Candidate Interviews

The most asked job interview questions (and how to answer them!)

Need some help preparing for those tricky interview questions? We've listed the most commonly asked questions, with best answers and red flags

accomplishment-agreement-business-1249158.jpg

Tell me about yourself

This is a really common question, and is often the first to be asked.

Stick to a work related answer – never go into your personal life unless the interviewer asks you. Give a brief summary of your career history, how your career has developed focusing on your achievements.

Why did you leave your last job?

You should always try and give a positive response to this question, it’s a good idea to highlight that you are now ready for a better opportunity and a new challenge.

However tempting it may be, never ever bad mouth your current employer.

What are your strengths?

This is a question that you should always be prepared for when going into an interview. Be ready to give several examples of your strengths and have instances where you have demonstrated them ready. Don’t list strengths that aren’t relevant to the job you are interviewing for, and don’t be shy about your accomplishments!

What’s your biggest weakness?

We all have weaknesses – recognising them is what’s important.

A good trick for this question is to make sure you highlight how you’ve addressed any issues you’ve faced; perhaps you’ve attended a training course or worked with a mentor.

For example;

“I get quite nervous giving presentations and talking in front of a room of people, so I enrolled on a course to improve my public speaking.”

Don’t mention any faults that would directly affect your ability to do the job.

What do you know about our company?

Make sure you do your homework by browsing every part of the company’s website as that is the most authentic source of information to answer questions like these. If you happen to know someone who already works there ask them for some specific information.

Key points to make a note of are;

  • Industry/sector.

  • Goals.

  • Major competitors.

  • Culture and values.

Why should we hire you?

Make sure you have used the job advert to figure out the employer’s most sought-after skills, and come up with a brief example that explains how you have acquired that skill.

This question should be answered with a sense of bi-party need. Speak in a balanced tone to send the message that company needs you just as much as you want the job. Stay clear of comparing yourself with other applicants though!

How would your co-workers describe you?

You don’t want to merely give a list of adjectives your colleagues would say about you. Instead- focus on one attribute that describes your work ethic, and think of a time when you have demonstrated it in the workplace. When telling a story- it is crucial that you do not just make something up, and don’t be dishonest.

Try to use the STAR method for delivering your answers to questions you are asked:

The beauty of this is it allows you to elaborate in context and it opens the door for further questions about the topic you have chosen to respond with.

It’s a clear, structured and concise method and the best way of minimising the amount of questions that you just "don't know" so here is a recap:

Situation: The position I was in

Task: What I was asked to do while in that situation

Action: What I did after I was asked to do what I was doing in the situation

Result: What end product of the action.

 

Interview Horror Stories

We’ve all been there; it’s time for the big interview for that job you’ve been waiting for and nerves have got the better of you.

We have found some interview horror stories that will make you feel much better about yours this Halloween…..

halloween.jpg

Too hot for socks

“A candidate complained during the interview that she was hot. She then said ‘excuse me’ and proceeded to remove her socks. After placing them on the desk, she continued as if everything was normal”

Mother Cupboard

“My mum’s story is better: she went for an interview at a prestigious law firm. All went well and she was confident she’d given her best and so shook the interviewers’ hands and exited the room. Only, she hadn’t exited the room, she had walked into a small utility cupboard. Instead of just popping back out and laughing it off my mum decided to stay in there!

“Quite clearly the three interviewers had watched her walk in there. It took a few minutes (probably as the interviewers expected her to emerge) until they opened the door and asked if she was okay. Instead of admitted her mistake at that point, she instead stuttered: ‘I was exploring my potential new company’ and then bolted out of the real exit. She got the job, too!”

References Pending

“One applicant handed over a list of three references, but then pointed to the first guy and said, ‘but don’t call this guy’. She paused for a moment and then indicated the second reference and said ‘You’d better not call this one either’.”

A leading fashion designer said I had ‘the wrong star sign’

“I was a fresh design graduate and had had two interviews already at a leading fashion designer. Their business partner loved my portfolio, so I thought I had the job. Third interview was with the designer’s husband, who came in the room and asked one question: “What’s your star sign?” After hearing my reply he turned around and walked straight out. I was stunned, turned to the business partner and asked what went wrong. He shook his head and said: “Same as his wife. He won’t have anyone who shares her star sign.” And that was that.”

Camel Woe

“During an interview they said they were going to do word association. It’s where they say a word and you say the first thing that comes to your mind.

