How to deal with commonlyasked questions during Interview

Posted on 6:14 PM by Bharathvn

Understanding frequently-asked questions
# Explaining why you want the job
# Answering questions about your career and future direction
# Responding to questions about your commitment to the job
# Answering questions about a change of career

Interviewers often recycle the same questions from interview to
interview. That is great news for you as a candidate because you can be
sure that certain questions are likely to crop up again and again in
interviews. Interviewers want to know about the decisions you have
taken to get you where you are in your career, why you are looking for a
new job, and why you believe you should work for them.
In answering these questions, be sure to provide brief examples whenever
possible. Claims can sound like hot air if they are not substantiated with
examples and evidence. Read through this chapter and remember to
start jotting down some notes about how you would answer each
question.

ANSWERING BASIC INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Interviews often follow a certain path. Most interviewers will ask you
some general questions about yourself and your career choices before
plunging into more difficult questions.
Read through the following questions and be sure you can answer each
one with a sharp, succinct answer that presents your skills and qualities
to best possible effect.

Tell me about yourself
Many interviewers like to begin by asking this question. The open-ended
nature of the question means that you could potentially answer it in any
number of ways. So start by checking how much information the
interviewer wants. ‘Is there any part of my CV that you would like me to
focus on?’ The interviewer’s response should hopefully direct you to the
areas that he or she is most interested in.
If the interviewer does not give you any further guidance, stick to talking
about your recent career. Imagine that the interviewer had actually asked
you the question: ‘Please talk me through your recent career and tell me
two or three ways you think you meet our need for this job.’
Avoid talking about your upbringing, family, interests outside
of work or your goals in life. It’s not wrong to talk about these –
but an employer is unlikely to be impressed by them.

To prepare for this question, look at the job advert for this organisation.
What skills and qualities does the advert talk about? If it says that they
are looking for ‘a head teacher with excellent planning and problemsolving
skills’, then be prepared to talk about your planning and problemsolving
skills in your initial response.

Here is a couple of examples:
As you can see from my CV, I have six years of experience as an
office manager from two companies, the most recent of which has
been for an engineering firm, so I have plenty of experience
working for demanding and highly motivated professionals. In my
current job, I look after all of the office functions, from the
computing, photocopying and telephone systems to managing a
team of three secretaries, to ensure that the engineers get the
support that they need. Shall I go on?

What does your day-to-day job involve?
Rather than giving a blow-by-blow account of what you do in a typical
day, you should be selective in your response. Look again at the job advert
and try to decide on the key activities you will be required to do in the job
and focus on those in your answer.

The two candidates from the previous question might reply by saying:
I start the day by speaking in person with all of the professional
staff to check what their requirements for the day might be. Then I
hold a brief meeting with my team to ensure that no one has a
huge workload while someone else isn’t very busy. Further than
that, it’s very hard to say exactly what else I might be doing. I try to
be responsive to the needs of the professional staff as well as any
issues in my team.

The most important part of my job is to understand the needs of
the line managers. There’s no point me recruiting people that the
line managers don’t need, so I spend about half of my time talking
to line managers and trying to understand their needs. I then
spend the rest of my time meeting candidates and dealing
carefully with the administrative side of recruitment in terms of
sifting CVs and sending out contracts.
Talk me through your career

First, find out how far back in your career the interviewer would like you
to go. ‘Would you like me to start from when I left school, or would you
like me to focus on the years since I completed my degree?’

In any case, this is not an invitation to ramble at length about your career.
Instead, think about how you can summarise why you left or joined each
company that you have worked for. Finish off by talking about why you
want to move again.
I must be honest – I didn’t have a plan when I left school, so my
father suggested I take an engineering apprenticeship in Ultro, a
local firm. I was very quickly promoted to team supervisor. But
after five good years, I felt that I had learnt everything that I could
there, so I moved to Factory Magix, which was a much bigger
company. Now I’ve discovered that I really enjoy marketing, but
Factory Magix has only a small marketing department, which
brings me to this interview with you.
Practise your response to this question and time yourself. You should
avoid speaking for more than two or, at the very most, three minutes.
Have you ever regretted anything about your career?
‘Regret’ is a strong word, so it’s best to avoid confessing that you have had
any serious regrets. If you must make an admission, try to talk about a
decision that happened a long time ago that could in no way reflect badly
on you in this interview.

I don’t regret the course of my career, because I have worked in
some interesting companies and succeeded in my chosen
profession. However, I do sometimes wish that I had taken an
overseas secondment while I was working with Medical Logistics
back in the 90s, when I was young, free and single, to have had the
experience of immersing myself in another culture.
What do you like/enjoy most in your job?
Your tactic for responding to this question should be very similar to that for
dealing with the previous question about your day-to-day job. Again, think
about the main responsibilities in the job that you are being interviewed
for, then incorporate these into your reply.

