Improve Interview Skills

Can You do the Job?
The first type of question is seeking to determine whether or not you are capable of doing the job. These questions will be about your skills, attitudes, knowledge and experience in short your track record. Typically about 60 per cent of a professional interviewers time will be spent assessing your abilities against those required by the position on offer.

You should be looking for any opportunity to impart information about your skills and abilities, backing them up with examples of what you have already achieved. Here are some common examples of this type of interview question:

What is your greatest strength?
If you've done your homework beforehand, you would have several strengths to choose from. The obvious choice would be the strength which best suits the demands of the job. This is one of the most common questions and represents a good opportunity to assert your career statement. How to answer this question is covered in detail elsewhere in the multimedia training course – GetAhead in Winning at Interviews.

What skill have you acquired most recently?
Here the interviewer is seeking to establish that you are an interested, active lifelong learner and not somebody who has just attained a variety of disparate qualifications along the way. Try to avoid putting a timeframe on your answer; unless you have attended a course very recently and try to add details of how you have already applied the new skill in the workplace.

Can you work well under pressure?
This is a closed question and can be a sign of an untrained interviewer. Use the opportunity to give a comprehensive but brief answer focusing on several clear-cut examples showing your ability to cope under pressure.

Specific, job related questions
The interviewer may ask any number of questions that relate to your past experience and how this might influence your suitability for the current position. Here you will need to call on the work you did in analyzing your own career achievements, as explained elsewhere in the multimedia training course – GetAhead in Winning at Interviews. Using real examples and framing these in terms of a problem or challenge that you successfully addressed is the key to answering job related questions.

Will You do the Job?
The second type of question is concerned with your personal disposition and approach to work. These questions are seeking to determine whether you are hard working, motivated and committed; in short are you the kind of person who will do more than just what is in the job contract.

You should be looking for any opportunity to impart information that demonstrates what a positive and committed employee you have been. In preparing for the interview, decide which areas of your work to date can be used to illustrate your commitment and motivation. Here are some common examples of this type of question:

What was it like working for your previous employer?
Here, you could choose to answer the question in terms of their product development, management style, use of new technology or any number of other aspects.

However, by taking the initiative and answering it in terms of what the job required of you and how you met these demands, emphasizing your flexibility, long hours working when required, etc, you will begin to address the real issue behind the question. Once again, stay alert and look for opportunities to sell your benefits.

Have you done the best work you are capable of?
This is a deliberately tricky question. If you say yes, the interviewer may determine that you have peaked, and that it is downhill from here. However, saying no invites the question of why not? Perhaps you haven’t been fully committed, or worse competent.

The best response is to recall some of the your top achievements to date, to answer in a way that implies an increasing performance trend. Follow this up by showing that you are looking forward to bigger challenges and even better achievements in the future.

How long will it be before you make a net contribution to our organization?
Unless the job is very mundane or routine, you cannot realistically make a real contribution until you have been through a significant learning curve. This learning curve is one that is recognized by employers and generally the higher the level of the position the more tolerant the organization will be about the time needed for this.

However, the upper limit for this is rarely more than 3 to 4 months and the longer the learning curve the more is expected from the performance following it. Think about the realistic bedding in time and what sort of contributions you might make during this period.

If you got this job, how long would you stay with us?
The best way to answer this question is to tailor your reply to fit the culture of the organization and your own career path. For example, if the organization is highly entrepreneurial then replying that you are looking for a retirement home will not play well.

However, if the culture is more paternal or family centered then indicating that you are considering your final job move may be very well received.

Some people think that implying that you will be happy to stay as long as you are developing new skills or facing new challenges is the best approach. The down side of this can be that it implies the organization is responsible for your nurturing, education and entertainment. Think carefully about using these type of explanations as you may give the impression that you may leave as soon as you are faced with a dull project.

Will You Fit In?
Most employers are looking for staff who are not only capable of, and committed to, doing their job but who will fit the prevailing corporate culture and image. Here, the more senior the role, the more important fitting in becomes.

You should be looking for any opportunity to impart information that demonstrates how you would fit in. In particular areas to consider are:

How the organization manages people
How the organization devolves power
How people interrelate
How people are motivated
How the organization competes in the marketplace


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