Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 27

1

Why do you want to work here?


This question gives you the opportunity to express why youve targeted that particular company and what it is about it that appeals to you. The obvious first step is to do your research. Visit the company website and explore all the different sections so you get a good feel for what they do, the company structure and ethos, key figures in the organisation, and the general culture. Then do a Google search to find out what others are saying about the company, any articles that have been written about it, and any other information you can find. The more informed you are, the better. In answering this question, be specific. You can say you like the kind of work and projects the company does, its culture, its position in the industry, its size (for example, why you like the fact that it is a big or small company), its ethical or environmental practices and if you can name something specific that the company has done that you find particularly interesting or appealing (for example, a particular building that an architecture firm has designed or a particular campaign that a marketing firm developed), thats sure to impress. The employer wants to see that you have well thought-out reasons for choosing them and not just because they happened to advertise! If it is a big and well-known company you can say that you would love to work for an organisation that is a respected leader in its field, but avoid saying that you want to work for a company for reasons of money or status. Remember that when it comes to being hired for a job, its all about finding the right fit. Talk about what you can bring to the company and emphasise how your professional and personal goals and values are aligned with that of the company. This is a two-way street, so show that youre the right person for the role, would fit in perfectly, and would be able to make a valuable contribution.

Why should we hire you?


This is where you need to stand out from the crowd. There may be several other candidates with similar qualifications and work histories going for the same job as you you need to give the interviewer a reason to hire you over others. The employer will want to know what you can bring to the company and how you can improve it. First and foremost, make sure you link your talents and skills to the requirements of the position and the company demonstrating how you are a perfect fit for their corporate culture and you meet all the criteria specified in the job description. Second, highlight any extra skills you have to make you stand out from all the other people who also meet the criteria. Give examples of career achievements and explain how the skills and experience you have will be beneficial in the new job. Set yourself apart from the pack by showing them how you can transfer these skills across to the company you are applying for, and don't be afraid to use an example from your personal life if it's relevant. For example, you might be applying for an administration job but you helped out with newsletters and fliers for your basketball team, which has given you some extra skills with marketing. The final clincher will be whether or not they like you are you someone they would want as part of their team? Be confident, but dont sound too cocky they dont want someone who is full of themselves and dont bag the other candidates this indicates that you wouldnt be a nice person to work with. The key is to confidently demonstrate that you are the best person for the job, but don't forget to smile and be personable.

Why are you applying for this job?


Use your answer to demonstrate your knowledge of the company and re-emphasise your suitability for the position. Give specific examples of things that attracted you to the company, so the interviewer can see that you match their culture and will thrive in the position. While this looks like a question about you, the interviewer wants to know what you can do for the company and that you are a good fit for the job. In your answer, you might want to elaborate on your strengths and achievements and how they match the position description. You could also talk about your career goals and the objectives of the company (information from your research). In both these instances, you are explaining how and why you would be an asset to the company.

Why should we give you this job?


Set yourself apart from the pack! You may find yourself reiterating some of the things you said in response to 'Tell me about yourself', but this time try to be more specific in linking your talents to the requirements of the position. Give strong examples of your skills and career achievements and, in doing so, explain how you can be beneficial in the new gig. Make a big statement to start and then support it with an example. 'I am always willing to go the extra mile' is a good opener. Find an example of an accomplishment that matches one of the key responsibilities outlined in the job description and use the STAR system of response: situation, task, action, result. 'In my previous position, the data management system was not working well and wasn't being used properly. I approached my manager and suggested a very simple way to fix the problem [shows initiative]. She agreed and I implemented the changes and also explained how it all worked to the rest of the team [team player and ability to communicate]. The result was that everyone started using the system [improved data capture] and the company saved huge amounts of time allowing staff to work on core business [improved productivity and profits].' This shows that you bring valuable skills to the job. Finally, link what you have done to the new position. 'My focus at work is about productivity and profitability and improving the bottom line for the business.'

Tell me about yourself


It's time to sell yourself but keep focused because you need to give a good overview of what you can do in relation to the position for which you are applying. Summarise your work experience and the professional skills you have acquired. Concentrate on aspects of your experience that relate to the job. If marketing is a prerequisite for this job and you have marketing as part of your skills set, then make sure you focus on your experience in this field. You could also refer to your education and tell the interviewer where and what you studied include notable snippets like your majors, significant awards or a distinction average, but only if the subjects you studied are relevant to the job. You may want to briefly describe why you chose your subject area and career path.

3
Don't ramble on: keep to the point (no more than four points in total) and don't waste time on irrelevant information make sure each point hits the mark for the job. Check with the job description and select four main aspects of the job that you could cover. Finish off by briefly outlining your career plans and how the job on offer fits into those illustrious schemes.

What are your strengths?


This is a classic example of how you should tailor your answer to the job. Make a list of the requirements of the job and demonstrate that you possess these, giving examples of how your strengths have helped produce excellent outcomes in previous positions. For example, if developing business project plans is a job requirement, show how you have managed this in the past and make sure to mention that the result was that the team working on the project were appreciative that they had such a strong plan to work with, that the job was completed within the projected time frame and that you saved your employer $X. Some generic skills-based answers include: 'My time management skills are excellent. I'm organised and take pride in excelling at my work.' 'I'm very good with customers and I am efficient at resolving any problems that they have. My customer service skills also help me to get along with other members of the team.' Suggestions of other valuable strengths include: your leadership skills, problem-solving skills, ability to prioritise and work under pressure. Just make sure it correlates directly to the job you are applying for.

What do you like about yourself?


Focus on your values and morals, cultural fit and personal traits relevant for the job. If you are going for a job as a nurse, show that you are compassionate. A journalist might be inquisitive and a judge might have a highly-tuned sense of social justice. Don't go overboard or it will sound like you lack credibility. Once again, be honest while also showing how well you as a person are a perfect match for the role you are applying for.

How would you describe your current boss?


For example: 'My boss would tell you that I am good at coming up with solutions that are a little out of the box and which often give us the edge over our competitors. I'm also a good implementer so that when she has decided on a way forward, she can trust me to implement it well.' With this question, the interviewer is looking for a cultural fit. If your potential boss is your interviewer, he/she will be looking for answers that show you are easy to work with and a contributor. Be honest but never sound negative about previous bosses, as you will come across as a person who may be difficult to work with. Emphasise ways in which you interact with your current boss in your working environment to achieve the goals of the business and how this will help you in the new role you are applying for.

Describe a time when you were faced with a difficult situation and how you handled it
Think about a time you have come up against a challenge that you successfully resolved. Don't dredge up a catastrophe that resulted in personal or professional failure stick to a story with a happy ending. And don't make it about a personal clash with a co-worker, but rather a professional challenge that places you in a positive light. The interviewer is also trying to determine what you define as 'difficult' so try to choose an example that was challenging but not impossible to resolve. Good examples are: pulling off a big project on a miniscule budget a contract falling through at the last minute; having to do the work yourself how you dealt with client requests to meet tight deadlines an unexpected event throwing your plans into disarray, and how you got things back on track The interviewer wants to see that you have resilience, problem-solving skills, initiative and the ability to work around less-than desirable situations. Clearly explain how you identified the problem and reached a solution both professionally and quickly, and what the final positive outcome was. Keep in mind they are interested in determining how your actions and decisions will affect the business so always describe a conclusion that shows you acting in a positive way for the company.

What did you most enjoy about your last job?


If you are going for a job in sales, it would be a good idea to emphasise your love of client interaction and closing a deal, or if the position you apply for requires you to meet important deadlines you could highlight that you enjoy working in a high-pressure environment. A word of warning it's better to talk about liking challenges and achievements, rather than a hefty pay packet and long corporate lunches.

Describe a time when you had to deal with conflict


Don't get bitchy in your response; rather, emphasise the fact that you had a different point of view. Show how you were able to overcome this difficulty in a professional manner. It is also a good idea to explain that you learnt/grew from the experience in some way, for example, while you and another employee may not have seen eye to eye on a certain project, it taught you how to take into account other people's perspectives which, in turn, made you a better team player.