I wouldn’t be in sales if I didn’t get a buzz out of dealing with
customers. I love meeting prospective customers, asking questions
to figure out their problems, presenting ideas to them, and working
with them to find ways that we can work together.
Ensure your body language and tone of voice convey your enthusiasm
when talking about the things you enjoy.

What motivates you?
Ideally, you should be able to tell the interviewer that you are most
motivated when you are helping your employer to achieve their goals.
If you can, try to give a concrete example of how you succeeded in this.
Consider some of these examples:

I get a real kick out of solving problems. When faced with a
problem, I like to work out options, weigh up the pros and cons, and
then sort out the problem. For example, we recently received a lot
of customer complaints about a new product that we were selling.

I was asked by my boss to sort it out and I reduced the number of
complaints from over 3 or 4 a day to none. I can tell you more
about it if that would be useful.

I like to know that my work is making a difference and to be
surrounded by other bright people who are also committed to the
same goals. For example, in my current role, we launched a new
fund-raising initiative and I got such a buzz from thinking through
how we could make it happen.

I like to make money for the business that I’m working for. Nothing
inspires me more than being given a stretching sales target and
being motivated to achieve it. I’m extremely ambitious and if you
say I have to sell a certain amount I’ll work non-stop to achieve it.
Just last year, I exceeded my target by nearly eight per cent

What do you like least about your current job?
An interviewer will not believe you if you say that you enjoy every single
moment of your job. A good trick is to talk about inefficient systems,
unwieldy processes or bureaucracy. However, when you do give your
example, either allude to the fact that the things that frustrate you are
entirely out of your control or that you have tried to improve the situation
but have good reasons for not being able to change it. Even better if you
can say that the situation is currently being fixed owing to your efforts.

I spend most of my time visiting clients at their offices. However, it
continually irritates me that we don’t have the facility to log on to
the server remotely from our laptop computers. I have tried to
convince the IT manager that we need to upgrade our system, but
he says that we won’t have the budget until next year.
The paperwork can be very time-consuming, but I realise that it’s a
necessary evil. I’ve learnt to just lock myself in my office for half a
day a week to get it out of the way.

How do you think you’d be spending your time if we offered you the job?
Look at the job advert as well as other sources of information such as a
job description or details on the organisation’s website so you can
paraphrase to the employer the kinds of duties you would be performing.
To finish your response, perhaps reiterate how excited you feel about the
prospect of doing the job.

My understanding is that I’d be working in shifts at the call centre,
taking calls from customers and trying to answer their questions
by looking up the answers on your computer system. I read on your
website that on average we will have to respond to anywhere
between 15 and 30 calls an hour. But as I like dealing with people
and I like computers, I think it should be a great job.

How is your performance measured?
Be as specific as possible in your answer. Talking about specifics makes
you more believable. Candidates who are unable to talk about
performance measurement may appear sloppy.
We have daily call targets. We have to handle at least 120 inbound
calls from customers and make at least 30 outbound calls to
customers a day. Our individual performance is compared against
that of others in the call centre and my performance is consistently
better than around 60 to 70 per cent of the other people.

I am currently measured on my ability to improve the gross margin
for the products that I look after. The margin was 9 per cent when i arrived, and I was targeted with improving it to 12.5 per cent by January of the next year. However, I actually exceeded my target by improving the margin to 13.2 per cent - which was primarily through revenue growth as opposed to cost cutting.

In answering this question, be ready also for the likely follow-up
question, ‘And how are you performing against those measures?’
How would you describe your current company?
Some interviewers have it in their minds that a candidate who knocks a
current or previous employer could be a troublemaker. It may not be fair
or right, but if you want the job, you should ideally be able to give the
impression that you enjoy working at your current company, but that
there are just one or two aspects of your interviewer’s organisation that
are even more attractive.

I work with some great people – they are very talented and
committed to doing good work. But it’s such a large international
business that I don’t feel that I make a difference, that’s why I’m
looking to join a smaller company where I can more quickly work
my way up to becoming a partner.

What have you done recently to develop yourself?
Employers value employees who continually look to improve themselves.
Ideally, try to talk about a course you are (or have taken) or a project that
is expanding your skills.

I’ve just started a diploma course in marketing and sales
management. It will take me two years to complete, but I’m
confident that it will allow me to be more effective in what I do.

