Capital2's Blog

Recruitment and Career advice for the High Tech and Banking Industries

Basic Interview Questions, Hints and Tips

Capital2 Solutions generally works with experienced, senior candidates. However, even at this end of the career ladder some candidates make basic interviewing mistakes which can harm their chances of getting the job they apply for. Here are some basic guidelines to ahere to, whether you’re going for a Director level job or an entry level position:

Research

Find out as much information as possible about your prospective employer in advance. Many now have websites which are packed with information. Familiarise yourself with mission statements, past performance, future goals and current analyst ratings. Be aware that if your prospective employer does have a comprehensive website, you may seriously compromise your chances if it becomes apparent you have not taken time to research it.

If there is no company website, it is still easy to research your employer. All national newspapers and professional magazines have online sites with archive articles. You can also utilise web search engines just by entering the company name. Talk to anyone you know who has worked at the organisation. If all else fails do try phoning the company and requesting general information. 

Interview tips

  • Greet your interviewer standing, with a strong, firm handshake and a smile! Good body language is vital. Sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Speak clearly and confidently. Try and maintain a comfortable level of eye contact throughout.
  • A standard interview will generally start with an introductory chat, moving on to questions specific to your application and experience. General information about the company and role may follow, finishing with an opportunity for you to ask your own questions.
  • Be familiar with your CV and prepared to answer questions from it. Similarly, ensure you have read any job description thoroughly and think of ways in which your experience will benefit your potential employer.
  • Listen to what is being asked of you. Think about your answers to more difficult questions and do not give irrelevant detail. Give positive examples from your experience to date but be concise. Avoid one word answers however. Prepare yourself in advance for common interview questions.
  • Be ready to ask questions that you have prepared beforehand. This can demonstrate you have thought about the role and done some research on the organisation. Ensure they are open, thus encouraging the interviewer to provide you with additional information.
  • Show your enthusiasm for the role, even if you have some reservations. These can be discussed at a later stage.

Question: Tell me about yourself.

Answer: Identify some of your main attributes and memorise them. Describe your qualifications, career history and range of skills, emphasising those skills relevant to the job on offer.

Q: What have your achievements been to date?

A. Select an achievement that is work-related and fairly recent. Identify the skills you used in the achievement and quantify the benefit it had to the company. For example, ‘my greatest achievement has been to design and implement a new sales ledger system, bringing it in ahead of time and improving our debtors’ position significantly, saving the company £50,000 a month in interest’.

Q: Are you happy with your career-to-date?

A: This question is really about your self-esteem, confidence and career aspirations. The answer must be ‘yes’, followed by a brief explanation as to what it is about your career so far that’s made you happy. If you have hit a career plateau, or you feel you are moving too slowly, then you must qualify your answer.

Q: What is the most difficult situation you have had to face and how did you tackle it?

A: The purpose of this question is to find out what your definition of difficult is and whether you can show a logical approach to problem solving. In order to show yourself in a positive light, select a difficult work situation which was not caused by you and which can be quickly explained in a few sentences. Explain how you defined the problem, what the options were, why you selected the one you did and what the outcome was. Always end on a positive note.

Q: What do you like about your present job?

A: This is a straightforward question. All you have to do is make sure that your ‘likes’ correspond to the skills required for the job on offer. Be enthusiastic; describe your job as interesting and diverse but do not overdo it – after all, you are looking to leave.

Q: What do you dislike about your present job?

A: Be cautious with this answer. Do not be too specific as you may draw attention to weaknesses that will leave you open to further problems. One approach is to choose a characteristic of your present company, such as its size or slow decision-making processes etc. Give your answer with the air of someone who takes problems and frustrations in your stride as part of the job.

Q: What are your strengths?

A: This is one question that you know you are going to get so there is no excuse for being unprepared. Concentrate on discussing your main strengths. List three or four proficiencies e.g. your ability to learn quickly, determination to succeed, positive attitude, your ability to relate to people and achieve a common goal. You may be asked to give examples of the above so be prepared.

Q: What is your greatest weakness?

A: Do not say you have none – this will lead to further problems. You have two options – use a professed weakness such as a lack of experience (not ability) on your part in an area that is not vital for the job. The second option is to describe a personal or professional weakness that could also be considered to be a strength and the steps you have taken to combat it. An example would be: “I know my team think I’m too demanding at times – I tend to drive them pretty hard but I’m getting much better at using the carrot and not the stick”.

