Interviews are like snowflakes – each one is unique! Your interviewer will have their own style, the role will lend itself to a particular interview type and the format (Telephone interview, video call interview or face-to-face interview) will also impact your experience.
Despite this, there are consistent elements of interviewing that you should expect to encounter on your job hunt.
The interviewer will ask you informal questions about you, your education, your job history and experiences. These questions will be open and allow you to expand on the information included in your CV. You should expect to discuss your strengths, weaknesses, educational background and learnings.
Informal questions are designed to give the interviewer further insight into you as an individual and for you to bring your CV to life. You should try to inject a little of your personality in to the interview and take the opportunity to ask any questions you may have for the interviewer.
Competency Based Questions
A more structured style of interview includes competency based questions, you should anticipate being asked competency questions in every interview.
An example of a competency based question is:
Tell me about a time you achieved exceptional results, made a mistake etc
Give me an example of a time when you have found it difficult to motivate yourself, the most challenging goal you have set for yourself etc
We know that these questions can feel intimidating, but once you have cracked the formula – they are a piece of cake.
Here’s a handy formula:
- Give specific answers to the question for example, if the question is “Tell me about a time you made a mistake.”
Give a very specific answer, such as “I made a mistake on a calculation to go in a suitability report which was about to be sent to the client”
- Then give an example of how you turned that situation around, for example
“As I always proof-read my suitability reports twice, I was able to spot the mistake before it went out to the client”
- Then list how you have learnt from this mistake and what you would put in place for the next time; “I have teamed up with a colleague and we have decided to proof read each other suitability letters as a final check”
Scroll down to see further examples of Competency Based Questions.
If you progress to a second or third stage interview, it is possible you will be asked to complete a series of test questions or activities. You may not be warned of these questions in advance of the interview, but the questions will always be role relevant.
True to its title, a panel interview will involve being interviewed by a panel! Typically, 2-3 stakeholders from the organisation will interview you. This can be an intimidating style of interview but try to keep calm. Take each question as it comes and address each answer to the interviewer who posed the question.
The purpose of a panel interview is to establish your suitability for the role but also to ensure a match of personalities. As a candidate, panel interviews allow you the opportunity to meet a wider number of stakeholders and understand a little more about the organisation.
It’s important to remember that whilst you are being interviewed, you are also interviewing the company! You should ask questions regarding structure, culture and progression to ensure it’s the right fit for you.
Further examples of Competency Based Questions:
- Tell me about a time you achieved exceptional results?
- Give me an example of your toughest day?
- Give me an example of the most challenging goal you have set yourself in the last year
- Give an example of when you have found it difficult to motivate yourself
- What is the most important decision you feel you have made in your career to date?
- Give me an example of a situation you have used your initiative recently
- Can you give me a recent example of when you have experienced and setback?
- Tell me about the most difficult client to have had to manage
- Tell me about a time when you have gone the extra mile for the customer
- Tell me the last time you feel you gave a customer fantastic service
- Tell me a time when you recently took on additional responsibility
- Tell me about a recent situation where you have had to build a relationship with a new colleague or client
- Give me an example of where you have improved existing systems or procedures at work