The Non-Cheat’s Way to Predict Job Interview Questions

interview-questions-and-answers-predict
job interview questions in Singapore
You can predict interview questions

Job interviews can be pretty nerve-wracking experiences, and not surprisingly so when you bear in mind that things like promotions, higher salaries and better developmental opportunities, depend on how well interviewees perform. Another reason why they are so terrifying though, is because candidates typically have no idea what they are going to be asked and they are afraid that they are either going to be completely wrong-footed, or left sitting there like lemons with nothing to say.

What if I were to tell you then, that with a little bit of effort and research, you could fairly reliably predict the type of job interview questions that will come up? In this, the first of a whole series of articles on job interviews, you can find out how to do just that.

Okay, let’s start with the fact that interview questions are never asked completely at random. After all, what would be the point in that? What typically happens when companies have vacancies to fill is that the people in HR and/or the hiring managers sit down and look at the role description for the jobs in question. They take into account the nature of the tasks and responsibilities that the roleholder would have to deal with, the skills they would need to possess to be able to do the job successfully and the personal qualities that would help them to be more effective in the role. Any half-decent recruiter will also consider the culture of the company so as to try and draw in applications from those people who would be more likely to fit in and share the same values.

Once all of this information has been assembled, they would then create a job advertisement which would probably include a few words about the organization itself, a job description, a person specification and instructions on how potential applicants should go about putting themselves forward for the position. Around the same time that the job advertisement is put together, those who are going to be involved in conducting the interviews, review the ad itself, as well as the job description, and design a set of questions which is explicitly aimed at establishing who would be the best fit for the role.

There’s no trickery involved and none of the questions are designed to catch candidates out. If the role involves lots of customer-facing activity, therefore, then you can bet that a good proportion of the questions will seek to establish how much experience each of the candidates has in this area, how they have handled certain challenging experiences involving customers in the past and what the outcomes of those experiences were. Alternatively, they might involve hypothetical scenarios which call upon candidates to explain how they would deal with these situations if they were to encounter them. In each case, the questions themselves would give interviewees an opening to talk about the skills and qualities they have used or would use to deal with these situations and so to demonstrate their suitability for the position.

Look carefully, therefore, at the job tasks and responsibilities as they appear in the job ad or job description and think about the skills and qualities that would be required to succeed in the role, and the questions that you are likely to be asked will become self-evident. Sometimes job advertisements are not very descriptive/informative. For such cases, have a look at more detailed descriptions for the same role, posted by other companies. You can also consult an occupational database (such as Career Compass or O*NET) , to get a general idea of what a particular job is all about.  This, however, isn’t where your preparation should stop.

The same role in the same company can look completely different depending upon the organization’s priorities at any given time. A business that’s going through tough economic times, for example, might expect quite different things from certain of its staff members than it would if it had just won a huge new contract. Ambitions to expand, mergers and reorganizations, strong competitors and a whole host of other things can change a business’ priorities enormously, and they can change the expectations of staff beyond recognition. For you to be able to understand where those priorities lie and what types of things your job interview questions are likely to focus on, you need to research the hiring company thoroughly. Ask yourself what the main issues are, that are facing the company and the industry at this moment in time, who the organization’s main competitors are, what they up to and what the hiring company is doing to try to stay ahead of them. Then look for answers on the company website, in press releases and news reports, in trade journals and on relevant online discussion forums to find your answers.

Also, think about how these concerns are likely to affect the recruiter’s idea of what success would look like in the role that you are applying for. Would it, for example, mean more emphasis on saving the organization lots of money as opposed to trying to bring in new clients or customers? Would it mean earning the company the reputation as the best in customer service rather than delivering high volumes of sales? Again, if you can get to the bottom of the recruiter’s current situation and uncover the pain points that the organization is experiencing, you can more easily work out the direction that the job interview questions are likely to take.

Another thing that interviewers could very well query are aspects of your own resume, so take a good, hard look at this too. Are there any gaps in your work history that they might want to explore for example, or are there any skills or achievements that they might want you to back up with explanations? Study your resume through a recruiter’s eyes and see whether there is anything that you would want to query in his or her position.

Predicting interview questions, or at least the most important ones, really isn’t that difficult. It just takes a bit of time and research and for you to think like the recruiter. Most of the clues are actually right there in the job ad, and those that aren’t can easily be found elsewhere. If you do your homework thoroughly at this stage, you’ll be able walk into the interview feeling fully prepared and brimming with confidence.