Describe a situation when you were under pressure


You might cope reasonably well with pressure, but tend to organise your workflow and priorities to ensure you don't leave yourself open to out-of-control situations. In this case give an example of a time you were faced with a stressful situation and rose to the challenge. Be specific describe the situation, your response and the outcome. Aim to show that you remained in control of the situation, stayed calm and communicated effectively throughout.

Can you describe a time when you have taken initiative? What was the result?
Give one example of a time when you have come up with an idea and how you went about seeing it through to completion. Talk about the challenges you faced along the way and how you overcame these to succeed. Maybe you came up with an idea for a new project, which would cost the company minimal overhead, but

5
create maximum profits. You presented a proposal to the boss, persuaded them to take it on board and then successfully carried it out. This shows that you can bring valuable skills to the job such as leadership, motivation and problem solving. Also, try to emphasise the importance of teamwork. For example, 'While I have the ability to take direction and work on my own, I am also an excellent team player and I firmly believe in working together to obtain the best possible results as a group.'

Would your current boss describe you as the type of person who goes that extra mile?
More often than not, if they are serious about hiring you, the interviewer will call your previous boss to get them to answer this one. So this is more a personal question aimed at finding out if you see yourself as someone who puts in that extra bit of effort to get the job done. Just a simple yes or no answer is not going to cut it for most interview questions, this one in particular. Make sure you back up what you are saying with examples, as this will validate what you are trying to say. Employers want employees who are go-getters, who show passion for their work and don't mind putting in extra time or effort in order to get the job done right. They don't want someone who puts in the bare minimum and nothing more. When there's a big job to be tackled, they want to know they can count on you to take responsibility and get stuck in with the rest of the team. Give examples from your previous work that demonstrate your enthusiasm, reliability and willingness to take on difficult projects. Describing long hours of work is a good way to show you go the extra mile just make sure you prove the hours were for productive reasons and not because you were slacking off and trying to catch up!

Why did you choose this career path?


This is one of those questions that, as broad as it is, you should have a well-prepared and specific answer for. You want to demonstrate to your prospective employer that you are focused, know what you want, and have a genuine passion for your chosen industry. The most important thing is to show the interviewer that you have specific reasons for choosing that particular career path, as that implies a dedication and enthusiasm that will motivate you and get you far. You could point to aspects of your personality, interests or significant experiences from your personal or professional past that have helped to steer you in your present direction. Citing reasons of money, status or that your parents made you do it won't do much to advance your cause demonstrating genuine passion will. Show the interviewer that you and the position you are applying for are a perfect fit. If you are applying for a job in public relations you could say, Ive always been a strong communicator and people person. I also like a fast-paced, high-energy environment so a career in PR is just a natural path for me. Alternatively, if you are applying for a design job you could mention your excellent eye for detail and aesthetics, and your life-long fascination with all aspects of design. Perhaps you have been sketching and working on personal creations from a young age, and can name certain designers or mentors who have inspired and influenced you. With such an open-ended question, be specific but refrain from rambling on too much. Dont give long and boring answers be direct and to-the-point. Pick one main reason why you chose the career path and elaborate with a few specific points (keeping in mind the job requirements). Show the interviewer that your skills and personality are exactly what their company needs.

Describe a time when your workload was heavy and how you handled it
An interviewer will ask this question if they want to find out whether or not you can work under pressure. Describe the heavy workload perhaps a time when you had lots of simultaneous deadlines to meet or a period at work when colleagues were on leave and you were covering more than one persons responsibilities. Its good if you can do this with enthusiasm. For example, if you had five huge projects that all had to be completed in the same week, its good if you can give a brief description of a couple of the projects to show that you enjoyed the work you did on them. The interviewer doesnt just want to know that you got the work done; they want to know how you achieved it. So, if youre a person who likes to make lists, tell the interviewer this but also explain why you find this useful. Show that you know how to prioritise this might be as simple as asking the person who gave you the work when they need it done by or creating a chart that shows a timeline of what needs to be done. In this answer, it might also be useful to point out how you handle stress in these situations as a way of dealing with heavy workloads. If hitting the gym helps you combat stress and clear your head at times when your brain is working overtime, tell the interviewer this. It will show them that you know how to deal with a heavy workload, and know your limitations and how to manage them.

How do you handle criticism?


This might seem like a tricky one because it boils down to either admitting that you are a mere mortal who has flaws and can be criticised, or claiming that 'criticism' simply isn't in your vocabulary (unless you're the one giving it out) at the risk of appearing arrogant and lacking in self-awareness and humility. However, this tricky interview question is a fairly straightforward one to navigate if you're clever about it, and itis possible to answer without perjuring yourself.

'I try to see criticism as an opportunity to improve my work'


Constructive criticism is an important part of professional growth, and this is a good chance to show your employer you are striving to be the best and are open to improvement. Even though receiving criticism is going to feel lousy, show the interviewer that you are happy to put your ego to one side, and that you listen to and act upon feedback and advice. If you don't use criticism as an agent for change when it happens, then those vicious teeth of criticism will just keep biting and biting.

'I decide whether the criticism is valid or not'


Criticism isn't necessarily a synonym for the cold hard truth. When you come up against a less-than-rave review about your work, judge it on its own merits. After weighing up the evidence, you may decide that you are actually making the correct decision. Criticism can spring from a person's doubt about your abilities, jealousy of your success or pure vindictiveness so be strong and confident in your abilities. Sometimes the most successful people are the ones who go against the grain and defy public opinion.

'It depends on whether the criticism is from a colleague or a client'


It's important to make this distinction, since handling criticism and carrying out effective damage control could be a core component of the job on offer. If you are going for a job as a waiter, the interviewer wants to know how you would handle a cranky customer, or if you are an airline check-in person, how you would diffuse the situation if flights were delayed. Criticism from a client is a completely different kettle of fish to that from a colleague, since it is likely to be more professional than personal. Your potential employer won't be too excited at the thought of you arching your back at the gall of a customer lodging a legitimate complaint. Criticism from the boss, of course, should never be dismissed if you take your job seriously and want to continually improve and progress.

Give an example
Interviewers love real-life examples because they show that your answer is based on the person you are, rather than a person you have created in order to blitz the interview. Make sure the example illustrates the answers above that you have viewed the criticism objectively, have taken ownership of the problem and have used it to improve your work. If you are in a leadership position, you will need to show that you are responsive to criticism by calling a meeting to discuss feedback and work towards solutions. The dos and don'ts of hearing what you don't want to hear:

Do listen objectively Do ask for specifics Do get a second opinion and do your own research Do take ownership and responsibility Do take feedback into consideration Do learn from it Don't ignore the criticism Don't get defensive, angry or rude Don't make excuses Don't dwell on the error

Reason for leaving: You were made redundant/in plus


Being made redundant is a world away from getting sacked. Make sure you explain the circumstances behind the redundancy the company was downsizing, moving in a different direction or relocating to another state so it is clear that the decision was in no way based on your ability or attitude. However, don't dwell on it nothing screams 'don't hire me' like a bitter or insecure mindset. Show you are enthusiastic about the career opportunities you are now presented with and are ready for new challenges. Possible response: The company was relocating to Brisbane and closing my office. I was with the company for 15 years and I see this as a fantastic opportunity to use my skills gained in that time in a new role.

Reason for leaving: You hated your boss/colleagues/job/all of the above


Despising the ground your boss walks on, wanting to strangle your colleagues or an inexplicably tedious job are very valid reasons for showing yourself the door. But offload your career angst on your partner, mother or dog and make sure the angry vibes get nowhere near the interview hot seat. Focus on other reasons, any other reasons, about why you are considering a change of job and psych yourself into a positive frame of mind. Possible response: After graduating, I spent seven years with the one company gaining exceptional knowledge of the industry. I am now enthusiastic to apply my skills in a different organisation with new opportunities and challenges.

