Top 10 Interview Questions and how to handle them.

What do you know about the centre/company/role?

You are not required to be an expert on the organisation or role, but, a genuine interest and basic understanding is expected.  If you are working with a recruitment consultant then they should be able to provide you with extra details and assist with preparation. In addition, look for and use press releases, corporate and social websites. Read the job description to prepare for this question, a few key facts or some knowledge show a genuine interest and commercial awareness.

Why do you want this job?

Whilst more money, shorter hours or less of a commute, are all potential factors for your next role, they are unlikely to make you the ‘stand out’ candidate of the day.  Know what the company are looking for, the potential job available and align this with your career to date.  Highlight your relevant experience, goals and aspirations in line with the role, to showcase why you are the best person for the job.

How would your team/manager/director describe you?

Try to think about how you would describe yourself if someone asked you for your strengths, then relate these to what people say about you; peers, agents, managers and stakeholders.  Have 3 or 4 at the ready, ideally in line with the role you are being interviewed for.  Have the examples or situations ready, in case your interviewer wants to drill down as to why you think or believe these are your key strengths.

What is your biggest achievement?

If possible, think work related, there will hopefully be a number of things you are most proud of in your career to date.  Think about your key achievements, were they commercial, people or process orientated? What was the cause and effect? How were you involved, what was improved, saved or developed/  If you are short on career based examples then personal achievements which demonstrate commercial skills required for the role, such as; team work, commitment, empathy, determination, attention to detail etc.

Can you give me an example of?

These questions will more often than not be based around the role competencies.  Preparation and rehearsal are key to answering these effectively.  You will need two or three instances of how you may have; delivered change, managed conflict, improved performance, reduced absence, handled a difficult situation, delivered on time, increased customer satisfaction etc.  You need to be able to clearly and concisely communicate the problem, solution and outcome.

What was your reason for leaving?

Wherever possible be positive, even if your role was short term or didn’t quite work out as expected as it will have added extra experience, industry or skills to your career history. Although you are now looking, or did look to move on, acknowledge what you learned and what was on offer at the time. Demonstrate your good reasons for the decisions you made and that you understood what was to be gained, or acknowledge what you have learnt from past employer experiences.

What are your weaknesses?

There is always something everyone can improve upon; administration, time management, self promotion, delegation etc. Know your development areas, as opposed to weaknesses.  Identify one or two and outline what you have done or are doing to try and improve these, either through company development, training or external personal sources and self improvement.

How to Improve Your Interview Performance:

Practice makes perfect.  Even if you have not had the opportunity to attend an external interview for some time, you can still practice. Think about what interview questions you are likely to be asked, there are some examples of some general interview questions here and practice your responses.  Read the job description and look at your career history objectively against this.  Highlight your areas of achievements and strengths but also identify any potential weaknesses so you can overcome any reservations, or concerns.

Research – look for company reports, press releases and articles to see what the company are saying and doing.  Seek out client or competitor sites to understand the organisations position in the market and identify future opportunities or threats.  Even if you are not a social media advocate yourself, searching Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin can offer a wealth of information on what is being said about the company, how they engage with their customers, or clients and who they hire. From this research, you can develop some well thought out questions of your own, as well as identifying challenges and opportunities you may have faced in your career which might be relevant to this company or requirement.

Opportunity - there is much to be said about first impressions; being smartly dressed, making eye contact, a firm handshake and a smile will get you off to a great start but remember this is your opportunity to shine.  Even if it seems you are becoming a professional interviewer who is yet to secure that next job offer from your efforts, you need to make sure that in each and every interview you are positive and enthusiastic and able to give the very best account of yourself. Being passionate about what you do and what you have done can make all the difference, we often see the candidate who showed the most passion or enthusiasm hired over those who may have had a better skill set.

Help - don’t be afraid to ask for help in honing your interviewing technique.  If you are working with a recruiter then you should already be receiving information and advice on the strength of your application, the areas you need to focus on and be receiving valuable insight and details regarding the company, requirement and interviewers but what about friends, family, ex-colleagues, or respected peers?  These people will be able to offer insight on how you come across in your personal or business life.  Asking for feedback on what they think of your interactions, or communication skills generally, will help you see where improvements can be made. This will enhance not only your interview technique but your personal and business life as well.

Relax - try to enjoy it.  An interview will be over in a few hours. Nerves are good and may actually help improve your performance so try and embrace them and breathe. Your dream job might just be around the corner!

Courtesy of CCMA partner Douglas Jackson

Douglas Jackson are an executive search and management recruitment agency. We recruit exclusively for the Contact Centre, Call Centre and Customer Service markets.As recruitment specialists, we help our clients attract and retain, Director, Head of Department and Management talent, for their call centres, contact centres and customer service departments.