I recently volunteered to work as part of a new product
development team. We are interviewing customers and suppliers
to identify what other products we could be manufacturing, so I
am getting a lot of exposure to customers that I wouldn’t normally
meet in my day-to-day role in the back office.
If you are struggling to talk about a course or project, you could probably
mention a book that you are reading to improve your skills at work, or
perhaps talk about some endeavour you are pursuing outside of work
that will develop some transferable skill that will benefit you in your work.

I’ve just started reading a book on Total Quality Management,
which I hope will help me to boost productivity in the team.

I’m currently spending one Saturday a month working with a
support group for the long-term unemployed. It is giving me a
great deal of exposure to people with different backgrounds, which
I hope will help me to understand and manage my team more
effectively too.

What kind of salary are you after?
Avoid talking about this in a first interview, as you don’t want to price
yourself out of the market. Nor do you want to mention a salary that is
far lower than they might be willing to pay, as that could compromise
your ability to ask for more later on.

I’m looking for a challenging role that will give me the opportunity
to work on new projects, so the salary is only part of what I’m
looking for.

However, if the interviewer persists and asks you a second time, you may
need to give them a rough idea, but again, without pricing yourself out of
the market. Try something along the lines of.
I’d be looking in the region of £24,000 to £28,000, but as I said, the
exact package is less important to me than finding a challenging
job role. So I’d rather hold off on giving you an exact figure until I
find out more about the role.

There is more advice on how to negotiate salary in Chapter 12.
Avoid at all costs mentioning too high a salary. To get the job,
you must convince the employer that you are interested in the
challenge rather than just a big fat pay cheque.
How much are you earning at the moment?

This is a more difficult question to deflect than ‘What kind of salary are
you after?’ because the interviewer is asking you a direct question.
Give your precise salary but then, if you know that your current salary is
somewhat higher than the organisation may be able to pay, reiterate that
you are most interested in finding the right organisation to join rather
than the same kind of pay.

I currently earn £37,000 basic plus bonuses. However, I understand
that the salary here may be initially lower, but I’m prepared to
negotiate as this role would give me the opportunity to do the bits
of my job that I love the most.
May we check your references?

It is natural to be concerned about having your references checked if your
current employer does not know that you are looking for a job
I’d be happy for you to check my references eventually, but could I
please ask you to wait for the moment? My employer doesn’t
know that I am currently looking for a job, so I’d rather wait until I
had a firm job offer on the table before alerting them.
If you wanted to hammer home your best points, you could finish off by
telling the interviewer what you think your references might say,
‘However, I know that my boss would tell you that…’ and so on.
Make sure that your references will be positive. Choose them
carefully and check that your referees are happy to speak in
unreservedly positive terms about you (see also Chapter 11).

TALKING ABOUT WHY YOU WANT THIS JOB
Interviewers are frequently interested to hear about the decisions that
you have made in your career. Why did you take a certain job? And why
didn’t you take certain jobs?

Why are you looking for another job?
Three of the best reasons to mention in responding to this question are
wanting to seek more challenge, greater job security, or greater rewards.
I’ve had a great time with my company. But I have ambitions and
realise that I can do more. I want to feel more stretched and so this
new, bigger role is exactly what I feel I need.

I’m looking to join a more successful and stable company. My
current organisation is always on the verge of a cash flow crisis.
But I get the sense that a successful company such as yours will be
able to invest in product development, which is the area that
excites me the most.

I know that I can make a significant contribution to my employer.
So rather than just earning a salary, I would like to be able to take
an equity stake in a growing business
Try to avoid saying that you left a previous employer owing to any sort of
personal conflict. For example, that you did not get on with your boss or
that the company failed to give you the promotion that you wanted.
Such comments could reflect badly on you. The interviewer may start to
wonder whether you were in part to blame for not getting on with your
boss or not being offered a promotion.
Focus on the positive reasons you want to join a new company
rather than the negative reasons you want to leave another one.
If you must mention negative reasons, avoid dwelling on them.

Why do you want to leave your current employer?
This is just a variation of the last question. Again, remember to emphasise
the positive qualities of the interviewing organisation as opposed to
whingeing about negative aspects of your current employment situation.
For example, mentioning that your current commuting time is too long
makes you sound like a moaner, so try to talk about something else.

I wouldn’t say that I’m trying to get away at all. I enjoy the work
and I have a great group of people around me. However, I’ve been
there for nearly three years now and I feel that I’ve learnt most
of what I’ll be able to get out of that business. When I read about
this position with your company, I was excited by the prospect of
working for a larger business with more scope for
my personal career development.