Reason for leaving: You weren't getting paid enough


The bottom line is often, well, the bottom line when it comes to leaving a job. However, a potential employer isn't going to be impressed that a big pay packet is your primary motivator. It also won't go down very well if it becomes evident you have an over-inflated sense of your own monetary value and that they will be funding your next round-the-world trip! You can mention that your previous employer wasn't doing well enough to pay competitive rates, but make sure you balance up your answer with a more optimistic reason for pursuing a new path. Possible response: The company was going through a difficult financial patch and were unable to pay competitive rates and keep up with evolving technology. With 15 years of accounting experience, an MBA and a young family, I would like to work for an organisation that has a solid future.

Reason for leaving: The job wasn't stimulating enough


If you feel trapped in a job that doesn't provide the stimulation or advancement opportunities, it is a smart career move to see what else it out there. However, you must be careful how you phrase the lack of passion you had for your previous job or the interviewer might be left with the impression that you are easily bored and unmotivated. Instead, focus on your excitement and enthusiasm for the job they are offering, referring to specifics, and illustrating your qualifications. Possible response: I had a rewarding seven years at my former company and was involved with projects I am immensely proud of, but when I saw the advertisement for this position I knew it was a perfect match for my skills and couldn't resist applying.

Reason for leaving: Change of life circumstances


Personal reasons often play a part in why people decide to leave their jobs moving house, having children, failed marriage. Be careful here. You don't want the interviewer thinking you only want the job because it's in the same street as your new house, or that you will be leaving every day at 3 pm to pick your children up from school. Possible response: I took five years off from my last position because I had two daughters. They are now in primary school and I am excited to move back into full-time work, especially into a position like this where I will be able to make a valuable contribution to a company whose activities I have always admired.

What's your biggest weakness?


One of the most dreaded of all interview questions is the greatest weakness minefield. Many recruiters are, in fact, moving away from using a question that has become over-used and predictable, yet it is still one you have to prepare for. But how do you answer this without casting yourself in a negative light, while still sounding honest and self-aware? Is it possible to provide an answer that doesnt sound like spiel or clich?

Be positive
Answering this question successfully is all about presenting yourself including your weaknesses in the most positive light, according to Steve Gunther, a consultant with boutique recruitment firm 2discover. But this is not just an exercise in spin-doctoring and obfuscation. This is your chance to demonstrate your honesty, self-awareness, and willingness to learn and improve. While identifying a weakness or deficiency, emphasise that you are aware of the problem and actively working to improve. Answer with enthusiasm and positivity, and show your prospective employer what a great attitude you have. For example, if you say that you sometimes have a tendency to procrastinate, be sure to emphasise that you are aware of the problem and have become an ardent planner and list-maker to keep yourself on schedule. Stress how much satisfaction you get from crossing things off your to-do list and getting things done on time, and how happy you are about the improvements youve made.

Its all about perception


Remember, the same negative trait can be turned into a positive depending on how you present it. If you have a tendency to be overly meticulous (i.e. anal) and therefore sometimes take too long to complete tasks, you can highlight the fact that you like to see things done to the highest standard though you are getting better at letting things go and working more quickly now. Or if you tend to be a little quiet and reserved at work, and are sometimes perceived as aloof, you can say that you are a little shy but once people get to know you, they soon see that you are loyal, discreet and a good listener.

Use an example from the past


2discovers Steve Gunther asserts the importance of using concrete examples from your past as illustration. Instead of speaking in loose generalities and hypotheticals, talk about your experiences and show how you have improved on your weaknesses in previous jobs. The more specific you can be, the better. For example, you can tell the interviewer that you used to have a tendency to tardiness, but that once you started setting your alarm clock a half hour earlier and using your mobile phone to remind you of appointments, you havent been late once in the last six months!

Use common sense


Think about the key qualities required for the job and make sure you demonstrate strength in those areas and only cite weaknesses which are less crucial to the role. For example, if you are going for an administrative job, you wouldnt want to say that your attention to detail is a weakness whereas if you are going for a creative, big-picture type of role, then lacking attention to detail might not be such a big deal.

10

Demonstrate that your skills are transferable


If your obvious deficiency is a lack of experience in a similar role (such as when you are changing career direction), Gunther advises you to find a link between your previous experience and the present role, showing that your skills can easily be transferred to a new context. Lets say you come from a background in office administration and are pursuing an entry-level job in marketing and communications. If, in your previous job, you wrote and proofread newsletters and reports, and helped to contribute marketing ideas during staff meetings, then you have relevant experience that can be transferred to your new role. Stress that you are adaptable, and eager to learn and apply yourself to a new environment. You can even use the fact that you come from a different background to your advantage, by emphasising that you can bring something new and fresh to the position. Your relative inexperience could inject them with some muchneeded fresh blood and be exactly what they need.

Use this as an opportunity to elicit more information


Gunther also suggests that you use this question to find out more about the company. See if your supposed weakness can complement their business or team. For example, if you are someone who needs and likes structure, find out what their present systems are like. Do they operate like a well-oiled machine that you could easily slot into, or are they in dire need of a systems overhaul that you could help to implement? If their structure is not compatible with your working style, this may not be the company for you and its better for everyone if you figure that out now.

Keep it light
In some cases, it might be acceptable to keep your answer to this question fairly light-hearted for example, Im a coffee addict. However, youll have to use your judgment here based on the nature of the role and the personality of the interviewer you dont want to come across as flippant.

Be honest
Keep in mind that your prospective employer will call your referees and ask about any weaknesses, so dont be caught out saying something untrue that will later call your honesty and integrity into question. Outright lies will usually come back to bite you on the proverbial.

Where do you see yourself in five years?


The 'where do you see yourself in five years?' query and its alternatives two years/three years/10 years is a popular question amongst interviewers. You should treat your answer as an opportunity to highlight your ambitions and your dedication to the industry and, hopefully, to the company. Show that you have put some thought into your career and havent just chosen to apply for the job on a whim. Be specific dont just say that you want to work in advertising but explain why you have applied for that position, with that company. Remember to keep your answer specific to work. Dont mention your plans to travel, marry or have children. Using successful people in the industry as examples of the careers you would like to emulate will also show them that you have done your research and have role models. It will also give them an understanding of your work ethic and the type of work you want to be doing. You need to find the balance between realistic and over-ambitious. You dont want to undersell your abilities or appear to be lacking in drive, but you also dont want to give them the impression that youre after the bosss job. You

11
could say that in five years time you would like to have learned and progressed enough to be in a position of greater responsibility, perhaps taking on a more managerial or project management role. Make sure you come across as enthusiastic but avoid portraying yourself as a ruthless go-getter who would do anything, including stepping on a lot of toes, to claw your way to the top. If the distant future appears hazy to you and you honestly have no idea where you will be in five years, then dont feel like you have to lie. However, dont leave it at that make it clear that you still have ambitions and are excited about the prospect of working for the company. While its great that your head is focused on the present, you need to convey that you still have a sense of direction rather than being a lost soul who doesnt have a clue. You might want to emphasise that you are very open-minded to whatever opportunities may present themselves and would welcome any training and career development they have to offer. They might see you as the perfect candidate to groom and mould for the future. While five years is a long time to plan for and the chances of you changing your mind along the way are high, it is still important to have a well thought-out answer to this question. The interviewer will be able to gauge your motivations, passions and drive, and this will give them an idea of your suitability to the position.

If you were an animal, what would you be?


It is becoming increasingly common for interviewers to throw in some unusual questions during interviews rather than sticking to the tried-and-true. This could be for a number of reasons: they want to see if you can think on your feet, can think creatively, can say something illuminating about yourself and possibly demonstrate a sense of humour. This can take the form of a question such as If you were an animal, what would you be? Variations of this kind of question could include If you were a fruit, what would it be? or even If you were a breakfast cereal, what would it be? There is obviously no right answer to questions like these, nor can you plan for them but this is your chance to be creative and really impress with your inventiveness. What is required is for you to think fast, not get flustered, and try to think of something that you think represents your best attributes. For example, when it comes to animals, do you exhibit the loyalty and friendliness of mans best friend, the solid work ethic of an ox, the industriousness of a beaver or the cleverness and sociability of a chimp? If youre going for a job as an editor, perhaps you have the acute eyesight of an eagle, able to swoop in on the smallest spelling or typographical error while also keeping your eye on the big picture from above. Whatever your choice, try to choose an animal with generally positive connotations. When it comes to fruit, almost anything will do as long as you can give a good reason for it. You can choose a fruit that goes well in fruit salad to show that youre a team player and get along with others; or a banana, which is versatile, transportable and has substance. Or for something a bit different, how about a tomato, which crosses the line between fruit and vegetable, is highly versatile and can be eaten raw or cooked all demonstrating flexibility and transferability of skills? If youre going for a job in sales where oversensitivity is not an asset, perhaps you could liken yourself to a rockmelon which has a thick skin! Remember, there is no right answer to these sorts of questions its all about trying to see your thought processes, how you handle being put on the spot and your ability to be a little creative. Try to tailor your answer to the specific job for example, dont say you have the independence of a cat if youre going for a job where being a team player is important but try not to overthink it and just have fun with it!