For example… They said fruit, I said apple. They said transportation, I said car.Everything was going rather well until they said camel and instantly… Toe was my response.

Yes… I said Camel Toe in the interview.

Then tried to correct myself and say hump quickly. One of the men was trying not to laugh but the other didn’t find it entertaining.I, however, thought it was hysterical and started laughing. I excused myself and left the interview.

Let’s just say, I never received a call back but took a great story away with me.”

Story Time

“I was hiring for a position in my office. It was a final-round interview, and if I liked the candidate, she’d get the job.

I meet her and, like most candidates for jobs, she brings in a copy of her resume. I sit her down and ask as an opening question, “So, what caused you to take interest in this position?”

The girl smiles and says, “Well, I have a lot of experience that I feel I could bring to the table, which is on my resume.”

She then looks down at her resume and proceeds to read it to me in its entirety. For 15 minutes straight. No eye contact. She reads word-for-word every bullet point, every detail, every award and leadership position that she had in college, what she did at her last internship … most of which had absolutely nothing to do with the job.

After 15 minutes of her talking, I still did not know why she was interested in the job. In fact, all I knew about her was the information on her resume, which I had received and read prior to the interview. And she knew I’d previously seen it because I’d mentioned reading her resume before we sat down. I didn’t bother asking all the questions I was supposed to. We talked for a little bit after that, and then I thanked her for her time and called it a day.”

 

For advice on what to (and what not to do) in that all important interview head over to our Candidate Corner

 To get industry news directly to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter

Feed me… Feed me! More Feedback Please

Feedback, such an insignificant word on the face of it. Yet, it is the biggest element that makes any process improve. This could be an automated process right through to a service process. Without the feed-back to the input of the system there isn't any way to know how and where the improvements can be made. interview

When I worked in industry the process systems would use the feedback loop in order to change the input of the process. This would automatically make changes to various valve positions in order to control flow, speed changes on pumps to control volumes, and heating systems to dry the paper a little more or less depending on what the feedback loop had found during the process.

This relates to recruitment is a similar way apart from the valves of course!

When a brief is taken for a role, the skilled recruiter would typically send a benchmark CV to the hiring manager to create a gap analysis. This is then fine-tuned in order to improve relevancy. Without the feedback loop in this case, the gap towards the right skill sets will not be closed in a controlled fashion meaning a lot of wasted time for the client in reviewing candidates that do not hit the mark.

The same thing applies to interviews. Feedback is a real must following an interview to gauge how the candidate performed and to also gauge how the client performed. This then allows for changes to how the interview is conducted or how the candidate presents themselves at a future interview. In essence it allows the gaps to be closed and an accurate fit to be sourced.

The real benefits can be numerous, from candidate development right through to improving the interview process and hiring manager’s interview skills, along with the brand of the company. Everybody likes to get the feedback whether it’s good or bad (mainly good of course) as it allows the loop to be closed one way or another.

I had a candidate who was struggling at interview in terms of illustrating his skills and experiences in a clear and efficient manner. Through learning form the feedback, we are able to introduce him to some techniques to deliver examples in a clear and concise manner. With just some small changes to his approach, he was able to secure a great position at a forward thinking company that provided the opportunities he needed to progress his career to the next level

We also worked with a client in the automotive industry who was receiving a negative image due to the way it treated its employees. By sharing this feedback and educating our client, we were able to open their eyes to some different approaches that allowed them to manage their employees in a more positive and upbeat manner. This resulted in a rapid change in behaviour and a significant increase in the happiness and motivation of the workforce.

In short and it it's simple. Provide feedback in a timely manner and keep it clear and constructive.

Written by Lee Narraway

If you would like to discuss this then please get in touch with me and leave your comments:

Phone: 01925 747 712 Email: lnarraway@procorerec.com LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/leenarraway Website: www.procorerec.com

How to decline an interview without burning bridges

We all know circumstances can change when searching for a job. As a result, it’s quite common for job hunters to be invited for an interview, but realising that they no longer want the job for various reasons. If you want to decline an interview but are not sure how to do it humbly, here’s some advice that will keep your professional reputation firmly intact. woman holding a phone

Continue reading here: https://www.cv-library.co.uk/career-advice/interviews/how-decline-interview-without-burning-bridges/

Top 5 Interview Tips

There isn't any exact science when it comes down to interviewing, but you can stack the percentages in your favour by following these simple tips: job interview candidates

number one

 

Dress well! Now, I don't mean Mickey Mouse Ties (yes, I’ve had one of these) and bright red and green socks I mean a clean, tidy business suit, plain shirt / blouse and a matching tie - follow this simple rule a little bird once told me; 1 plain and 2 stripe or 1 stripe and 2 plain.

