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Answering Tough Interview Questions for Dummies 2E UK


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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

About This Book 2

Foolish Assumptions 2

Icons Used in This Book 3

Beyond the Book 3

Where to Go from Here 4

Part I: Getting Started with Answering Tough Interview Questions 5 Chapter 1: Understanding the Interviewing Game 7

Recognising What Interviewers Are Looking For 7

Finding Out about Key Skills and Qualities 8

Communicating with people 9

Influencing others 9

Analysing situations 10

Solving problems and making decisions 10

Demonstrating drive and determination 10

Teamworking with colleagues 11

Developing quickly 11

Being flexible and adaptable 12

Planning and organising 12

Being aware of the bigger picture 12

Chapter 2: Doing Your Job Interview Homework 15

Researching the Company 15

Gathering vital information 16

Visiting shops and premises 17

Linking Job Adverts to Key Skills 17

Dressing for Success 21

Suited and booted 21

Understanding the guidelines for women 22

Getting Ready to Go 22

Chapter 3: Polishing Your Interview Performance 25

Creating the Right Impact 25

Making eye contact 26

Using your body language 27

Creating warmth by smiling 28

Using intonation and inflection 29

Building Your Confidence 30

Getting Off to a Great Start 30

Part II: Making Sure You Shine in an Interview 33 Chapter 4: Talking About Yourself 35

Handling General Questions about Yourself 35

Tell me about yourself 36

What are your strengths? 38

What are your weaknesses? 39

What motivates you? 40

What are you passionate about? 41

What are your biggest achievements? 41

What are you most proud of? 42

What is your greatest failure? 43

Do you have any regrets? 44

Why should we hire you? 44

Talking About Basic Job Skills 45

Would you say that you're reliable? 45

What's your absenteeism/sickness record like? 46

How would you describe your time management skills? 46

Are you an organised person? 47

Do you work well under pressure? 48

Would you say that you're creative? 49

Would you say you're good with detail? 49

How do you respond to change? 50

How are you with new technology? 51

What software packages are you familiar with? 51

How would you rate yourself as? 52

Chapter 5: Talking about Problems, Perceptions and People 53

Overcoming Interviewers' Common Worries 53

What makes you lose your temper? 54

How do you respond to authority? 54

How do you deal with disappointment? 55

How do you cope with job stress? 56

What's your attitude to taking risks? 56

Ours is a work hard, play hard culture - how do you feel about that? 57

Tell me something interesting about yourself 58

What would you say your Unique Selling Point is? 58

Do you use Facebook and/or Twitter? 59

Seeing Yourself As Others See You 60

What would your boss say about you? 60

In your last appraisal, what was said about your performance? 61

How do you think you can improve on your performance? 62

What would your colleagues say about you? 62

How would your team describe you? 63

How do you think your friends would describe you? 63

Everyone has some kind of fault - what would other people say your faults are? 64

Discussing Your People Skills 65

Do you prefer to work on your own or in a team? 65

We all have a team role - what would you say your role tends to be? 66

Do you have good presentation skills? 68

How would you rate your customer service skills? 69

How are you at handling conflict? 70

We need someone who is tactful and diplomatic - how does that profile fit you? 70

How do you take personal criticism? 71

Chapter 6: Getting to Grips with Questions about Your Work 73

Responding to Questions about Your Work 73

What does your day-to-day job involve? 74

How did you get your last job? 75

What do you like about your current job? 76

What do you dislike about your work? 76

How is your performance measured? 77

What have you learned in each of your previous jobs? 78

Why did you leave each previous employer? 79

Are you a good manager? 81

Sidestepping Questions about Your Current Company 82

How would you describe your current company? 83

How would you rate your current line manager? 84

What's your manager's biggest failing? 84

Why do you want to leave your current company? 85

What is your current notice period? 86

May we approach your referees? 86

Chapter 7: Talking About Why You Want a New Job 89

Answering Questions about the Employer 89

What do you know about our company? 90

How much do you know about this position? 91

How would you rate our products / services / website? 92

What is it that attracts you to our company? 93

How would you rate us against our competitors? 94

What do you think our unique selling point is? 94

Do you have any concerns about our organisation? 95

Answering Questions about What You're Looking For 96

Why are you looking to leave your current company? 96

If your current job isn't challenging you, what could you do to change it? 97

Why do you want to work in this industry? 97

Who else are you applying to? 98

How does this job compare with others you're looking at? 99

Have you received any job offers so far? 100

How would you describe your dream job? 100

Who would your ideal employer be? 101

Evaluating Your Fit with the Organisation 102

What do you think you can bring to the team? 102

We are a diverse company - how will you cope with that? 103

What are your views on corporate social responsibility? 104

We're working towards being an environmentally friendly and carbon neutral company How might you contribute? 104

