There you are, slightly nervous. The recruiter sits down with you. You take a sip of your water. The recruiter takes out his note block, question time is about to begin!
What questions can you expect, which answers should you give?
The goal of your interview is to convince the recruiter that you are the right man or woman for the job. You want to demonstrate your added value for this position and for this company.
In an interview with a recruiter, questions will probably be rather general and geared towards the softer aspects. When the hiring manager leads the interview, questions may be more in depth (technical/commercial). So find out beforehand who you are going to talk to and what his or her role is. Sometimes HR and the manager carry out the job interview together, and you may expect both types of question. What are the classic questions and answers during a job interview?
To start with: general introductory questions
You can expect a first question to break the ice; a question the recruiter asks to put you at ease. Give a short and general answer. This could be a question like “Were you able to find our office easily?” or “Nice weather today isn’t it?”.
Questions about your work experience or education
The longer your work history is, the more focus there will be on your career. That’s logical. If you do not have much work experience yet, the recruiter will ask you more about your educational background.
If the questions are about your study, be sure to make your motivation for your choice of study clear, and if possible also make a link to the job you are applying for.
The recruiter will gather the most important threads of your career so far from your CV and ask questions about the most relevant topics. Answer where possible with concrete examples and using the STAR method of statement (Situation, Tasks, Actions and Result).
Many job applicants are anxious about the unavoidable question that will arise if there is a “gap” in your CV. Be honest, without going into personal detail. You can list all the useful activities you undertook in that period, assignments that taught you new skills or insights (for example volunteer work, event organising, caring for a family member, etc.)
Questions and answers during the job interview about your motivation.
“Tell me something about yourself: what should I know about you?” “If I ask your manager about you, what would they tell me?” and “Why should we choose you?” are all typical open questions that recruiters may ask. It is smart to give answers that clearly demonstrate your motivation for this particular job. List your education, experience and extracurricular activities very briefly, and only mention those things that are relevant. Practice your elevator pitch at home! The question: “What are the biggest developments in our sector” is a way for the recruiter to check how motivated you really are about working for this company.
Questions about your professional qualities and personality
“Are you a team player?”, “Are you good at working with others?” These are questions about competencies. To answer these questions, use concrete examples using the STAR method. Most job applicants struggle with the question: “Tell us about your positive and less positive points.” Answering this question becomes easier if you have analysed the position beforehand and therefore know which qualities are important to fill this vacancy. Combine this knowledge with a good self-evaluation and bingo! To list your negative points you can then skip the cliché “I am perfectionist”, and mention a negative quality you really have but that is not relevant for this position. If you also show some evidence you are working on remedying the negative point, you can even score points on this question.
And finally: the strange questions category
There are some questions that seem completely unrelated to the job you are applying for. The recruiter will be checking your reaction to unexpected circumstances. These could be questions like “What would you do if you were the director of Football club X?” or “What is the highest mountain in the world?” Don’t be put off by these types of questions and give a witty answer.