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How and why your career has developed the way it has

  • Why did you leave your last position? (This question can be asked about each position)
  • Why do you want to leave this position?
  • If given the opportunity to have the last ten years of your career over again, what would you do differently?

In concise, accurate terms the scope of your key responsibilities in your recent roles (particularly over the last ten years)

  • What is the scope of your revenue, margin, cost control, staff number etc responsibilities?
  • To whom did you report in that role?
  • How are you measured in your current role? (what are your key performance indicators?)
  • How are you performing against those measures?
  • What kinds of financial reports do you prepare in your job? What do they contain? How often do you have to prepare them ?
  • Take me step by step through how you prepared the budget for your unit? What information did you use in preparing the budget? What information was lacking ?
  • What were your objectives for last year? Were they achieved? How? Why not?

The depth of your industry and technical knowledge

  • Describe your experience with environmental law ?
  • Hazardous substances ?

Details of your key achievements in each role

  • How did you increase (sales, productivity, staff retention rates) by 20% last year?
  • Who else worked with you to achieve the goal?
  • Was the (market, raw materials supply, employment market) environment favourable or difficult?
  • Describe your best ever career achievement.
  • Why did you not achieve more in your last job?
  • What’s been the biggest disappointment in your career to date?

The skills and knowledge you would bring to a role

  • What are the 3 main skills you are using in your current role?
  • How effective are you in persuading others to your point of view?
  • For what assistance or advice do your colleagues turn to you?

What you seek in your next company and position

  • Any preference for permanent or contract/temporary work?
  • What type of work are you targeting?
  • What locations would you consider or prefer working in?

Who you are

  • Describe you as a person. How would others (managers/peers/subordinates) describe you?
  • What special qualities do you have that set you aside from your peers in your area of specialisation (for example, sales, marketing, production, human resources management)?
  • Give me three things to remember you by?
  • Give me an example of a time in your past or present roles when you had to make a decision you would not normally make on your own?
  • What conditions at work frustrate you the most?
  • To what extent do you set an example for others in your business life? Your personal life?
  • Think about the roles you have played in teams (sport or work) in the past. How would you describe the typical role you play in team activities?

The way you operate at work (for example, detailed, analytical, a finisher, cares for and supports the team, problem solver, entrepreneurial, leader, driver of customer service)

  • Have you ever recognised a problem before your boss or others in the organisation? Describe the problem? How did you recognise it? How did you communicate it? What was the outcome?
  • What sources of information do you use to keep aware of problems within your department?
  • How well informed are you about what is going on in other departments of the organisation?
  • How do you keep informed?
  • How do you go about setting goals?
  • How do you schedule your time? Set priorities? Are you able to schedule your time? How far ahead can you schedule?
  • Can you walk me through last week and tell me how you planned the week’s activities and how the schedule worked out?
  • How often is your schedule upset by unforseen circumstances ? What do you do then ? Give me a recent example?
  • How do you plan your daily activities?
  • What kinds of project planning and administration do you do in your current job?
  • What systems do you utilise to allow you to multi task?
  • What is your procedure for keeping track of items requiring your attention?
  • Are there any procedures which you find helpful for keeping track of things which require your attention? What are they?
  • What are your long and short term plans for your department? Are they in writing?
  • How do you decide what to delegate and to whom to delegate?
  • How to you familiarise yourself with the current situation in your organisation after being away for several days?
  • All of us have been in situations where we assigned work to other people and they didn’t do what we intended. Can you tell me about some of those? Why did it happen?
  • Do you have any systems for keeping track of reports you submit to management? What is that system?
  • Do you use any methods to keep informed of what is going on in your areas of supervision? What are they?
  • Tell me about a difficult situation when you failed to meet a particular target or deadline?

How you like to be managed

  • How would you describe your ideal manager?
  • How do you like to be managed?
  • Describe the management style of the manager for whom you have worked best. Where and when was this?

How you manage others

  • Describe your management style?
  • What systems do you use to manage staff?
  • What procedures do you use for monitoring / evaluating your subordinates’ performance?
  • What do you do when you find that your techniques for regulating activities are loosely adhered to by your subordinates? Give a specific example?
  • Describe the basic content of your staff meetings. How are action items assigned? How often are these meetings held?
  • What kind of system do you have for keeping track of assignments made to subordinates?
  • How do you keep track of what your subordinates are doing?
  • Tell me about some of the people who have become successful as a result of your management. What was your role in their development?
  • How do you keep your employees informed of what is going on in the organisation?
  • Give me an example of an unpopular decision you had to make and how you made it?
  • How do you find out what people are really thinking or feeling?

How you want your career to develop

  • What would your next ideal role be?
  • What are your career goals in five years? In ten years?

The details of your remuneration package and the package you will accept if offered the position

  • What are your expectations in terms of base salary or hourly/daily rate ?

Unusual Or ‘Killer’ Questions

Some interviewers ask questions to put candidates off balance and under pressure.
While such questions may seem irrelevant, they will relate to the job in some way. They are often asked to gauge personality, assess whether you are up with current issues or to gauge whether you will fit into a company or team culture.

When confronted with a “killer’ question, stay calm, take a few seconds to absorb the question, remain diplomatic and as much as possible, remain positive in your response. No matter how personal the question may appear, acting shocked or irritated is not a good idea.

Examples of ‘Killer’ questions:

  • Tell me something about yourself that you’ve never told anyone before?
  • Have you ever lied to get a job?
  • What would you do if I told you I thought you weren’t interviewing very well?
  • Sell me this pen (for sales people).
  • Do you think you’re intelligent?
  • What’s the biggest political issue facing Australia? NSW?
  • Name me five members of state parliament.
  • Which famous person would you ask to a dinner party and why?
  • How do you handle a boss you don’t like?

a. Preparing for the interview

c. What to do before the interview
d. What to do during the interview
e. What to do after the interview