12

Why do you want to work here?


This question gives you the opportunity to express why youve targeted that particular company and what it is about it that appeals to you. The obvious first step is to do your research. Visit the company website and explore all the different sections so you get a good feel for what they do, the company structure and ethos, key figures in the organisation, and the general culture. Then do a Google search to find out what others are saying about the company, any articles that have been written about it, and any other information you can find. The more informed you are, the better. In answering this question, be specific. You can say you like the kind of work and projects the company does, its culture, its position in the industry, its size (for example, why you like the fact that it is a big or small company), its ethical or environmental practices and if you can name something specific that the company has done that you find particularly interesting or appealing (for example, a particular building that an architecture firm has designed or a particular campaign that a marketing firm developed), thats sure to impress. The employer wants to see that you have well thought-out reasons for choosing them and not just because they happened to advertise! If it is a big and well-known company you can say that you would love to work for an organisation that is a respected leader in its field, but avoid saying that you want to work for a company for reasons of money or status. Remember that when it comes to being hired for a job, its all about finding the right fit. Talk about what you can bring to the company and emphasise how your professional and personal goals and values are aligned with that of the company. This is a two-way street, so show that youre the right person for the role, would fit in perfectly, and would be able to make a valuable contribution.

What motivates you?


This question is more than just an interview question its something every job seeker should ask themselves before embarking on their job quest. The clearer you are about this, the more clearly you will be able to articulate it to a prospective employer and the closer you will get to landing your dream job. This question asks you to look at your core values. Its not just about the work and the position itself. What is important to you as a person, what fires you up and gets you out of bed in the morning, what brings you satisfaction? Possible answers could involve a desire to be creative, to help others, to contribute to an industry that you feel is important, or to work collaboratively with others. Obviously your response should be tailored to the particular role a desire to be creative would work well when applying for a graphic designer job, but perhaps not so much for an accounting position. Its vital to give the interviewer an idea of who you are and what makes you tick but to present yourself in the most positive light possible. If you are motivated by things like money or prestige, its probably best to keep that to yourself!

Describe a situation where you had to show leadership


If youve ever played a project manager, supervisory or managerial role at work, then this question is a piece of cake and youll have plenty of experience to call upon. Even if you havent done so in a formal role, you may have demonstrated your leadership skills by running a team meeting or organising something like an office sporting event or the office Christmas party. However, if youve never played a leadership or management role at work, dont panic. You can use any number of personal experiences to illustrate your leadership experience and potential. All it requires is a little lateral thinking.

13
For example, if youve ever taken the lead in organising a social event or group activity a party, group trip, book club then this can be used as an example. Or perhaps you were faced with some sort of dilemma or crisis that required quick decision-making and effective action on behalf of others then thats a good example too. Describe the situation, how you came to be in a leading role, the steps you took to keep things running smoothly, and the result for example, a successful event or crisis averted. As any parent knows, organising children and family activities and events requires strong leadership skills from organising trips and outings to organising car pools or sports coaching. All can be used as examples of leadership experience. The important thing is to demonstrate that with this experience you had to display qualities such as initiative, decisiveness, organisational abilities and the ability to manage, guide and motivate others. These are skills that can be transferred to any work context and will be invaluable to your future employer.

Do you prefer to work alone or in a team?


The way you answer this is obviously going to depend on the job youre applying for, but in general its best to demonstrate that you are able to and enjoy working both independently and with others, as most jobs require you to do both at different times. For instance, if you are applying for a job in IT that requires you to work on your computer for long stretches of time with little interaction with others, then you must demonstrate that you are happy to do this and can work with little supervision. However, you also dont want to give the impression that you are antisocial or dont enjoy collaborating with others, especially if the culture of the company is one where discussion and socialising are important. Similarly, if you are going for a job in sales and marketing, you need to enjoy working closely with others and demonstrate that you can do this effectively but at the same time, there may be occasions when you have to write up a report or some documentation, and you should show that you are able to do this as well without having your hand held. Answering this question is all about balance. Indicate that you are happy to work both alone or in a team, but skew your response to the particular demands of the position youre applying for.

How would your friends or colleagues describe you?


This question gives you a free pass to spell out your best qualities without seeming to boast after all, its what your friends or colleagues would say! If you are describing what your work colleagues would say, this gives you an opportunity to tell your interviewer about your professional qualities and demonstrate what a great asset you are to any working environment. You could say that you are generally perceived as a highly efficient person with a great eye for detail (no need to mention that you have sometimes been described as anal). Or perhaps you have come to be renowned for your cool head under pressure, or your ability to retain a sense of humour and motivate others when things get tough. Just make sure you can illustrate these with concrete examples from the past. Discussing how your friends would describe you gives you the chance to delve into your more personal qualities. Maybe your mates love you because you are such a great listener who always shows caring and support for your friends, or they see you as one of the most positive, can-do people they know. One of the best ways to prepare for this question is to actually ask your friends or colleagues for their feedback. This can be really useful as they may come up with things you werent even aware of. You may not realise that you are highly valued by those around you for your warmth, infectious laugh or willingness to lend a helping hand, because

14
you demonstrate these qualities without even trying. You may be pleasantly surprised by what they tell you about yourself. In choosing referees from amongst friends or colleagues, be sure to choose people who will speak glowingly of you and reinforce what you have said.

How do you handle pressure?


For most employers, the ideal candidate is someone who stays cool under pressure someone who neither explodes at other people when the pressures on, nor collapses into a useless, quivering heap. They want someone who calmly assesses the situation, gets organised, stays focused, and simply gets the job done. If this is you, be sure to impress your prospective employer with some concrete examples of your cool, can-do attitude. Describe a situation when you were under the gun and detail how you approached the situation, demonstrating how you managed to organise, mobilise and deliver a good result. If youre one of those people who actually performs better when under pressure, all the better. If, on the other hand, youre someone who doesnt function well under pressure, all is not lost. You can say that as much as possible, you try to avoid creating pressure-filled situations by being super-organised and giving yourself lots of lead time, being as well-prepared as possible and, most of all, knowing how to prioritise. You can also describe a situation from your personal life where you exhibited grace under pressure. Highlight the positive qualities you demonstrated in the situation, which could have been the ability to motivate others or communicate clearly. Some jobs are inherently pressure-filled by nature, so make sure youre going for a job you can handle. If dealing with pressure isnt your thing, you might want to reconsider your move into a job that is very deadline-driven or where youre under constant pressure to produce and deliver. Remember, finding the right job is all about finding the right fit between your strengths and personality, and the role.

Why havent you used your last boss as a reference?


