Here are some of the most common interview questions and some good ways to answer them:
Q: WHERE do you see yourself in five years time?
Ask what promotion opportunities are likely to come up in the company. Then say, “I realise first-hand experience opens up avenues I may never have considered before so, while I might hope to be the head of a department one day, who knows what other opportunities might crop up?” This casts you as an ambitious team player.
Q: WHAT’S your biggest weakness?
Focus on a minor aspect of the job you’re going for that you might find slightly taxing such as the software they use, adding that that you’d like to become more proficient with some training ASAP. Another response is to put a weakness in the past. For example, explain how you used to find spreadsheets a nightmare but having enrolled in a course, you’re now an expert.
Q: WHY are you leaving your current job?
If your current job’s a nightmare choose a minor example of why, like the time you were so understaffed your social life disappeared, adding that you happily mucked in and your boss was supportive. Say you’re ready for a new challenge and this job is it.
Q: HAVE you got any questions?
Always prepare questions to ask. Having no questions prepared sends the message that you have no independent thought process. Some of your questions may be answered during the course of the interview, before you are offered the opportunity to ask. If so, you can simply state that you were interested in knowing about something, but that was addressed during the interview. You could ask for additional clarification if applicable.
Ask about continued professional development, and opportunities within the company for career progression. You could ask when candidates will find out on the decision, and ask for a contact number if you think of any further questions.
DO NOT ask questions that are clearly answered on the employer's website and/or in any literature provided by the employer to you in advance. This would simply reveal that you did not prepare for the interview, and you are wasting the employer's time by asking these questions. Never ask about salary and benefits issues until those subjects are raised by the employer.
If you are having trouble developing questions, consider the following. However, don't ask a question if you are not truly interested in the answer, it will be obvious to the employer.
- What are the company's strengths and weaknesses compared to its competition?
- How important do upper management consider the function of this department/position?
- What is the organisation's plan for the next five years, and how does this department fit in?
- Could you explain your organisational structure?
- How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured?
- What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?
- Could you describe your company's management style and the type of employee who fits well with it?
- What are some of the skills and abilities necessary for someone to succeed in this job?
- What is the company's policy on providing seminars, workshops, and training so employees can keep up their skills or acquire new ones?
- What particular computer equipment and software do you use?
- What kind of work can I expect to be doing the first year?
- What percentage of routine, detailed work will I encounter?
- How much opportunity is there to see the end result of my efforts?
- Who will review my performance? How often?
- How much guidance or assistance is made available to individuals in developing career goals?
- How much opportunity will I have for decision-making in my first assignment?
- Can you describe an ideal employee?
- What is your organisation's policy on transfers to other cities?