Q: Why do you want to leave your current employer?

A: State how you are looking for a new challenge, more responsibility, experience and a change of environment. Do not be negative in your reasons for leaving. It is rarely appropriate to cite salary as your primary motivator.

Q: Why have you applied for this particular job?

A: The employer is looking for evidence that the job suits you, fits in with your general aptitudes, coincides with your long-term goals and involves doing things you enjoy.  Make sure you have a good understanding of the role and the organisation, and describe the attributes of the organisation that interest you most.

Other common interview questions to consider:

  • How does your job fit in to your department and company?
  • What do you enjoy about this industry?
  • Give an example of when you have worked under pressure.
  • What kinds of people do you like working with?
  • Give me an example of when your work was criticised.
  • Give me an example of when you have felt anger at work. How did you cope and did you still perform a good job?
  • What kind of people do you find it difficult to work with?
  • Give me an example of when you have had to face a conflict of interest at work.
  • Tell me about the last time you disagreed with your boss.
  • Give me an example of when you haven’t got on with others.
  • Do you prefer to work alone or in a group? Why?
  • This organisation is very different to your current employer – how do you think you are going to fit in?
  • What are you looking for in a company?
  • How do you measure your own performance?
  • What kind of pressures have you encountered at work?
  • Are you a self-starter? Give me examples to demonstrate this?
  • What changes in the workplace have caused you difficulty and why?
  • How do you feel about working long hours and/or weekends?
  • Give me an example of when you have been out of your depth.
  • What have you failed to achieve to date?
  • What can you bring to this organisation?

Remember, these tips are just guidelines, and it is important that you don’t trot out the same old robotic responses to these questions. Try to appear engaging and interested, also be sure to add in personal anecdotes and stories aimed at showing your true personality and way of working.

 Oh, and GOOD LUCK!

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January 28, 2008 - Posted by | Capital2, Interview Technique | , , , , , , ,

46 Comments »

  1. I hope it will definitely help in my future interview.

    Thanks to you.

    Suresh

    Comment by Suresh | November 20, 2008 | Reply

  2. Thanks for your concern…it will definitely help in my future…but one more thing i would like to ask you that i just passed 12th n i hvnt done any job so i am tensed n little bit afraid to go for a interview…plz suggest me n give me some easy information if you can..
    thank you..

    Comment by AANCHAL GUPTA | February 10, 2009 | Reply

  3. its a gud one will work on it

    Comment by segun | February 16, 2009 | Reply

  4. OK. If you’re interviewed by me, I won’t ask it but i wouldn’t recommend answering the “greatest weakness” with “something that could be seen as a strength”.

    You will sound like a pretentious douchebag who spent the week before the interview reading up answers to common interview questions online.

    Comment by Pierre | April 15, 2009 | Reply

    • Hi.

      Great information.

      It help my blog alot.

      Tka again

      Comment by Kelvin | August 16, 2010 | Reply

  5. Well, I should clarify. There’s one type of people who will use that line in the manner because they really truly are pretentious douchebags, and there are some who are just unsure about how to conduct an interview. The problem for the latter category is that they come off just like the first, when in reality they are down to earth people with a great skillset for the position they interview. The solution is for the second category of people NOT to use InstaCheez lines like “my biggest flaw is that I’m a little too awesome”. As an interviewer, I’d rather see someone (even if the answer is prepared because they anticipated the question) having done some introspection and come up with an honest flaw in themselves that they acknowledge, and (more importantly) how they are coping with this flaw in their work. No human is infalliable and pretending that you have no flaws only shows that you have no ability to evaluate yourself.

    Comment by Pierre | April 21, 2009 | Reply

    • Hi there,
      Thanks for the comment.
      Yeah I think you’re right to a certain extent, but still, you can show a strength from a weakness in an interview situation.
      For example if you recognize a weakness in what you do or how you conduct yourself, but then can demonstrate to the interviewer that you are trying to put that right, then you have turned the question around and shown not only self-awareness but the ability to be self critical and to improve yourself.
      This way the weakness you admit to actually serves to highlight a strength.
      What do you think, or is this also ‘douchebag’ stuff?