For whatever reason, some of you may be in the awkward position of not feeling comfortable using your last boss as a reference, and this can be a tricky issue to sidestep. Even if you werent fired from your previous job, if your departure was under less than ideal circumstances then asking your ex-boss to act as a reference may not be something you or they feel comfortable with. If thats the case and youve left your last boss off your referee list, the first rule of thumb is not to bring the omission to the attention of your interviewer. Theres always a chance they may not even ask about it. However, its important for you to be prepared to be questioned about why you have not included the most obvious person to use as a professional reference. So think hard about how to handle this should you be asked. In general it's best not to say anything bad about a previous boss or employer, even if you feel that their treatment of you left something to be desired. However, people value honesty and can usually sense if you're trying to hide something so there's a fine line to tread between not revealing too much about what happened in your previous job, and being upfront. You are under no obligation to go into great detail. If the situation at your last job was a little contentious or there were personality clashes, this sort of response could work well:

15
'I learned a lot and gained invaluable experience in my last job, but I felt it was time to move on. I left feeling satisfied with the standards of my work and behaviour, but the situation became a little awkward due to internal politics and I prefer not to call on my previous employer for a reference. However, I do have plenty of other referees who would be happy to speak to you and vouch for my professionalism and good character.' Don't forget that how you come across is probably more important than what you actually say. If you come across as someone who's honest and straightforward and with nothing to hide, you should be ok. Whatever you do, try not to come across as cagey or defensive. You could also try asking other colleagues from your previous company to act as referees rather than your ex-boss.

What do you dislike about your current job?


The purpose of this question is twofold: to find out about your professional dislikes, but also to gain some insight into why you are looking for another job. The interviewer assumes that there must be something you dislike about your current job, because otherwise you presumably wouldnt be looking for another one. Its always best to present yourself in the most positive light and not to whinge about your employer or workplace, but certain dislikes are legitimate and can even reflect well on you. For instance, if you say you dislike the inefficiency or sloppiness of certain systems in your office, then that will tell the interviewer that you value efficiency and accuracy. It would be even better if you could suggest ways of improving the systems or demonstrate that you have already helped to change the systems in your current workplace. If youre going for a job as a sales rep, it might be alright to admit that you dont love paperwork, while also emphasising that you understand its importance and are willing to do what is necessary. However, it might not be such a good idea to say you dont like paperwork if youre applying to be an office manager it could very well cost you the job. Similarly, a sales rep who says they dont like dealing with people probably wouldnt get very far. If your main complaint is that you simply dont like your job full-stop, then this can be something you use to explain why you are seeking a change. Still, try to frame your decision in positive terms. Instead of saying that you hate your job and just want a change, you could say that while you learned many valuable skills in your current position, you are now seeking a role that would enable you to better use all your capabilities, in an environment in which you could really thrive and grow a win-win situation for both you and your potential employer. One thing to remember: keep your complaints impersonal. Stick to objections about behaviours, practices or conditions, rather than people. You should also use this opportunity to demonstrate how well suited you are to the role you are applying for, as well as the company. For example, if you are applying for a job with a larger company, you could say that while you love your current job, you would welcome the opportunity to work with a larger organisation or anything else that explains why you would prefer to work for the company you are applying with. Positive reasons to switch to a different company could include its corporate culture, size, structure, industry, working conditions or schedule.

16

If someone was making a movie about your life, what genre would it be, who would play you and what would be the title?
Such an interesting question deserves an interesting answer, but be careful not to get swept up in your imagination. The interviewer is trying to create a picture of who you are, so be careful how you portray yourself. Unless you are actually pitching a movie about yourself to a Hollywood director this question is less about how exciting your life has been and more about how you perceive yourself and what life lessons you have learnt. How you explain your answers is just as important as the answers themselves, and the interviewer will also be assessing your ability to think on your feet. In terms of genre, feel free to think outside the square just make sure you can justify your answer and portray your character in a positive light. If you choose horror as your genre, you will have a lot of explaining to do. Crime fiction or film noir genres can be used to show your excellent problem-solving skills, your level-headedness as well as your strong morals. Action films can make you appear resilient, decisive and show your strength of character. Be careful when choosing romance or comedy as your genre as they could make you come across as too sensitive or not serious enough. For romantic films you can justify your choice by saying that you enjoy a positive outcome and learning from the lessons that life throws your way. Comedies can show that you dont take yourself too seriously and enjoy a good worklife balance. When deciding which Hollywood star will play you, think about actors who have had a respectable film career and keep their private lives away from the cameras. Choose an actor who is renowned for their modesty and their hard work. Dont just choose Brad Pitt because he looks good in a toga. Remember, the person you choose will represent how you view yourself, not who you want to be, so take a moment to think about your choice. The title should sum up the kind of person you are and the kind of life you have led. Steer clear of titles that portray you as an immature jokester (Van Wilder, Peter Pan) or titles that veer towards the inappropriate (The Hangover, Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin). Be creative with this one and show them that you have a sense of humour and a good sense of self. While you dont want to appear like youve led a wild life that would bring any parent to tears, most interviewers dont want to hire a boring straighty one-eighty. Achieving the balance between appropriate and fun is essential to successfully answering this question

If you could be any colour, what colour would you be?


You should approach this question, as well as any question asking you to pick a colour or other object to represent you, as a way for the employer to gain an insight into your personality. Never answer the question with a random colour you have picked simply because you like it or its pretty. This tells the interviewer nothing about you, apart from the fact that you seem uninteresting and uncreative. Tailor your answer to the job you are applying for, and the more creative you are the better. If youre applying for a job in a stressful, competitive industry then a good colour could be blue: it implies that you keep your cool and never lose your head in high-pressure situations. Choose colours that highlight your best qualities and make sure you justify why you chose that colour. Using colours that have warm and friendly connotations are great, but dont be afraid to pick colours that are unusual remember there are many shades to the colour wheel. For example, you could say that you would be a darker shade of charcoal

17
grey because youre an efficient and quiet worker, a warm person (because darker colours absorb heat from the sun while lighter colours deflect heat), and you think grey is a chic, understated colour that can complement other colours. Like other wacky questions such as If you were an animal, what would you be? there is no right answer to this question, so feel free to take it whichever way you want. What you will be judged on is creativity and your analytical and problem-solving abilities.

If you were hosting a dinner party and could invite three people, dead or alive, who would you invite?
The point of this question is to learn a little about your interests and what makes you tick. This will also give the interviewer an idea of whether you will fit into the office. Choose three people who represent your interests. If youre interested in literature choose your favourite author. If youre passionate about politics then choose an inspirational political leader. There is an endless scope of people to choose from. You can decide to choose three people who reflect your diverse interests or you may choose to invite three people from the same area for an in-depth conversation. You may even choose your deceased grandmother if you wish. This question is not about gauging how smart you are. If you havent read War and Peace then dont lie and rave on about it being one of the greatest works of fiction. It is bound to backfire on you and come across as fake and pretentious. Be true to yourself and your interests and explain why you would invite each guest. Giving an explanation with your choices will make the interviewer see your point of view and respect your reasoning. It will also give them an insight into how you approach a problem. Remember, you are still in a job interview and you need to give the interviewer a reason to hire you. Make your choices interesting and your reasoning thoughtful. If you do choose your grandmother, state why. If Tolstoy happens to be your favourite author and is invited to your dinner party, then tell the interviewer why he is such an inspiration. Think about what you would discuss during dinner. Would your guests get along with each other? How would they interact? Think about some questions you would like to ask or some topics of conversation you would like to cover during dinner and go from there. There is no right answer to this question so your only objective is to make yourself stand out from the crowd of other interviewees.

If you only had six months to live, what would you do with the time?
Despite its initial air of morbidity, this question has less to do with actually dying and more to do with your aspirations and motivations. Your answer will give the employer an insight into how you prioritise your life and what you hope to achieve. This question will also test your ability to think quickly and perform under pressure. Rather than blurt out that you would spend your time partying it up with your friends and sunbaking in Hawaii, think about what you would want to achieve in your life, particularly in your career, and what you would like to be remembered for. This will give the employer an indication of your values, how much importance you place on your career and your family, and what ambition you have in all areas of your life. Like many job interview questions, your answer will depend on what type of job you are going for. If youre applying for a job that requires creative thinking, then demonstrate this by having a creative answer. Talk about a variety of different things you would like to achieve in both your personal and professional life. Focusing on just your career or just your personal life will make you seem like you dont have any career-related ambitions or that you have too many.