How would you describe your ideal job?
Don’t fall into the trap of talking about what you would expect from an
employer such as the salary and benefits. Instead, talk about what you
could contribute to the organisation.

I enjoy passing on my expertise to the people around me. I know
that I can move upwards in my career only by developing the
people in my team to be my successor
My ideal job is one in which I have lots of autonomy in how I can
meet organisational objectives. From what I’ve read about this job,
you’re looking for someone who can take on a lot of responsibility
very quickly, and that sounds like a fantastic opportunity to me.

What do you know about our organisation?
This question should never be a problem if you have done your research
(see Chapter 1). While this may seem like a straightforward factual
question, the interviewer is really looking to gauge how much research
you have done on the organisation as an indicator of how seriously you
want to work for them.

I’ve read everything I could about the organisation. I’ve also visited
some of your branches across the city. I went to your big flagship
branch to get a feel of how you deal with your corporate
customers. I visited a few of your smaller branches to see how you
deal with local customers too.
My understanding from speaking to people in the industry is that your
company is experiencing a squeeze on profit margins due to increased
competition from aggressive American entrants into the market.
However, I have experience of having grown sales and profits in my
current job by over 20 per cent for three years running, so I am
confident that I would be able to make a contribution to the business.
I’ve had a look on your website and was most interested to read
that you’re launching a new model of the Z500 range next year. I
also had a look at the city business library but couldn’t find much
written about your company, so I’d be intrigued to learn more
about your growth plans and the new products you are planning
for the next couple of years.

What do you think of our organisation?
Your answer to this question should both demonstrate what you know
about the organisation and tell the interviewer why you want to work there
I read on your website that you put all of your trainees on an
intensive five-day training programme. I think that kind of
commitment to training and development must be indicative of
the importance you place in your people, so I thought that this is
the kind of company I need to be working for.

As a major insurance company, you have always had a high
profile and I have admired your print and television advertising
campaigns for some time. I even once got a quote from one of
your customer service assistants on the cost of taking out
household insurance with you and I remember thinking that the
assistant was very friendly and helpful. The feeling I get is that
customer service is a very big part of what you do, which is great
as customer service is the bit of my job that I get the most
enjoyment from.
I did a six-week placement here when I was at school and I was
impressed by how much fun people seemed to be having. The
people here are of course very professional, but I get the feeling
that they would almost do the work for free. So I’ve always
thought that this would be a great place to work.
What would you do differently if you were in charge of our organisation?
This kind of question implies that the interviewer is looking for an
intelligent answer that shows you can make comments that are
constructively critical as opposed to simply entirely complimentary.
Be careful of being overly negative. To make your criticism easier
to swallow, try to offer up some positive comments first.
There’s not a lot I’d do differently. The organisation has obviously
been incredibly successful over the last 20 years since the founder
started the business. I can’t really say that I’d change anything, but
I have to say that I’ve not noticed your organisation being
mentioned in the press as much as some of your competitors. It
may be because you’ve deliberately decided not to do as much
publicity, but if I was in charge I think that’s one thing I’d want to
look at.

Are you familiar with our products/services/work?
Again, good research on your part will allow you to answer this kind of
question well. Remember if possible, to buy or try an organisation’s
products or services so you can speak of them first-hand, rather than
purely by having read about them.
I’ve been reading as much as I can about your current range of
medicines and drugs. I’ve also been reading about your pipeline of
new drugs and I was impressed to read in the trade press a lot of
interest in your new drug for malaria that is nearing the end of its
clinical trials at the moment.
I’ve spent quite a lot of time over the last few months visiting some
of your showrooms. I went to your flagship showroom in the west
part of the city just last week, explained that I was applying for a
job with you, and got to speak to a couple of the sales team. They
were really helpful in talking me through the new models that you
have coming out at the moment. So yes, I’d say I’m very familiar
with your cars.

Why do you want to work for us?
Think about how the organisation likes to present itself to the outside
world. How does this one company believe it stands out? Select a few of
these unique characteristics about the organisation and incorporate
them into your reply.
Many companies, for instance, believe themselves to have a good
reputation or to be leaders in their field. Or the organisation may think
that its employees are a breed-apart from the rest
I think your business has managed to develop leading edge
products that other companies go on to copy. I’ve been very
impressed by the quality of thinking of all of the employees that I
have met so far.

What attracts you most about working for us?
This is merely a variation on the previous question. Choose the key
feature that you think differentiates the organisation from its
competitors.
I think the fact that you’re one of the oldest and most established
businesses in this sector with a track record of having delivered
business-to-business website solutions for nearly ten years says
something about the quality of the management team.
There was a survey of the most environmentally responsible
construction businesses in the country last year and you were the
only construction firm to be in the top 20 in this part of the
country. When I read that in my research, I decided that yours is
the firm I most want to work for.

