The subject of Interview questions and answers is at the very crux of the problem for most people who struggle with the selection process. It’s usually a fear of the unknown that fazes people and causes the butterflies to commence or the brow to become damp. Interview questions and answers are actually easy to deal with if you know a little bit about them and what the hiring company is expecting. In essence, it’s all about preparation and practice. As you will see on subsequent pages of this website there are different types of interview questions and answers (behavioral, biographical, situational, hypothetical etc) and what follows is a general introduction. More specific information is available by clicking through the various links.
A structured and logical approach to job interview questions and answers
I previously encountered a client who had a preoccupation with needing to know what interview questions and answers would come up for any pending job interview. And who could blame them? The good news is that there are some very common questions that come up time after time. By applying a structured and logical approach you can easily prepare answers that will allow you to shine. Of course, you can’t know every single question that will come up but by preparing some core case studies and obvious scenarios you’ll be ninety percent of the way there!
Working out their 'buying buttons'
By thoroughly researching the company that you are applying to you can work out what they are ‘buying’ from you. Then you can pitch your answers in the right way. Look at the person specification if there is one. Look at their website. Can you speak with a recruiter or hiring manager? Is there anything in Google that suggests changes in market trends? Is there anyone at the company on the grapevine that can help you?
In simple terms, whatever type of question is put to you, your goal is to communicate your intrinsic value to the prospective employer. You are, by definition, a unique human being with a unique set of experiences, skills, and intelligence (emotional and intellectual). All too often candidates put forward generic responses that sound exactly the same as the other 7 people that are being seen. Imagine how bored the assessor gets hearing the same clichés day-in-day-out! It’s all very well saying that you are a ‘strong communicator’ or ‘excellent team player’ but it simply doesn’t differentiate you from the crowd. Job interview questions and answers are not easy but with preparation, they become easier.
Identifying your unique selling points
To set yourself apart you will need to work out your unique selling points (USPs) and make sure that they push your prospective employers ‘buying buttons’. It is a slight misnomer to think that you have to come up with something that is absolutely unique. People buy people and the would-be employer needs to get a real sense of who you are. Firstly you need to work out your strengths. So it might be that you are indeed a ‘strong team player’. But next, you need to think of a specific situation where you have used your team skills and had an impact. Think through what interpersonal skills you used and what tangible results you achieved. We may both have achieved similar things but how we got there will be unique to each of us. That's the key to job interview questions and answers.
When thinking about job interview questions and answers consider using the STAR technique to ensure the impression of what you have done is highlighted as follows:
S = Outline the situation you were presented with (e.g. say something about the company and how long ago it was. It should be within the last 2 or 3 years. Perhaps you inherited a declining sales team)
T = summarise the target you were aiming to reach (e.g. increase sales and revitalize the team )
A = outline the actions you took in relation to the targets (e.g. wrote a new marketing plan, hired some staff and established 1:1 mentor sessions. Talk through some of the difficulties you overcame). This is the most important part when thinking about job interview questions and answers
R = give the result of your work (e.g. sales increased by 30% in six months)
In order to perform consistently well throughout an assessment you should be thinking about a number of core competencies in terms of a specific situation, the tasks involved, the actions taken and the results/outcomes achieved. Common areas of competence that the job interview questions could assess are likely to be around problem-solving, decision-making, teamwork, working relationships, managing change and to a greater or lesser extent depending upon the role - leadership and creativity. Ultimately it is all about the impact you have had.
You should be getting the message now - in order to do well at job interview questions and answers, you need to give a fair amount of thought to the job interview questions and prepare some standard responses to some obvious but expected areas. Preparedness around these job interview questions will give you a better start. The more you practice the better. Get someone to listen to you and give you some feedback.