job.

“What size organization do you prefer to work for? Why?”

Sample Answer(s)

There are advantages to working for a small company and advantages to working for a large company. Size is not the critical factor when I choose an employer. It’s more important to me that the organization I work for is an ambitious, forward-moving company. I want to help it attain it’s goals and contribute towards it’s growth and development.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

In some questions, the key to a great answer is in understanding the importance of the context in which the question is posed. This is one such question. Measure your answer to this question in light of the company you are interviewing for. It would be unwise, to say the least, if you express a preference for small companies while interviewing for a multi-national and vice versa.

“Why would you like to work for me?”

Sample Answer(s)

I’ve been aware of your reputation for some time. You’re regarded as an innovator within the industry and beyond. I appreciate that your team’s success is due to a number of factors, not least of which is hard work. I’m an excellent team player, I’m a very good problem solver, and I work hard to get the job done. For these reasons, I’m confident I’d be an asset to your group. I hope that my experience shows I’m suitably qualified to fulfill the position.

I know that your position within this firm speaks for itself. My ideal manager is someone that fosters excellence, innovation, and success, as well as personal and professional growth. It’s widely recognized that XYZ Corp’s strongest asset is its staff thanks to its strong belief in training and development. For these reasons, this is a highly desirable role.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

There are two approaches to answering this question. If you know the interviewer personally or by reputation you can allude to qualities in him that you respect and the complimentary qualities you could bring to him and his team. If you do not know the interviewer, answer this question by referring to how your qualities would match those of a suitable, hypothetical manager.

“Are you willing to travel?”

Sample Answer(s)

Yes, I enjoy traveling a lot. I realize there’s a big difference between traveling for leisure purposes and on business, nonetheless I would be very interested in visiting other cities/countries/offices and would look upon it as a learning experience.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

You should be honest in your answer to this question. There are very few jobs where this question would have a bearing on the interview. However, if you were to say that you were willing to travel in an interview, but then refused once you joined the firm, you would likely create an environment of mistrust with your new employers. In almost every case, you are asked this question for informational purposes only.

“What type of a work environment are you seeking?”

Sample Answer(s)

I’m looking for a challenging working environment in which my abilities will be regularly tested. It’s important to me that I work in an environment where teamwork is fostered and I can learn and share with those around me.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

The interviewer is once again trying to learn more about you, than the actual work environment you’re seeking. The reason the question is framed this way is because most employees will describe an environment which best matches their talents. Focus on keywords such as ‘challenging’, ‘innovative’, ‘hardworking’ and ‘team-driven’.

“What are your strengths? How do they help you?”

Sample Answer(s)

I’m well motivated, I’ve got a strong desire to succeed, and I’m always ready and willing to learn new information and skills.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

Resist the temptation to expound your greatest qualities to the interviewer. Keep your answer brief, naming no more than three of your qualities. Know when to stop or you will invalidate your entire answer



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Interview Questions - Part 7

“What are the most important rewards you expect in your career?”

Sample Answer(s)

Being a valuable part of a successful organization is a reward in itself. Within the organization I feel that advancement and responsibility are suitable rewards. While salary is important, I hope it would reflect my role and responsibilities within the firm.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

Expressing the rewards you hope to achieve will give the interviewer an insight into the strength of your ambition and your desire to succeed. Be ambitious in your aspirations without being unreasonable.

“Why did you apply for this job?
Why do you want this position?
What interests you about this position?

Sample Answer(s)

I’ve worked in the travel industry for five years and I’ve enjoyed every minute. I’d like to work for XYZ Corp because they are industry leaders and I want to work with the best people and the best products I can. There are exciting times ahead for the firm, particularly in light of the firm’s recent announcement that it was expanding it’s product range by 25% over the next 24 months. I feel that my drive, creativity and determination will be an asset to the firm and will enable me to succeed in this role. This position would enable me to apply my skills in an exciting and challenging environment. I think this position is a perfect match for my talents and my career goals.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

This is a great chance to sell yourself but don’t waste the opportunity by reciting your resume. You should describe the assets you bring with you to the company and express the depth of your interest in this job. Your answer should be direct and unequivocal. Leave the interviewer in no doubt that you are the perfect person for the job.