Top Tips for Acing Telephone Interviews

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Recruitment is a costly business for employers and the time and resources that it takes to plan, organize and conduct interviews in itself can place a considerable financial burden on them.  With only a resume to go on to help them decide who to invite for interview though, it can sometimes be hard to establish which of their many job applicants are most likely to be a good fit, not just in terms of their ability to do the job, but also in terms of the company’s culture.  Select the wrong ones and they could end up having to carry out second or even third rounds of interviews to give them a reasonable choice of candidate, which of course means that their recruitment costs spiral even further.

Telephone interviews are a very effective way for recruiters to screen potential candidates in or out, and of course being able to talk to applicants not only provides them with the opportunity to drill deeper into the contents of their resumes, but also gives them a much better insight into the applicants as people. 

In cases where recruiters/hiring managers are not based in your location, telephone interviews are an ideal way to make initial candidate assessments before committing to paying the travel and accommodation costs associated with face-to-face interviews.  Where the job requires a good telephone manner, they also represent an excellent method of gauging how well potential candidates perform over the phone.

Although telephone interviews might sound like a breeze compared to having to meet recruiters in the flesh, they can in fact be disasters waiting to happen if potential candidates aren’t fully prepared for them.  Many recruiters, for example, can recount tales of hearing the toilet flush in the background or of trying to conduct interviews with a TV blaring in the background which clearly killed the applicants’ chances of success.  So, if you want to make the best possible impression and ace your telephone interview, here are a few useful tips to help guide you.

  1. Although many employers will let you know that you need to take part in a phone interview and will arrange a mutually convenient time for it to take place, others will spring it on you unexpectedly.  Whenever you apply for a job, always assume that there will be a phone interview and prepare for it so that you are not caught off guard.
  2. Make sure that your resume and any notes that you make by way of preparation for a phone interview are always kept handy by the phone, along with a pen.  You might also find it useful to jot down any questions that you want to ask and perhaps a separate list of your achievements.
  3. If a recruiter calls you on your cell phone and you are not somewhere quiet where you can speak in private and your resume isn’t to hand, then explain to the caller that it isn’t convenient for you to take the call at the moment and arrange the phone interview for a more suitable day and/or time.
  4. Never eat, drink or smoke when you are talking to a recruiter on the phone. The sounds of chewing, swallowing and blowing out smoke transmit loudly down a phone line.
  5. Try to take some notes either during the interview or immediately afterwards.  The questions that you are asked in your phone interview could give you some great clues as to what to expect in the face-to-face interview to follow.
  6. Smile when you talk.  The interviewer may not be able to see your expression but he or she will be able to “hear” the smile in your voice.  Not only will it make you sound more enthusiastic, but it will also help you to sound and feel more relaxed.
  7. Speak slowly and clearly so that you can be properly heard and understood.
  8. Be very careful not to interrupt the interviewer while he or she is talking.
  9. Telephone interviews might seem less formal than face-to-face meetings but that’s no excuse for lapsing into a casual chat.  Remember, the only things that the interviewer has to go on are what you say and how you say it, so be sure to remain professional at all times.
  10. Because your telephone interview is going to be followed up by a face-to-face meeting, try to keep your answers short so that you have something new to talk about later.  Answer the interviewer’s questions, but try to let the interviewer know that he or she can find out many more wonderful things about you in a personal meeting.
  11. Don’t forget to thank the interviewer at the end of the call, as well as to express your interest in the position.
  12. Remember that practice makes perfect.  Just as you would do in advance of a face-to-face interview, try practicing your telephone interview technique with a friend beforehand.  Doing so will help you to gain confidence so that there will be less chance of you stuttering and stammering during the real thing.

Is Your Body Language Killing Your Job Interviews?

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According to eminent psychologist Albert Mehrabian, in cases where the feelings and attitudes that we express verbally don’t match up with the nonverbal messages that we give out during the course of face-to-face interactions, it is the tone of our voices and our nonverbal behaviors which others will believe, rather than our actual words.  In fact, in this type of situation, our words only contribute 7% in terms of our credibility, with tone of voice accounting for 38% and body language for 55%.
In an interview situation where the interviewer doesn’t know you from Adam, clearly what this means is that body language has immense potential to trip you up inadvertently, and yes, before you ask, body language is something that interviewers pay careful attention to.

