Top Interview Questions and Answers

Do you feel you are ready to take on greater responsibilities?

Naturally, you will answer that you are ready. The interviewer is waiting to hear any note of self-doubt, so you need to show how you have progressed through previous positions, taking on greater responsibility each time. If you are early in your career and have had few work related responsibilities, you can refer to activities outside work where you've held responsibility.

What are your career goals?

Before applying for the job, you should have examined your career goals in some detail. When answering this question, you need to align these to aspects of the job in question; so that it's clear to the interviewer how interested you are in the position. The closer the alignment, the better. Bear in mind that you may need to amend your stated goals if the job is one that you're applying for because job opportunities are short at the moment.

You have changed jobs a lot. How long would you stay in this job?

You don't want to be viewed as a 'job-hopper', but that is the risk if you have moved around a lot. It's hard to deny the past that is clearly on your CV, but you can say that you're looking for a long term opportunity that really gives you chance to learn and develop while contributing to the employer's goals. It's important that you show you're thinking about them, rather than just your own needs.

4) Previous job

How much does your last job resemble the one you are applying for? What are the differences?

In your answer, you need to show that because there are similarities between your last job and this one, you would fit in easily. Always start by emphasising the similarities and then minimising the differences, if these exist. Where there are differences, you can point out how you've quickly picked up new skills in the past, showing that it won't be a problem.

What do you think of the last company you worked for?

Do not be truthful when you answer this question, unless you thought your last employer was fantastic. Always focus on the positive aspects of your employment, as saying something negative will only serve to make you look like a complainer. Worse, the interviewer may challenge what you say, which will create all kinds of problems. You should never be negative about your last employer.

Why did you join your previous company? Did they live up to your expectations? Why are you leaving now?

Be honest about what attracted you to your current or previous employer. State that they did live up to your expectations, but that you feel you achieve even more in this position. Whatever the truth behind your desire to leave a job, always talk about the positive reasons for moving on, such as developing existing skills or progressing in your career through meeting new challenges.

Explain the organisational structure in your last company and how you fitted into it.

You need to take care with this answer, as how you answer could jeopardise your chances of moving up to a more senior level. You need to show that you coped easily with your last role, so you can take on the new responsibilities without difficulty. You also need to show that you're ready to step up to the new level, expanding comfortably into a wider or more demanding role.

What did you think of your manager/supervisor?

You should never criticize a former manager. Whatever the reality of their professional conduct, aiming a criticism at them will only make you look unprofessional. Always say that your manager was someone you could learn from in a team, and that you communicated effectively and ensured the work load was completed on time. Even if the interviewer knows your last manager, don't be drawn into making personal comments.

What did you do on a day-to-day basis?

Focus on the tasks that are closest to those in the job you're being interviewed for. Be positive and link these details into your achievements. If an amount of your work was routine, that's not a problem - stress its value in supporting the company's goals and mention how you made small improvements to efficiency in completing it. Always sound interested and willing to do routine tasks as well as interesting ones.

Did you increase sales or profits in your last job?

This question is only relevant for senior managers or sales people. You need to draw attention to your achievements, stating confidently that you brought about increases (if you did), but without sounding smug or boastful. Always give figures. If the marketplace was challenging and many companies were struggling, do not be afraid to say that you minimised losses or tackled adverse conditions - this is just as much an achievement.

Have you reduced costs at your last company?

Reducing costs frees up profits, so bringing about savings in your job is certainly an achievement to be mentioned at interviews. Remember that saving time is also a way of reducing costs, as it is an improvement in efficiency. Always prepare your facts and figures before the interview, so that you can give specific answers.

Part 4: Example Interview Questions

Part 1: Answering Interview Questions

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