Posted by Robert Half on 23 January 2014
It’s well worth preparing for a job interview by asking yourself the following questions.
Give yourself time to break down what it is they want, and find out what they are really asking.
1. Why do you want the job?
In a competitive job market, recruiters and employers know that people hedge their bets applying for scores of jobs at a time. If you’re at an interview, there’s a fair chance you’ve already demonstrated in your CV that there is a specific reason why you want this job and not another, but be prepared to elaborate.
2. Why should we choose you?
You may be on an interview shortlist of eight to 10 people, so there are still some hoops to jump through. This question is your chance to be broadly impressive and convey your unique selling points. Be confident. Your self-belief is alluring.
3. What are your top skills and why do they make you the most eligible candidate for the job?
Highlight two to three of your core competencies and demonstrate why they are key for the particular role in question. Don’t exhaust all your options early in a stream of consciousness. Demonstrate that you’ve prepared your answers – that alone will impress them.
4. What unique energy will you bring to the workplace?
There will probably be a question that points to your personality and it can be wise not to divulge too much. The key is to be natural, but don’t push it. They’re not asking whether you’re likely to be next president of the social club, but rather how your approach and take on life will resonate with the tasks at hand and the relationships you build internally and externally.
5. How would you deal with someone who is openly antagonistic and confrontational in the workplace?
The most important consideration in a question like this is to recognise they might not automatically consider confrontation a negative, and nor should you. A good employee identifies colleagues’ traits and uses them to their advantage. Turn negative questions and negative qualities into a positive, and you’ll demonstrate the initiative to do this in a workplace and with clients.
6. What is the most difficult workplace scenario you’ve encountered and how did you manage the situation?
Workshop a couple of examples that fit this question before your interview as this is a curly behavioural interview question. Talking about and tackling difficulties is a desirable quality, but don’t name names or give away specifics as they’ll need to know you can be discrete.
7. How do you prioritise tasks?
Develop an answer that demonstrates your capacity for logic, consultation and decisiveness in equal portions. Mention the word efficiency and other relevant industry terms like value for money and cost-benefit analysis.
8. How do you approach a senior colleague who disagrees with you?
Your interviewer is looking to see you comprehend the difference between assertive and aggressive. He/she is also looking at how you deal with issues that inevitably crop up when you bring together different people.
9. If you could invite any three people (dead or alive) to dinner tomorrow, who would they be?
This is a question that gives you an opportunity to reveal more of your personality and what you value. If you invited Richard Branson, you might be pegged as an entrepreneur, and if you invited the peace-loving Dalai Lama, you might be someone who believes in work-life balance. There are no wrong answers here – it all boils down to how you spin it. But be aware that what you say in a professional context versus what you say around a dinner table might be two different things. Pick wisely.
10. How do you get an elephant into a fridge?
This question is not asking you to be too literal – it’s a question to test how much of a creative or lateral thinker you are. Your response will be judged on your approach and thought process. Companies that prize innovation will throw in these wackier questions to test whether you are a progressive leader or merely a straight-laced plodder.
As a general rule of thumb, make sure you have an awareness of the job and the industry in a broader context and demonstrate your knowledge when asked a question of this nature. And don’t forget to factor in other ways to nail the interview, from presentation to punctuality.
What challenging questions have you been asked in a job interview?
Need assistance with your job search or career advice? Contact Robert Half today.