Go to a Job Interview KNOWING what Questions are going to be asked

...and you won’t need the Tardis.....

How to go to a Job Interview KNOWING what Questions are going to be asked


I’ve been talking about how to take the fear out of job interviews and in another BLOG explained the importance of doing your homework.  In this BLOG I want to talk about how to anticipate interview questions.

Anticipate interview questions?   How can I do that you ask?  

Well if you have an interview like the one I descibe in my BLOG "The Craziest Interview Ever?" you can’t!  To be frank, sometimes the person interviewing you will not, well, be very good at interviewing.  This can work both ways.  I once got a big job and a doubling of salary because the interviewer discovered at the beginning of the interview that I played rugby at school.  And that’s all we talked about.  At the end of the interview he actually said out loud: “I like the cut of your jib, Nick”.  I was lucky.  He might have harboured prejudice against teenage rugby players or embracation or something and I would have been scuppered (to use another nautical metaphor). This is called the “halo” and horns” effect, and there is nothing you can do about it, it’s just plain bad interviewing.

Happily the quality of job interviewing particularly in large companies has improved since those days.  An interview technique called “Competency Based Interviewing” is in common use and I talk about that in another BLOG. So if you want to build your confidence for a job interview, and more importantly dramatically increase your chances of getting hired, it is critical that you anticipate the questions you are going to be asked, and then prepare answers for them.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Make a list:  Three columns: Highlights, Questions and Answers.  First job is to list in column 1 the areas about which you might be questioned.  Here’s how to do it:

2. Study the Advertisement:  The advert tells you exactly what the Recruiter or Company is looking for.  It describes the job and it describes the person.  Go through the advert with a marker pen and highlight the skills, experience, career history and attitudes they say the successful applicant must possess.

3. Go through the Job Description and Person Specification: Follow the same process as in point 2.  Highlight the elements of the job that are clearly crucial to any decision as to who might get hired.  For example: “must be of Graduate level education”.  Highlight.

4. Re-read your CV: Read your CV as if you were going to conduct the interview.  What questions would you ask you?  Are there areas of weakness in your CV about which they are inevitably going to ask?  Unexplained gaps, or very short periods of employment.

5. Use your Research: Review the Research you have conducted. This will indicate areas where you might get questions.  So, for example, if you have discovered that the business is expanding and the role might require regular foreign travel, might they ask you about that?

6. Turn your Highlights into Questions: Go through the points you have you have highlighted in column 1, and then in column 2 write the questions that might follow.  For example, the advert says that experience of managing teams in multiple locations is a prerequisite.  You highlighted this.  The Question might be: “what experience do you have of managing teams in multiple locations?”  Easy, eh?

7. Imagine you were the Interviewer: Finally, after all of this work, simply put yourself in the Interviewer’s shoes.  What would YOU ask if you were recruting for this role?

8. Prepare for the obvious: Add to your list of questions the old favourites; they are still at large: “Why have you applied for this role?” “Why do you want to leave your current job?” “What is your greatest achievement?” “What are your strengths/Weaknesses?” “Tell me about yourself”

9. Write out your answers: Write out answers to your questions.  We want to use examples here - but I'll be talking about that next week too.

10. Memorise your key answers: In the days before your interview read and reread your list and reflect upon your answers.  This will in itself relieve your anxiety.  Build on this further by highlighting what you imagine to be the most likely questions, and then committing your answers to memory.  You might not use them all, (I’ll bet you use most) but once again this is a great way of building confidence for the big day!

There we have it!

This is what I do, but I don’t have all of the answers. What do you do? Please let me know in the comments, below. If you find these BLOGs useful please sign up for regular updates.   If you would like personalised help and support to prepare for an interview check out Live Interview Preparation.

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