 

number two

 

Make sure you prepare well, it’s no surprise that the candidates who prepare the best get the best jobs, it’s a fact and it’s something that there can be no excuse for. The internet has been around long enough to ensure that there is information about the company and sector you're working in, so instead of watching the TV get busy reading and researching.

 

number three

Have plenty of questions written down for the inevitable "do you have any questions" bit. It will happen and you know it will so make sure you’re ready for it. This bit is so easy and you generate the questions from your preparation time. Don’t forget – Interviews are a two way thing. Asking questions you want to know the answer to is the perfect way to get to know the employer and the interviewer! Make sure that you have enough company information so that you feel comfortable, confident and excited going forward!

 

number four

Use the STAR method for delivering your answers to questions you’re asked: Now many of you will have heard of this and it’s a common thing. The beauty of this is it allows you to elaborate in context and it opens the door for further questions about the topic you have chosen to respond with. It’s a clear, structured and concise method and the best way of minimising the amount of questions that you just "don't know" so here is a recap:

  1. Situation: The position I was in
  2. Task: What I was asked to do while in that situation
  3. Action: What I did after I was asked to do what I was doing in the situation
  4. Result: What end product of the action.

number five

DO NOT BE LATE FOR WHATEVER REASON IN THE WORLD APART FROM NUCLEAR DISASTER. If you're going to be late then it would probably best to rearrange the whole thing! A minute here and there I guess isn't going to kill you or the interviewer, but it may be the difference between two equally matched candidates and it’s just not worth the risk!

Written By Lee Narraway and Edited By Natalie Whaley

If you would like to discuss this short article in more detail then please connect with me and let's chat.

Lee Narraway

Phone: 01925 747 712 Email: lnarraway@procorerec.com LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/leenarraway/ Website: www.procorerec.com/

So Have You Met Shrek?

Don’t Judge a Book By The Cover

I shook him by the hand, but something didn’t feel right.

As a recruiter, I am used to listening to my gut feelings, but on this occasion, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I have changed some of the details in this story to protect the individual’s identity, but it was one of the biggest eye-opening interviews that I have ever conducted.

Shrek

I was in my first year of recruitment. At that time, interviews were still as nerve wracking for me as they were for the candidates, and I was admittedly a little green. Nonetheless, I prided myself on my intuition (gained from my previous career in industry) and had made a decent start in the profession.

Then, one day, Steve (name amended) walked into the room. He must have been the largest guy that I have ever met. He avoided my eyes as he walked in, and, with a sweaty handshake, he slumped in the chair, muttering something about the traffic under his breath. He couldn’t have seemed less interested to be there if he tried.

However, he had a perfect CV, so I set about trying to get some sense out of him. Any reply that I did get was delivered in a monotonous voice, and he kept looking at his watch. Something wasn’t right, but I continued the interview for the next hour, getting increasingly frustrated by the lack of communication.

I did the worst thing possible. I made the assumption that he didn’t have the right personality for the company that I was recruiting for. I didn’t think to dig further into the circumstances of his mood, and I switched off, discounting him from any of my possible searches. I judged him based on minimal evidence, but with absolute certainty.

If it hadn’t been for his email the next day apologizing and telling me about his serious personal problems that day, I would have been none the wiser.

Job interview candidates

I felt like an idiot. Why didn’t I care enough to dig that little bit deeper under the surface? It was obvious that something wasn’t quite right, but why did I judge him without understanding the bigger picture?

We do this all the time - making snap judgments based on someone’s appearance, gender, nationality, religion, etc. The media fuels this suspicion, which all too easily can turn to hatred. Walking down the street, every Muslim is a terrorist, every youth in a hoodie is a drug dealer. There are so many people, who don’t get their fair chance in life because they are a victim of these unfair prejudices.

If Shrek walked into my interview room, I’d like to think that I would hear him out. Not sure what sort of an Engineer he would make, but you never know unless you dig a little deeper….

Written by Lee Narraway and Edited by Paul Drury

If you would like to discuss this then please get in touch with me and leave your comments:

Lee Narraway

Phone: 01925 747 712 Email: lnarraway@procorerec.com LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/leenarraway/ Website: www.procorerec.com/