“What do you like to do in your spare time?”

Sample Answer(s)

I enjoy participating in and watching most sports. I discovered golf at college and find it a great way to relax and spend time with friends. I also enjoy playing football and tennis. I was captain of the school swimming team and I try to keep that up as best I can too. I also enjoy listening to music, watching movies, and being around my friends.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

Employers like rounded employees that have a balanced life with interests out of the workplace. Believe it or not the perfect employee does not work eighteen hours a day, seven days a week and employers realize that. They’re looking for an employee that will spend a number of successful years at the company, not someone who will burnout in no time.
Most honest answers are acceptable here. Be sure to include outdoor and team pursuits. Someone whose only pastimes are playing computer games and listening to their personal stereo may give the perception that they’re insular in nature and would not fit in well in a team environment.
Any pursuits that can be perceived to bring benefit to the workplace (such as captain of a sports team) are greatly respected.



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Interview Questions - Part 6

“What skills do you need to develop most?”

Sample Answer(s)

It may seem a bit premature, but I would very much like to develop my project management and team leadership skills. I would very much like to take responsibility for a project or team in the next twelve months and I think developing those skills now would make the transition easier.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

The hidden question the interviewer is asking you is: What skills do you need to develop most? Be careful answering this question. The best way to answer is by highlighting the skills you already have. A good answer would allude to a skill which would not be expected of someone at your position in the organization. This could demonstrate ambition, forward planning and a desire to learn.

“Tell me about yourself.”

Sample Answer(s)

I’m an ambitious, self-motivated account executive and I’m very happy in my life right now. I’m looking to change jobs because I feel I’ve achieved all of the goals I set out for myself when I embarked in my previous role, six years ago. I’ve still got a strong appetite for success and I’m looking for a job that will provide fresh challenges and rewards.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

This is a deceptively difficult question to answer. The key to answer this question is staying focused on your primary objective here - selling yourself as an employee. With this in mind, answer this question in light of your overall interview strategy. Don’t describe your record collection, your favorite movies or you pets’ names. Do, for example, describe what motivates your career and drives your passions.

“Name three adjectives that can be best used to describe you.”

Sample Answer(s)

Respond with any three of the following or any similar adjectives you care to mention:Reliable, hard-working, conscientious, innovative, smart, intelligent, communicative, organized, diligent, energetic, likable.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

This is a tough question made easier through preparation. The interviewer will learn most about you by considering why you chose the three adjectives you did - and not any others - rather than what those adjectives actually are.

Avoid adjectives with a possible double-edged sword such as ambitious.

“What educational goals do you currently have?”

Sample Answer(s)

I enjoy sailing very much. In the near future I plan to begin studying in order to become a qualified yachtsman. My ultimate goal is to become sufficiently experienced that I could skipper a crew in a competitive race.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

The keyword in this question is Goals. In other words, you can respond with an answer that describes an educational achievement you have yet to even commence! Be creative, yet be realistic too. Do not feel compelled to respond with a classroom-based answer. You will gain respect for an unusual answer that demonstrates the desire to attain a skill that will benefit your career.



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Interview Questions - Part 5

“What kind of salary are you seeking?”

Sample Answer(s)

Answer1: I would expect a salary which reflects the experience and qualifications that I bring to the role. What range do you have in mind?

Answer 2: I’ve got a strong background in this industry and my skills are a perfect match for this role. I would expect my compensation to be at the upper end of the position’s salary band. Can you tell me what that salary band is?

