Killer Interview Questions and Their Answers

  1. Give me an overview of your experience.

Summarize your skills and experience here and try to ensure it moves from historical experience through to the present day. Ensure that it relates to the new role.

If you have no work history, then look at your training and college or university course and find examples of where you did similar work.

  1. If I asked your friends/colleagues about you what would they say?

This one is a classic. There is no straight answer to this, but you need to have it prepared. Remember to have a positive weakness, as it sounds more realistic.

  1. Why are you leaving your Job?

The answer to this must be positive. If you have been there a while, it’s easy to understand how people move on. If you were made redundant, ensure that you mention that a whole department or team was made redundant.  If it was just you, then it might raise a red flag.

If you were sacked, then you really don’t want to mention this. It’s best to say “The organization wasn’t for me and we decided it was best to move on”.

  1. Are you looking elsewhere?

This can also be worded as “Are you looking at any other jobs”, or “Have you had any interviews”?

This is usually a test.

1) If you have had many interviews and no offers, it might raise question marks.

2) If you have had a couple of interviews and are expecting an offer this week or next, then it will accelerate their decision making.

So always offer the last answer!

Never say “I have been looking for ages, have applied to lots of jobs, had lots of interviews, but no offers!  – It immediately raises a red flag.

  1. What is your ideal job?

Never say “this one” – it shows you are false. Instead go for aspects of any job that you like. For example “I would like to work in an environment where I love the work, have great people that I can learn from” or “I would like to work for a company that invests in its people. I’m not scared of pressure – it helps motivate people”.

  1. What questions do you have?

Always have your list of questions prepared. Never leave without asking something. It can be about a recent business win, or how they would describe the work environment. Don’t forget – this is not the time to ask about the money or the package!

  1. What salary do you want?

A trick question, this one. First of all, if you are going through a recruitment agent or a recruiter, then let them handle this.  Simply say “My recruiter told me not to talk about salary, I’m sure it would be a fair”. If you are not going through a recruiter, then ask what range of salary the position is offering. This is tactical. You need to know the range, as you want to be at the higher limit. Then you suggest somewhere around the higher limit. Do not undersell yourself which is easier said than done. Imagine you are there in the room, you like the job so much that you could easily accept less than you were expecting. But I tell you now, when you are working there for a couple of months you will regret not pushing you salary request higher.

No matter what salary you say, the offer will be lower. So say around the higher figure, and you will get a decent offer.

Career Questions

Sarah’s Story

Sarah had a good paying job with excellent benefits in a large corporation. But she wasn’t happy. At our first career consulting session, she said she felt restless in her work life. She sadly admitted she no longer felt passion for her work. She wanted something different, but didn’t know what.

Sarah had changed during the years at her job. She developed new interests, uncovered new aptitudes, learned new skills. The company changed too. Jobs evolved, departments shifted, functions outsourced. After five years, Sarah found herself misplaced, employed in a job she no longer liked. Sarah isn’t alone. Because of downsizing, closures, on-the-job injuries, and burnout many people find themselves facing the big career question: “What’s the next job or career for me?”

That’s the question Sarah and I agreed to answer. I explained that finding her answer would require research and information; research to uncover possible answers, and information to help her choose the best one. Sarah’s first assignment was simple: list the qualities in her “ideal job.” Her list was short but revealing. She’d love a job where she could work with people, solve problems, flex hours, have variety and travel. She quietly confessed her current job allowed few of these. Her voice grew stronger and her actions more animated as we talked about her interests outside of work: horses, medicine, and travel. She left the session with an assignment: search the library’s computer data base for magazine articles related to her outside interests. Learn about new trends and ideas. Let that information simmer, and then we’d talk.

Become a detective

When we met several weeks later, Sarah gushed with excitement. She had discovered a magazine article about a woman who teaches therapeutic riding to handicapped children. Sarah was hooked and decided to track this woman down. She located several books the teacher had written on the subject. From the books she found her phone number. She called and asked many questions. She arranged to visit the teacher’s ranch during the upcoming summer and see therapeutic riding in action. The teacher pointed her toward a national organization for therapeutic riding. Sarah joined. This brought more information and she located a school that trains and certifies therapeutic riding instructors.

Sarah had the answer to her career question. Her next job would be therapeutic riding instructor. She would stay with her current job while creating this new career.

A one-two approach

Sarah used two kinds of research to find her answer: Inner research, such as describing an ideal job, focused her on finding something she would like rather than dwelling on a job she disliked. Outer research, such as learning to use a computerized database, uncovered helpful information. This one-two approach produced a quick answer.

Not all career questions are answered so quickly. Instead of answers, you may find dead ends. After all, there are more than 12,000 different kinds of jobs in the U.S. and only a few are right for you. Finding the right career is a process of elimination. You start by considering any and all possibilities. Inner research quickly eliminates some, but a few survive the first cut. A round of outer research eliminates more, but also uncovers a few new options to consider. As your list of likely careers shrinks, the match between you and the remaining ones grows. You gather more information and do more career soul searching. Eventually, persistent effort pays off; your career question is answered.