18
Perhaps you would like to spend your last days penning the novel you have always wanted to write. Maybe you would dedicate some time to helping out charities in developing countries. Or, perhaps you have always wanted to climb Mount Everest. Whatever it is that you want to achieve, show the interviewer that you are passionate about personal growth and development, and determined to achieve your goals and dreams. It is all well and good to say you want to carve your own place in the world and make your mark before youre six feet under, but you need to explain how and why you would go about doing this. If your answer is detailed it will show that you have given a lot of thought to your future. It will also help the employer see how you will fit into the office. While your personal ambitions do not have to directly reflect the position you are applying for, they do need to show that you have the right mindset and qualities to succeed in it. Focus on activities that show you to be creative, independent, determined and adventurous. Make the employer want to get to know you and have you on their team. You want your interview to be memorable and the best way to do this is to let your personality shine through.

If you were a car, what type would you be?


If you were a car, would you be a sleek and speedy Jaguar, a solid and dependable Volvo or a practical and fuelefficient little Smart car? Your answer to this question shouldnt be guided by car envy or the latest model featured on Top Gear, but by the requirements of the job youre applying for. If youre going for a job in a fast-paced industry where speedy thinking is paramount, then it would be wise to liken yourself to a sports car of your choice. If image matters lets say its a job in advertising go for something sleek and classy, maybe a Ferrari or an Aston Martin if you want to give off a James Bond vibe. If, on the other hand, youre applying for a job where reliability will be particularly valued, then you cant go past something like a Volvo or Lexus. Just make sure the car you choose has characteristics and associations that are in keeping with the kind of job and industry youre about to enter. For example, when you think of a Volvo, innovation and cool are not the first things that enter most peoples minds. That may not matter if youre applying to be a tax auditor, but it may if youre applying to be the newest member of a companys social media marketing team. Similarly, if youre applying for a position with a progressive company that prides itself on its innovative culture and environmental credentials, then why not say youre a Smart car cutting-edge, compact and environmentally conscientious. You probably wouldnt want to say youre a Rolls Royce or a big, fuel-guzzling 4WD. A 4WD, however, might be appropriate if you want to project an image of ruggedness and an ability to handle all terrains like if youre applying for a mining job in remote Western Australia, or any job requiring a bit of grunt and a willingness to get your hands dirty.

Describe a situation where you demonstrated flexibility


Flexibility is the ability to adapt to different people and circumstances, and handle unforeseen events with grace. Its a valuable trait in any employee and an essential quality in certain occupations and industries, so be sure you can demonstrate it to your interviewer with concrete examples. Are you the kind of person who easily adapts to different professional and social environments? If so, describe these environments and how you smoothly move between them. Perhaps in the past you worked as a temp and constantly changed locations, environments and cultures, working in a large insurance company one week, a government office the next and a small family-owned business the week after. Look back on your employment history and see if you can identify significant differences between your various employers while demonstrating how you thrived in each situation.

19
Also think about specific situations where you demonstrated flexibility. Perhaps you were managing a large project at work and had to deal with very different personalities, adapting your style and approach to get the most out of every team member, or while managing that project an unforeseen circumstance arose or your client suddenly changed their mind about something that required you to quickly change tack. Describe how you were able to swiftly accommodate the new condition while maintaining your good humour this will show your facility for rolling with the punches and thinking on your feet without getting rattled. Dont be afraid to use an example from outside work if it seems appropriate like the time you planned a large outdoor birthday party for your child but were faced on the day with torrential rain, gale-force winds and a power outage. Yet, thanks to your positive attitude and resourcefulness, you were able to successfully entertain a houseful of boisterous, cupcake-fuelled kids with your sanity intact no small feat, and one that would impress even the most hardened interviewer.

Describe a situation where you demonstrated negotiation skills


The ability to negotiate is an art that is highly valued by many employers. Negotiation is about using your powers of persuasion, diplomacy and ability to come up with creative solutions and compromises to achieve, as far as possible, a winwin outcome or resolve a conflict. Think of a specific situation that required you to use your negotiation skills and describe the situation, how you approached it and what result you achieved. What you are hoping to demonstrate is an ability to be persuasive and assertive and get a positive result, while also being able to make compromises and maintain relationships. Effective negotiation requires you to be able to communicate effectively, listen, read your audience, and be flexible and diplomatic. Examples from your professional life could include the time you had to negotiate a new contract, deal with a difficult or demanding client or colleague, or close a tricky sale. You could also choose to use examples from your personal life, such as the time you had to mediate between two feuding friends, or negotiate a crucial issue with your partner or children

Why are manhole covers round?


This question was made famous when Microsoft began using it as a job interview question. It is an example of a creative problem-solving question that is used to assess how a person approaches a problem with more than one possible answer, and to test their logic, common sense and ability to think through an unusual question. According to Joel Spolsky, one of Microsofts early program managers, questions like these distinguish between people who are smart and get things done, people who are smart but dont get things done, and people who get things done but are not smart. Microsoft must have been onto something, because this type of question has been adopted by many other companies as an alternative to more traditional interview questions. A number of possible explanations for why manhole covers are round include:

A round manhole cover cannot fall through its circular opening, whereas a square manhole cover could fall in if it were inserted diagonally in the hole. Circular covers dont need to be rotated or precisely aligned when placing them on the opening. A round manhole cover is easily moved and rolled. Human beings have a roughly circular cross-section.

20
Round tubes are the strongest shape against the compression of the earth around them, so the cover of the tube would naturally be round as well. Its easier to dig a circular hole. Round castings are much easier to manufacture using a lathe. Can you think of other reasons for why manhole covers are round? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Do you see yourself as an ethical person?


In an era when corporate responsibility and sustainability are becoming prominent in public consciousness, professional ethics are assuming greater importance to both employers and employees alike. Employers want ethical employees, employees want to work for ethical employers, and companies are realising that operating in an ethical manner is, in fact, good for business. Ethics encompass a persons values and moral principles and extend into every area of life. If you see yourself as an ethical person, you should be able to demonstrate that in any manner of ways. It could be through your green practices, volunteer work, involvement with the RSPCA, working as a surf lifesaver, community involvement or your commitment to buying fair trade products. You should explain how these practices are reflections of deeply held beliefs about what is right rather than mere token efforts. Even if you dont engage in these sorts of practices, you could simply state the importance to you of maintaining your integrity in everything you do, both at work and in your personal life. You could emphasise the importance to you of honesty and trust in your relationships, and show how you demonstrate this in your relationships with family, friends and colleagues. Another way of answering this question could be to describe a situation where an opportunity presented itself to act less than ethically such as the time you could have claimed credit for someone elses work, could have sped away from bumping someone elses car without leaving a note, or were given more money than you were owed. Showing that you followed your conscience and did the right thing will show your potential employer that youve got the right ethical foundations to make for a model employee who they will feel proud to have on their team.

Describe a time when you have worked as part of a successful team. What do you think contributed to your teams overall success?
This behavioural-based interview question is quite commonly asked in the application for graduate, vacation or internship programs. The ability for a team to work together effectively is a critical factor in the smooth running of a business, whether you like it or not. Recruiters want to know that you have experience working in cohesive and successful team environments outside of work as well as at work. Give an example of a time you have worked in a team and your reflection of the experience. You may choose to discuss a work assignment or an extra-curricular activity. Paint the interviewer a picture by describing the scenario and the details of your team. When you discuss your team, talk about the role that you played and the contribution you made to the teams success. You will need to find the balance between portraying yourself as doing too much and doing too little, in order to avoid the unwanted labels of slacker or control freak. Be sure to mention the qualities and strengths that you drew on to accomplish the task. Dont be afraid to mention any weaknesses you faced and how you worked through them.

21
It is essential that you discuss the methods that your team put in place in order to work together effectively and achieve success. Did you allocate one person as the leader? Or perhaps you were each in charge of a different task. Feel free to mention any challenges or obstacles that you had along the way and how you worked together to overcome them. Sum up your answer by saying what you learnt form the experience. This is more important than the quantifiable success of your team. Showing the interviewer that you have reflected and learnt from this experience shows that you are a mature and adaptable worker and hopefully just the applicant they are looking for.

