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One of the things that make most job seekers uncomfortable is salary negotiation.

may be asking for too little, or too much or worse wreck your chances of getting the best
possible salary deal. Negotiations will be smoother if you know what to ask. Mentioned
below are 6 questions that job hunters should ask during salary negotiation.
1. Is this negotiable? - You have been short listed and the offer letter has been sent
across. This is when you politely ask if the salary is negotiable. Asking this will make it
clear to you if your recruiters are ready to put more money on the table. If the answer is
a blunt no, move on to negotiating other things.

2. Is this base only? You should be aware if the amount offered to you is just the
base compensation or total compensation. When you ask is this base only? it portrays
that you have done your homework and are interested in details of bonus and
increments. This will also open up opportunities for you to ask about annual hikes and
the likes.

3. How will I be evaluated? Will it affect my raise? Though these are two separate
questions they are usually liked because in most organizations a raise is given on the
basis of evaluation of performance. There is a chance that your company may have a
different policy, so to be on the safe side, ask.

4. When do the benefits start? Could you provide me with the details? Benefits like
life insurance and medical claims are offered by organizations. If your insurance or the
likes are going to expire and need to be renewed you can ask your new employers to
find a solution to it.

5. May I have a job description? This is just to verify the job description discussed
with you during the interview. It will give you a clear view of the list of duties you are
expected to do. If some of the pointers were not mentioned to you previously you can
use them to persuade your employer to pay you more.

6. When would you like an answer? We live in a society where being thoughtful is
appreciated more than being impulsive. Therefore, you should never accept any job
offer immediately. When you say I think this a great opportunity but I will need to think

about it and get back to you it buys you time which you can use to strategise your
salary negotiation further. You should also avoid mentioning that you need to discuss
the opportunity with your parents or spouse. This makes you seem incapable of taking
decisions all by yourself.

When you ask these questions you make your prospect employers aware of your
capabilities as a good negotiator. It also brings across that you have done your
homework and people cannot trick you into doing something you dont want to. After all,
you want the recruiter to know that they are making a wise decision by hiring you and
that you are not going to come inexpensive.

In Pictures: How to Prepare for Common

Interview Questions
How to prepare for common job interview questions:
Do your homework. One of the biggest complaints
of hiring managers is that many job interview candidates
know very little about the company theyre interviewing
for, says Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to
Corporation: The Practical Guide to Climbing the
Corporate Ladder One Rung at a Time, and host of the
YouTube channel FromGradToCorp. Google the
company youre interviewing with and read some of the
articles that pop up; study the companys website; know
the companys mission, its products and services, its
locations, and who their top executives are. Go to the
Public Relations tab on their website and print out some
of their latest press releases. Study them so that you can
talk in the interview about whats going on with the
company now, he says.
Prepare a list of likely questions. Shweta Khare,
a career and job search expert says getting a list of
common questions for an interview is easier than ever
before. You can never underestimate the importance of

preparation. Its the first step and the most important,

she says.
Identify what the organization wants and
needs. While the focus of Why should we hire you?
(and other similar interview questions) is on you, the
interviewee, its important to remember the answer isnt
all about you, says Miriam Salpeter, job search coach,
owner of Keppie Careers and author ofSocial
Networking for Career Success and 100 Conversations
for Career Success.
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The most successful interview responses focus on the

hiring managers needs. Framing replies that
demonstrate you understand their problems, or pain
points, makes a big difference when competing with
many other qualified candidates.
Prepare by identifying the skills employers are looking
for. Use their in-depth job descriptions, view videos the
employers post about their organization, and visit
their Facebook page and Twitter feeds, she suggests.
Google yourself. Find out what the company knows
about you, Teach adds. See what they see. If theres
anything negative about you, have a response ready as to
why its negative but dont get too defensive. Respond
and then move on.
Interview yourself for the position. Before every
interview, ask yourself: Why am I a good fit for this
I tell my clients to post the question, Why should we
hire you? on their bathroom mirror, refrigerator or
anyplace they will see it during the day, Salpeter says. I

instruct them to answer, out loud, keeping different

companies in mind each time. Rehearsing this way will
help you hone in on what you have to offer.
Identify what is unique or special about you. How have
you gone above and beyond the call of duty? What did
you accomplish that no one else managed to do? Did you
volunteer to tackle a problem and solve it? Dont
underestimate the value of looking at yourself, your skills
and your accomplishments and outlining the key points
you will want to share with a prospective employer.
Practice and plan. Role play answering typical
interview questions with a friend, colleague, or coach,
says Anita Attridge, a Five OClock Club career and
executive coach. Be prepared for the typical interview
questions by thinking about what your response would
be to them before the interview, she adds.
If you are a college student, set up an appointment with
your career center and have them conduct a mock
interview with you. Even if youre a recent graduate,
many college career centers will conduct mock interviews
to help alumni, Tech says. Request that your interview
is filmed so that they can critique you and you can study
the film. Dont worry if youre nervous or you screw up.
Youre much better off screwing up in a mock interview
than in the real thing.
You dont necessarily want to memorize responsesbut
try to have a general strategy for answering common
interview questions. Today many organizations are
using behavioral interview questions to better
understand what you have done, Attridge says. They
usually begin with, Tell me about a time when She