Answer 3: Based on the information I have about the position, a salary in the range 28,000-32,000 would reflect the experience and expertise that I would bring to the role.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

When preparing for the interview you should try to discover the salary range for the job from the recruitment consultant or human resources department. This information can put you in a strong position when the time comes to negotiate a salary.

Unless pressed, you should not give a specific number here. Instead you should specify your value relative to a ‘salary band’. Most firms have salary bands for each position. You should aim to negotiate a salary towards the peak of the range for the position in which you are interviewing.

If you are pushed for a specific salary, respond with a target range. This will help lay the groundwork for future negotiations. You should qualify yourself by specifying that your answer is based on the information that you have to hand about the job. Do not give the actual range that would satisfy you, as your prospective employer may try to bargain you down at a later point. For example, if your target salary range is 26,000 - 30,000, you should specify a higher range such as 28,000-32,000.

“Have you completed your education?”

Sample Answer(s)

I believe that I’ve finished my formal school and college education. Right now I’m focusing on my career and on being as good at my job as I possibly can. I enjoy learning and I think it’s essential in both personal and career development. Ideally, I hope that the firm I join will encourage growth and learning through in-house and/or external training. I strongly believe that the most important component of learning occurs ‘on the job’ where you learn from your peers, manager and others around you. In summary, my answer is ‘No’, I very much hope that my education is not over.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

The interviewer is trying to assess your attitude towards learning and your willingness to take on board new ideas and new skills. As a new employee in an unfamiliar environment there will be much to learn. You should demonstrate your capacity for learning and your desire to take on new knowledge.



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Interview Questions - Part 4

“What do you know about the position you’ve applied for?
What duties do you think this job entails?”

Sample Answer(s)

The Media Marketing Co-ordinator reports to the Marketing Director. Her role is to co-ordinate all media advertising, particularly print, radio, and television. The Co-ordinator works with Media agencies to profile advertising opportunities, then, working within a strict budget, she organizes cross-media advertising campaigns. An important aspect of the role is to disseminate the customer response to the adverts in order to measure its success and thus improve future campaigns.

At my last job in ABC & Co I worked closely with several different media agencies, including some that specialized in new media platforms such as the Internet. I also gained invaluable experience as a member of the team that established ABC & Co as a national brand by launching ABC DooDaa nationwide. I feel that I can bring this expertise to the Media Marketing Co-ordinator role and help XYZ Corp achieve it’s goal of doubling it’s customer base every year for the next three years.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

You should gather as much information as possible about the job you’re applying for. If you don’t even know what the job is, how can you possibly claim to be the best candidate for it? Researching the position demonstrates initiative, determination and good preparation and is a great way to impress the interviewer at the start of the interview.

When answering this question make sure to include references to your skills and how they match the requirements of the job.

You can gather more information about the position from the location where you learnt about the opening - a job center / recruitment poster etc. If you have the name of an appropriate contact, for example a person in the firm’s Human Resources department, you should contact them and request further information. You should also gather information concerning the role in general from a careers directory in a library or on the Internet.

“Do you feel overqualified for this job?”

Sample Answer(s)

I don’t think there’s such a thing as being over-qualified for a job. Every position brings with it a new environment, new people and new challenges. I feel that the skills I would bring to a new job can only help me to do a better job, and would in no way hinder the challenges I would face.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

Don’t let this question distress you. It’s seldom meant as an indication that the interviewer thinks you’re not right for the job, rather it’s a ‘placed’ question to test your response. The interviewer wants you to prove that you will not be bored by the job on offer. Remember, people are seldom perfectly qualified for a job. If you are over-qualified, you should be capable of showing that you will enjoy other challenges that the job presents.



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Interview Questions - Part 3

“What are your hobbies?”

Sample Answer(s)

I have run a successful film club for the last 3 years. I started it as a way to meet new people who share my love of movies. We now have more than a hundred members and a waiting list to join. It’s been a terrific excuse to socialize with people I would not otherwise have met. I also enjoy working with other organizations such as distributors, film clubs and local film festivals to show interesting and foreign films that would otherwise have been missed by the local multiplexes.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

This may seem an identical question to What do you do in your spare time? However there is a slight distinction. Specifically: a hobby is a specific activity or pastime in which you participate regularly. Listening to music or watching TV are not hobbies, merely things you do.

