Searching for a Job

Tests & What to Expect

Additional Interview Stages

Selling Yourself on Paper

Interviews

The Offer Process

Types of interview

While some companies will only call you for one interview, we find that the majority of our clients will have an interview process involving several stages, each of which is designed to assess your suitability for the job in different ways. You will usually be interviewed by a different person or group of people at each stage, increasing in seniority each time. Below are some of the types of interviews you may encounter.

Telephone interviews

Some companies use phone interviews in the first stage of the interview process. It’s important to prepare for a telephone interview in the same way you would for a face-to-face interview and maintain a professional manner throughout the call.

Skype interviews

Skype interviews have become increasingly common and are usually introduced to the process if the job or company is based overseas. Again, preparation for a Skype or video-conferencing interview is just as important as for an interview in person. Basic tip for skype session is to ensure you look smart. Be prepared beforehand- check the internet connection and position the webcam in a way so that you have a neutral space or blank wall behind you.

Competency based interviews

This type of interview is designed to assess your skills and qualities against those required for the job. At this stage, the recruiter is likely to want to hear detailed examples from your previous experience which demonstrate the skills outlined in the job specification.

Portfolio based interviews

If you are applying for a creative role, you might be asked to attend an interview and bring your portfolio of work. The interviewer will then look through your work and ask questions based on particular pieces.

Technical interviews

You will be asked to demonstrate specific technical skills and abilities in this kind of interview. The interviewer may ask you theoretical questions based on scenarios which might arise while you are in the role.

Panel interviews

You will be interviewed by more than one person during a panel interview. Usually one person from the panel will lead the interview but expect questions from all members of the group and treat them all with equal respect, maintaining eye contact as you address their individual questions.

Interview advice

Interviews can be nerve-wracking but the key to doing well is to be prepared and appear knowledgeable about the company and the role. Follow our step-by-step guide to a successful interview and you will have the confidence you need to impress your next interviewer.

Before your interview

  • Find out all you can about the company, its products or services and the role you’ve applied for.
  • If you are interviewing for a retail based role. Visit the stores, record your experience and be ready to discuss it with the interviewer.
  • Research the industry in which the company operates, familiarise yourself with any challenges facing the industry and find out who the company’s competitors are.
  • Based on the job specification, pre-empt questions the interviewer may ask you and prepare answers. (See The Top 10 Interview Questions)
  • Prepare some questions for the interviewer – this is important as it shows you’re genuinely interested in the role.
  • If you’re unsure, check what kind of interview it will be. (See Types of interview for more information on the kinds of interview you could expect)
  • Check if you need to bring anything to the interview e.g. samples of previous work or identification.

On the day of your interview

  • Ensure you’re dressed appropriately – it’s always better to look over-dressed than under-dressed so wear smart business attire.
  • Make sure you’ve planned your route, double-checked the address and leave home in plenty of time.
  • Try to arrive around ten minutes before the start time of your interview.
  • If you’re likely to be later for any reason, make sure you phone ahead in plenty of time and let the company know.

During your interview

  • Maintain eye contact with your interviewer(s).
  • Maintain positive body language: avoid crossing your arms or having your hands under the desk.
  • Be sincere and enthusiastic in your answers.
  • Listen carefully to questions and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you need to.
  • With negative questions (such as “What are your weaknesses?”) try to turn this around so it becomes a positive – don’t dwell on negatives.
  • Make sure you have a copy of your CV in front of you so you are able to answer questions based on it without getting stuck.
  • Avoid being negative about your current or previous employers or role.
  • Think about your answers rather than saying the first thing that comes into your mind. It’s OK to pause before answering as this shows you are thinking seriously about the question.

After your interview

  • Make sure you clearly understand the next stage of the process if there is another interview or exercise for you to complete.
  • If this interview is the final or only stage of the process, ask when and how you will know whether or not you’ve been successful
  • Ensure you thank the interviewer for their time and the opportunity to meet with them.

The top 10 interview questions

Anxious about your upcoming interview? It’s understandable.

Job interviews can be nerve-wrecking but there are ways to overcome your jitters and make a good first impression by being prepared. For successful interviews, we recommend you to first get familiar with the company, its customers and its challenges. The second most essential step is to study the job description closely to understand the key skills and requirements of the job, as your knowledge of these will be specifically tested in the job interview. To help you with the interview process, our recruitment experts at Quest have laid out the most common questions to expect in an interview and how to craft the most effective responses. Here’s the list:

Tell me about yourself?

This is one of the most common question asked at the start of the interview but what seems like a very simple question can be really crucial. What should you really share and how much?

Remember! Do not tell your entire life story. Make this your best chance to pitch the hiring manager on why you are best for the job. You could use the present, past and future formula.

Start out with highlighting your present job- specific accomplishments or experiences that could add to your profile, then dig a little into the past specifically on the key skills gained at previous job and then go on to describe why you are excited for this opportunity and what you want to achieve in future. Keeping it concise and compelling is key.

What are your greatest achievements so far?

Here’s your chance to discuss your achievements in detail and show how worthy you are for the job. Nothing says “Hire Me” than a track record of great achievements and problem solving skills.

Discuss the top achievements in your career to date and try to relate them as much as possible to the job specification. Make sure to give the interviewer the background on the issue or task that was meant to complete before describing what you actually did and how it impacted the company. The key point here is to know your facts and figures!

What has been your biggest challenge to date and how you overcame it?

This question is most likely to make you think! So be prepared to answer this in the best way possible.

The interviewer definitely wants to know your story so be prepared to pick the right one. How? Go through the job description and list down the key skills highlighted for example, “able to effectively manage a team” “ability to multitask” or “problem solving skills”. Now that you know what the recruiter wants from you, choose a story where you were able to demonstrate the skills that are in your list. Make sure you add what you learnt from your experiences and how you use it now to make informed decisions and avoid conflicts, etc.

