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Typical Interview Questions

This lesson is a part of an audio course Interview Skills by Ross Maynard

Obviously, there is a whole range of questions you could be asked at the interview, and I cannot anticipate them all. Nevertheless, here are some generic questions that might well come up.

What is it about this role that appeals to you? Or why do you think you would be a good fit for this role?

For this type of question, you should bring in the elements of your interview skills balance sheet, particularly the fixed and current assets. Show the interviewers that you have good foundational knowledge and experience but that you are also keen to learn and develop and have a track record of building new skills.

What do you consider the main challenge facing this profession or industry sector?

This question is designed to probe your awareness of professional or industry developments. You should be reading the professional and industry press, but you don't need to know everything that is going on. My advice is to identify a couple of topics relevant to your profession or industry that you are interested in and prepare an answer based on that.

What changes do you think will most impact on this profession or industry in the coming years?

This question is similar to the previous one. Make sure you have done some research into your profession or industry and have a couple of talking points for the interview. Personally, I think the impacts, challenges, and opportunities of climate change on an industry is a good talking point. Similarly, recovering from the COVID19 pandemic is a topic that will interest the interviewers. The expansion of AI into all professions and industries is also a good topic.

What software packages are you familiar with? What are their advantages and disadvantages?

This question will be focussed on professional industry standard packages and is probing your experience with them. The question may also be seeking to examine your proficiency with the software packages that the employer uses. Find out in advance what packages the employer uses and prepare an answer that highlights your experience with those packages. Larger companies are likely to have different packages in different parts of the business and your answer could focus on your experience in getting different systems to interface with each other and resolving the difficulties that always arise between software systems.

Describe a business process that you have developed or improved.

This is a situational question which allows you to discuss the projects that you have worked on. You should prepare some project case studies as part of getting ready for the interview so that you can discuss the work you have done, and the outcomes you have helped deliver. It is always useful to discuss the interpersonal issues of project work – highlight your coaching skills, your facilitation skills, and your communication skills.

Describe a time when you helped to reduce costs or improve profitability.

This is very similar to the previous question and allows you to bring in your project experience. Describe the projects you have worked on and the outcomes they have achieved – particularly efficiency savings and capacity improvements.

Describe a time when you had to present business information to others.

Being a good communicator and presenter is what is going to set you apart from "run of the mill" applicants for the job. Good communication and presentation skills are actually surprisingly rare. This question explores your communication, facilitation, and presentation skills, so prepare case studies on the presentations you have done – to management, at conferences, workshops, or training sessions, and so on. In your preparation for your interview, really work on distinguishing yourself as a good communicator and presenter, it will lift you into the top echelon of the candidates for the role.

Describe a time when you had to explain a complex business or professional issue to someone from a non-expert background. How did you help your audience understand the situation?

This is a more focussed version of the previous question examining your communication skills with people outside of your normal peer group. This might be in meetings, or presentations. Describe how you have coached and supported non-experts to understand some of the specialist information that your profession deals with. Again you should emphasis your excellent communication skills, with particular reference to how you have worked with people outside of your normal sphere or work area.

Thank you for listening to this lesson. In our next lesson, we discuss what to do after the interview.

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Written by

Ross Maynard