Being able to answer interview questions well is a skill, and like any other skill needs to be practiced. Try answering tricky interview questions when you’re under pressure – it’s no wonder that candidates often answer poorly and later kick themselves for their less-than-perfect-performance and the potentially lost opportunity.
But rather than learning your response verbatim, ask yourself WHY you’re being asked these questions. Here are some tips for those particularly tricky (and often asked) questions.
“Why are you leaving your current job?”
This is a favourite question to ask candidates. It’s designed to see whether you are a job-hopper unable to keep a job, simply after more money and therefore lack loyalty and tenacity, or whether you’re looking for a role that you can grow within and build a career from. The best approach is to be positive in your answer. If you were made redundant for example, tell them so, explaining that you understand the company’s decision but that you are now ready to move forward and utilise your considerable skills and experience to benefit another company. If you left because you were unmotivated and bored, focus on the positive experiences and learnings that you had during your time there, rather than on your dissatisfaction. Never trash your previous boss or company – it is not a good look and demonstrates that you harbour negative feelings that you have not yet moved beyond.
“Why do you want to work for our organisation?”
This question should serve as an opening for the candidate to express what in particular has drawn them to your role / organisation. Obviously, not only should the list of skills & experience be aligned, but in asking this question, the interviewee should be able to articulate what it is about the culture, track record, senior management team, financial performance, products or services that calls to them. Thorough research is the key here. In answering this question, the candidate will be demonstrating an in-depth understanding of the business and be able to highlight where they can contribute to the organisation.
Some additional often-asked interview questions follow. As you read through this list, work out what extra information the interviewer is seeking from you.
- “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
- “What do you consider to be your key strengths / weaknesses?”
- “Tell me about yourself”
- “Why should I hire you rather than other candidates for this role?”
- “What is your greatest achievement to date?”
If you’ve been asked along to an interview, the alignment between your skills and experience and their requirements will already largely have been established. The interview serves as a way for the organisation to assess your softer, less evident skills as well as your personality, values and potential fit into the team. This is why these nebulous interview questions are asked. But beware! It is easy to find yourself waffling without any real sense of direction, and that is why thinking about and practising answering them is immensely beneficial.
If you’re job hunting and will be attending interviews shortly, consider undertaking some professional interview skills preparation. There are a number of good providers around – check out the Career Development Association of Australia’s website (www.cdaa.org.au) to compare backgrounds (corporate vs. educational) and different services offered. It’s the best way to ensure you’re not losing out on a great opportunity!
Katie Adler offers an Interview Coaching service. The program incorporates the Top Grading principles often used by multi-nationals, detailed analysis of Competency Based interview techniques along with significant role-play, general interview help and advice.
Katie Adler has delivered interview coaching to both groups and individuals and is a nationally accredited trainer. Katie’s expertise has been acquired from more than 11 years in global executive search firms where she interviewed numerous candidates and coached many successful interviewees. She has an in-depth understanding of interview structures and of the responses employers are seeking.