Five key interview questions

There are around 20-50 typical questions which are frequently asked in the interview process, this article covers the 5 key questions you should have thought through and be able to handle with ease and enthusiasm. In an interview, the interviewer is primarily interested in assessing two points about you: your competence and your compatibility.

Whilst the conversation within each meeting is different, the objectives of the first interview remain the same: • To demonstrate and show case how your experience, expertise and character fits and suits the role and company that you are being considered for • To demonstrate how you have made a difference for your existing/previous employers • To discover what the role entails, from a functional point of view (what you’ll be doing on a daily basis) and from a competence point of view (have you got the skills, expertise, experience to deliver the job description), how it fits within the organisation, what the corporate culture of the company is, whether you can work within that environment and with the interviewer (potentially your line manager or peer) • To get a positive decision to go to the next stage, probably a second interview. Hiring decisions are based not only on the interviewer's rational analysis of your abilities, accomplishments and potential, but also upon the way he or she feels about you. It is simply a fact of life that the interviewer's emotions will play a very strong role in his or her decision. Hence your attitude is an extremely important factor. Can you tell me a little about yourself? This question seems simple, so many people fail to prepare for it, but it's crucial. The real question is ‘Can you tell me a little about yourself as it relates to the role’. Don't give your complete employment (or personal) history. Instead give a pitch—one that’s concise and compelling and that shows exactly why you’re the right fit for the job. Start off with the 2-3 specific accomplishments or experiences that you most want the interviewer to know about, then wrap up talking about how that prior experience has positioned you for this specific role. What do you know about the company? Any applicant can read and regurgitate the company’s “About” page. So, when interviewers ask this, they aren't necessarily trying to gauge whether you understand the mission—they want to know whether you care about it. Start with one line that shows you understand the company's goals, using a couple key words and phrases from the website, but then go on to make it personal. For example, “I’m personally drawn to this opportunity because…” or “I really believe in this approach because…” and share a personal example or two. Why do you want this job? Again, companies want to hire people who are passionate about the job, so you should have a great answer about why you want the position. (And if you don't? You probably should apply elsewhere.) First, identify a couple of key factors that make the role a great fit for you (e.g., “I love customer support because I love the constant human interaction and the satisfaction that comes from helping someone solve a problem"), then share why you love the company (e.g., “I’ve always been passionate about education, and I think your company is leading the field in this area, so I want to be a part of it”). Why should we hire you? This question seems forward (not to mention intimidating!), but if you're asked it, you're in luck: There's no better setup for you to sell yourself and your skills to the hiring manager. Your job here is to craft an answer that covers three things: that you can do the work, you can deliver great results; that you'll really fit in with the team and culture; and that you'd be a better hire than any of the other applicants. How many tennis balls can you fit into a mini? 1,000? 10,000? 100,000? Seriously? Well, seriously, you might get asked brainteaser questions like these, especially in quantitative jobs. But remember that the interviewer doesn’t necessarily want an exact number—he wants to make sure that you understand what’s being asked of you, and that you can set into motion a systematic and logical way to respond. So, just take a deep breath, and start thinking through the maths. (Yes, it’s OK to ask for a pen and paper!)