suggests briefly describing what the situation was; how

you handled the situation; and what the result was.
To prepare for these, youll want to think about
workplace experience stories that describe your
accomplishments or show how you dealt with a tough
situation, Khare says. If you dont have any stories that
you can recall now, set aside a few hours to think and
write down at least two or three stories. A simple
question like, Tell me about a time you made a mistake,
can take you off-guard and it is not easy to recall
unrehearsed. Having a repository of work experience
stories written down before an interview will make it
easier to recall.
Reflect on previous interviews. Keep a computer or
paper record of your interviews, Teach says. Keep a
record of the time of your interviews, how long they
are, your impressions of the hiring manager, and
perhaps most importantly, what questions were asked of
you, what answers you gave, and record any questions
they asked you that you felt could have been answered
differently. Study these elements and your interview
skills will improve, he says.
Figure out how to articulate your goals. Most of
the commonly asked questions during an interview either
dig into your previous experience or want to explore your
future goals, Khare says. Prepare and articulate your
goals, and remain honest here. Inconsistent answers
wont get you the respect and credibility that is a must to
impress an interviewer.
Be positive. When preparing for an interview and
anticipating likely questions, plan to answer all questions
positively. Even if you were in a bad situation, think
about how you can talk about the situation positively,

Attridge says. You always have a choice. It is much better

to talk about a glass being half full then to talk about it
being half empty. Its all about your perspective, and in
an interview being positive counts.
Never say anything negative about your prior employers
or bosses, eitherno matter how bad the situation may
have been. A negative answer actually is a reflection
about your judgment and business acumen, and not
about the employer or manager.
Get comfortable. Preparation and practice aside, the
most important tip I would like to suggest to job seekers
is to feel comfortable with the interview process, Khare
says. You can read all the advice in the world about
acing the interview, but none of the tactics will work out
of you are not yourself during the process.
Feeling comfortable and relaxed positively influences
your confidence. And interviewers always appreciate a
relaxed and confident candidate, as opposed to a heavy
promoter and edgy one, she adds. Practice calming your
nerves, and focus on how you can prove youd be a
valuable asset to the company.
How to answer 7 of the most common interview
Tell me about yourself. While this isnt exactly a
question, answering this the wrong way could really hurt
your chances of getting a job, Teach says. I was once told
by an HR executive that this can actually be a trick
question. Hiring managers cant ask you certain
questions legally but if you go off on a tangent when
answering, you may tell them some things about you
that are better left unsaid. The worst way to approach
this request is to tell them your life story, which is
something theyre definitely not interested in. The best

way to approach this is to only discuss what your

interests are relating to the job and why your background
makes you a great candidate.
What are your strengths and weaknesses? Its
easy to talk about your strengths; youre detail oriented,
hard working, a team player, etc.but its also easy to get
tripped up when discussing your weaknesses, Teach says.
Never talk about a real weakness unless its something
youve defeated. Many hiring managers are hip to the
overused responses, such as, Well, my biggest weakness
is that I work too hard so I need try to take it easy once in
a while. The best answer is to discuss a weakness that
youve turned around, such as, you used to come in late
to work a lot but after your supervisor explained why it
was necessary for you to come in on time, you were never
late again.
Where do you want to be five years from
now? What employers are really asking is, Is this job
even close to your presumed career path? Are you just
applying to this job because you need something? Are
your long-term career plans similar to what we see for
this role? How realistic are your expectations for your
career? Have you even thought about your career longterm? Are you going to quit after a year or two? says
Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of FlexJobs.
Show them that youve done some self-assessment and
career planning. Let them know that you hope to develop
professionally and take on additional responsibilities at
that particular company. Dont say something ridiculous
like, I dont know, or I want your job, she says.
Teach says no one can possibly know where theyll be in
their career five years from now but hiring managers
want to get a sense of your commitment to the job, the
company, and the industry. In fact, I would even

