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Answering Tough Interview Questions for DUMmIES

Answering Tough Interview Questions for DUMmIES

Answering Tough Interview Questions for DUMmIES

Contents at a Glance

Introduction .1

Part I: Making Sure You Shine in an Interview .....7

  • Chapter 1: Understanding the Interviewing Game ......9
  • Chapter 2: Doing Your Job Interview Homework ......17
  • Chapter 3: Polishing Your Interview Performance ....27

Part II: Answering Tough Interview Questions ....33

  • Chapter 4: Talking about Yourself ....35
  • Chapter 5: Talking about Problems, Perceptions, and People ..53
  • Chapter 6: Getting to Grips with Questions about Your Work ..73
  • Chapter 7: Talking about Why You Want a New Job .89
  • Chapter 8 : Thriving Under the Pressure Interview 111
  • Chapter 9: Succeeding at Competency-Based Interviewing ....133

Part III: Dealing with Tricky Questions and Other Situations ..155

  • Chapter 10: Responding to Questions for Graduates and School Leavers ..157
  • Chapter 11: Handling Questions Aimed at Experienced Candidates .......173
  • Chapter 12: Handling Hypothetical and Analytical Questions 193
  • Chapter 13: Coping with Illegal and Personal Questions 207
  • Chapter 14: Taking Control in Unusual Situations ..227

Part IV: Securing the Job of Your Dreams 235

  • Chapter 15: Asking Great Questions .......237
  • Chapter 16: Dotting ‘I’s and Crossing ‘T’s .......245

Part V: The Part of Tens .......255

  • Chapter 17: Ten Cardinal Sins of Interviewing 257
  • Chapter 18: Ten Tips to Creating the Perfect Career .......263

Index .......271

Table of Contents

Introduction .1

  • About This Book .1
  • Conventions Used in This Book ...2
  • Foolish Assumptions ...2
  • How This Book Is Organised 3
  • Part I: Making Sure You Shine in an Interview ....3
  • Part II: Answering Tough Interview Questions ....3
  • Part III: Dealing with Tricky Questions
  • and Other Situations .......4
  • Part IV: Securing the Job of Your Dreams ....4
  • Part V: The Part of Tens ......4
  • Icons Used in This Book .......4
  • Where to Go from Here ........5

Part I: Making Sure You Shine in an Interview ......7

  • Chapter 1: Understanding the Interviewing Game . . . . . 9
  • Recognising What Interviewers Are Looking For ........10
  • Finding Out about Key Skills and Qualities 10
  • Communicating with people .....11
  • Influencing others .....11
  • Analysing situations .12
  • Solving problems ......12
  • Demonstrating drive and determination ...12
  • Teamworking with colleagues ...13
  • Developing quickly ...13
  • Being flexible and adaptable .....14
  • Planning and organising ....14
  • Being aware of the bigger picture ......14
  • Chapter 2: Doing Your Job Interview Homework . . . . . 17
  • Researching the Company .17
  • Gathering vital information .......17
  • Visiting shops and premises .....19
  • Preparing Answers to Common Questions .19
  • Linking job adverts to key skills ........19
  • viii Answering Tough Interview Questions For Dummies
  • Dressing for Success ..22
  • ‘Getting’ the default for men .....23
  • Understanding the guidelines for women .23
  • Getting Ready to Go ...24
  • Chapter 3: Polishing Your Interview Performance . . . . 27
  • Creating the Right Impact ..27
  • Making eye contact ...28
  • Using your body language 29
  • Creating warmth by smiling ......29
  • Using intonation and inflection .31
  • Building Your Confidence ..32
  • Getting Off to a Great Start 32
  • Part II: Answering Tough Interview Questions .....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? .43
    • 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? 45
    • How would you describe your time management skills? ........46
    • Are you an organised person? ..47
    • Do you work well under pressure? ....47
    • Would you say that you’re creative? .48
    • Would you say you’re good with detail? ....49
    • How do you respond to change? .......50
    • How are you with new technology? ..50
    • 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? .....55
    • 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 ...57
    • What would you say your Unique Selling Point is? ....58
    • Seeing Yourself As Others See You ....59
    • What would your boss say about you? ......59
    • In your last appraisal, what was saidabout your performance? ......60
    • How do you think you can improve on your performance? ...61
    • What would your colleagues say about you? ....61
    • How would your team describe you? 62
    • How do you think your friends would describe you? .....62
    • Everyone has some kind of fault – what would other people say your faults are? ..63
    • Discussing Your People Skills ....64
    • Do you prefer to work on your own or in a team?......64
    • We all have a team role – what would you say your role tends to be? .......66
    • Do you have good presentation skills? ......67
    • How would you rate your customer service skills? ........68
    • How are you at handling conflict? .....69
    • We need someone who is tactful and diplomatic – how does that profile fit you? ........70
    • How do you take personal criticism? 70
    • 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 boss? ...84
    • What’s your boss’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 /Web site? .......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? .......98
    • 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 kind of manager would you
    • like to work for? ..103
    • How long do you plan to stay in this job? .......104

