Standard interview questions that you must have the answer to!
Exchange Street Director Andy Taylor discusses the importance of preparation for interviews.
When it comes to interviews there are only so many questions an interviewer can ask. Whilst everyone will have their own style it is still very unusual for someone within the financial services, general insurance and loss adjusting sectors to ask you something bizarre. “If you were an animal what would you be?” is unlikely to be the best way of finding the most technically confident loss adjuster for example.
With this in mind there are a number of questions that tend to crop up time and time again at interview, irrespective of the role or seniority of the position. Whilst our candidates are always advised to be ready for technical queries or examples of when they have demonstrated certain competencies, the following are also questions that everyone needs to have an answer prepared for:
What do you know about our company?
It is still startling that there are people out there who would answer with “not much”. If you cannot be bothered to spend 5 minutes looking at a firm’s website and remember a couple of prepared sentences to answer the question then what type of employee will a company think you are? Professional, hard-working, intelligent? Alas not. It is far more likely that they will be crossing your name off their list after 30 seconds of the interview.
What do you know about the role?
This can be more difficult as most firms do not advertise their roles on their website. However by working in conjunction with a good quality recruitment firm you can ensure that you will not only be provided with this information prior to your CV being submitted, but you will also be contacted shortly before the interview to make sure that you are fully prepared. If you are heading for an interview without a detailed knowledge of what the position entails then it would bode the question, why? Not knowing means that most people arrive at the employer’s officers without much hope that it is the position for you them and many candidates then make the mistake of letting that show in their demeanour, only to realise halfway through that the position is perfect for them. Ally yourself to a recruiter who knows their stuff, or prepare to struggle.
What can you bring to the role?
This follows on from the above question and obviously means that you have to understand the role fully to answer it. This is your chance to shine, allowing you the opportunity to detail in full all the skills, knowledge and personal attributes that make you a great fit. Making sure that your answers are specific to the position you are being interviewed for is a sure fire way of making a very positive impression.
What are your strengths, and what are your weaknesses?
The first question is an obvious one but the second aspect is much trickier. It would be great if firms expected an honest answer to a direct question but in our experience they either don’t or they expect you to caveat that weakness by demonstrating how you counter it. For instance, if you are forgetful it would be best to qualify that weakness by talking through everything that you have done to overcome this e.g. you are a prodigious compiler of lists, you use your calendar, you have looked online about how to improve memory. Alternatively you could try answering with positive “weaknesses” such as “I work too hard” or “I am a perfectionist” but be prepared for the fact that some interviewers might see through this. It is therefore best to be reasonably frank but explain how you have improved and how you plan to counter it in the future.
Do you have any questions for us?
The one question that results in candidates’ minds going completely blank. As referred to in the previous article there are numerous fail safe questions to ask at this juncture; just make sure that you remember them!
For further guidance on how best to prepare for an interview please speak with one of our recruiters on 0161 9736900.