What are your greatest strengths?

We recommend you to be honest to your true strengths (not those you think the interviewer wants to hear). The interviewer can easily make out when you are being truthful and when you are not. Just remember the interviewer is looking for work related strengths. Although, it looks like a simple question, most people are unable to answer this question immediately. The reason being we often do not think about what our own strengths and weaknesses.

Knowing your strength is key! It’s the quality that you are proud to have, something that gives you an edge over the others. List about 10 attributes that you think sets you apart from others and select the ones you think correspond well in showing how fit you are for the job. Back it up with examples of how these strengths helped you in your previous role and how you feel they would be beneficial in this new role.

What do you consider your weakness?

It’s important here to not lie to hide your weaknesses. Strike a balance between being too blunt (I am not able to meet deadlines) and boastful (I have no flaws). Ultimately, the hiring manager would look for someone who is honest enough to accept their flaws and work on it.

Here’s how you can address this question. Think about your something that you are not very strong at like multitasking or observation skills and make sure you describe how you have taken steps to overcome your weakness or are still working on becoming better. Sharing your weakness helps build a good rapport with the interviewer.

Why are you looking to leave your current position?

Avoid picking out negative things about your previous role or employer. Keep your answer quite general – maybe say that you’re looking for a new challenge and a change of environment or pace. Frame your answer in a way which shows that you are eager to take new opportunities and how this role looks to be a better fit for you than your previous role.

What do you know about the company?

Do your research!

Rather than reeling off a list of facts, choose 3 – 4 and state why you find them interesting. Relate these to your market or industry knowledge, their competitors and your own experience. Use your knowledge of the company & role to explain how you would integrate into their team and what benefits you would bring. Make sure your enthusiasm for the business and the job comes across in your answers.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

A hiring manager would like to know if you have set realistic career expectations and how well you know your industry. Be specific in describing your goals for the future and align it where this position takes you. Use your knowledge of the company’s structure to explain how you would hope to progress during this time. Demonstrate your willingness to develop professionally, learn new skills and take on responsibility.

What are you like working in a team?

Your answer is of course that you are an excellent team player! There really is no other valid answer here as you will not function in an organization as a loner. But you would want to describe what type of role you tend to adopt in a team, for example group leader, if you want to emphasize on leadership skills. Be prepared to give specific examples.

What are your salary expectations?

The best way to answer this question is to highlight the market trends. Do your research on what you should be paid in terms of your experience, the job role and then state the highest requirement as you can reasonably justify. Higher numbers makes the recruiters look at your strengths. Answer confidently and explain why you feel your projected salary is justified.

Alternatively, you can also try asking them what the salary range is for this role. If you want to avoid the question altogether you could say that at the moment you are looking to advance in your career and money isn’t your main motivator.

In the end, the company is only goes for what they think is the best matching the role and the candidate’s expertise.

So, give your best bet!

Top questions to ask your interviewer

Every interview is a two-way street. Interviews are not just about giving the right answers but also about asking the right questions. If you want to nail a job interview, you have to shine and there isn’t a better way than to impress the interviewer with your questions. Quest gives you a list of possible questions that you could ask your interviewer.

Our recruiters at Quest believe that asking questions in an interview is the best way to demonstrate your understanding of the industry, company’s challenges, explain how well you can meet them and how interested you are in the role.

Before you begin with your questions, you can make sure that you have answered all of their questions. You can say something like “Yes I do have a few questions on my mind but I want to make sure I have answered all your questions before getting into those. Would you like me to explain anything further?” Once they give you a “No, you have answered all my questions”, you can now concentrate on yours.

The following are a few questions that can help you impress your next employer.

Ask the Employer about the Job

These questions gives you an insight into the role, something that might have been missed out in the job description. Enquiring about the employer’s expectations for the role can help you compare your skills set to the qualities that the interviewer mentions and also understand how fit you are for the role.

  • Considering the responsibilities of this job, what qualities do you think are crucial to excel in this role?
  • Can you tell me the responsibilities of this job in detail?
  • Is this a new role? How has this position evolved?
  • Who has been the most successful hire you have ever made for this position and why?
  • Who would I be reporting to?
  • What are your expectations for this role in the first 30 days?
  • What is the typical career path for someone in this role?
  • How will you judge my success?
  • Is there scope for growth in this role?

Ask the Employer about the Company

These questions will help you understand the company, its culture, working environment and industry challenges. You can work your way out to demonstrate how well suited you are to help them resolve their challenges with a few examples from your former work experience or expertise.

  • Can you give me an overview of the company’s culture?
  • Who do you consider your top competitor?
  • What are some challenges the business or industry is currently facing?
  • How long is the average tenure of an employee?
  • What do you like best about working in this company?

Ask the Employer about the Team

These questions aim to help you understand your future colleagues and the work environment. It is important to ask questions about the employees, the culture in the organization and basically who you’re going to spend your most of the time with. For your job satisfaction, it is extremely important that you are comfortable with the culture and the dynamic of the company.An essential tip from our recruiter is to do your research on your future colleagues before the interview process. If you can’t then try and find out as much as possible about them from the interviewer.

  • Can you describe the culture of the company?
  • Who are the key stakeholders?
  • What does a normal day look like in the company?
  • Who will I be working with?

Ask the Employer about the Next Step

Do not forget to ask the employer about the next step forward. It shows that you are eager to move forward in the process.

  • What is the next step in the hiring process?
  • When can I expect to hear back?
  • When do you expect the selected candidate to begin working?

As a leaving note, provide a short of what you feel you can give to the company and how the company can help you grow. Remember, not to ask about the salary just yet. Wait for the company to first select you and then you can negotiate with the hiring manager.