What kind of manager would you like to work for? 105

How long do you plan to stay in this job? 105

Why should we hire you? 106

Where do you see yourself in five years' time? 106

When would you be available to start? 107

Deflecting Questions about Money 107

How much are you earning at the moment? 108

How important is money to you? 108

How much do you think you are worth in a job? 109

What would you consider adequate remuneration for this role? 110

I'm afraid you're a bit expensive for us 110

What would you like to be earning in two years' time? 111

Chapter 8: Thriving Under the Pressure Interview 113

Maintaining Your Composure 114

Responding To Leading Questions 115

All of us have personality defects - what is yours? 115

Why did you not achieve more in your last job? 116

How would you respond if I said that you're not the best candidate we've seen today? 117

How would you rate me as an interviewer? 118

What keeps you up at night? 118

Why do you think you are better than the other candidates? 119

Responding to Closed Questions 120

Do you like regular hours and routine working patterns? 120

Do you mind paperwork? 121

Have you ever broken the rules to get a job done? 122

Do you take work home with you at weekends? 123

Do you have any doubts about your ability to do the job? 123

Don't you think you are overqualified for this job? 124

Would you have any problems relocating? 125

Do you mind travelling? 125

Fending Off Weird and Wonderful Questions 126

See this pencil I'm holding? Sell it to me 126

Who was your favourite teacher? 128

If you were an animal, what would you be? 128

If you were a cartoon character, who would you be? 129

Tell me a story 129

Who do you most admire and why? 130

If you could meet anyone living or dead, who would it be and why? 131

What is your greatest fear? 131

Saying Something Is Better Than Saying Nothing 132

Playing for time 133

Making a last ditch effort 133

Chapter 9: Succeeding at Competency-Based Interviewing 135

Discovering the Rules of the Game 136

Spotting competency-based questions 136

Dealing with skilled competency-based interviewers 137

Dealing with unskilled competency-based interviewers 139

Identifying Likely Questions 140

Questions about Your Thinking and Planning Skills 142

Tell me about a significant project that you managed 143

Now give me an example of a project that went wrong 143

Give me an example of a difficult decision that you have made 144

Talk to me about a mistake you made and what you did to rectify it 145

Questions about Leading and Managing 146

Tell me about a time you inspired a team 146

Talk me through how you coached or developed a team member 147

Tell me about an occasion when you had to deal with a difficult team member 148

Questions about Your People and Customer Skills 148

Tell me about a time that you persuaded someone to change their mind 149

Talk to me about a difficult colleague you've worked with 149

Have you ever had to give someone negative feedback at work? How did it go? 150

Tell me about a time you used your personal network to business advantage 151

Tell me about a time you sold something to a customer 151

Give me an example of a time you exceeded a customer's expectations 152

Questions about Your Personal Effectiveness 153

Tell me about a time that you failed to achieve your goals 153

How did you respond to the last piece of criticism you received? 154

Give me an example of how you have developed yourself 155

Part III: Dealing with Tricky Questions and Other Situations 157 Chapter 10: Responding to Questions for Graduates and School Leavers 159

Questions for Graduates 159

Why did you choose to go to the university you went to? 160

Your university results aren't very good - why is that? 161

Why did you choose your degree subject? 162

What have you learnt from being at university? 162

Why did you choose to go to university as a mature student? 164

How difficult did you find university as a mature student? 164

How do you think your degree is relevant to this job? 165

I don't see why someone with your degree would want to work in our field 166

What sorts of part-time jobs have you had? 166

What did you learn from your part-time jobs? 167

What did you most enjoy about your time at university? 167

What did you find the most difficult about your course? 168

What did you do outside of your studies? 169

Why have you left applying for jobs until after finishing your course? 169

Why did you choose to study part time rather than full time? 170

Questions for School Leavers 170

What subjects did you enjoy most? 170

What subjects were you good at? 171

What subjects were you not so good at? 171

Why didn't you stay on at school? 172

Do you regret not staying on at school? 172

Why didn't you go to university? 172

In retrospect, do you think you should have gone to university? 173

What further education do you think you will need for this job? 174

Chapter 11: Handling Questions Aimed at Experienced Candidates 175

Questions for Older Candidates 175

How would you rate your progress so far? 176

Do you feel that you should have achieved more in your current job? 176

I'm concerned because you've been with one employer for a very long time - why is that? 177

This is a challenging role - are you sure you want to take it on at this stage of your career? 178

How have you changed in the last ten years? 179

When do you plan to retire? 179

Talking about Changes of Direction in Your CV 180

Why have you changed jobs so many times? 180

Given your background, why have you decided to change career? 182

Do you want to change career because you are disillusioned with your current one? 183

To what extent are your personal circumstances impacting upon your desire to change career? 184

How do we know that you'll stick with this change of direction? 185

How do you feel about starting at the bottom again? 186

How will you cope working with peers who are ten years younger than you? 187

How will you cope with the drop in salary that changing career necessitates? 187

What would you do if you were unable to secure a job in this profession? 188

Returning to Work 188

You have a gap in your CV - what did you do in that time? 188

Are you concerned that your time away from the workforce may put you at a disadvantage? 189

Why did your last employer select you for redundancy? 190

Have you ever been fired? 190

Why have you been out of work for so long? 191

If you hadn't been made redundant, would you have considered work in this field? 192

You've been working for yourself for some time now Why do you want to work for someone else again? 192