Tell us about a goal that you have set yourself and worked towards, of which you feel truly proud or satisfied. What did you learn about yourself?
This is a question that may come up if you are applying for a graduate, internship or vacation program. Its best not to get caught out unprepared for this question, as it requires some thinking and reflecting. Firstly, choose a goal that you have achieved or are working towards. Your goal could be from any area of your life, be it personal or work related, but try to choose one from the recent past. Having a goal that you have set and reached shows the interviewer that you have determination, drive and can finish what you set out to do. Tell the interviewer how you have worked towards your goal, and what you did to ensure you reached it. Keep this section brief, as they are more interested in finding out what you have learnt from the process and how you will use this in your career. A great way of approaching this part of the question is by recognising the skills and strengths that you drew upon to reach your goal. There is a good chance that these qualities will match the values and qualities that the company is looking for. Finally, talk about what you have learnt from this process and how you have taken on these lessons in your life. This will show the interviewer that you have reflected and drawn from your experience. For example, you could say, While I achieved my goal I found that I needed to concentrate on my time management skills in order to finish within the time limit I had set. I also learnt that by writing down and prioritising each step I needed to take, I was able to visualise the journey, which helped me manage my time more effectively. You also need to address how you will apply the lessons you have learnt to the work you will do if you are hired. Talk about how achieving your goal has been a journey of self-discovery and made you more aware of your strengths and weaknesses, giving you a better understanding of how to approach your work assignments.

Tell us about a time where you have demonstrated the companys values to achieve a positive outcome
When you are interviewed for any position the interviewer will try to scope out whether you are a good fit for the company. The skills, strengths and values that you portray throughout your application will give the interviewer an idea of what you can contribute to the company as well as how the company can help you. This interview question asks you to describe a time when you have demonstrated the values that the company upholds. This will show the interviewer that you have done some research about the company. These values will define what the company stands for and how they operate. It will also give you an insight into the work environment, giving you the opportunity to see whether the company is right for you.

22
Understanding what the interviewer looks for in prospective job candidates will help you to describe a time when you have sufficiently emulated these desirable qualities. This may be a time that you have overcome a hardship, achieved a goal, shown leadership or resolved a problem. You will need to discuss how you utilised the companys valued qualities to help you achieve a positive outcome. How did they help you to reach a conclusion or take on more responsibility? What have you learnt from demonstrating these traits? For example, if the company values open communication you could say, maintaining open and honest communication allowed us to firstly locate the problem and then work towards a solution. By communicating we were able to come to compromise and achieve a positive outcome. I learnt that direct and honest communication resolves issues more quickly and shows respect for the other party. Discussing what you have learnt from the process will show the interviewer that you have reflected on your past experiences. Showing that you are able to adopt the companys values will show that you are an adaptable and flexible employee.

What salary do you expect in this position?


The mention of salary in a job interview is a delicate subject that can often leave both interviewer and interviewee squirming in their chairs. You should wait for the interviewer to broach this tricky matter first and give some indication without specifying an exact figure a salary range is better. You need to be realistic about your market value and there is a fine balance between overselling and underselling yourself and neither of these outcomes is desirable. If the job advertisement doesnt make mention of the pay, then you will need to do a little investigating of your own. Understand the position and the key responsibilities. Take into consideration whether it is full time, part time, casual or contract, and whether you will be offered a package or a flat rate. Search for similar positions advertised on job boards and take note of the pay or salary package that accompanies each one. This will give you an idea of what to expect. When asked, your research will come in handy for you to state a salary range that you would not only expect from the company and the position, but also one you would be willing to accept. You may mention your current salary as a kind of benchmark, especially if youre applying for a similar role. While most people like to upgrade their salary with each new job, bear in mind that a new position will not necessarily warrant a pay rise. Convince the interviewer that although the pay is important, it is the job that you are most interested in. Instead of just shouting out the first figure that comes to mind, take the time to explain to them why they should pay premium dollar for your skills and experience. However, make sure you do this without convincing them that they actually cant afford you!

If you were a piece of fruit what would you be?


Although it sounds like a question from a cheesy dating program, this is actually an invitation for you to showcase your skills and qualities. Think of this kind of question as an opportunity to talk about any aspect of your personality that you think the employer would be impressed with. Simply think of your strengths and the characteristics required in the job or industry. Then think of a fruit which could embody these qualities. Your explanation is more important than the fruit you nominate as it brings your response

23
back to what you have to offer the company. Some possible responses: 'I would be an apple. Apples can be juiced, baked, or eaten on their own or in fruit salad. Like this I am versatile and can perform well in different situations, on my own or in a team. And if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, I am just as reliable and will be a healthy asset to your organisation.' 'I would be a passionfruit. This is a hardy fruit that grows well in higher altitudes. I thrive under pressure, can take criticism and am also very passionate about what I do.' 'I would be a banana. I have a soft centre and excellent people/empathy skills, but I also have a thick skin and am not put off by setbacks. I grow and develop all year round.' Employers also want to see that you have a sense of humour. Have fun with this and be prepared to show your personality perhaps you could be a blackberry or apple because you love technology!

On a scale of one to ten, how in control of your own destiny do you believe you are?
This is an interesting interview question that is trying to assess your sense of personal control and effectiveness in the world. Are you someone who takes responsibility and action to make your way through life, or do you look to others or luck to get by? The locus of control is a psychological concept that refers to an individual's perception about the underlying cause of events in their life. Do you believe that your destiny is controlled by yourself (internal locus of control) or by external forces (such as fate, luck, external circumstances or other people)? In general, people with an internal locus of control are seen as more desirable by employers, and research has found that these people tend to be more achievement-oriented, get better paid jobs and climb higher within organisational ranks. However, as with everything, there is a balance to be struck. Employers want responsible workers with initiative, but not neurotic control freaks who cant deal with unforeseen events. So in answering this question, be sure to portray yourself as someone who assesses situations, looks ahead, plans and prepares, and takes action and responsibility including when things go wrong. You are an independent thinker who can be decisive, lead and delegate when necessary, you can roll with the punches and you dont blame others for your mistakes. You are also collaborative, seek input from others and can allow others to step forward when their skills are more appropriate for the task or situation at hand. In other words, you are someone with boundless energy and enthusiasm to achieve and produce results, but you can also recognise that some things are not in your control and you have the wisdom to accept what you cannot change. In rating your sense of personal control, a seven or eight would probably be a safe bet.

What characteristics do you think make a successful manager?


If youre being interviewed for a job where youll be playing a managerial role, your prospective employer will want to know what kind of manager you admire and aspire to be.

24
There is no right way to manage people it will depend on your personality, the needs of the role and company culture, and different styles can be effective at different times and with different people. Some roles require strong decisive leadership, while others benefit from a more collaborative, consultative style. While your personality will determine your management style to a large degree, the best managers are flexible and can modify their approach depending on the situation and the people theyre dealing with. However, there are some characteristics which almost all successful managers possess. These include: Trustworthy and open Communicative both in informing and giving feedback, and listening to staff and their concerns Positive and encouraging Calm and reasonable Set clear direction and expectations Flexible Hard-working Strategic in vision and problem-solving Decisive and clear-thinking Well-informed and knowledgeable about the business To answer this question, choose three or four characteristics and expand on why you think theyre important, how they would be relevant to your role and how you have demonstrated them in the past. You could also describe how a previous manager of yours displayed these qualities to good effect, and how you learned from that example.

How do you deal with problems?


Problems arise on a regular basis in both work and life, and employers want employees who know how to rise to the challenge and deal with problems calmly and effectively. For the best employees, every problem has a solution and no obstacle is insurmountable. To show your prospective employer your can-do attitude, you want to demonstrate that your approach to problemsolving is calm, rational and objective. Explain that your approach is to break down a problem into its component parts so you can see the main issues and exactly what needs to be done. You then do research if required and brainstorm possible solutions, both alone and with others. If appropriate, you assemble the necessary team. You organise yourself, set yourself a strategy and schedule, and tackle the problem straight away instead of procrastinating. Youre resourceful and resilient, and not afraid to be creative and innovative in your approach. For you, there are only challenges, not problems. Most importantly, you need to demonstrate all these claims with a concrete example from your past professional or personal life. Outline the nature of the problem, how you approached and assessed it, what actions you took and the result of your actions in other words, how you overcame the problem. If you really want to impress your interviewer, cite an example of how, through your foresight and initiative, you were able to anticipate and prevent a potential problem before it arose. In other words, you are proactive rather than merely reactive, and you always look ahead and do your best to cover all the bases. With this approach, you cant go wrong. Your interviewer is sure to be convinced that youve got the right stuff to be an indispensable member of their team.

