Some interviewers reveal where prospective employees have gone wrong in the past:
"Before an interview we were looking at an American student's resume and noticed that he could speak three languages, including fluent French and German. It so happened that I spoke French and John, the other interviewer, spoke German. We decided that at the beginning of the interview I would introduce myself in French and then later we would switch and John would introduce himself in German.
The student came in and I said, "Je m'appelle Anand" and spoke some more in French. The student looked completely blank and didn't respond. Anyway, we continued to interview in English and the student did quite well until my colleague took over and started speaking German. Again the student looked blank. 'Did you understand what I just said?' John asked. "No, not really," replied the student. 'OK, I have no more questions then.'
That was the end of the interview!"
Lesson: make sure your CV is truthful!
"A telephone call came in for the job applicant. It was from his wife. His side of the conversation went like this: "Which company? When do I start? What's the salary?"
I said, "I assume you're not interested in conducting the interview any further." He promptly responded, "I am as long as you'll pay me more."
I didn't hire him, but later found out there was no other job offer. It was a scam to get a higher offer!"
Interviews can involve answering a large range of questions, often dependant on the job you are applying for.
However, there are many questions which you could be asked whatever job you happen to be applying for. We've compiled a list of the most common ones.
Questions may be asked in an open or closed way. Closed questions usually have ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as the only possible answer. Open questions allow you freedom to give a fuller answer and to explain in more detail.
Think how you would answer each one. In all cases, back up your answers with examples.
Tell me about yourself.
Are you well organised?
What are you good at? What are your strengths?
Do you get on with people?
Do you like working with people?
How do you behave in a crisis, or when under pressure?
Can you use a computer?
Can you speak any languages?
What motivates you?
How do others see you?
What would your last boss/colleagues say about you/describe you?
What will you be remembered for in your current/last job?
How do you get on with others?
What sort of people do you most like working with?
What contribution do you/have you made to a team?
How would you deal with a difficult person on your team?
What are the positive things about your current/previous job(s) or work placement?
What do/did you like most about your current/last job/work placement?
What gave you the most satisfaction in your last job/work placement?
What are you most proud of in your last/current job/work placement?
What was the most interesting or rewarding job or task you have ever tackled?
What are the negative things about your current/previous jobs(s) or work placement?
What do/did you find most difficult in your current/last job/work placement?
What was the biggest problem you have ever had to overcome?
How do you handle criticism? Describe a situation when your work was criticised.
What do/did you like least about your current/last job/work placement?
Why did you leave your last job/work placement?
Why were you made redundant/chosen for redundancy?
Why do you change jobs so often?
Why did you stay so long with one employer?
If you had your time over again, what would you change/do differently?
With hindsight would you have chosen a different career path?
What you want from your job?
How ambitious are you?
What do you see as the next step in your career?
What are your long-term career aims?
Where do you see yourself in 5–10 years’ time?
What are the most important things you want from a job?
How important is employment, money, status, etc. to you?
What is the ideal job for you?
What are your hobbies and interests?
What do you do to keep fit or reduce stress?
Research and fitting in
What do you know about this company?
Why do you wish to work for this company?
What attracted you to apply to this company?
What interests you in the job/position?
Why should we employ you?
What makes you think you will fit in?
What experience do you have of this type of work?
What would you bring to this job?
What would you not want to do in a/this job?
What training have you done in the last year?
Are you interested in training?
What have you learned/did you learn from your last job?
How do you keep up to date with changes in technology?
Make sure you practice these questions and prepare concise answers for as many as possible, you are certain to be asked at least some of these at nearly all interviews.
There is nothing so useful as practice. You should find that, with your prepared answers, and bearing in mind body language, you can do really well.
Mock interviews, in combination with practice questions, are a great way of boosting your confidence and conquering your nerves before an interview, as well as helping you perfect your interview technique.
Working in pairs or groups of three, take it in turns to interview each other. The third person should observe the interview practice and then give comments both on the interviewer and the interviewee. Try to imagine this as a real interview situation.
Watch your body language and really sound out your answers.
It is okay to refer to your CV or interview notes. Take them along to the real interview too. Remember to swap roles so that you all have a chance to be interviewed, to be the interviewer and to observe.
Feedback to each other to eliminate any problems with your interview technique.
Last Minute Notes
So you've finished your CV, you've practiced interviews over, and over, and over....but don't get complacent, there's still work that needs to be done right up until you enter the interview room.
It's important to make sure your clothes are in order - ironed, clean and ready for the morning. Leaving it until the last minute is not a good idea - never, ever turn up late for an interview, especially if you look scruffy!
Make sure you are familiar with your CV, check it is perfect, and most importantly make sure you are familiar with all the details. Don't make the mistake of lying on your CV then being asked about a job you made up and can't remember all the information about!
Check you have details for the day such as travel details, who you have to contact on arrival, etc. Arriving late, or even worse at Head Office instead of the local branch of the company, isn't a good idea! Make sure you know who you have to see, where, and at what time.
Go to bed early, ensure you are fresh for the interview. Yawning in the interview does not make a good impression; let alone falling asleep!
Rehearse in your head the particularly common questions such as "Why do you want this job?" and make sure you have concise, accurate answers prepared.
Don't just think about your clothes when it comes to first impressions! Make sure you clean your teeth, brush your hair and have a good scrub!
Give yourself plenty of time - arrive early rather than rush in just on time. This gives you time to collect your thoughts and calm yourself ready for the interview.
Remember your documents (CV, NRA), and a pen and paper for recording notes and other information.