Chapter 12: Handling Hypothetical and Analytical Questions 195

Responding to Hypothetical Questions 196

What would you do if your boss asked you to do something that went against your principles? 196

What would you do if you disagreed with a decision taken by your manager? 197

What would you do if your child were suddenly taken ill? 197

Would you rather be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond? 198

If you spotted a colleague doing something unethical, what would you do? 199

What would you do if a colleague came to you in tears? 200

How would you react if your boss said that you needed to come into the office for the entire weekend? 200

What would you say if I were to offer you this job right now? 201

Defining Key Concepts 201

How would you define team work? 201

What makes for a good working environment? 202

How would you define leadership? 202

Dealing Effectively with Numerical Challenges 203

How many bottles of carbonated water are consumed daily in California? 203

How many cars does Pakistan have? 205

I have a dinosaur on an island - how many sheep would I need on the island to feed it in perpetuity? 205

I'd like you to multiply 8 by 9 and then take 13 away from the result 207

Chapter 13: Coping with Illegal and Personal Questions 209

Countering Illegal Questions 209

How old are you? 210

Are you married? 212

Do you have children? 212

What are your childcare arrangements? 213

When do you plan to have children? 213

Are you pregnant at the moment? 214

Does your partner mind you being away from home? 214

What is your sexual orientation? 215

What are your religious beliefs? 215

Is English your mother tongue? 216

Where were you born? 217

Would you mind providing us with your Facebook details so that we can log in to your account? 218

Have you ever been arrested? 219

Talking about Life Outside of Work 220

What do you do with your leisure time? 220

Your leisure interests seem very solitary -

does this affect your team skills? 221

What sports do you play? 221

Do you read much? 222

What was the last book you read? 223

What was the last film you saw? 223

Do you keep up with current affairs? 224

What newspaper do you read? 224

What news story has grabbed your attention recently? 225

Talking About Your Health 225

You mention that you took a lot of time off last year - why is that? 225

How many days did you take off sick last year? 226

Do you have any medical conditions that you should tell us about? 227

How do you cope with your disability? 227

Chapter 14: Taking Control in Unusual Situations 229

Dealing with Panel Interviews 229

Handling Hi-Tech Interviews 230

Hanging on the telephone 230

Handling video conferencing and webcams with finesse 231

Getting Ready for Psychometric Tests 231

Passing aptitude tests 232

Completing personality questionnaires 232

Succeeding at Assessment Centres 233

Passing in-trays 233

Giving great presentations 234

Excelling at group exercises 235

Being a star in role-play simulations 236

Part IV: Securing the Job of Your Dreams 239 Chapter 15: Asking Great Questions 241

Preparing the Right Questions for the Right Interview 241

Showing enthusiasm for the job 244

Checking out future prospects 245

Enquiring about the culture 246

Turning Your Questions into a Discussion 247

Chapter 16: Dotting 'I's and Crossing 'T's 249

Wrapping Up the Interview 249

Checking next steps 249

Making a great final impression 250

Taking Notes after the Interview 251

Sending Follow-Up Letters 252

Ensuring Your References Are Positive 254

Evaluating the Experience 254

Rating your own performance 255

Finding out what went wrong 256

Part V: The Part of Tens 259 Chapter 17: Ten Cardinal Sins of Interviewing 261

Turning Up Late 261

Getting the Dress Code Wrong 262

Being Rude to Receptionists 262

Getting Off to a Shaky Start 263

Giving a Monologue 264

Answering in Monosyllables 264

Failing the Luton Airport Test 265

Usurping the Balance of Power 265

Discussing Money Too Soon 265

Having No Questions to Ask 266

Chapter 18: Ten Steps to Delivering a Great Interview 267

Research the Company 267

Write Out Your Interview Answers 268

Prepare Good Stories to Illustrate the Skills the Employer Wants 268

Stick to the Truth 269

Rehearse Your Interview Answers Out Loud 269

Practise a Random Question Interview 270

Ask a Friend to Interview You 270

Ask for Feedback on Your Delivery 271

Be Complimentary and Positive About the Employer 272

Mirror the Interviewer's Body Language 272

Chapter 19: Ten Top Tips for Projecting a Confident You 275

Allow Time to Prepare Your Interview Answers Properly 275

Rehearse Out Loud Repeatedly 276

Think About Your Best Self 276

Identify Your Values 277

Write About Your Values 277

Breathe Right 278

Listen to Upbeat Music 278

Create a Positivity Ritual 279

Strike a Powerful Pose 279

Read Books on Confidence 280

Chapter 20: Ten Ways to Troubleshoot Your Job Search 281

Make Sure Your CV Showcases Your Best Skills and Experience 281

Check Your CV for Typos 282

Apply for a Variety of Jobs with Small and Large Employers 283

Consider Your Suitability for the Jobs You're Applying For 283

Ask for a Second Opinion 283

Reach Out to Friends and Acquaintances 284

Ask for Referrals 284

Put in the Hours 285

Review the Interviews You've Attended 285

Seek Professional Help 286

Index 287

About the Author

Rob Yeung, PhD is a business psychologist specialising in research and consulting in the fields of high achievement and peak performance. He is the author of more than twenty books.

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