Interview Questions: How to Get them Right?

So, your outstanding CV got you to the interview stage? Well done! Now let’s get prepared for the interview. Our aim is to help you nail the interview! How will you get your interview questions right? Read further.

No matter their age, experience, or position, most candidates feel under pressure during interviews. You will be facing a hiring manager who will judge your accomplishment, skills, aptitude, personality, character, ethics, and motivation. And let’s not forget about your ability to fit in the firm, or even your promise for the future. It gets even more stressful when you will face not just one manager, but a panel of interviewers.

However, with some preparation, you can nail the next job interview

During the interview, what does the hiring manager look for?

In general, you may go through 3 phases of an interview – phone, remote, and in-person.

The phone interview is mainly a pre-screening (barely 10 minutes) to allow the recruiter to see if your profile matches the requirements for the open position. Do not be surprised if you are questioned on your salary expectations and availability. Your interviewer is simply filling the missing parts from your CV. During the call, you may also be assessed on your language skills (fluency, vocabulary, and articulation).

Since the start of the pandemic, companies are shifting from in-person to remote interviews – usually via Zoom. Unfortunately, many are so flustered by the technology that they pay little attention to the details that make the difference to clinch a job offer:

·      Being late for the interview

·      Not practising with the technology beforehand

·      Interviewing with a messy background

·      Poor lighting

·      Distractions  

·      Choosing the wrong outfit

·      Low bandwidth

Most employers favour in-person interviews for roles that require strong social skills (client-facing or leadership positions). Depending on the seniority of the role, there may be one to three levels of in-person interviews. Essentially, the hiring manager needs to clarify three critical elements:

·      Can you do the job?

·      Do you really want the job?

·      Will you fit in?

7 tips to ensure you nail your interview

Thorough preparation will increase your chances of nailing the interview. If you are familiar with the company’s products, services, competitors, and nature of business, you will feel more comfortable speaking with the hiring manager.

  1. Investigate the company. There are multiple sources of information (website, social media, LinkedIn, CBRS, financial statements, brochures, friends or ex-colleagues) to help you get a solid sense of what the company does and how they are performing.
  2. Research about your role. You also need to know what your role would be. Go back to the job description and take another look at the responsibilities and characteristics for which they’re looking.
  3. Find out all you can about the interviewer(s). Usually, you will be told ahead of time who you’ll be meeting (their name and job title). Use this information to research your interviewer(s) and get a sense of what they do and how they do it.
  4. Anticipate the questions. You will feel prepared and less caught off-guard if you anticipate the questions and prepare the answers. Refer to the sample questions below.
  5. Choose your questions wisely. Seize this opportunity to get a much deeper understanding of what you’d be signing up for if you take this job. E.g. “What are you hoping this person will accomplish in their first six months and in their first year?”
  6. Dress appropriately. It is easy to be under or overdressed for an interview. Get a feel for the company’s dress code by looking at the website, else use your judgement based on the industry standards.
  7. A “Thank You” note. After the interview, drop an email to thank the interviewer(s) and seize the opportunity to highlight the discussions and reiterate your desire to join the firm. You’ll also have the opportunity to mention anything you wish you had said during the interview but didn’t get the chance to discuss.

Straight forward Interview Questions you may be asked (DO’s & Don’ts)

Here is a list of straightforward interview questions you may be asked by the hiring manager or recruiter:

  1. Tell us about you. Unless you’ve been asked to introduce yourself from birth to the moment you reached the interview room, consider focusing your answer in relation to the job you applied for. It’s your opportunity to show how your studies, work experience, and passion all line up for this position. Don’t waste everyone’s time by telling what’s written down on your CV already.
  2. Why should we hire you? Avoid the cliché of comparing yourself to other candidates. Instead, highlight your key strengths, experience and achievements linked to the job. Employers also want to know if you are someone who can grow in the firm. Maybe, help the firm grow, bring new ideas, new business, or even improve product/quality/service/cost.
  3. What will you bring to the company? Unless you research the company thoroughly, you will be unable to answer this question effectively. You can discuss your achievements while showcasing your knowledge of what the firm does, as well as tie in your experience and skills with what the job requires.
  4. When are you available to start? Though you have not got the job offer yet, you should find out about the tentative timeframe to join the firm. Check your contract of employment about your notice period; that way, you’ll be prepared to respond when the question is asked.
  5. What are your salary expectations? This question could disqualify you from consideration for a job. However, it is not a bad thing, since you might not be able to accept a job that is underpaid. Therefore, you should figure out your salary expectations in advance, propose a range, or even flip the question back to the interviewer.

Typical Competency-based Interview Questions

Over and above the technical questions pertaining to the job, seasoned recruiters usually ask competency-based interview questions; these aim to find out how you have used specific skills in your previous experience and how you approach problems, tasks and challenges.

The interviewer has a list of set questions, each focusing on a specific skill, and your answers will be compared against pre-determined criteria and marked accordingly. The competencies being tested will be in line with those competencies required for the role you have applied for. Employers generally look for the following:

  • Adaptability – describe a situation where you were asked to do something that you’d never attempted previously
  • Commercial awareness – what are the biggest issues our company/industry faces today?
  • Communication – tell me about a time when your communication skills improved a situation
  • Conflict resolution – Tell me about a time when you encountered conflict in the workplace and how you handled it
  • Decision-making – tell me about a time when you had to make a very important decision
  • Independence – share an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead
  • Leadership – describe a situation in which you led a team
  • Problem-solving – give an example of a situation where you solved a problem in a creative way
  • Organisation – share an example of when you had to work on multiple projects at the same time
  • Resilience – tell me about a time when you achieved success even when the odds were stacked against you
  • Teamwork – how do you maintain good working relationships with your colleagues

How to answer these Interview Questions?

Using the STAR technique, structure your replies in a clear and cohesive manner to present your answers (situation, task, action, and result). On Nova resume, you will find some sample answers to help you formulate your responses.

Think of your interview as a conversation. Many interviewers welcome casual conversations, while others tend to keep it formal. You should assess your interviewer and see what kind of persona he/she has. Read the body language, understand what is being expected from you based on the initial questions, and then proceed from there.

All the best for your next job interview!

Written by Ashish Khatry, CXO at Proactive Talent

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