From the very first second that an interviewer lays eyes on you, he or she will be forming an impression of you.  Before you have even taken your place in the interview hot seat, not only will your mode of dress have come under close scrutiny, but your overall demeanor, your gait, your facial expression and your handshake will also have given off their own vital signals.

The interviewee who slouches into the room with a bored expression on his or her face only to offer up a sloppy handshake, for example, will likely have sent a message to say, “I really can’t be bothered with any of this and I don’t really care whether I get the job.”  The one who marches into the room and crushes the interviewer’s hand in a vice-like grip, meanwhile, could either be perceived as overly-aggressive or arrogant, while the one who walks in confidently with a pleasant smile on his or her face and gives a firm handshake is likely to be seen as respectful and confident.  Even without a single word being exchanged, these nonverbal clues will help to form the basis of the interviewer’s all-important first impression.

The ways that we express ourselves in a nonverbal sense are, of course, many and varied.  Our posture, body movements, gait, facial expressions, eye movements and focus, and the ways that we touch ourselves and the objects around us all say something about who we are and how we are feeling at any given moment in time.  In addition, the physical distance that we put between ourselves and others and even our breathing give out valuable clues which others pick up on, even if just at a subconscious level.  Fidgeting, for example, can often indicate nervousness, although tapping the feet and drumming the fingers, is also a sign of boredom.  Failing to look people directly in the eyes when speaking to them, on the other hand, can demonstrate that an individual is painfully shy, but could also mean that they are being economical with the truth.  Crossing the arms across the chest, meanwhile, often indicates that a person is creating a barrier between him or herself and others, but in some situations it can also demonstrate defensiveness or opposition.

Next time you are preparing for a job interview and practicing your interview technique with a trusted friend or family member, try videotaping yourself so that you can play your performance back and take note of what your body language might be saying.  Also, ask your interview partner to pay special attention to your nonverbal messages and behavior so that he or she can share any negative signals that you might be unaware of sending out.  While it’s important not to get so hung up on body language that you can’t focus on how you respond verbally to your interviewer, becoming more aware of your behavioral clues will, to some degree at least, help you to keep them in check.

Confidence When You Need It

Sitting in an interview or standing up to make a presentation is much easier when you are feeling confident. Confidence gives you a presence and an inner strength. Appearing confident makes you more attractive to your listeners – they listen to what you say. Being confident makes you appear in control of a situation. So wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could ‘flick a switch’ and turn on confidence when you need it? Well you can – and here’s how in 5 easy steps.

Firstly, let’s explore and play. Remember a time when you felt totally confident – fully in control – feeling I can easily do this! As you remember that event, see what you saw then, hear what you heard, and feel how you felt. Just re-live the situation until you are actually ‘there’ – seeing what you saw, hearing what you heard, and feeling what you felt. You may also have a particular smell or taste associated with the experience – if so, smell what you smelt and taste what you tasted. Let the sights, sounds and feelings come over you. Now you have that feeling of confidence in your body that you had during that past event. Doesn’t it feel great!

Even if you have not got a memory of a time you felt totally confident, you can imagine it. One of the wonderful things about the human mind is its ability to dream – to imagine – to create in your mind a situation where you are totally confident and fully in control. And as you do, notice what you see, what you hear, and what you feel. Even this imagined scenario of feeling totally confident and fully in control causes your body to actually have those feelings. Your body cannot tell the difference between a real and an imagined scenario and gives you the feelings.

You can also imagine what a person you admire feels, whether that person is a movie star, a politician or somebody you work with. In your mind, you can imagine that person in a particular situation – perhaps in an interview or perhaps giving a presentation – and you can see what they would see, hear what they would hear, and feel the total confidence they have – the feeling of being fully in control. As you do, notice that you actually feel the confidence!

So now that you know you can feel the confidence in an imagined scenario, you can also aggrandize or enhance your own memory of that time you felt confident. As you re-live that experience – as you see what you saw, hear what you heard, and feel the confidence, feel totally in control – just heighten the feelings – turn up those feelings so that you are feeling even more confident – even more totally in control – even more powerful. The only limit is the depth of your imagination.

The Technique

Step 1

Be clear about the resourceful state of mind you wish to have – above it was described as being totally confident, fully in control, totally powerful – but you should use your own words to describe the state you want to be in.

