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 Pass That Interview - Standard Questions and Answers 
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Post Pass That Interview - Standard Questions and Answers
Pass That Interview - Standard Questions and Answers
by: Robin Cavendish

Typical interview questions and answers

All example answers given below are generic and need to be localised to fit your experience of your own industry/profession.

Standard question 1: What can you bring to Acme Plc?

Refer to the job description, stress experience in the sector and the role. Experience is generally a positive thing but must be balanced with flexibility and professional development (being personnel manager for Smith and sons for 10 years can look like a career cul-de-sac, this solid record needs to be tempered with evidence of recent development and changes in practice-especially if led by you). The answer should contain if possible both skills and positive character traits.

Example answer 1- (experience and skills) My experience working in this/our sector for x years and my knowledge of current thinking/legislation in that area. I feel I could also bring a fresh perspective to Acme PLC from my time with a competing company.

Example answer 2 - (soft skills and positive characteristics). I feel I am an enthusiastic and proactive employee with well developed people skills who could make a positive contribution in an organisation who are (paraphrase the mission statement or ethos of the target company here) at the cutting edge of widget technology.

SQ2: Why do you want to work for Acme Plc?

Refer to your company research notes for this answer. This is where to bring up "investor in people" type positives and other reasons for wanting the job. It may be the case you simply want to perform that role irrespective of the employer but it is important to give the impression (backed up with plausible reasons) that this company is where you see yourself working. Give two reasons. Example answer 1- I know that Acme PLC are "investors in people" and would like to develop my career within a company who encourage their staff to grow. Also frankly, I want to work for the market leader.

Example answer 2- I feel that as a smaller fast growing company in a very competitive sector there will be opportunities for learning and career development. Also as you know Acme PLC came top of their sector in the "best places to work" survey in the Times.

SQ3: How do you see your career progressing/where do you want to be (careerwise) in x years?

Your answer needs to be neither too ambitious nor too pedestrian. Indicate a wish to progress at a realistic pace, aim for the grade or level above the one you are applying for (if appropriate). If the position is an end in itself (eg creative such as graphic designer or skilled trade such as a welder) then stress the fact that you hope to improve and excel with the company's help to become the best you can be within that role.

SQ4:What have been your career achievements/what do you consider your greatest career achievement to date.

The answer to this question will vary depending on the type of work you do or are seeking and can be something quantifiable such as "I doubled the sales of widgets at Smith and sons during my time there" or more general/project based as in "during the merger with Jones and Daughters I managed major changes with minimal effect on production".

SQ5:Give an example of a work situation where:

The most common of these are listed below. Have an answer prepared for each. If you cannot find a real life example try to "creatively remember" an incident or event which fits the bill.

SQ5 (i) You overcame an obstacle to complete achieve an aim/complete a project.

SQ5 (ii) You resolved a conflict situation

SQ5 (iii) You introduced/implemented a change for the better or improvement in a company you were working for/with.

SQ5 (iv) You improved communication/co-operation between colleagues/departments/companies.

SQ6: Why did you leave/want to leave Smith and sons.

In answering this question try to stress the positives in the company you are aiming to join and minimise the negatives in regard to your present/previous company. It may well be the case that Smith and sons use out of date methods and are too mean to pay someone what they are worth but relating this to the interviewer will not be helpful.

Example: I feel that my desire to develop professionally would be better served in a progressive company with a reputation in the industry as good employers who value their staff (this has the additional benefit of subtly flattering the interviewer/panel as representatives of the company).

SQ7: Would you describe yourself as go-getting/dynamic/cautious/thorough etc.

This type of question can be treated as "leading", the interviewer/panel are asking because it is a characteristic they desire in the person who will fulfil the role. Always answer positively and back up with an example (eg dynamism "I proactively redesigned our inefficient and outdated sales lead generating process, this resulted in a 20% increase in quality leads for our widgets"). The exception is where a descriptive word is clearly at odds with the role (eg "cautious" in a sales position) in which case you should answer in the negative but add a positive note (I'm not cautious by nature but I do like to consider possible pitfalls, I like to act quickly but always "look before I leap").

Good luck!

Robin Cavendish 2010

About The Author
Robin Cavendish is an experienced career consultant. He provides a highly effective CV/resume writing and interview coaching service to job-seekers in need of expert help.
The author invites you to visit:

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Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:17 pm
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