    x Answering Tough Interview Questions For Dummies

    Table of Contents xi

    • Why should we hire you? ........105
    • Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? ........105
    • When would you be available to start? ....106
    • Deflecting Questions about Money ..106
    • How much are you earning at the moment? ....106
    • How important is money to you? ....107
    • How much do you think you are worth in a job? .....108
    • What would you consider adequate remuneration for this role? ..108
    • I’m afraid you’re a bit expensive for us ...109
    • What would you like to be earning in two years’ time? .......110
    • Chapter 8: Thriving Under the Pressure Interview . . . 111
    • Maintaining Your Composure ...112
    • Responding To Leading Questions ...113
    • All of us have personality defects – what is yours? .....113
    • Why did you not achieve more in your last job?......114
    • How would you respond if I said that you’re not the best candidate we’ve seen today? .115
    • How would you rate me as an interviewer? .....116
    • What keeps you up at night? ...116
    • Why do you think you are better than the other candidates? ..117
    • Responding to Closed Questions ......118
    • Do you like regular hours and routine working patterns? ........118
    • Do you mind paperwork? ........119
    • Have you ever broken the rules to get a job done? 120
    • Do you take work home with you at weekends? .....121
    • Do you have any doubts about your ability to do the job? ......121
    • Don’t you think you are overqualified for this job? .122
    • Would you have any problems relocating? ......123
    • Do you mind travelling? .123
    • Fending Off Weird and Wonderful Questions ...124
    • See this pencil I’m holding? Sell it to me .124
    • Who was your favourite teacher? ...125
    • If you were an animal, what would you be? ....126
    • If you were a cartoon character,who would you be? .....127
    • Tell me a story .......127

    xii Answering Tough Interview Questions For Dummies

    • Who do you most admire and why? ........128
    • If you could meet anyone living or dead,who would it be and why? ..128
    • What is your greatest fear? .....129
    • Saying Something Is Better Than Saying Nothing ......130
    • Playing for time .......130
    • Making a last ditch effort 131
    • Chapter 9: Succeeding at Competency-Based
    • Interviewing . . . 133
    • Discovering the Rules of the Game ..134
    • Spotting competency-based questions ....134
    • Dealing with skilled competency-based interviewers 135
    • Dealing with unskilled competency-based interviewers 137
    • Identifying Likely Questions .....138
    • Questions about Your Thinking and Planning Skills 140
    • Tell me about a significant project that you managed ........141
    • Now give me an example of a project that went wrong ..141
    • Give me an example of a difficult decision that you have made .....142
    • Talk to me about a mistake you made and what you did to rectify it .......143
    • Questions about Leading and Managing ..144
    • Tell me about a time you inspired a team ........144
    • Talk me through how you coached or developed a team member .....145
    • Tell me about an occasion when you had to deal with a difficult team member ......146
    • Questions about Your People and Customer Skills ...146
    • Tell me about a time that you persuaded someone to change their mind ....147
    • Talk to me about a difficult colleague you’ve worked with .....147
    • Have you ever had to give someone negative feedback at work? How did it go? 148
    • Tell me about a time you used your personal network to business advantage ...149
    • Tell me about a time you sold something to a customer ......149
    • Give me an example of a time you exceeded a customer’s expectations ...150