Step 2

Decide on an ‘anchor’ you will use to fire off the totally confident (etc.) feeling. The desired state of mind will be ‘anchored’ to an easily repeated gesture, or phrase or symbol. This might be squeezing the top of your little finger or making a tight fist with your hand. Or it could be a phrase you say in your mind such as “I’m confident – really confident!” or “yes, yes!”. Or it may be something you see – a symbol perhaps. Just remember that you will need to repeat this ‘anchor’ at the start of your interview or presentation, so the anchor should be easy to repeat in the appropriate situation.

Step 3

Go back to a time in the past when you felt totally confident (or however you describe it) – to a specific occasion when you felt totally confident – and re-live the experience so that you see what you saw, heard what you heard, smell what you smelt, and feel what you felt.

Step 4

Just before the experience reaches its peak – when the sights, sounds, smell and feelings are almost at their strongest – anchor it as described in Step 2.

Step 5

Now think of something totally different or look out the window and notice what is happening outside. Just come out of the state you entered. Now fire off your anchor again and notice the extent to which you feel totally confident (or however you describe it). If it is not as intense as you want it to be, repeat the process to more closely link the anchor and the desired feeling of total confidence.

Repeat this process often to reinforce the link between the anchor and your desired state of feeling totally confident. Repetition will keep the anchor active so that you can be confident just when you need it.

Build Rapport & Instantly Connect With Your Interviewer

What does Building Rapport mean?

Rapport is a relationship of trust, sympathy, respect and understanding. It is essential for good communication as it ensures that others are open to your views and ideas. It is a situation where you know you are being listened to. Rapport is when two people connect – when they ‘click’ or ‘hit it off’ – when they understand and like one another, even though they might just have met.

Therapists, counsellors, businessmen, sales people, trainers and educators all understand the importance to their work of building the trust and empathy that is rapport.

I’m sure you have seen two friends sitting at a bar or table and its obvious they like and understand one another. Their body language matches and mirrors that of the other – they use similar gestures, make and hold eye contact, and eat or drink at the same time. They are relaxed in one another’s company. If you could overhear their conversation you would notice that they use similar words and phrases, and their voice tone, rhythm and talking speed all match. They are in rapport with one another.

So, if you are going for an interview, wouldn’t it be useful to know how to go about building rapport with your interviewer? Wouldn’t it be useful to know that you can deliberately connect with the other person and know that they are really listening to you, and are sympathetic to you?

How to build rapport

Knowing what happens when two people are in rapport gives us an idea of how to go about building it. The signs of rapport discussed above give an indication of what we need to do to build rapport. However, rapport is a relationship between two people – you and another. For rapport to exist or be established, both people need to be doing certain things, and you can only control your side of this relationship (at least initially). So you need to take their cue and follow their body language, words or voice. Here’s how:

Match or mirror aspects of their body language, in order to build rapport

When two people are in rapport, they match and mirror one another’s body language. To match another person, tapping their left foot for instance, you would tap your left foot too and at the same pace. If they gesture with their right hand, to mirror them you would gesture with your left hand – it should look as if their gesture was done in front of a mirror! The intention is not to fully mimic the other person as that may well be offensive to them. Rather, what you need to do is pick up on some aspect of their body language and adopt it yourself.

For example, look at their posture. In an interview, you most probably will only see the upper part of the other person’s body. How are they sitting? How do they hold their head? You can easily adopt the same posture without it being consciously noticed.

Most people use gestures when they speak. Unless the other person’s gestures are so unique that it would be obvious if you copied them, you can use a similar gesture. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same, just similar.

People have different breathing habits. They breathe at different rates and from different locations. Some breathe in the top of their chest, others in the middle or down near the abdomen. They can breathe fast or slow. Watch people and notice their breathing. Practice breathing the way another person does, both in terms of the location and the pace. Then you will be able to match other people when you need or want to.

However, do not try to match a person who breathes very fast or very slow – this could be both uncomfortable and dangerous for you. Instead, match the rate of their breathing with your finger – lift it as they breathe in and lower it as they breathe out. Your gesture will be in rhythm with their breathing.