What can you offer that no one else can?


When the interviewer asks you this question, theyre getting to the key issue: why should they hire you and not someone else? Answering this persuasively could clinch the deal and make the difference between a job offer and a rejection letter.

25
This is your chance to really sell yourself and explain how you, with your unique combination of abilities and experience, are the perfect person for the job. You need to strike just the right balance, exhibiting complete confidence in yourself and what you can bring to your potential employer, but without being too cocky or arrogant. Demonstrate that you are the complete package. While others may have similar skills, show that it is your particular combination of abilities and experiences, plus your great attitude and work ethic, that make you the perfect fit for the job. Keep it succinct and keep it relevant. Concentrate on your past experiences and achievements, core skills and competencies. If you have particular strengths or have had some unique experiences that would set you apart from others, be sure to emphasise these. Keep in mind what the company is specifically seeking as outlined in the job description, and try to show how you satisfy all the criteria theyre looking for. It helps to practise your sales pitch ahead of time, so you can speak confidently and without hesitation. Also show that you have targeted that company specifically and are not just a gun for hire!

Who is your role model?


To answer this question, think of people who embody the qualities that you most admire and that would be most valued in the position youre applying for. Explain why you look up to them and how they have influenced you either directly or indirectly. Your role model could be someone famous, such as Aung San Suu Kyi or Nelson Mandela, known for their integrity, stoicism and grace under pressure, or even a fictional character such as Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird. If you choose a public figure, make sure you know something about them so your assessment is not based on purely superficial knowledge. This might necessitate doing some research so you can speak of them in an informed way. For many people, their role model is a personal acquaintance such as a parent or a close friend. You could nominate your mother or father as your role model because of the way they lead by example, their selflessness and the way they instilled you with good, solid values. Perhaps you watched them overcome great personal challenges, from which you learned many important lessons. A role model could also be a former boss or colleague who displayed the professional qualities you would like to emulate like the boss who was always able to get the team motivated and working like a well-oiled machine without ever losing his cool or making anyone feel less important. It could also be an industry leader renowned for their integrity, discipline and business savvy. Some of the qualities which you admire in your role models could include resilience, determination, integrity, intelligence, humour, kindness, selflessness, high achievement, strength or an amazing work ethic.

If you were a brand, which would you be?


Are you innovative and creative like Apple or bright and cheeky like Virgin? This interview question is an opportunity to sell your capabilities and personality while showing off a bit of your general knowledge. Here are some tips to tackle this interesting brain-teaser. Media or advertising agencies are the most likely to ask this kind of question, so its a great idea to choose a brand that is well known or a leader in its industry. You want to associate with the best and draw on the brands selling points to make a connection with yourself.

26
Make sure you highlight personal attributes that are specifically relevant to the position you are interviewing for. If its an administration position you may liken yourself to IKEA because you are practical and have a range of creative organisation solutions. If its a marketing position, you could compare yourself to Twitter, because you are an influential communicator and connect easily with others. For a busy junior sales position, you may be like Energizer batteries, with boundless energy and able to go the extra mile to get the job done. There are, of course, some brands that you may want to avoid. You want to demonstrate that you are in touch with current markets and social trends, so stay away from brands that are no longer popular or relevant. If you choose a less well known brand which is a favourite of yours, be sure to clearly express what the brand does well within its niche market. Even if it may seem humorous to do so at the time, dont associate yourself with brands with dubious connotations such as alcohol, cigarette or lowbrow product brands. When answering this question the most important thing is to elaborate on two or three clear attributes that you share with the brand you choose. Use this opportunity to tell the recruiter something about yourself that they may not be able to garner from your resume. This can include your work ethic, your talents or your sense of humour.

What do you see yourself doing in the first 30 days of this job?
This question may seem pretty tricky to answer at first. Dont worry, the recruiter does not expect you to know every aspect of the role that you are interviewing for. What they are looking for is a combination of your general knowledge of the role, your ability to express your proactive attitude and, of course, your ability to improvise and communicate clearly when you dont have all the answers. You should already know a lot about the business and the role because youve prepared for the interview by reading up on the company, and you can use the information you have gathered to answer this question. Consider where the role fits in the structure of the business. Is it an entry-level role where you will be exposed to new processes and systems? Or is it a senior role where you will need to jump in and take responsibility for the productivity of a team? If youre interviewing for a junior role, emphasise the ways in which you plan to learn about the business and develop your skills. Talk about how you will approach tasks that you have not done before. If you have received a full job description or a detailed job advertisement for the position, be sure to demonstrate your knowledge of the responsibilities associated with the position. You should also think back to your first few weeks at your previous job, as this may help you to identify what the major focus will be of your first month with the new company. The first month in a more senior role will have a very different focus. You may want to discuss how you plan to establish working relationships and how you will gain the confidence of your co-workers. Regardless of how talented and directional you are, you will want to take some time to observe and learn about how the business works, about the office culture, individuals that you will work closely with and the dynamics of your team. You can then focus on some management strategies that you applied in your previous role or some ideas that you have to move the business forward. While many employers appreciate forward thinking employees, be careful not to come on too strong with all your innovative ideas. Its wise to first learn how open the business is to change before you bombard them with all your plans! Take the opportunity to highlight key skills which are relevant to the role. If you are organised and love structure, talk about the way you will plan your workdays and organise your tasks. If you love working with people, talk about how you go about supporting and integrating into new teams. If your work is very technical, discuss some of the skills that you will apply on the job.

27

Try to keep your answer concise by summarising what you expect to happen in each of the first four weeks of your time on the job, explaining how you see your development and responsibility progressing. Alternatively, you could speak broadly of your expectations for the first month. Discussing how you managed your tasks in your previous role will give you some concrete examples to highlight. Remember, this is not a time to get carried away in the details of job responsibilities! It is a chance to communicate your strengths and enthusiasm for learning and developing in your new role.

What did you earn in your previous job?


Things can get a little uncomfortable when a potential employer asks you this question. If youre applying for a job with a significant pay increase, divulging your current or previous salary may have a negative effect on the interviewers perception of your worth or what theyre willing to offer you. If your previous role paid much more than the job youre interviewing for, this could make the interviewer assume that they cant afford you, which may mean that you miss out on the position. Popular wisdom says to never be the first to bring up a figure when negotiating. Youre not obliged to reveal your salary to the interviewer, but refusing point blank to do so if asked directly may make you seem evasive and shifty. There are, however, some useful strategies to apply when faced with this question in an interview. The first thing you need to do is research: look at other positions at a similar level of responsibility and see what they are offering, and talk to people in the industry. You need to have a good idea of what your market value is now, and what it would be in the prospective role. The timing of the question will help you figure out why theyre asking it. Is it a screening question to determine whether or not youre too expensive for them to consider? One thing you dont want to do is rule yourself out of a job you want because your current salary is higher than what they can offer. If the question comes later in the interviewing process, it may be because they are seriously considering giving you an offer. If your stated salary is low, they may decrease the amount they originally had in mind. The best strategy is to put it back on the interviewer. You could say, My salary was in the appropriate range for the industry at my level of experience, and you could then ask them: What salary range did you have in mind for the position? and take it from there. You dont have to enter into a negotiation until the employer actually offers you the position, and your previous salary should not form the basis of your new salary anyway. If you are pushed to divulge a number, you could give the interviewer a pay range in which your current or previous salary fits in order to avoid limiting yourself and leave space for negotiation. Alternatively, you could simply state what you, based on your research and past experience, believe would be a reasonable and acceptable range. You may also want to emphasise that salary is not your only consideration, either in previous roles or in the one youre interviewing for. Other factors may come into play, such as benefits, training opportunities or flexible working arrangements. However you choose to answer, be sure to use the question as an opportunity to exercise your skills in diplomacy, negotiation and communication.