How can you give the answer an employer is looking for unless you know the questions they’ll ask? By being prepared and taking in our experts’ advice on the 4 most common competency-based interview questions you’re likely to face and double your chance of interview

Why are you a good fit for the company?

Let’s face it: everyone wants to be wanted.

A recruiter is unlikely to be overly enamoured by a candidate who looks like they’re simply playing the field. So, instead of selling why you’d be a great hire for any company, the best approach here is to demonstrate why you’re a perfect match for this one in particular.

Do your homework. Take some time before the interview to look at the company’s website and their social media presence, for example. This should give you an insight into the organisation’s personality and culture, and identify the things they believe really makes them stand out.

Once you have all this information, you have a blueprint. Now use your own skills, accomplishments and personality and tie them in with everything you’ve learned to hack together the perfect response.

Right answer: ‘Based on the research I’ve done about your company, yours is an organisation that really values staying on the cutting edge of technology. I was especially impressed with some of the technical details I read about the XYZ project. I think there’s a really good fit between my interest in evolving my own skills and technical knowledge, and the fact that your firm is known for continual technical improvements. That’s one reason I’m really excited to have the opportunity to work here’

Which websites do you use personally? Why?

The secret to answering this one directly relates to the role you’re applying for.

If it’s a traditional role in a less tech-savvy kind of business, the chances are the interviewer is fishing to find out how you keep abreast of the latest industry trends. If that’s the case, nothing overly fancy is required, just a quick rundown of some of the best news sites for your sector should suffice.

However, if you get the impression that your interviewer is inviting you to show off your techie credentials, always try and oblige them. Give them a rundown of apps on your iPhone home screen, detail how you decided on your preferred blogging platform or complain about how your favourite plug-ins perform on one browser or another (N.B. don’t choose Internet Explorer as your browser of choice).

Choose which camp your job falls within and go with

If you were offered the job, what’s the first thing you’d change?

Approach with caution. This is about as loaded as a question comes…

If you’re specifically asked to do a turnaround job or get the sense that the role is about making changes, go ahead and highlight some specific areas that strike you as in need of work.

However, bear in mind that barging in and disregarding the experience and opinions of your new co-workers is unlikely to go down too well with your prospective team. You’re trying to get across that you’ll bring ideas to the table, not that you’re a bully.

Make sure that when you suggest areas for improvement, you do so with tact. Stress consultation and the need for information gathering. Words like ‘evolve’, ‘add’, ‘contribute’ and ‘develop’ can be more effective than ‘change’, ‘transform’, ‘overhaul’ or ‘fix’.

Describe a situation when you had to complete a piece of work to a high standard while meeting a strict deadline?

Structured Answer:

Situation: As part of the final project for my degree, I completed a quantitative research project to explore whether customer loyalty increased or decreased with businesses who use social media as opposed to those who don’t. I worked with a creative agency who sponsored my project to allow me to gather the information I needed.

Task: To provide useful information for the agency, I needed to carry out thorough research and draft the report within a three-month period.

Action: To ensure the project was delivered on time, I had to become fully conversant with quantitative research techniques. I therefore studied this extensively, which improved the way I gathered data for the project. I also managed to complete this project while fulfilling my other volunteering commitments and assignments for other courses.

Result: Even though the workload was significant and I was under a great deal of pressure, I achieved a pass of 80% for my final project and my work was published in a respected journal. The agency who sponsored the research also published the findings of their project, and I secured an internship with them over the summer.

Share this post on: