Tips on questions asked
Here are some of the questions you are most likely to face and some advice about how to answer them:
“Why do you want this job?”
It’s the natural next step for you and this is the right organisation in which to further your career. Show off your knowledge about the business – make all that research worthwhile.
“Where does it fit in with your career plans?”
It’s good to talk about steady progression and cementing your experience. But ambition can be good too and there is no harm in aspiring to the boss’s job in five years’ time.
“What are your strengths?”
Ensure that these are relevant to the job. Being a great team player isn’t the most useful attribute if you’re applying for a job as night watchman.
“What are your weaknesses?”
These should be positive weaknesses – perhaps you have a tendency to work too hard.
“What’s been your most significant success at work?”
This is about your personal achievements and contribution. Interviewers aren’t interested in the great team you work with. If you have limited work experience, you could talk about achievements outside work. But relate them to the job you are applying for.
“What is the biggest mistake you ever made?”
We all make them, but what’s important is how you dealt with your biggest mistake and what you learnt from the experience.
“What is the greatest challenge you have ever faced?”
Keep it relevant to the job and be positive. Again, interviewers want to know how you met the challenge and what you might do differently, with the wisdom of hindsight, in a similar situation.
“How do you cope with difficult colleagues?”
It’s all about trying to understand a situation from someone else’s perspective - team work.
“You’ve changed jobs three times in the past five years, why should I think you are more serious about this one?”
Great opportunities came your way and you would have been foolish to turn them down. Or, you took a job to achieve a particular goal and, having succeeded sooner than you expected, it was time to move on.
“Where do you see yourself in five years time?”
Although it is difficult to predict things far into the future, the employer will want to hire somebody with drive and a sense of purpose. They will also want to know they can depend on you, and figure out if they can offer what you really want. Avoid choosing specific job titles you aspire to, instead mention skills and responsibilities you would like to take on.
“What do you do outside work?”
You want to appear active, but not so busy that you could not get to work on time or stay late occasionally.
“What’s your current salary?”
Include all your perks and bonuses, but tell the truth. The interviewer can always contact your current employer to check.
Never mention salary unless prompted to do so – and even then try not to agree to specific numbers without being given time to think.
Questions in interviews work both ways and you, as the interviewee are able to ask your own questions, when invited to. It's always good to have a few questions ready to ask even if you think you already have the information you need.
Contract Accountants asked our jobseekers for their favourite questions to pose to an interviewer. Below are some of the best:
"What’s the best thing about working at your company?"
"Why has the position become available?"
"What can I expect from you in terms of development, support and motivation?"
"Has this role been offered internally?"
"What is the possibility of promotion within the company?"
"What type of prospects does this role offer?"
"If I was offered the job, what are the main monitors for success?"
"What does the organisation expect from its employees?"
"What behaviour is desired and rewarded (not financially) in this position?"
"What is the turnover of staff like throughout the company?"
"What elements of the job offer flexibility and variety?"
"I do like a challenge; does this role involve me being in a status where I can use my initiative?"
"What influence will I have over the size of budget and how it is managed?"
"What aspirations do you have for me with this department?"
"Where would you like to see me within the company in five years?"
"Where will the job I am applying for fit into the team?"
"In the department I would be entering, what is the age group?"
"What do you think would attract me to accept this position, if I am to be the successful candidate?"
"Are there any plans to expand the company?"
"Why did you join the company and what are your long term goals?"
"What is your management style like?"
"Have you seen much growth since you were bought out by XXX