One of the most important steps to landing a job is being prepared for the interview. By doing some preparation, you’ll feel more in control and will appear cool, calm, and collected as a result – qualities that are always looked for in the perfect candidate.
Preparing for all different types of interview questions is the best way to prevent being caught off guard on the day. Confidence is key with this one, so try practicing either by yourself (in the mirror is a good idea as you’ll get a sense of your body language) or get a friend to quiz you.
Classic Interview Questions
Classic interview questions form the basis of almost every other interview question. Whilst they come in all shapes and sizes, they’re generally asked in order to put the ball in your court. In other words, the interviewer is saying they want you to do the talking. So, one-word answers won’t cut it here.
Answering a classic interview question well comes down to your ability to talk about how your skills, experience, and personality match up with what the employer is looking for. Many also require you to talk about certain aspects of your CV in more detail – so take this as the perfect opportunity to prove you’re a good fit.
Career Goal Questions
Career goal questions are asked to let employers know where you are in your professional life, and what your future plans are. Your answers will tell them whether you’re a good fit long-term. Preparation is key. Aside from creating a clear picture of your professional outlook, you also need to make sure that your future aligns with theirs. This means doing your company research – not only to understand what they’re looking for right now, but also what they’ll need to have further down the line.
Character questions are a reliable indicator of what we’re capable of achieving. After all, even the most intelligent person on earth won’t get anywhere without a solid character to match. Your answers will reveal everything an employer needs to know about your morals, integrity, values, and generally speaking – who you really are.
Focus on demonstrating your appreciation of values (both your own and the company’s), positive work ethic, ability to work well with others and handle tough situations. Show you can do the job and fit in, and you’ll be on the right track.
Competency questions focus on finding evidence of your ability to do the job, requiring you to provide real examples of ‘times you’ve demonstrated [XYZ]’ or ‘how you’d react in [hypothetical situation]'. Their purpose? To weed out the candidates who are all talk and shortlist the ones who can actually back up their claims.
Prepare your examples. Interviews can cause the best of us to draw a blank and relying on thinking last is unlikely to yield the best results. So, before the interview, highlight the key skills in the job description. Secondly, think of an example that proves you have each attribute. Finally, use the STAR technique to give context to your answer.
The STAR technique is a simple, structured technique to help you answer interview questions. It stands for Situation, Task, Approach, and Results. To use STAR effectively, all elements of your answer need to work. Here’s a breakdown of how to approach each letter:
S – Situation
Think of this section as ‘setting the scene’. Provide the interviewer with a bit of background about the question and give them some context. Try and be specific and include names and dates wherever appropriate to help add credibility.
T – Task
Build on the background you’ve given and outline the task at hand. Specifically, how did the situation relate to you? And what were the major tasks you needed to undertake to resolve it? Include how important or difficult the situation was to overcome, as well as any constraints you came up against.
A – Approach
Translation: what did you actually do to resolve the situation? Outline the steps you took to ensure a successful outcome, without being tempted to take all the credit. The key to effectively incorporating the ‘approach’ part of your answer is to identify what skills the interviewer really wants to see and reinforce them throughout.
R – Result
Finally, it’s time for the pay-off. What was the outcome of the situation? Remember, everyone loves a happy ending, and interviewers are no different. Make your happy ending quantifiable, and you’ll really have nailed your answer.