Individuals with hobbies, particular an unusual one, are regarded as diverse and well-rounded with a healthy outlook on life. These are attractive personal traits valued by many modern employers. Hobbies that can also demonstrate a business or personal development benefit are of most value.

“How do you handle pressure?”

Sample Answer(s)

I’m the type of person who genuinely revels when under pressure. I enjoy the challenge and the adrenalin rush when the chips are down and a big effort is required. Through good management and work practices I try to avoid a situation becoming pressurized, however when I am under pressure I’m always confident that I can complete the job successfully.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

This may seem similar to the question: How do you handle stress?. There is a subtle difference: Stress is a difficulty or strain felt from within. Pressure is a strong external influence. We may not all feel stressful, but pressure is an expectation in many modern jobs. Pressure could come from your customers, your boss, or even your colleagues.

Answering this question in the negative, e.g. I’m never under pressure may suggest that you avoid pressure and the responsibility that if often entails. It also tells the interviewer that your reactions, if pressure is applied, are unknown even by yourself.

“I’m worried about your lack of _____ experience.”

Sample Answer(s)

I don’t feel you’ve anything to worry about. While I’ve only been a designated team leader for one year, I’ve spent eighteen months as the most experienced member of the team and in many situations I effectively led the team. I very much enjoy team management and am confident in my own abilities.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

The interviewer is challenging you. Don’t worry. In the hands of a competent interviewee, this is an opportunity to shine. A good approach to answering this question is to politely disagree with the interviewer, show how you do have the experience required, and then finish with a statement showing how hungry you are to gain more experience.



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Interview Questions - Part 2

“Do you have any IT (Information Technology) qualifications?”

Sample Answer(s)

Answer 1
Yes, I took a computer applications module for two semesters in college. It’s helped give me a better knowledge of how computers, operating systems and a wide range of software packages work. I’ve been able to apply this knowledge when tackling problems.

Answer 2
I haven’t had the opportunity to take any formal IT training yet. However, I’ve used computers extensively at every job I’ve had and I’m very much at home using a word processor, spreadsheet, database and project management software. I have a computer at home too which I use to track my family’s finances and to access the Internet. I’m very comfortable using computers.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

This is a straightforward question but following the principle of selling yourself, make sure not to answer with a simple Yes or No. You’ll waste a great opportunity.

If your answer is Yes then describe, briefly, your qualification and how it has helped you in your career. However if you have had no formal financial qualifications you can still impress the interviewer by describing your on the job training such as being responsible for the budget of a project or even balancing the household budget.

“What has been you favorite job?”

Sample Answer(s)

It’s hard to pick a single favorite job because there’s been aspects of every job that I’ve enjoyed, each for different reasons. My ideal job would involve working in a challenging environment for an ambitious, forward-moving company. I get most satisfaction from a job well done, and from contributing to the success of a progressive organization.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

Your answer can lead to trickier questions such as ‘If it was so good, why did you leave the job?’ and ‘What was your worst job?’. Your answer will also cause the interviewer to use your favorite job as an indication of your demands and expectations of any new job. A better answer could involve selecting your favorite aspects of a number of jobs. Alternatively you could highlight the features of your ideal job.

Remember even though the question seems to refer to your job history, the interviewer is in fact trying to find out more about you. However you answer the question make sure to promote yourself as best you can.

“If offered to you, how long do you plan to stay in this role?”

Sample Answer(s)

I approach every new job with a long-term view. I would like to think that I can make a positive contribution to XYZ Corp for the foreseeable future.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

Recruiting, hiring and training a new employee is an expensive process and represents a major investment by an employer. The interviewer wants to ensure that your goals are compatible with the firm’s investment.