    Table of Contents xiii

    • Questions about Your Personal Effectiveness ..151
    • Tell me about a time that you failed to achieve your goals ..151
    • How did you respond to the last piece of criticism you received? ....152
    • Give me an example of how you have developed yourself ......153

    Part III: Dealing with Tricky Questions and Other Situations ...155

    • Chapter 10: Responding to Questions for Graduates and School Leavers . . 157
    • Questions for Graduates ..157
    • Why did you choose to go to the university you went to? ........158
    • Your university results aren’t very good – why is that? .159
    • Why did you choose your degree subject? ......160
    • What have you learnt from being at university? .....160
    • Why did you choose to go to university as a mature student? ...162
    • How difficult did you find university as a mature student? ...163
    • How do you think your degree is relevant to this job? ..163
    • I don’t see why someone with your degree would want to work in our field ...164
    • What sorts of part-time jobs have you had? ....165
    • What did you learn from your part-time jobs? 165
    • What did you most enjoy about your time at university? .......166
    • What did you find the most difficult about your course? ......166
    • What did you do outside of your studies? ......167
    • Why have you left applying for jobs until after finishing your course? .168
    • Why did you choose to study part time rather than full time? ...168
    • Questions for School Leavers ..168
    • What subjects did you enjoy most? 169
    • What subjects were you good at? ....169
    • What subjects were you not so good at? .169
    • Why didn’t you stay on at school? ..170

    xiv Answering Tough Interview Questions For Dummies

    • Do you regret not staying on at school? ..170
    • Why didn’t you go to university? .....171
    • In retrospect, do you think you should have gone to university? ......171
    • What further education do you think you will need for this job? ..172
    • Chapter 11: Handling Questions Aimed at Experienced Candidates . . 173
    • Questions for Older Candidates ........173
    • How would you rate your progress so far? ......174
    • Do you feel that you should have achieved more in your current job? ....174
    • I’m concerned because you’ve been with one employer for a very long time – why is that?........175
    • This is a challenging role – are you sure you want to take it on at this stage of your career? .....176
    • How have you changed in the last ten years? ..177
    • When do you plan to retire? ....177
    • Talking about Changes of Direction in Your CV 178
    • Why have you changed jobs so many times? ..178
    • Given your background, why have you decided to change career? ...180
    • Do you want to change career because you are disillusioned with your current one? ......181
    • To what extent are your personal circumstances impacting upon your desire to change career? ....182
    • How do we know that you’ll stick with this change of direction? ....183
    • How do you feel about starting at the bottom again? ........184
    • How will you cope working with peers who are ten years younger than you? ........185
    • How will you cope with the drop in salary that changing career necessitates? ......185
    • What would you do if you were unable to secure a job in this profession? .......186
    • Returning to Work ....186
    • You have a gap in your CV – what did you do in that time? 187
    • Are you concerned that your time away from the workforce may put you at a disadvantage? ..187

    Table of Contents xv

    • Why did your last employer select you for redundancy? ..188
    • Have you ever been fired? .......189
    • Why have you been out of work for so long? ...189
    • If you hadn’t been made redundant, would you have considered work in this field? ......190
    • You’ve been working for yourself for some time now. Why do you want to work for someone else again? ....191

