Questions

'What will I be asked?' is a question that is frequently asked by candidates. While this is difficult to forecast, there is a good deal of useful preparation that can be done. First familiarise yourself with the different types of questions employers tend to ask:

What?

  • What responsibilities did you hold in your vacation job?
  • What do you do in your spare time?

'What' questions are designed to give the interviewer more depth and detail about you. They are particularly likely to focus upon areas that are not covered by the application form or CV.

Situations

  • Your computer has crashed and an irate customer wants to know what has happened to her order.
  • A customer has come into the office to make a complaint and wants to speak to the manager. He is on leave and you are covering the office on your own over the lunch period.
  • The hotel has double booked the conference room. Your boss has an important meeting due to start shortly.

These questions are designed to test your knowledge of and attitude towards customer care. Your responses would also indicate how you might work under pressure and whether you are a creative thinker in a crisis.

Why?

These are questions of motivation and may well form the most important part of the interviews. Some examples:

  • Why did you choose your A-level subjects?
  • Why did you choose your particular programme? Why Nottingham?
  • Why do you want to follow a career in …?
  • Why do you want to work for this organisation?

You may already have been asked this type of question on the application form. If not, you need to explore your motivation for your decisions. Sound preparation for this type of question should result in clear and cogent responses. You should be able to demonstrate to the interviewer that you have thought through your career aspirations and are able to make the decisions and justify them.

Value

These are much more difficult to prepare for, as the interviewer will be looking for a considered response. Some examples:

  • What do you think of our products?
  • What do you think of our services to our clients?
  • How would you criticise your programme?
  • What do you feel are your main strengths?
  • What do you feel are your weaknesses?
  • What ways would you make improvements to our company image?

Knowledge

Here the interviewer wants to explore the depth and relevance of your knowledge and experience in relation to the standards demanded by the job. For example:

  • What do you know about …?
  • What do you know about our company and our training scheme?

The recruiter may also want to test the level of involvement and commitment you give to your interests. This is the point at which claims have to be justified!

Asking your own questions

At some point, the interviewer will ask if there are any questions that you would like to ask.

Some points to bear in mind:

  • Have some relevant questions ready
  • Try to be specific
  • Avoid questions that have been answered earlier in the interview or in recruitment literature.

At this stage questions on salary, hours of work, holidays and pension schemes are a little premature. Use your questions to gain important information which you may require in making a decision to accept the job e.g. the training offered, level of responsibility, career progression etc.

Students at a careers fair