Questions for YOU to ask the Interviewer

When it comes towards the end of a formal interview, the interviewers should ask “Have you got any questions for us?”

It’s always good to have a few written down on your notepad, and it’s OK to refer to them if you have trouble memorising them.

Some may have already been answered, and it’s good to say this (make the interviewer feel like they’ve done a good job) 🙂  Say something like, “I do have some prepared questions, and a few of them have already been covered in your description of the role – thank you”.  “Can I therefore ask …” and just ask 2-3 questions – not a whole raft that makes them feel like they are being grilled!

This is an opportunity for you to gauge whether you’d like to work for them too, so it’s important you also make the right choice of employer.

Here are some sample questions to help you get started:

1. How would you describe the overall management style of the company?

2. Who would I be reporting to and would it be possible to meet that person?

3. What is the biggest challenge this company/sector faces today?

4. Who is your greatest competitor?

5. How large is the team I would be working in?

6. What are the 3 top values of this company?

7. do you have a structured induction programme for new starters?

8. What is the company level of attrition for staff leavers?

9. What changes of promotion are there within this role, or secondment to other roles?

10. Do you offer chances to continue education and training within this role?

11. And lastly, when am I likely to hear whether I’ve been successful and by what method (letter, email, phone call).

Make sure you leave the interview on a high note.  Thank them for their time and insight into the company and don’t forget that handshake (stood up of course).  See my article on handshakes here Mastering the Art of Handshaking

What are Interview Assessment Days all About?

Congratulations if you’ve got this far in the recruitment process.  Although you may be pleased wither efforts so far, the mere mention of an assessment day may be making you apprehensive!

So what are they looking for when they hold these days?

I’ve run many in my days as an HR Manager and I thought it might be good to share some insider secrets.  Employers may be looking for different things than what you initially think!

Game/Challenge 

Some employers may choose to do a ‘challenge’ type of scenario (sometimes base don a survival exercise).  This usually takes the form that they are leaving you in the desert with 5 objects and they tell you the object of your challenge is to all get back to HQ safely, using the 5 objects.

There are no real right or wrong answers here, and it doesn’t matter if there was, as they are looking for different things than just getting back to HQ!  Your team will probably be between 5-9 other applicants (any more and it is difficult for the observers to watch and listen carefully).  Yes, you will be observed and listened to!!

They may be looking for these sorts of qualities:

1. How persuasive you are in a group (and do people listen to you).

2. How mindful you are of others and their opinions (especially if they are different to yours).

3. Who is keeping time in the group (you will be given a specific amount of time for this exercise).

4. Who gives up and goes quiet/doesn’t contribute.

5. Who are leaders or clear team players?

6. Who have creative streaks?

7. Who have the right attributes who would fit in well with the company values?  You may well be an excellent candidate, but the wrong fit for the company.

8. Who listens carefully.

9. Who plans carefully.

10. Who is good at presenting findings on behalf of the group (can they say it concisely, without rambling/waffle).  Think of the TV series ‘The Apprentice’ here, at some of the cringe-worthy candidates they have had on there, who we would be desperate NOT to employ!

In-Tray Exercise

Other exercises that I’ve prepared for assessment days are the in-tray exercise.  You are given a list of tasks and you need to show how you would prioritise them if this was a typical working day).  Of course, I always made it a bit more challenging by throwing in a curved-ball half way through, to see how they reacted.

On-Line Assessment

Some graduates have also been faced with an online assessment test which normally consists of multiple choice questions.  Again to be completed within a set amount of time.  If you are going for a mechanical/engineering post it may well have those sorts of questions on too.

Lunch/Coffee Breaks

Don’t think you are off the hook in these scenarios too.  For my days I would be watching how you interacted/networked with others socially and whether you just ‘turn it on’ when the cameras are rolling!  My secretary also observed for me too as the candidates arrived and booked in, and her observations were invaluable!

Interview

The 1-1 interview, which sometimes takes place on the same day too.  They may have questions about how you felt you performed during the day and there will always be a ‘bank’ of questions which they have previously prepared to ask every candidate (os you al get an equal chance), and no-one gets more of a tough interview than others.

Presentations

I have also given my candidates 15 mins to prepare a presentation topic that they will know about when I tell them.  They are then given 10 minutes to do a presentation to a small panel audience.  What was I looking for here?

1. Ability to think on your feet on a topic.

2. Keep to strict timescales.

3. Presence and confidence.

4. Engagement with the audience.

5. Persuasion and articulation.

6. Whole delivery and flow in terms of body language, tonality, the speed of voice etc.

7. HOT TIP:  It really doesn’t matter how right/wrong your answer way, it’s the way you present the skills that I was judging, that I’d mark you on.

Role-Plays

I’m not a fan of role-plays, but I know some organisations still use them.  It may be useful for them to observe you in a situation which you can’t plan for.  I.e. coming face to face with an angry customer and how you deal with them.  Do you inflame the situation by what you say, or calm it right down.  Either way, you will be thinking on your feet and judged on not only what comes out of your mouth, but your body language, how you try to defuse the situation, whether you can get to a solution and move things forward.  Ideally, you are looking for a win-win outcome!

So, the next time you are invited to an assessment day, embrace it fully.

They want to get the right fit for their organisation and by having you with them for a day, they are more likely to see ‘the real you’.  This also has advantages for you too, as you can get into the culture of the organisation and make sure it is the right fit for you too!

Pre-Interview Checklist

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You’ve got confirmation that your CV has been successful in securing you an interview.  But what should you do next to ensure that you are ready for the big day?  Here’s a quick checklist to help you:

  1. Print off a copy of the advert, your CV and your covering letter. Put these in a file for reference/aide memoir at the interview.
  2. Get the names of who is interviewing you. Check them out online.  e. on LinkedIn, company website etc.  Memorise their faces and bios.
  3. Research the company. Use the company website, Google, Twitter, FB, News, Press Page, LinkedIn too.  What is going on in their world?  Show you have done your homework.  What are their issues right now and how could you help with this appointment?  Is the share price up or down?  Who are their investors? What are their company values?  What matters to them?
  4. Plan your trip. If it’s local do a dummy run on the weekend before so you know where they are, where the reception is, where the car park is etc.
  5. Double check your interview time. Ensure you have replied to accept the date and arrange to arrive 10 mins before the interview so you can freshen up in the loos, check your appearance etc.  (Power stance bit in here).
  6. Make pleasant small talk with the people in reception – you never know who they are and the receptionist may have been briefed to feed back on you too!
  7. First impressions count. Good handshakes, eye contact, smiles, politeness all goes towards this.
  8. Wait to be asked to be seated in the interview room. If there is a panel, shake hands will all of them.
  9. Open your folder and have it on your knee or the edge of the table. Pen there too.  Shows you are ready for business!
  10. Control your nerves. Breathing technique to be put in here.
  11. Appearance – your clothes should be appropriate to the role. Clean shoes, hands etc.?  Might seem obvious but I’ve seen candidates beautifully dressed and when I look down at their shoes, they are a total let-down.
  12. After Interview – if rejected email to thank them for their time. Tell them that despite the result you are still very much interested in the company and would like to watch out for any future openings.  Wish them well and say they can keep your CV on file.

Hope that helps.  And if you have any particular questions, please don’t hesitate to email me on christine@high10.co.uk