Tag Archives: interview questions

7 Questions You Should Ask to Be the Most Impressive Job Candidate

Most interviewers follow a basic model these days called “Behavioral Interviewing.” The purpose is to see how a candidate has acted in the past in certain scenarios, because most of the time, past behavior will predict future behavior. Along with this interview style, there are also seven questions you as the candidate will most likely be asked. My boss in our career center refers to them as the Seven Deadly Questions. This includes: “Tell me about about yourself” and “Where do you see yourself in 2–5 years?” These are loaded questions that if answered wrong can ruin your chances of getting the job.

So if these are some of the questions the interviewer asks, what should you as the candidate ask? After all, aren’t you interviewing them too? Do you know for certain before an interview if this somewhere you want to work for the next year, two years, five years? If this is somewhere you want to work, then how can you be the most impressive job candidate?

Believe it or not, many times, the best way to show an interviewer you have done research on their company and industry is not through the answers you give, but through the questions you ask.

Here are 7 questions you should ask to be the most impressive job candidate.

What are the common attributes of your top performers?

This questions serves many purposes. First, you didn’t ask “what are the common attributes of your worst performers?” The reason being is that you want to show them that you want to identify with and be one of the top performers, and not one of the worst. You will probably have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview, so to show you share common traits with the top performers, you can either reiterate an answer you gave earlier in the interview when you hear their answer about top performers, or mention your matching skills in a follow-up email and written thank you letter. You should be sending both.

What are the one or two things that really drive results for the company?

Based on the research you have already done prior to the interview (you did do research prior to the interview, right?), you should have an idea of what is the answer to this question before you ask. This illustrates to the interviewer that you understand the position you are applying for fits into a bigger company picture. This is not the “you” show. The company has a need and you are trying to convince them your background and skill set fits that need better than anyone else and you will make them more successful than they already are. You are part of the “thing” that drives results.

What do employees do in their spare time?

This question helps you gauge how you will fit in with the people working there. “Fit” has become a big focus for companies these days. You may have the skills to do the job, but if you are socially awkward or your personality does not make the interviewer feel comfortable with you they will probably pass on hiring you. Also, this question will help you understand the job/life balance at the firm. One too many jokes about “what spare time?” from the interviewer and you may want to consider whether you are willing to put in the hours this job may require.

How do you plan to deal with _____?

This question will end with an industry-specific issue. Maybe it is regulatory like the Dodd/Frank Act that hit the financial services industry a few years ago, or maybe in doing your research, you discovered a new player entered the market. My advice to you is be CAREFUL with this question. If the company does not have an answer for the issue yet, you will make the interviewer defensive. Focus on the positives if you want to show you have done your research. Ask something like “how do you plan to spend all the money you are going to make with this new product’s sales?” I’m kidding of course, but on the serious side be careful in choosing to ask about an issue.

How do you measure success of the people currently in this position?

This questions differs from the question about attributes of top performers because you are not asking what they think makes someone in this position successful, but rather how do they measure success. The point you want to make with this question is that you plan on being successful so you want to know what goals you should focus on. Also this question may lead to a conversation about commissions and bonuses, not specific numbers probably—and do not push for that—but it will give you an idea of expectations and how realistic they are.

What does a career path look like at this company?

When you ask this question you want to make sure you get the point across that you are looking long term. Do not ask, “how long does it take to move up?” or anything like that. You are there to fill the job at hand and add value immediately. The point of asking this is to show you are in it for the foreseeable future and that you are again coming to this job with an attitude that you are a good fit and will be successful.

I am really excited about this opportunity; what are the next steps?

If you don’t tell them you are really excited about the job, how will they know you are? They are excited about filling it; you should be excited about the possibility of being hired.

If you are in the process of interviewing for a few jobs, and you should be, then this is when they can tell you it may take a few weeks before you hear anything or that there are more interviews coming. If you get an offer from another company a few days after this interview, you know you may have to ask that company to give you more time to decide, because this company told you it may take a few weeks to get back to you. Any question you ask should show either that you did your research on the company and industry, or that you are there to fill the need they have and be successful. That is what will make you the most impressive job candidate.

This post is reblogged from: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/work/7-questions-you-should-ask-the-most-impressive-job-candidate.html

Answering Interview Questions

Front view portrait of four business executives sitting in a line

The last few weeks the career team have seen a number of students who have interviews coming up, and they have been asking for some help with preparing for interviews. We recently posted about using the STAR method for answering interview questions, as well as top 5 interview tips to help you land a job.

But what about those interview questions? How can you predict what you will be asked, and therefore go into the interview fully prepared?

The first thing to do is take a look at the criteria on the person specification – write them all down in a list down the left side of the page (you can do this with pen and paper on on your computer – whatever is easier). Then jot down a few examples of when you have demonstrated that criteria on the right hand side. 2 or 3 examples is great – the interview panel will be really impressed if they ask you for an example and you give them 2 or 3!! Keep this little ‘table’ of examples around your house, stick it next to the kettle, read it while you’re having a cup of tea, and come the day of the interview, all you will need to do is recall the examples, rather than having to think from scratch.

Then there are those more general questions. How do you prepare for those?

My top tip would be to take a look at a couple of lists of common interview questions and prepare answers for them. Questions like ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?’ and ‘Why do you want this job?’ are highly likely to crop up in most interviews – so make sure you are ready for them!

You can download a pdf of common interview questions from The Careers Group at University of London here: download

Try these methods and let us know how you get on at your interviews!

Remember the the careers team are here to help – we can arrange a mock interview for you, or just a one-to-one session to offer some advice and guidance on interview skills. Email careers@cumbria.ac.uk to book an appointment.

A Nursing Success Story!

success

How beneficial do you think mock interviews are? When Vikki, one of our nursing students, was recently invited for her dream job on a critical care unit, she asked the careers team for a mock interview to ensure that she was fully prepared.

