Strengths-based questions are becoming more common and designed to look at what you enjoy doing and have an aptitude for, rather than what you can do. An example is: What are you main 3 strengths and how could they help you in this role? Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team?
Scenario-based questions try to find out what you would do in specific situations and are usually linked to the role you would be doing. Try and provide a logical step-by-step answer. An example is: Imagine you're working on a project with 3 other colleagues and a member of the team doesn't seem to be doing much work. What would you do?
Some employers like to assess your ability to react on the spot. An example is: If you were a cartoon character, who would you be? Top tip: embrace the question and try and give a full answer. In this example, try and explain why and how it links to you!
Some interviews may focus more on one type of question (e.g. competency or strength-based), whilst other will utilise a combination of different types of questions). The above are just some examples of common question styles - we can't know exactly what employers will ask, but if you are well-prepared you will stand a good chance of being able to answer whatever they decide to ask you.
Using the STAR technique
The STAR approach is useful for giving structured, focused and effective answers to interview questions based on past experience. Having a clear structure allows you to be concise and avoid rambling!
- Situation (What was the context? Where were you and what were you doing?)
- Task (What goal did you set yourself? What was the problem or challenge?)
- Action (What action did you take? how did you display the specific competency or attribute in question?)
- Result (What was the outcome?)
When using this technique you should:
- spend at least 50% of your time talking about the Action
- concentrate on your individual contribution to a situation (avoid 'we')
- choose examples that are the most relevant - whilst it is good to talk about recent situations, the relevancy of the example is most important
- try and talk about a situation with a positive overall outcome - if not, explain what you learned from the process and what you would do differently next time
Questions for the panel
It is common practice for you to ask questions at the end of an interview. Rather than asking nothing, or thinking up a question on the spot, it is a good idea to prepare some suitable questions in advance. Depending on how the interview has gone you can choose the most suitable ones to ask. Ask questions that demonstrate your enthusiasm and interest in the job and the company. Cover topics such as:
- things you've seen in your research - new developments or products
- how the role will develop
- the structure of the team or department
Avoid asking about:
- what the company does - you should know this already!
- pay, holiday and perks - these should only be discussed once you have a job offer
- how soon you will be managing the company - ambition is good but don't make the panel feel you are after their jobs