1. How would you respond if you were given a task that you felt you couldn’t do?
“But I can do everything!” Don’t say this, because it’s obviously untrue. In fact, being aware of your limits is a very positive trait in employees. The first step would usually be to request training before you attempt the task. Your answer should include details of how you would approach the problem with your manager and try to arrive at a solution. Practical examples of this give weight to your answer, especially if it ends with you figuring out how to do the task.
2. If you were a manager, how would you deal with underperforming employees?
This question gives some insight into your attitude towards teamwork. Your answer should focus on assisting and supporting people, to show that you understand the importance of co-operation. If you have an example of a time you helped a colleague to improve, or a manager helped you to improve, it will help to show your understanding of collaboration. This is even better with details, i.e. “I helped him to reduce his call time by 20 percent.” Remember – even if you’re not applying for a leadership position today, recruiters are watching out for future leaders. Now is your chance to make an impression!
3. What would you do if a customer complains about something that you know isn’t your fault?
In any interview question about customers, the customer is always right. Never talk in a disparaging way about customers. To answer questions about customer complaints, talk about getting to the real root of the customer’s problem. What does the customer really want and how can you help them get it? Always try to show that you understand the importance of customer relationships. No matter what happens, you want the customer to leave happy and come back again.
4. Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a challenging environment
Situational interview questions such as this have a four-part answer. First, talk about the situation. What was challenging about this environment? Next, talk about the task. For example, if it was a work environment, what was your job. Next, you need to discuss the action you took to make things less challenging. Did you improve processes or make friends with people who could help you? Finally, talk about the result – how you learned to cope with this new environment. Interviewers want to know about your adaptability and ability to deal with pressure. If possible, give a detailed example of a time you had to cope with this kind of challenge.
5. Tell me about a time when you knew you had to make a good impression on a customer
Structure is important here, so first talk about the general scenario, and then talk about why that particular customer was important. Next, talk about what you did to make an impression, and then talk about the effect that had on the customer. With this type of question, the interviewer is always trying to assess certain qualities, so your answer needs to show you have those qualities. Here, for example, they’re assessing communication, problem-solving and empathy. Details always help when answering such a question. You’ll make a great impression if you can say something like, “the customer was so happy she spent $1,000.”
6. Do you know anybody in the company?
There’s nothing wrong with a little name-dropping if you can. Having a connection can really make a difference when applying for a job. Be honest about your connections as the interviewer will almost definitely check up on them. Don’t claim to be the CEO’s cousin if you’re not! You probably shouldn’t mention anyone who is likely to say something negative about you. But it’s okay to mention casual acquaintances. As long as they recognize your name, it will help your application.
7. Give me an example of a time when you showed initiative.
Process improvements are great for this type of question, even small ones. They usually have some kind of measurable outcome that demonstrates the value of your initiative. An example answer is: “only one person knew how to fix the photocopier when it jammed, so I asked them to train me and then I trained my team.” The point is to show that when you encounter a problem, you will fix it yourself. It shows the recruiter that you’re someone who can be trusted to work without constant supervision.
8. Which member of The Avengers would you be?
…or which Game of Thrones character, or which member of The Beatles, depending on your interviewer’s age and interests. This is a fun question to learn a little more about you and is often used as an icebreaker. Don’t overthink it, just say the first thing that comes into your head. If you can tie the character’s qualities to your own personality, then go for it. Captain America because he is a leader, for example, or Iron Man because he is an innovator.
9. Are you good at explaining complex things to non-experts?
This can be an important skill in roles such as IT and finance. You may have to interact with people in other departments with don’t understand any of your jargon. If you do say yes to this question, the interviewer may ask you to explain something to them, so be prepared! You can talk about your preferred communication method here too. Maybe you’re better at writing things down than explaining them verbally, or vice-versa.
9. Are you good at networking?
Networking is very important, yet most people are really bad at it. If you’re good at networking then you should be proud of it and talk about how you make contacts. Tell the truth though. If it’s not a strong point, admit it and then talk about how you’re trying to get better. Networking is vital in some jobs, such as sales. If so, you’ll need to give real examples of how you meet other professionals and maintain contact with them.