Of course the careers team were more than happy to help!

Vikki came in for her mock interview, which was set up just like a real interview, where she was asked some typical nursing interview questions and given feedback on her performance.

A few weeks later and the careers team received an email from Vikki saying that she had been offered the job! Congrats Vikki!!

Vikki kindly passed on some of the questions she was asked at interview, so if you are going for an interview soon, these may help:

1- What’s the biggest change you have experienced so far?

2- Can you give an example of when you helped a new member to the team?

3- can you give an example of a busy time and how you balanced your time?

4- What attracted you to the post and why do you want it?

5-  Give an example of a time where you went over and above to give compassionate care.

6- Give an example of when you used your communication skills to tell someone something important and how you did it.  

We hope that these questions will help you in your future interviews. If you have had an interview recently, why not leave your favourite questions in the comments, or you can tweet them to us @UoCCareers

Interview Skills – Using the STAR Approach

Preparing for Interview? Try using the STAR Model!

From: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clarism_4/

Competency based interviews (or situational/behaviour interviews) are becoming the approach of choice for many employers. This type of recruitment process allows candidates to give situational examples of when they have achieved particular outcomes. Competency based interviews (CBI) are used as benchmarks for interviewers. Using this style of questioning means they can rate and evaluate candidates and their ability to fit into the new work environment instantly. This may seem daunting for many candidates particularly those who have no experience of CBI. Clearly, it is important for any candidate to be prepared.

An effective technique to employ when answering competency based questions is the “STAR” method. It allows you to focus your thoughts and structure your responses in a clear and concise way. This means you can further impress the interviewer by getting in additional examples for one question. It enables you to showcase your ability and demonstrate your Unique Selling Points (USP)!

How to Do It…

Job Description and Person Specification

Scan the Job Description and Person Specification of the role, then list the key elements of the role and identify key words that encapsulate each of the “Essential” and “Desirable” criteria. Keep these as short as you can. Once you have a list, begin to identify situations/examples and structure your responses.

The STAR Model

Against each of the key words/elements you have identified try and think of 2 (or even 3!) situations when you have demonstrated ability in each area. Using these situations, structure your responses as follows: 

Situation Set the scene.   Explain the situation you encountered.   It is important for the interviewer to engage and relate to your answer. Examples that are relevant to your potential employer are highly recommended.
Task Explain what part/role you took in the situation.
Action Explain the action you took to address the situation / perform the task. Ensure you are speaking only about you and avoid using “we” here.
Results Explain the outcome of your action i.e. how your work resulted in a positive outcome.  Close the loop!

Create a Bank of Examples

Further reduce your stress by creating a “bank” of examples, evidencing how you successfully demonstrated different competencies. Remember to close one STAR example before introducing the next. (E.g.  “ … A further example of XXXXXXX was when. ..”  (next Situation).

Competency based questions are a fantastic way to showcase your abilities and convince the interviewer that you are the perfect candidate!

No job description yet? Do some initial work. Here are some key competencies for you to consider:

  • Planning and Organising
  • Decision making
  • Motivation
  • Effective Communication
  • Responsibility
  • Problem solving
  • Organisation
  • Leadership and Management
  • Using initiative
  • IT skills and packages

Good luck!

This guest post was written by Karen Chubb, Professional Development Coordinator at the University of Cumbria. 

Top five interview tips to help you land that job!

Interviews can be scary, especially if you have never had one before. The most important thing to do before any interview is to make sure that you are well prepared. Take some time before your interview to research the company, prepare answers to common interview questions, and make sure that you have everything you will need on the day to hand.

interview

Tip 1: Research the Company

Ideally you will already have done some research before applying for the role, but if not, now is the time to do it! You don’t have to memorise all of their annual reports or become an expert on their products, but if you haven’t done any research at all, it will reflect poorly on you during the interview. You should aim to know something about the products and services they provide as well as a brief overview of their history – you can also search for news articles about them, for added points.

Tip 2: Plan Ahead

You will normally be told in advance the location of the interview, so make the most of this advance knowledge and plan your route to get there. Being late for the interview means getting off on the wrong foot at best, and will have a strong negative impact on your chances of getting the job. Aim to arrive around 10 minutes before the time stated on your invite to interview. Build in time in your route for traffic jams, roadworks, public transport issues and so on. Take a spare copy of your CV with you, as well as the job description, your application, and some information on the company. Then when you arrive early, you can read through your pack while you are waiting.

Tip 3: First Impressions

When you arrive for your interview, make sure you switch off your mobile phone (or at the very least make sure it is on silent with the vibrate turned OFF). Take some mints or chewing gum to freshen your breath, but make sure you finish/dispose of it before going into the interview – you don’t want to be crunching mints or chewing gum in your interview!

Tip 4: Be Confident and Enthusiastic

Confidence is one the most important traits to creating a positive impression. Smile, be courteous and address the interviewers by name whenever possible. Keep in mind that you have already impressed the employer enough with your application/CV for them to want to see you. This is no small thing considering the volume of applications most employers receive. Therefore, you have already made a positive impression on them. Your task at the interview is to allow the employer to learn more about you and to see if they like your personality. This is hard to do if you clam up with nerves so take some deep breaths and try to relax.

Tip 5: Follow-Up To Your Interview

After your interview, write to the employer and thank them for their time in seeing you – do this if you are offered the job or not. This will make sure that you stick in their minds as a polite and proactive candidate, and will also confirm to the employer that you are still interested in the position. Sometimes you might need to check a fact or clarify a point raised during the interview. You can use the follow-up email or letter to relay this information to them.

Post adapted from http://www.jobcentreguide.co.uk/job-interview-tips/23/job-interview-tips