YESTERDAY, I talked about how to tackle questions about your suitability for the job and why you want to leave your current job.
Simply stating that you would like a new challenge or a change of environment can sometimes send out warning signals to employers, as they may be concerned about hiring a job hopper who is constantly on the lookout for something more exciting.
If you answer, "I'm looking for a new challenge", be prepared for counter questions such as:
Why are you looking for a new challenge?
Why did you not approach your current employers about gaining such a challenge?
Focus more on why the new role is perfect for you and less on why your current role is not.
The next question is really the interviewer's way of finding out if you are a good "fit" for the job as well as his organisation.
Q: Tell me about yourself.
You need to tread carefully on this one. This is not the opportunity to tell the interviewer your life story.
"Well, I'm from a family of six and I live with my eldest brother near the East Coast Park and have recently just returned from a family holiday to America" is probably not the answer the interviewer was looking for.
When interviewers ask this question, they are actually more interested to know about how you work, what you enjoy in your career and as a person, how well you would fit in with the culture of the company.
They also want to know what interests you, how skilled you are and what strengths you will bring to the organisation.
Be mindful of the type of role you are applying for and adjust your responses accordingly. Avoid expressing your enthusiasm to work as part of a team in a busy noisy office environment if you are aware that you will be a one-man band sitting behind a cubicle in a very secluded room.
A good answer to this is: "I'm a very dedicated worker. I enjoy being part of a team and working in a challenging and dynamic environment, and I also work well independently. I like meeting new people and particularly enjoy being involved with administration for projects and events."
Q: Where do you want to be in five years' time?
This question is a favourite among interviewers. Unfortunately, many candidates are usually not prepared for this question, and few actually know where they want to be in five years' time.
A suggested answer for this could be, "I would like to think that I will be working for a successful organisation such as this but in a role with increased responsibility" or "I see myself leading a team and taking on a regional role".
You could also tailor your answer to suit the specific role that you are applying for. If you are being interviewed for an administrative position or the role of a personal assistant, the succession to that is becoming an office manager or administration manager.
If you are aware of the company's structure and know that administrative staff are likely to be promoted to business executives, mention it as your desire to reach that position one day.
The way you answer this question is more important than what you say. Be positive and confident rather than defensive and unsure. Try not to give the interviewer the idea that you are still trying to "find yourself" as that can make you come across as indecisive.
Finally, always remember that the interview is a two-way process, so it is important to have a list of questions you can ask your interviewer at the end.
These could include:
What two or three key competencies are you looking for in a successful candidate?
How long have you been with the organisation? What motivated you to join the organisation?
What are the team dynamics like? Who will I be working for?
What are you like to work for?
Have you had an assistant in the past that you get along very well with and what particular qualities will you insist on for your next hire?
Do you have any reservations at this point about my skills or experience?
An interview does not have to be a gruelling process if you are well prepared and know exactly why you are going for the role.
The key to a successful interview is to be positive and constantly market yourself by focusing on your key strengths and achievements, and how you can add value to the organisation you wish to join.