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Interview Questions - Part 1

Free job interview question # 115

“Are you competitive? Is that good or bad?”

Sample Answer(s)

I’m quite a competitive person, but not overly so. I’d say the person I compete with most is myself. I work hard to achieve the goals and targets I set myself.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

This is a difficult question to answer as competitiveness is a trait that can be both positive and negative. Almost all people that achieve success - in any field - will extol the virtues of a healthy amount of competitiveness. Do the same in your answer without getting carried away. Over-competitive employees sometimes have difficulty getting along with their colleagues.

“What do you know about this organization?”

Sample Answer(s)

I know that XYZ Corp. has been in existence for four years. It was founded by John Rush in his garage and he has built it into the third largest office supplies firm in the state with aspirations to make it number one within two years. It’s renowned as an ambitious and highly progressive company and I believe it has a very bright future. I also like the fact that XYZ Corp isn’t a company that rests on its laurels.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

The interviewer wants to know how hungry you are for this job. If you haven’t even prepared for the interview, by doing the most basic research, then the chances of you getting the job are close to zero. You can be sure that other candidates will have done their research.

Check out the firm’s website (if they have one) and business directories in your local library. You should also contact the firm itself, through their Public Relations department.

“Can you work in a team?”

Sample Answer(s)

Absolutely. I feel very comfortable working in a team. I feel I have the necessary skills to communicate my own ideas and also to illicit contributions from my fellow team members. It’s hard to imagine a project I’ve worked on where teamwork has not been key.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

There is only one answer to this question - Yes. If you’re not a team player, it will be difficult to land the job. If you tell the interviewer that you’re not a team player, it will be impossible to land the job. Take this opportunity to explain what makes you a great team player.

“What challenges do you think you’ll face in this job?
What problems do you think you’ll face in this job?”

Sample Answer(s)

Having worked in a similar role at ABC & Co, I expect that this job will present regular deadlines to meet, strains on resource availability, conflicting priorities, and budgetary concerns to name but a few issues. These are challenges that I’ve successfully tackled in the past and I’m sure that record would continue here. I relish a challenge and there’s nothing that I’ve seen in this job that intimidates me in any way.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

The interviewer is trying to extract your real fears and apprehensions about the problems you would face in this role. Demonstrate confidence in your own abilities and anticipation rather than apprehension for the job in question.

“How do you define ‘success’?”

Sample Answer(s)

That’s very easy. For me, success is achieved if you attain the goals you have set for yourself or the goals that have been set for you. I believe that’s true whether you’re talking about a student, a managing director or even a large corporation. I know that ABC Corp has set itself the target of being the number one telecoms firm in the country within five years. If the firm achieves that goal, it will most certainly be judged ‘a success’.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

There is a subtle difference between this question and How do you measure ‘success’? The former asks what it means to you for something to be successful. The latter asks what you use to measure your own personal success.
Success means different things to different people. If you’ve done your homework, you can impress the interviewer by referring to the company mission statement (or corporate goals etc) in your response.

“What is the most difficult challenge you’ve faced? How did you resolve it?”

Sample Answer(s)

When I assumed the role of Regional Development Manager at ABC Corp, team morale was low, users were dissatisfied, and deadlines were repeatedly being missed. The first step I took was to set a realistic timeline for improving the situation. I knew that creating unrealistic expectations would only increase the chances of failure and exacerbate the situation. Next, I re-organized the team structure to improve customer and product focus. I also worked with the business users to prioritize the work schedule. This allowed us to reduce the number of products we were developing, which in turn enabled us to better focus on our core deliverables. Six months later the business users were happy and the team was happy.

Advice from the recruitment consultant

This is a terrific opportunity to shine. You should certainly prepare an answer to this question prior to the interview. If your mind goes blank during the interview you will give an impression of inadequate interview preparation and hint at a lack of challenging experience in your past.



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