Words and voice tonality can also help with building rapport

Notice the words and key phrases that people use. Again, without actually fully mimicking them, use the words they use when you talk to them. Subtly include their key phrases in your own conversation. You could also occasionally repeat their sentences, especially when they ask you a question. Repeating their sentence will seem as if you are considering it before you answer, but done at the same pace and rhythm can be a rapport builder.

People speak at a particular tone, pace and rhythm. You can adopt these too, but its best not to do all at the same time as this might sound like you are mimicking them. Try talking at the same speed as the other person. Or adopt a similar tone. You don’t have to get it exactly right – a movement towards their tone, speed or pace will build rapport.

Smile! An easy way to build rapport

The easiest way to build rapport is to smile! Smiling at someone usually produces a smile in return. When both people are smiling – when they are doing the same thing – they are in or on the way to being in rapport. However, unless you already smile a lot, you will need to practice until you do it naturally. Attempting to turn on a smile when you don’t usually smile might end up like a snarl! People who smile frequently are generally liked by other people – people like to be smiled at. Smiling also increases a person’s level of happiness. So, smile, smile, smile!

Practice

Some of these techniques for building repport come naturally to people and others need to be practiced to build proficiency. Take them one at a time and practice them. As you become more familiar with them, you will be able to productively use these techniques when they are needed. Try these techniques when sitting on the train or bus – you may be pleasantly surprised by what happens – you may even make a new friend!

A great question to ask during a job interview

As a job seeker, there are many questions you can ask during a job interview:

What type of training do you offer?

What is the typical career advancement for this position?

Who will I be working with?

What are the key strategic objectives for the company in Asia, over the next few years

What are the main goals the department and I would need to achieve?

And so on…..

There is one more question to ask during a job interview that can be very useful.

It involves getting direct/immediate feedback from the interviewer and asking them what their concerns are. Here is an example of such a question – “Based on our discussion today and my background, is there anything at all that would stop you from considering/recommending me for this position. If so, I would appreciate if you could share your concerns/thoughts, so that I can address them while I am here.”

This question can achieve a few important benefits:

  • If there are no apparent/major concerns the interviewer’s response will usually be a quick and natural “Not really.” In such an instance you have got yourself some immediate feedback on how the interview went and do not have to second guess and keep thinking how it went later on.
  • In the event that the interviewer has some reservations but does not mention them, you might be able to judge this from their non-verbal cues/gestures and probe further to get more information from them.
  • If the interviewer does have some concerns and says something like “We are looking for a person with more/or less of XYZ,” you can ask questions to get to the heart of their concern and get more specific/detailed information. If possible, you can then address the weakness/concern and provide appropriate examples/information to show why it might not be a big problem, rather than being rejected without any chance to provide an explanation.
  • You receive valuable insights on how to change your approach during future interviews, to make sure that you deal with the concerns mentioned upfront.
  • Many a times the interviewer might have some misconception or might have interpreted some information/responses wrongly and if they bring that up you can provide clarification accordingly.

In case you are at a loss for a question to ask during a job interview, try this one and see what happens.

How To Answer The “Tell me about yourself” Job Interview question

“Tell me about yourself” – This is an interview question that is used quite often in Singapore and is one that you should certainly prepare an answer for. Interviewers like it because it provides an easy starting point and can also cover a lot of ground. Also many interviewers don’t really know what questions to ask, so this is an easy way out.

For you as an interviewee, “Tell me about yourself” is a great question. It gives you an opportunity to provide a detailed background about yourself and can also help you steer the interview in a direction that you want.

You might be tempted to provide your entire life history (where you grew up, how many children you have, and so on) as a response to this question; however, most of it will be irrelevant. It is important to focus on what the interviewer is most interested in – which is anything that shows you will be able to perform the job well. One good approach to handle the question is provided below:

First provide a summary of your past education and experience. At this point do not give too much information. For your work experience, mention where you worked and what your role involved. For your education, skip school and start with university. Talk about which university you went to (especially if it is well known) and what you studied (especially if it is relevant for the target job).

Then for the most relevant education/experience you can elaborate a bit by talking about some of your important achievements, which showcase the key strengths (most needed for the target job) you displayed, along with a specific example/situation to serve as proof. A good format to use for this is CAR:

  • Challenge: What was the situation or challenge that you faced?
  • Action: What actions did you take to overcome the challenge?
  • Results: What were the results?

I hope these tips give you enough guidance to effectively prepare for an answer the “Tell me about yourself” interview question, during your interviews in Singapore.