Which interview questions should I master?

Attending an interview is not everybody’s favourite thing to do. But let’s face it, it is something that most of us have had a fair amount of experience doing by a certain stage of our career. Being nervous is ok, it shows that you have a genuine interest in performing well and representing yourself in the best possible fashion. But being unprepared is not ok – and so many peoples down fall. It’s not just about preparing your understanding of the company and the role that is on offer, it’s also about preparing how to most effectively communicate your past experiences, motivators and capabilities to the interviewer.

Even those with ‘natural confidence’ need to take time to consider the questions that you are most likely to face in an interview. Why? Because you never know what style the interviewer is going to have, or what tricky ‘curve ball’ question they may throw at you, steering you totally of course and affecting your confidence. When you have taken the time to consider your answers to the more likely questions and how to best respond to them with your most relevant experiences in mind, this is when you are able to recover best from a tricky or unexpected question.

Being a Recruitment Agency specialising in roles Executive Assistants, Personal Assistants, Legal Secretaries and other Office Support Staff we thought we would share with you some of the best general interview questions, in our opinion, to prepare for prior to an interview:

  • Why are you looking for a new job? Why did you leave your previous employer/s?
  • Why are you interested in working for our organisation?
  • Why does this type of role suit you? How does it fit in with your career aspirations long term?
  • What do you like, or think you will like, about working in our industry?
  • What are the biggest challenges that you think you will face in this role?
  • What kind of support do you think you will need to be successful in such a role?
  • What kind of performance measurement are you used to from previous employers?
  • What do you classify as your main strengths?
  • What are your developmental areas that you would like to improve on?
  • Can you tell me which of your work accomplishments you are most proud of and why?
  • Do you know what motivates you in the workplace and why? What demotivates you?
  • Who is the best Manager that you have worked with previously and why did their particular style get the best out of you?
  • Where have you enjoyed working the most in your career thus far and can you describe the workplace culture of that environment?
  • What do you like to do outside of work?
  • What would your referees tell us about you?
  • What questions do you have for me?

In conjunction with some of the more general questions that we have listed above, you will also need to prepare yourself for behavioural style questions. These are the questions that begin with ‘Tell me about a time’ or ‘Can you provide me with a specific example of when’ or ‘Describe your specific involvement with’… These questions may seem difficult to answer, but if you are well prepared and think about examples that are relevant, not only in your recent work history but also from your past experiences, they are actually the ones that give you the best opportunity to really prove yourself. There is a lot of information online to help you prepare for and understand these questions but there are 2 main factors that we think are important to consider:

  1. If you have a look over the job ad, job description, brief from your Recruitment Consultant or other information relevant to the role you are applying for you will be able to identify the core competencies that will be assessed. For example, if one of the points on the job description is ‘you will be responsible for handling complex matters and developing effective solutions on behalf of your Manager’, the core competency required would be problem solving. So think back through your work history about some positive and successful times that you have effectively problem solved in preparation for questions around this. Evaluate what the top 5 core competencies are for the role and prepare examples for each of these.
  1. The best way to structure an answer to a behavioural based questions is to break it up in to three parts – situation, action and result. Give the interviewer a brief understanding of the situation you were in by providing some limited background information. Then focus predominantly on explaining the action that you personally took and why you made the choices to handle the situation that you did, with a brief end to the answer giving the outcome or result of your actions. And remember the result doesn’t always have to be a good one! Sometimes the best learning that we encounter is due to things not going quite to plan or turning out differently than expected. As long as you show that you learnt from the scenario and put things in place to ensure you improved for next time, this can also be a positive response.

Prepare and practice is our final piece of advice. Some of our top candidates, often highly experienced at interview, role play with a friend, family member or us the night before the interview. Remember answering things in your head, versus actually structuring a verbal answer is a different situation, so we highly recommend the role play – and if no one is about to help the mirror works too!

Good luck! And remember to contact the team at MJD Executive if you need any further advice or assistance when it comes to preparing for interview, 02 8346 6732. If you are in the market as a candidate looking for Executive Assistant Jobs, Personal Assistant Jobs or other office support staff roles including Admin Assistant and Legal Secretaries then we might be able to help you secure your next role. Our clients include, Tip Tier Investment Banks, Accounting Firms, Entrepreneurs and Legal firms across the Eastern seaboard.

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