One of the keys to knowing what to prepare lies in understanding the needs of the interviewer. Once you know the things that are important to interviewers, interview preparation suddenly becomes a lot clearer and a lot more manageable. The vast majority of interviewers—whether or not they realize it—want to hear three things from you. In fact, nearly all good interview questions boil down to these three key generic questions:
Can you do the job?
In other words, do you have the skills, knowledge, experience or potential to perform well in the job? Most interviewers will spend the majority of the interview probing you on this question. They’ll want to know what you’ve done, how you did it and what the outcomes were. In the event you have not performed a particular duty, they will try to ascertain your potential to do the job.
Are you the sort of person they can work with?
Another way of stating this question is: Will you fit into the existing culture of the organisation? Or, in the case of small organisations: Will you get on with the boss? Whilst interviewers generally spend a lot less time on this question, it is nevertheless a vitally important one— that’s because no one wants to work with someone they don’t like, even if they can do the job.
How motivated are you?
In other words, what energy levels and drive do you bring to the position? You may not even be asked a question about your motivation levels, but you fail to address it at your peril. As we all know, highly motivated employees are keenly sought after by employers—with good reason.
Two significant benefits
There are two significant benefits in knowing that interviewers are keenly interested in these three generic questions, and that the vast majority of questions they can ask fall under one or more of these categories. First, it guides you in the preparation of your answers (a large part of this book is based on answering these three key questions). Rather than spending lots of time wading through randomly selected questions in the hope that you will have prepared the right answers, an understanding of the significance of the three key generic questions provides a direction and platform for your preparation. In short, you are able to plan your preparation around the following issues:
- your skills, knowledge and experience—can you do the job?
- your personal attributes—are you the sort of person they can work with?
- your motivation levels
Second, useful way to deal
Second, it provides a useful way to deal with questions at the actual interview. By sorting interview questions into one or more of the three generic question categories, your answers will gain added structure and a clearer direction simply because you know what the underlying purpose of the questions is. By learning how to recognise the real intent of a question, you minimise your chances of giving the wrong answer and/or waffling.