What do you think of our website?
This question requires a bit of judgement on your part. Some
interviewers may simply be looking for a bit of flattery. I’ve known
interviewers who were very proud of their websites who wanted only to
hear positive comments. On the other hand, other interviewers may want
to ascertain whether you can offer up constructive criticism. The best way
to prepare for this question is to prepare both some positive comments
and a constructively critical comment, then to judge on the day when
you’re in front of an interviewer how critical you should be.
I found it very easy to navigate and it took me only several clicks to
find my way to the section on recruiting administrative staff. I also
noticed that the web designers had made the colours very striking
so that older customers or people with poorer eyesight can still
read it clearly. However, I don’t know if it’s because my computer
is a bit older or not, but I did find that some of the graphics took
quite a few seconds longer to download than some of your
competitors. But that’s a very minor criticism compared with
the usefulness and accessibility of the information on there.

What do you think of our recruitment brochure?
As with the previous question, try to be positive about their recruitment
documents and be as constructive with your criticism as possible.
A lot of thought had obviously gone into the brochure. What I
found most useful was the profiles of different people who have
joined the organisation. It was useful to see that joining one
particular department doesn’t mean that I’ll be working there
forever. I also thought that it really showed off the socially
responsible side of your organisation too, which just makes me
want to work for you even more.

What worries or concerns do you have about this job?
The best tactic for dealing with this question is to deflect the question,
certainly until after you have been made a firm offer. Once you have been
offered the job, you could always go back to the employer to find out
more about the job (see also Chapter 12 on understanding the culture of
the organisation and the nature of the work).
I don’t have any concerns or worries about the job. But I would like
to understand more about the monthly targets you would like me
to achieve in the role and what support you’d be able to offer to
support me in achieving them.

What other jobs are you applying for?
Interviewers most like to hear that candidates are motivated to work in a
particular field or to work in a particular role. They worry that candidates
who are applying for too wide a range of unrelated jobs, such as a sales
representative for a pharmaceuticals firm as well as a creative job for an
advertising agency, don’t know what they want to do and therefore might
not stick at the job.
I’ve applied for several other jobs but these are all in hi-tech
businesses. Technology is my big passion and that’s where I’m
determined to work.

How many other jobs are you applying for?
As with the previous question, be careful about announcing too large a
number. An employer ideally wants to hear that you are focused on a
particular role or type of organisation rather than that you are applying
for every job in existence.
I’ve applied for jobs with the top 50 accountancy firms because I’m
determined to get my business grounding through an accountancy
firm.
As I’ve decided that I want to work only for a top-flight graduate
trainee programme, I’m applying to about a dozen companies,
mostly in fast-moving consumer goods and retail. What all of these
companies have in common is they are all leaders in their fields with
good brands and reputations for developing good managers.
How does this job compare with other jobs you are applying for?
In the past, interviewers could get a bit uppity when candidates admitted
to having applied to more than just their company. However, in today’s
more mobile economy, most employers recognise that good candidates
do shop around, but a bit of a compliment about the company that is
interviewing you would not go amiss, just don’t overdo it.
I have to say that the people at the other firms were also very
bright. But, even though this is obviously only my second interview
with you, I prefer what I have heard so far about your incentive
scheme.

If a competitor offered you a job right now, would you accept?
Asking this question allows interviewers to understand a little bit more
about your planning and decision-making skills. In your response, be sure
to impress upon the interviewers that you do not make rash decisions.
I would have to weigh up the pros and cons of exactly what they
are offering. The most important factor for me is getting a good
training programme and having a boss who will develop and
mentor me. Having said that, I’ve liked the people I’ve met here
and have been impressed by what I’ve read about the career path
so I’d rather work here, given the chance.

Have you received any other job offers?
Honesty is the best policy for dealing with a straightforward question
such as this.
No. I started applying for jobs only a couple of months ago so
companies are just beginning to get back to me to invite me to
interviews.
I’ve received an offer to work in the same role but for a smaller
company with a less impressive brand than yours.
Avoid the temptation of lying to make yourself look as if you are
in demand. Your tactic could backfire as an interviewer may feel
less guilty about rejecting you, thinking you have other offers to
fall back on.

How would you rate us against our competitors?
Your research will highlight key differences between this organisation and
its competitors. However, don’t expect the differences to be written down
anywhere for you to be able to learn and paraphrase. You may need to do
quite a lot of reading and come to your own opinions as to how this
organisation is different from its competitors.
I see your bank as being amongst the top tier of international
banks. So I see you competing against some of the big American
banks as opposed to having any true competitors here in the UK.
As you are the only truly international bank based in the UK, I can
honestly say that this is the only business I want to work for.
You have an excellent reputation in the marketplace. Even compared
with other firms such as Young Samson & Chalmers, I think that you
are recognised by your clients as being truly leading edge.
Avoid at all costs telling the interviewer how much better one of
their competitors is. That may prompt the response: ‘So why not
go work for them then?’

What do you know about our industry/sector?
This question tries to ascertain how much reading and research you have
done. While most candidates will have done some basic reading about
the organisation, only the more exceptional candidates will have read
about the organisation’s broader industry and sector to understand
market trends.
I know that margins in the retail sector have been quite low in recent
years and that there’s a lot of pressure to move manufacturing out to
China and other Asian countries in order to keep costs low. I also read
in one publication that there’s a move towards women consumers
spending less money, but on more clothing items every year, which
means that they are looking for greater value rather than to trade up
to more expensive clothing lines.
My understanding is that moves to create an open skies agreement
between the US and Europe means that airlines will now be allowed
to fly between cities with far fewer constraints. While this is good for
the customer, it will probably mean consolidation in the industry.
That should be good news for a large airline such as yourselves with
the financial firepower to buy up other smaller ones.

Would you rather be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond?
The employer wants to know whether you would rather work for a small
company or a large employer. Think about what might be relevant to this
particular employer.

The benefits to working in a smaller company might include the following:
A greater sense of ownership in your work.
Being able to see that you are making a visible contribution to the bottom line.
Greater exposure to, and therefore opportunities to learn from, senior management.
A chance to take an equity stake at an earlier stage in your career.
The benefits of working for a larger company could include these:
A better company brand that will look good on your CV.
Better access to structured training programmes.
Opportunities to work in offices elsewhere, perhaps even internationally.
More financial stability and security.

Having worked for two large businesses now, I have to say that I’m
looking forward to working for a smaller one in which I will have a
chance to get to know people by name and forge stronger
relationships with people in the team.

While I’ve enjoyed working for Pendleton & Sons, I’m now looking
specifically to join a larger business that has a structured training
programme and a clear route for upward career progression.

TALKING ABOUT YOUR FUTURE CAREER DIRECTION AND COMMITMENT
Employee turnover costs organisations money. If they decide to offer you
the job, they would like to know that their investment in training you and
getting you efficient would be repaid by a good stint working for them
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Ah, that old chestnut. If most candidates were honest, they would be forced
to admit that they actually have no career plan. Unfortunately, interviewers
like to hear that you have thought about the future. In your research on the
organisation, try to find out what opportunities there might be for you to
learn and grow, or seek other opportunities within the organisation.
If the interviewer could be your future boss, it might be dangerous to say
that you would like their job. However, it is increasingly acceptable for
you to say that you might be ready for the next step in your career. Most
employers would feel that they had got a return on their investment if
you stayed for five years.

I would hope to have completed my professional exams and be on
my way towards becoming a chartered engineer.
I read on your website that your company has grown quite a bit in
the last five years. So if the company continues to grow, I’m sure
there will be opportunities for me to take on more responsibility.
What would you consider a reasonable length of time to stay in a job?
A good response might be to separate the length of time you would stay
in a job from the time you would stay with the organisation.

I would want to feel that I have mastered a role entirely before I
move on. Once I have learnt everything I can about the job, I would
be looking to move into a bigger role with greater responsibilities.
However, I would hope that there would be other opportunities in
the company without the need to look externally.
What do you think you should be earning in three years’ time?
You need to be careful that your ambitions match the ability of the
company to provide you with rises in your salary. Just as an example, a
librarian in a public sector organisation is less likely to be able to double
their salary than a barrister in the same period.
Make sure that your response takes into account what you understand
the market would pay for someone with three more years of experience
than yourself.

My understanding is that the next level up from this role is that of
supervisor. Reading on your website, I saw that the salary is around
£6,000 more a year than for the role I’m applying for. As I hope to be a
supervisor with you by then, that’s the range I’d be aiming for.
But perhaps the best response is to try to deflect the question and move
on to another topic.
I hope that my pay will reflect my contribution to the organisation,
but the most important thing for me is having a variety of different
projects to work on that will keep me employable.

Do you have any personal goals that you have yet to achieve?
Even though the question asks you about personal goals, avoid talking
about goals outside of your work such as wanting to get married, have
children, get fit, and so on, as those could make you appear less than fully
committed to your work. It is always safer to talk about a goal that would
make you more valuable to your employer.

