Q is for… Questions

ato z of interview skills

Q is for… Have you any Questions?

The interviewer will nearly always ask if you have any questions for them. It is important to realise that they don’t always wait until the end of the interview. I have been in an interview where this has been rolled out as the second question after tell me about yourself. For me this highlighted the importance of knowing what you wanted to know about the company as there was no asking questions based on the content of the interview or saying that all the questions you had have already been covered.

Quite simply: there was nowhere to hide.

You should have a list in your journal of questions to ask – this can be a mix of questions you have previously asked, questions you realised post-interview you wish you had asked, questions you thought of while researching the company you are interviewing with.

Just make sure the answers to the questions you are asking are not readily available on their website.

Using your career journal will help you find inspiration for Interview Questions and help you prepare, practice and review your answers. This can be a great technique which is why I have chosen to use the A to Z of Interview Questions Posts as Journal Prompts. If you don’t already have a career journal this is the perfect excuse to get started.

P is for… Planning and Time Management

ato z of interview skills

P is for… How do you Plan your Day and Prioritise your Workload?

Here the Interviewer is looking to see that you are capable of planning your time effectively. I am a naturally organised person, therefore I just answer this question honestly (although having had a few OTT moments I have reigned my answers in a bit). Talk about things like team meetings, brainstorming sessions, using your diary or allocation of time slots for large projects.

Talk about how you Plan your day and utilise your calendar. If you struggle with Time Management why not read our time management at work series for some ideas.

Using your career journal will help you find inspiration for Interview Questions and help you prepare, practice and review your answers. This can be a great technique which is why I have chosen to use the A to Z of Interview Questions Posts as Journal Prompts. If you don’t already have a career journal this is the perfect excuse to get started.

O is for… Objectives

ato z of interview skills

O is for … What were your OBJECTIVES for last year? Were they achieved?

You may either be asked about past goals and objectives OR future goals and objectives. Prepare for both scenarios.

The interviewer is trying to assess your motivation and your professional successes.

If you use a Career Development Goals Notebook this question should be straightforward from a personal professional perspective. But where you may not be so clear is where you are acting to achieve Objectives and Goals on behalf of the company or the team you work for-  not just yourself.

Take some time to think about your company/teams objectives or goals in the last year and whether you achieved them.

Using your career journal will help you find inspiration for Interview Questions and help you prepare, practice and review your answers. This can be a great technique which is why I have chosen to use the A to Z of Interview Questions Posts as Journal Prompts. If you don’t already have a career journal this is the perfect excuse to get started.

N is for… News

ato z of interview skills

N is for… Tell me about a recent piece of NEWS about the sector/industry that interested you.

It is important to not only be interested getting a job you should also be interested in the company, the role, the product or service offered by the company and the industry/sector in which you are working. Even if you have no prior experience it is important to have some basic working knowledge. If you do not have clear experience in a sector/industry you may be asked a general question about a prominent piece in the news or asked to pick one to talk about therefore it is always important to keep up to date with current affairs.

I usually incorporate this into my ‘Company Research’ although I try to keep up to date as a standard practice with the news in the industry or sector I am currently working in.

Using your career journal will help you find inspiration for Interview Questions and help you prepare, practice and review your answers. This can be a great technique which is why I have chosen to use the A to Z of Interview Questions Posts as Journal Prompts. If you don’t already have a career journal this is the perfect excuse to get started.

 

M is for… Major Challenges

ato z of interview skills

M is for … What do you think the Major Challenges will be?

This question is often asked to see what you know about doing the job, and what you think the personal challenges of doing the job (or even changing job) will be. An alternative approach to this question is to ask about Major Challenges in your previous role and how you overcame them.

Challenges could involve:

  • Dealing with difficult clients or customers
  • Dealing with difficult colleagues
  • Integrating into a new team/team-working challenges
  • professional challenges

Answering this question gives you an opportunity to show off your skills, such as your problem-solving skills. And don’t forget a Challenge can be a positive thing – quite often candidates are looking to change roles to face new challenges. Be clear about what these challenges are.

This is another question where you can build up a list of examples in your weekly journal routine.

Using your career journal will help you find inspiration for Interview Questions and help you prepare, practice and review your answers. This can be a great technique which is why I have chosen to use the A to Z of Interview Questions Posts as Journal Prompts. If you don’t already have a career journal this is the perfect excuse to get started.

 

L is for… Leave

ato z of interview skills

L is for… why do you want to LEAVE your current role?

(or why did you LEAVE your job with X?)

 Interviewers will ask this question to get a better understanding of why you applying to work for them, and the circumstances  in which you might move on. When answering this question it is important to not speak negatively about your previous/current employer (and boss) and list a range of irrelevant personal reasons or gripes which really have no place in the interview context and quite frankly may lose you the job. In my last three jobs, all my bosses/interviewers have known or known of each other.