      Comment by capital2blog | April 21, 2009 | Reply

  6. Very excellent information. I believe it will definitely help me in my future interviews. Very good examples of potential answers to the questions.

    Comment by Roberto | June 23, 2009 | Reply

  7. hi,very good information about the intrvw qusts which is helpfull to us for intrvws in our careers.

    Thank u.

    Comment by Ramu | September 8, 2009 | Reply

  8. Very fantastic information I am benefiting from for my interviews.

    Comment by samuel | October 2, 2009 | Reply

  9. these questions will help me in my future interview.so,thanx………………

    Comment by shivkumar napit | August 18, 2010 | Reply

  10. Its a very good information for the people expecting to go to the interview

    Comment by RACHEL MILEY | October 20, 2010 | Reply

  11. sales jobs are always in demand but you have to be a good sales person to maintain your job ”

    Comment by Laparoscopic Surgery : | October 30, 2010 | Reply

  12. Those are very comprehensive questions and just about cover everything you would want to ask from a blogger. Thanks for the link to my interview!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Ella Holmes | December 2, 2010 | Reply

  13. [...] Basic Interview Questions, Hints and Tips January 2008 14 comments 3 [...]

    Pingback by 2010 in review « Capital2's Blog | January 2, 2011 | Reply

  14. Nice tips, surely help me in my future prospects

    Comment by abhilash TK | March 7, 2011 | Reply

  15. good tips, it will definitely help me in future

    Comment by rustam ali | May 12, 2011 | Reply

  16. I REALLY THANKS FOR YOU THIS WILL BE HELP ME IN MY INTERVIEWS THANKS FOR GREAT QUATIONS AND ANSWERS

    Comment by JOHN STIFEN | June 23, 2011 | Reply

  17. All of the information here is very important. When faced with an interview, many people will be nervous. Compose yourself, take a deep breath, and show off your confidence. My wife went to an interview for a very high ranking attorney and had to answer a very strange question: If you were a fruit; what type would you be? She said: “An apple, because it can be sweet or sour and can be cooked into many food dishes”. This question was designed to identify her character.

    Comment by sam | July 22, 2011 | Reply

  18. Thanks for the wonderful tips. Please i have an interview with Americare: a medical distributor here in Abuja tomorow. I dont have any working experience that relates with distribution, but i have one year marketing experience with a bank and two yrs customer care experience with a telecommunication company. Please what do i do to confirm that i get that job.

    Comment by Mansur Muhammad | October 26, 2011 | Reply

    • There’s no magic answer – the only thing you can do is prepare as much as you can: research the role, research the company and then research some more!

      Comment by capital2blog | October 26, 2011 | Reply

  19. It’s very good and helpfull for me for further job
    Thanks to you

    Comment by Waqar | December 16, 2011 | Reply

  20. this information can add for freshers to get new ideas to prepare interview

    Comment by Interview Questions | February 10, 2012 | Reply

  21. Good tips!am sure they wil help greatly!

    Comment by Mainza | February 18, 2012 | Reply

  22. I do hope it will help in my interview

    Comment by Laurent John | March 10, 2012 | Reply

  23. According to me it will very useful for interview.
    Very excellent information. I believe it will definitely help me in my future interviews. Very good examples of potential answers to the questions.

    Comment by shyam sundar | March 28, 2012 | Reply

  24. thanks ………… for valuable advise.it will give me sth new concept abt my interview.

    Comment by pavan | April 13, 2012 | Reply

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    Comment by Abubakar saddique | April 27, 2012 | Reply

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    Comment by imtuaz ali | May 7, 2012 | Reply

  27. it’s a good work of you thank you for a great concern

    Comment by Latif mura | May 10, 2012 | Reply

  28. Rightly said. … Not necessary interviwer may ask same question. But it quide us toward interview.
    It actually give us some confidence. How to handle what situation.

    Thanks

    Comment by Zakir Hussain | June 21, 2012 | Reply

  29. Its really helpy n I attended only one Interview in Tanzania with the same questions on line after rehearsal from my sist n gat job in the certain famous bank.

    Comment by Abdallah Kweka | July 6, 2012 | Reply

  30. sophisticated formula to face the any types of interview …

    Comment by Masoom Imam | September 7, 2012 | Reply

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