I’m always looking to develop myself and move out of my comfort zone. As I didn’t go to university, I think it would be a good idea to get a professional qualification, so that would be my next step.

Hopefully, if I were to work for you, this organisation might
sponsor me or at least support me in some way.

I would like to move into general management. I’ve had a lot of experience of working behind the bar and waiting on tables. But I’ve had only limited experience of working as a shift manager. So I see the next few years as gaining enough experience of working as
a shift manager and also doing some of the behind-the-scenes administration to allow me to become a general manager.

What are your development objectives for the coming year?
Be careful not to talk about having too many development objectives.
‘Development objectives’ could easily be taken as meaning ‘development needs’, i.e. weaknesses. Instead, parry this question by talking about how this job will stretch you and help you to meet your development objectives for the coming year.
One of my objectives has always been to move into a creative industry. While I’ve enjoyed my time working in the automotive industry, I think that there’s more room for me to grow and develop my skills within the creative industry. So hopefully spending time in this role and getting to grips with the different challenges within your industry will stretch me enough for this year.

You seem to have changed jobs very frequently – why is that?
Employers can worry that you will join and get trained, only to move on again, so you must be ready to give a good reason for each and every one of your job moves. For example, you may have genuinely completed what you set out to do in that company, such as learning a particular skill or turning around a team before moving on to a new challenge. Or, there may have been a common reason for having changed jobs several times.

It’s true that I have dabbled in a variety of jobs, but that was early
on in my career, just after I had graduated. But I think I have now
sorted in my mind what I want out of my career.

My partner’s job at the time meant that we had to relocate a couple of times, which was quite disruptive to my own career. But my partner has since set up a business to run from home, so now I’m keen to join a company where I can get settled.

You left one job after only a year – why?
Always try, if you can, to talk about the positive reasons you decided to join a new organisation rather than the negative reasons you decided to leave your old one.

I took the job at that company fully intending to stay there. However, a previous boss got in touch with me. She had become the creative director within a larger organisation and she asked me to join her team there. So it wasn’t that I was looking to leave it’s just that a better opportunity literally came my way.
My career plan is to become a human resources director in the future. However, I’ve been told that line managers sometimes don’t have much respect for human resources managers who don’t have line experience. So I took that particular job to gain
experience of line managing a team. It was a lateral move to broaden my understanding of non-HR issues, but now I’m looking to move upwards again within HR.

You have been in your current job for only six months – why are you looking to move on again?
If you worked for a particular organisation for significantly less than a
year, you may be pushed to explain that you left because you had learnt
everything there was to learn about the job. However, it’s fine to admit
that a job wasn’t right for you. Be sure to assure the interviewer that you will not make the same mistake with this job. Demonstrate to this interviewer that
you have done your research and are sure this is a job that you will stick with for years to come. I joined my current employer because I thought at the time I wanted to
work for a small company with a family feel to it. However, I learnt that much of what goes on in a small firm is dictated by the two partners who have their own personal interests. They don’t seem that bothered about growing the business and becoming more successful.

But the fact that your organisation has stated publicly and repeatedly that it wants to grow attracts me to you. All I can say is that I’ve learnt my lesson and now intend to stay in my next job for at least three or four years to build up a solid foundation of experience in this field If you have been with one company but taken on a variety of different roles, explain that each role has given you new challenges and that you saw no reason to leave, until now. Effectively, you should be able to argue that you genuinely had, for example, ten years of experience as opposed
to one year of experience repeated ten times. Then continue with your reasons for wanting to work with this new employer.

Yes, I’ve been with this company for 15 years, but I’ve had a hand in
an extraordinary amount of change in that time. Our client base has grown from mainly regional customers, to national and even international customers now, so my responsibilities have grown correspondingly. We have gone through many technological
changes that I’ve had to manage, from incorporating the latest design software into the business, to handling the integration of the several businesses that my organisation has acquired over the years.

It is trickier if you have been in just one job for a long time without having
been promoted. Perhaps your reasons are to do with your family. I didn’t want to take on a managerial role because I wanted to have an active role in bringing up our two young children. But now that they are at secondary school, I’m ready to get my career back on track by taking on new responsibilities. Given that you have stayed in your company for a long time, how will you cope with a new job?
The interviewer is expressing a concern that you may struggle to make the transition to a new environment with fresh faces and different ways of working. Put the interviewer’s fears at rest by providing an example of how you have made some sort of successful transition at work.

I’ve had to deal with a lot of change in my time at this company. Only six months ago, my company made 20 per cent of our team redundant to reduce costs. However, I was chosen to work with HR to restructure the team. Even though it was an uncomfortable

situation for a while, I not only adapted to it, but also helped
others to adjust to it too.

