Securing the job of your dreams – or even the job you need right now – depends upon your skills and experience and the way you perform at interview. Interviews across different industries often follow the same format, or even include the same types of question, and learning how to answer these effectively is invaluable.
Many people have strong applications on paper and know that they could excel in the job they are applying for, but their nerves or lack of experience at interview result in disappointment every time. Of course, there will always be times when the competition just pips you to the post, but polishing your own interview skills is the best way to ensure success in your job search.
Although every interview experience will be different, your next interview is likely to feature some of the following questions. These questions, and the answers that you give, allow your potential employer a chance to understand what makes you tick and what you could bring to his or her business. Read on to find out how to stand out from the crowd and improve your chances of securing the job you want:
This is a simple question, and a very common opener at interview, but it’s not easy to come up with the perfect answer on the spot. Take some time while you are preparing to think about the most important things you want the interviewer to know about you and about why you are applying for this position, and highlight a couple of experiences or situations that help to demonstrate the qualities that make you most suitable for this role.
This isn’t an opportunity to describe the company you’re interviewing for, but rather a chance for you to demonstrate how you could be an asset to them. You can build upon your contacts and networks to explain your experience of the company, showing that you are well connected and could be valuable to them, and talk about why you are drawn to work in this role. For example, if the company ethos is something that resonates with you and your goals, make your answer personal and show that you understand what the company is all about.
This question may seem routine but it’s a golden opportunity to demonstrate why you and your skills are a great fit in this role and this company. Pick a couple of previous experiences that have helped you to develop your skills or focus on the passion you have for this sort of role, and show your interviewer why you are a better option than anyone else they may be interviewing. Concentrate on proving that you can excel at the job and will be a great asset within the team and company you will be joining.
Beware! This is not a question that calls for a regurgitation of what you think the interviewer wants to hear. Be honest and share relevant and positive insights, but ensure that you focus on qualities that are important in the role you are interviewing for. If you are a great team player, for example, you could talk about a recent experience in which your skills within a team have led to a positive outcome for you, your team and the business you have been working for. This is a great chance to be specific and really show what you are offering this company.
This is often the question that causes interviewees the most concern, and it’s easy to see why. A brutally honest answer such as ‘I leave everything to the last minute and then panic!’ won’t win you any brownie points here, but neither will a rose tinted denial of any shortcomings. Prepare yourself to discuss something that you have been working on, such as a skill that you are keen to develop. For example, if you have found it difficult to give presentations in the past but have been working on your public speaking skills and challenging yourself to take the lead more often in team meetings, you will have great material to work with in this answer.
Conflict at work can cause big headaches for employers, so many will try to get a feel for the way in which you interact with colleagues with a question like this. It’s a good idea to refer back to an incident in your current or previous role, and explain how you managed it to create a positive outcome. Talk about the way in which you brought about a productive and professional resolution, and highlight the skills that this helped you to develop for the future.
This is not just about giving the ‘right’ answer in terms of career progression, but is an opportunity to talk about your goals and the expectations you hold about your future. You don’t have to have a watertight vision for the next five years, but an answer that explains why this role fits into your plans will give an insight into your personality and your ambitions.
This is a key question to get right, as negativity about your current employer will not reflect well on you. It is a good idea to focus on the experiences you would like to develop that are not available to you in your current role, and the skills you hope to be able to explore next. If you were fired from your previous role, you should be open about this but explain how you have used this as a learning and development opportunity. As staff turnover in many industries is high, this won’t necessarily count against you but could offer an opportunity to show how much your have grown as a result of the experience.
This may sound like a crazy question, but you may be asked a random brainteaser such as this during your interview, particularly if you are applying for a mathematical or statistical role. The first rule is that you shouldn’t panic, it’s ok to take a moment to think about how you answer. With a quantitative question such as this one, you should ask for a pen and paper and demonstrate the way in which you would approach a problem like this. No-one will be expecting a correct answer, but a discussion around how you would calculate an estimate of the total could involve using different categories, such as businesses and residential buildings, and using an average number based on the most popular building styles in Cork and the population size. The key to success with a question like this is to show that you are a systematic and logical thinker, who can use common sense and work methodically.
Rehearsing your interview with a trusted friend or relative is a great way to increase your confidence and become more familiar with the sort of answers you should be giving, and don’t forget that asking some insightful and useful questions of the interviewers will always go down well!
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CareerWise is Ireland’s leading specialist recruitment firm, based in Cork, Shannon, Galway and Mayo and our professional team can help you to secure interviews and excel in them.
When you are looking for a new role in the Pharmaceutical or Medical Device industries, talk to us at CareerWise to find the best options for you and your skillset. Contact us online now or call us on +353 (0) 21 206 1900 to arrange a consultation.
Joe Robbins is co-founder of CareerWise Recruitment. A graduate of the University of Limerick (Degree in Business Studies, 1985), Joe worked in the UK for five years where he specialised in materials management, production management and plant management for a number of companies.
He returned to Ireland in 1992 to become Operations Manager for a Cork-based start-up, FMC Automotive Division which was subsequently taken over by Snap-on Equipment. Joe managed the business re-location of this company to Shannon in 1997 before setting up CareerWise Recruitment in 1999.
He is a committee member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Mid-West region, and a former Director and Vice President of the Shannon Chamber of Commerce. Joe is former Chairperson of the Sixmilebridge Camogie Club and current Chairperson of the Clare County Camogie Board.
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