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5 types of interview questions – and how to ace them

25 Feb

Successfully getting an interview for your dream role is a big achievement and it’s one of the hardest parts of the job-hunting process out of the way. The next big hurdle may seem daunting, but your odds are much higher since you’re competing with a much smaller pool of candidates. So, now’s the time to really impress your interviewers with your killer answers.

Viewing an interview as a way to market yourself to an employer rather than a police interrogation can ease some of those nerves. But, at the end of the day, interviews are simply a conversation between people to see how they can benefit from each other.

Regardless of the role, there are set types of interview questions which regularly resurface. It’s useful to familiarise yourself with these questions and learn the best way of approaching them.

1. Questions about yourself

Examples: Walk me through your CV. Why do you think you’re suitable for the job? Where do you see yourself in five years?

The key here is to know yourself and be able to market yourself as an employable candidate. But rather than skimming through your CV, elaborate on particular tasks that are mentioned in it and your specific role in achieving a positive outcome.

The fact that you are at an interview already proves they like the look of your CV and have read it, so instead, take advantage of this time to sell your candidacy to them and give them deeper insight into your previous experiences. Highlight your key skills which mimic the requirements of the job specifications.

In terms of questions about your future — be honest with your ambitions, but align them with the goals of the company. If this is for a permanent contract, it’s important you reassure them you wish to progress and invest with them.

2. Questions about the company

Examples: Why do you want to work for us? Why are you interested in this job? What do you understand about the role/company?

Candidates who interact with the interviewer in a complimentary way, express enthusiasm for the role and praise the organisation are more likely to do well in interviews than those who only self-promote. So, while it’s important to sell yourself, you should also express your passion for the role and interest in the company.

When preparing an answer to these questions, try not to be generic. Consider why you want this particular role in this specific company. As a job seeker in a candidate driven job market, there are and will be similar opportunities elsewhere. Be honest and specific about the key elements of this role that interest you and how you fit in with the culture of the company. The purpose of this question is not entirely for flattery purposes as it allows the interviewer to learn what you understand of the job specification and if you have done your research on the company. The employer is also looking for reassurance that you are interested in this role and are willing to commit.

3. Competency-based questions

Examples: Give me an example of a time when you’ve used initiative. How have you demonstrated time-management skills? Walk me through your thought process before making an important decision.

Competency-based questions, in some form or another, are guaranteed to be asked during the interview and the best way to revise for this is to learn the job specification off by heart. There are general traits that are universally redeemable including leadership, team-work, conflict resolution and responsibility. Have a collection of 3-4 scenarios that cover all of these competencies and use the famous STAR technique when answering — keep in mind that the “action” segment should be a predominant part of your answer.

4. Questions for the interviewer

Examples: Is there anything that you would like to ask me? Do you have any questions?

Your answer to this question 100% of the time needs to be, “Yes!” First impressions may count for something, but final impressions are vital as they could make or break your entire interview.

It’s good to ask questions, not only to show your interest in the company but for your own sake to scope out more information about the role, the company or anything else you’d like to know before you ideally start. You can be spontaneous and ask questions about something the interviewer mentioned during the interview which shows you are an attentive listener.

There are four areas you can cover with your questions: the job, the team, about the interviewer and the company. Don’t worry about keeping all your questions stored in your head — you can always take questions in with you into the interview room and your interviewers will likely be impressed you did thorough preparation and took the interview seriously enough to pre-plan questions.

Begin your career with Travis Perkins

At Travis Perkins, we want to provide you with more choice, drive engagement and create a fantastic environment to work. We offer a range of opportunities, including apprenticeships. To find out more about the types of roles we offer, visit our careers site.

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