This question should always be answered with positive reasons.

Positive reasons might include:

  • that you are taking a step up the career ladder
  • that you are wanting to take on a new or greater challenge
  • that you are wanting to diversify what you do or learn or add new skills
  • that you are seeking greater opportunities or looking to take on different opportunities
  • that you are seeking further career advancement (or even personal advancement)

Whatever your real reason is – this is one of those questions where it is usually better to be professional and selective in answering the question rather than brutally honest.

Using your career journal will help you find inspiration for Interview Questions and help you prepare, practice and review your answers. This can be a great technique which is why I have chosen to use the A to Z of Interview Questions Posts as Journal Prompts. If you don’t already have a career journal this is the perfect excuse to get started.

K is for… Knowledge

ato z of interview skills

K is for… What do you KNOW about our Company?

By asking this question the interviewer is trying to understand your interest in the company, assess how much research you have done, and specifically what research you have done. This is not as easy question. I have had many interviews where I have been caught out by this question. Your answer may dictate the follow-up questions and may even have an influence on whether you get the job.

This is an answer you can prepare well for in advance of your interview by doing your research. I write a lot about ‘doing research’ and I believe that it is an important part of getting any job. You can get started on the Company Website – but you should always try to progress beyond their website and beyond press releases where you can. If the company is part of your ‘long term’ plan you should be keeping tabs on them long before the actual interview.

This question is your chance to show off, hopefully impress and highlight what aspects of the company you are interested in.

Using your career journal will help you find inspiration for Interview Questions and help you prepare, practice and review your answers. This can be a great technique which is why I have chosen to use the A to Z of Interview Questions Posts as Journal Prompts. If you don’t already have a career journal this is the perfect excuse to get started.

J is for… Job

ato z of interview skills

J is for… Why do you want this Job?

This question is similar to but not the same as why do you want to work for this Company?, but you could use elements from your answer to boost your response to this question as you will need to cover not only why you want to work for the company, but why you want this specific job/role. Don’t explain why you are looking for a job, talk about why you are enthusiastic to start the exciting new role they have on offer.

They key here is to be enthusiastic and to incorporate prepared research and information revealed at interview to talk about things like:

  • Your enthusiasm for the role
  • how your skills are a good match to what they are looking for and what you could bring to the role
  • why you want to work for the company / their team
  • an interest in the product, service or industry sector

If you REALLY want the job make sure this comes across. Be clear in your mind before the interview why you want the job and use the information obtained at interview to supplement what you already knew. After all you don’t want the feedback post-interview to be ‘we weren’t sure if you really wanted the job…”

Using your career journal will help you find inspiration for Interview Questions and help you prepare, practice and review your answers. This can be a great technique which is why I have chosen to use the A to Z of Interview Questions Posts as Journal Prompts. If you don’t already have a career journal this is the perfect excuse to get started.

 

I is for… Interests

ato z of interview skills

I is for… “What are your Interests outside of work?”

Other similar questions include what are your hobbies and what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Interviewers are also interested in finding out more about you and will want to ensure that you are a well-rounded candidate with a bit of personality. Asking questions about your free time or hobbies is a great way to do this. It can also lead to having things in common or confirming your ability to participate in a corporate team or club.

Of course these answers don’t have to be limited to sports, other options could include professional organisations, personal development such as taking language classes or volunteer work.

  • Remember to make sure that whatever you pick is a genuine hobby – not something you think sounds good, read that the interviewer enjoyed or haven’t done since university (unless you are a very recent graduate).
  • Remember to pick a positive interest.
  • Remember to show a range of varied interests.
  • Be enthusiastic about your interests.

Write a list of your interests and consider whether they are genuine interests and what you know or like about them. If you can write about them properly – then you will be able to use them in an Interview context.

Using your career journal will help you find inspiration for Interview Questions and help you prepare, practice and review your answers. This can be a great technique which is why I have chosen to use the A to Z of Interview Questions Posts as Journal Prompts. If you don’t already have a career journal this is the perfect excuse to get started.

 

H is for… Hire

ato z of interview skills

H is for…  Why should I hire you?

This question does not get asked at every interview but it is a tough interview question so it is worth spending some time thinking about your answer to this one. It is not a case of saying “I am the best candidate for the job” but you should be taking the opportunity to concisely reiterate your strengths and the fresh and unique contributions you can bring to the role.

During the interview it is also important to stay alert to what aspects of your CV impress or interest them and what matches what that have told you about the candidate they are looking for. You can absorb a lot of information at interview to help you make your response targeted. Show you have been listening in the interview – not just responding with a prepared answer.

Using your career journal will help you find inspiration for Interview Questions and help you prepare, practice and review your answers. This can be a great technique which is why I have chosen to use the A to Z of Interview Questions Posts as Journal Prompts. If you don’t already have a career journal this is the perfect excuse to get started.