HANDLING QUESTIONS ABOUT CHANGES IN YOUR CAREERDIRECTION
Most interviewers are more used to dealing with fresh young school leavers or graduates than people who have decided to change career later on in life. Such interviewers may simply have less experience of dealing with more mature candidates, so be ready to answer questions as to why you are considering a departure from your current career into a new one.

Why do you want to work in this field?
A good response to this question should demonstrate to the interviewers that you have thought out the pros and cons of this career path rather than that you have stumbled into it without thinking it through.

I’ve always been fascinated by how businesses make money. I did economics at school because I enjoyed understanding questions about pricing and marketing and creating products that make a profit. So I have for many years wanted to work as a business analyst.
Ever since I broke my leg when I was growing up and had to go to hospital to have it set, I have been fascinated by hospital environments. I remember how kind and helpful the nurses were and since then I’ve always wanted to work in nursing. The more I’ve read about it and talked to nurses about the ins and outs of
the job, the more determined I’ve been to pursue this path.

Why do you want to change career?
The fact that you have been invited to interview means that you may have the skills necessary to do the job. The interviewer who asks this question is probably more interested in finding out your motivation and to check that you know what you are getting yourself into.Writing has always been a passion of mine. From the time that I
was at school, I enjoyed critiquing arguments and writing essays. A few years ago I realised that I wasn’t being fulfilled in my work so I decided to go on a journalism course. I got such a huge thrill out of every single assignment and I’ve been working on our internal newsletter ever since. But becoming a full-time journalist is what I feel I need to do now to be happy in my work.
It was by chance a few years ago that my boss asked me to put together the website for our company. So I had to learn to use web design packages and programming language. Building our website was the most fun I’ve had in work for years. Since then, I have been helping friends to build websites to display their wedding and holiday photos. I find that the time goes by very quickly when I’m working on web design projects. Even though applying for this job with you would mean a bit of a pay cut, I know that it’s what I want to do.

When talking about your passion and determination to enter a new profession, make sure you use body language and tone of voice to corroborate your spoken message. How do you feel about starting at the bottom of the career ladder again?
Demonstrate in your response that you have already given this question
some thought and remain totally committed to changing career
direction.

I feel fine about it as I’ve already prepared myself psychologically for it. I don’t have any problem taking orders from people who are going to be much younger than me. The only thing that matters to me is that I can at long last fulfil my ambition of retraining to work with disadvantaged children.

How are you going to cope with the drop in salary?
Again, use your answer to show the interviewers that you have already thought through the financial implications of doing something new. I’ve already read in your recruitment literature about the salary that is on offer and it’s a sum that I can put up with for the moment. Eventually I hope that my added experience will allow
me to make a larger contribution to the organisation and therefore help me to progress quite quickly up the ranks.

Make sure you really can survive and support yourself and/or your family on your new salary. Have you calculated the impact on your finances of taking home less money?
How do we know this change of career won’t just be a passing phase?
Try to construct an answer that shows the time and effort you have already invested in researching your new career choice. I hope that what I’ve already done in the last year should demonstrate how committed I am to becoming a veterinary nurse.
Studying for and passing my Level 2 Certificate for Animal Nursing Assistants while carrying on with my full-time job has obviously been challenging. Plus, I took it upon myself to find two work placements so that I could get some practical experience of working alongside veterinary staff, so I am confident that I have a
solid appreciation of the demands of the job now.

How would you feel if you couldn’t work in this field?
Be positive and demonstrate to the employers that you aren’t willing to give up your goal of working in this new field or profession. It’s not something I’m willing to consider. I’ve already demonstrated my commitment by taking some of the required
courses through home study and I’m going to be ready to take my first exam next month. If I get rejected this time round, I shall have to wait until applications open again next year to try again. But by then I will have gained further exam qualifications, and I will also continue to pursue opportunities to do voluntary work in this area so that I can strengthen my CV.

IN SUMMARY
# Read through the questions in this chapter and think about how you would respond to each of them.
# Tailor your answers so that what you say ties in exactly with the skills that each employer is looking for. The answer you give one organisation may necessarily have to be different from the answer you give another organisation.
# Be ready to talk about the reasons behind each of the career decisions that you have ever made. Be prepared to talk about your career future, remembering that you should try to impress upon the interviewers your willingness to commit for a number of years, too.
# If you’re changing careers entirely, be sure you can assure the interviewer that you have given the matter a lot of consideration and are ready for all of the psychological, practical, and financial aspects of doing so.