    Chapter 12: Handling Hypothetical and Analytical Questions . . . . 193

  • Responding to Hypothetical Questions ....194
  • What would you do if your boss asked you to do something that went against your principles?......194
  • What would you do if you disagreed with a decision taken by your manager? ......195
  • What would you do if your child were suddenly taken ill? .......196
  • Would you rather be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond? ........197
  • If you spotted a colleague doing something unethical, what would you do? ....197
  • What would you do if a colleague came to you in tears? .......198
  • How would you react if your boss said that you needed to come into the office for theentire weekend? ..199
  • What would you say if I were to offer you this job right now? .......199
  • Defining Key Concepts .....200
  • How would you define team work? .200
  • What makes for a good working environment? ........201
  • How would you define leadership? .201
  • Dealing Effectively with Numerical Challenges .202
  • How many bottles of carbonated water are consumed daily in California? ........202
  • How many cars does Pakistan have? .......203
  • I have a dinosaur on an island – how many sheep would I need on the island to feed it in perpetuity? ...204
  • I’d like you to multiply 8 by 9 and then take 13 away from the result ........205
  • Chapter 13: Coping with Illegal and Personal Questions . . . 207
  • Countering Illegal Questions ....207
  • How old are you? ....208
  • Are you married? ....210
  • Do you have children? ....210
  • What are your childcare arrangements? .211
  • When do you plan to have children? .......211
  • Are you pregnant at the moment? ...212
  • Does your partner mind you being away from home? .212
  • What is your sexual orientation? .....213
  • What are your religious beliefs? ......214
  • Is English your mother tongue? .......215
  • Where were you born? ....215
  • Have you ever been arrested? .216
  • Talking about Life Outside of Work ..217
  • What do you do with your leisure time? ..218
  • Your leisure interests seem very solitary – does this affect your team skills? 218
  • What sports do you play? ........219
  • Do you read much? .219
  • What was the last book you read? ...220
  • What was the last film you saw? ......220
  • Do you keep up with current affairs? .......221
  • What newspaper do you read? ........221
  • What news story has grabbed your attention recently? .......222
  • Talking About Your Health ........222
  • You mention that you took a lot of time off last year – why is that? ...223
  • How many days did you take off sick last year? .......223
  • Do you have any medical conditions that you should tell us about? ......224
  • How do you cope with your disability? ...225
  • Chapter 14: Taking Control in Unusual Situations . . . 227
  • Dealing with Panel Interviews ..227
  • Handling Hi-Tech Interviews ....228
  • Hanging on the telephone ........228
  • Handling video conferencing and
  • Webcams with finesse .229

xvi Answering Tough Interview Questions For Dummies

  • Getting Ready for Psychometric Tests ......229
  • Passing aptitude tests .....229
  • Completing personality questionnaires ...230
  • Succeeding at Assessment Centres ..231
  • Passing in-trays .......231
  • Giving great presentations ......232
  • Excelling at group exercises ....233
  • Being a star in role play simulations ........234

Part IV: Securing the Job of Your Dreams .235

  • Chapter 15: Asking Great Questions . . . 237
  • Preparing the Right Questions for the Right Interview......237
  • Showing enthusiasm for the job ......240
  • Checking out future prospects 241
  • Enquiring about the culture ....242
  • Turning Your Questions into a Discussion ........243
  • Chapter 16: Dotting ‘I’s and Crossing ‘T’s . . . . . 245
  • Wrapping Up the Interview .......245
  • Checking the next steps ..245
  • Making a great final impression .......246
  • Taking Notes after the Interview .......247
  • Sending Follow-Up Letters ........248
  • Ensuring Your References Are Positive .....250
  • Evaluating the Experience ........250
  • Rating your own performance 250
  • Finding out what went wrong ..252

Part V: The Part of Tens ........255

  • Chapter 17: Ten Cardinal Sins of Interviewing 257
  • Turning Up Late ........257
  • Getting the Dress Code Wrong .258
  • Being Rude to Receptionists ....258
  • Getting Off to a Shaky Start ......259
  • Giving a Monologue .260
  • Answering in Monosyllables .....260
  • Failing the Luton Airport Test ..261
  • Usurping the Balance of Power 261
  • Discussing Money Too Soon .....261
  • Having No Questions to Ask .....262

Table of Contents xvii

  • Chapter 18: Ten Tips to Creating
  • the Perfect Career . . . . 263
  • Knowing What You Want in a Job .....263
  • Understanding Yourself ....264
  • Working on Your Weaknesses ...264
  • Networking Widely ...265
  • Asking to See Offers in Writing .266
  • Evaluating the Job Thoroughly 266
  • Considering Culture Carefully ..267
  • Negotiating a Good Deal for Yourself ........268
  • Investing in Your Future ...270
  • Looking for Opportunities to Grow ..270

Index .......271

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