mention that its hard for you to know what job title you
may hold five years from now but ideally, youd like to
have moved up the ladder at this company based on your
performance. Youre hopeful to be in some management
position and your goal is to help the company any way
you can. If you give the impression that this job is just a
stepping stone for you, its unlikely the hiring manager
will be interested in you.
Please give me an example of a time when you
had a problem with a supervisor/co-worker and
how you approached the problem. I think that
the hardest thing about work isnt the work, its the
people at work, Teach says. Most employees have a
problem with a supervisor or co-worker at some point in
their career. How they handle that problem says a lot
about their people skills. If you can explain to the
interviewer that you were able to overcome a people
problem at work, this will definitely help your chances of
getting the job, he says.
What are your salary requirements? What
employers are really asking is, Do you have realistic
expectations when it comes to salary? Are we on the
same page or are you going to want way more than we
can give? Are you flexible on this point or is your
expectation set in stone? Sutton Fell says.
Try to avoid answering this question in the first interview
because you may shortchange yourself by doing so, Teach
says. Tell the hiring manager that if you are seriously
being considered, you could give them a salary rangebut
if possible, let them make the first offer. Study websites
like and to get an idea of what
the position should pay. Dont necessarily accept their
first offer, he adds. There may be room to negotiate.

When it is time to give a number, be sure to take your

experience and education levels into consideration,
Sutton Fell says. Also, your geographic region, since
salary varies by location. Speak in ranges when giving
figures, and mention that you are flexible in this area and
that youre open to benefits, as well. Be brief and to the
point, and be comfortable with the silence that may come
Why are you leaving your current job? Hiring
managers want to know your motivation for wanting to
leave your current job. Are you an opportunist just
looking for more money or are you looking for a job that
you hope will turn into a career? If youre leaving because
you dont like your boss, dont talk negatively about your
bossjust say you have different work philosophies,
Teach says. If the work was boring to you, just mention
that youre looking for a more challenging position.
Discuss the positives that came out of your most recent
job and focus on why you think this new position is ideal
for you and why youll be a great fit for their company.
If youve already left your previous job (or you were
fired), Sutton Fell suggests the following:

If you got fired: Do not trash your last boss or company. Tell
them that you were unfortunately let go, that you understand
their reasoning and youve recognized areas that you need to
improve in, and then tell them how you will be a better employee
because of it.
If you got laid off: Again, do not trash your last boss or
company. Tell them that you were let go, and that you
understand the circumstances behind their decision; that you are
committed to your future and not dwelling on the past; and that
you are ready to apply everything that you learned in your last
role to a new company.
If you quit: Do not go into details about your unhappiness or
dissatisfaction. Instead, tell them that while you valued the
experience and education that you received, you felt that the

time had come to seek out a new opportunity, to expand your

skills and knowledge, and to find a company with which you
could grow.

Why should I hire you? A hiring manager may not

ask you this question directly but every question you
answer in the interview should contribute to helping
them understand why youre the best person for the job.
Stay focused on why your background makes you an
ideal candidate and tell them how you are going to
contribute to that department and that company, Teach
says. Let the interviewer know that one of your goals is
to make their job easier by taking on as much
responsibility as possible and that you will be excited
about this job starting on day one.
Salpeter suggests you print and highlight the job
description, looking for the top three or four most
important details. Do they include terms such as, crossfunctional team, team work, and team player several
times? If so, your answer to, Why should we hire you?
(asked directly or as an underlying question) should
mention and focus on your abilities as they relate to

What are the ten most common

questions asked at graduate
At the University of Kent we asked students what questions they were asked
at graduate selection interviews by a variety of employers and for a range of
jobs. Whereas we doubt if this survey is very reliable it does give an idea of
the key questions to watch out for, and to prepare answers to, at interview.
You can find an excellent inforgraphic of this page produced by Headway
Recruitment here

Of course questions were sometimes asked in slightly different formats. For

example,"Why do you want this job?" was sometimes phrased "Why do you
want to be an accountant/social worker/journalist?"

1. Why do you want this

One of the most predictable questions
and very important! You need
to demonstrate that you have
researched the employer and tie
your knowledge of them into
the skillsand interests that led you to
apply. For example, an interviewee
with a small public relations
agency might say:
"I'm always ready to take on
responsibility and feel this will come more quickly with a firm of this size. A
small firm also gives the chance to build closer working relationships with
clients and colleagues and I've found through my past work experience that
this makes an organisation more effective as well as more satisfying to work
Try to find some specific feature on which the employer prides
themselves: their training, their client base, their individuality, their public
image, etc. This may not always be possible with very small
organisations but you may be able to pick up something of this nature from
the interviewer.
See our Commercial Awareness page for more help with this

2. Have you got any questions?

At the end of the interview, it is likely that you will be given the chance to
put your own questions to the interviewer.

Keep them brief: there may be other interviewees waiting.

Ask about the work itself, training and career development: not
about holidays, pensions, and season ticket loans!

Prepare some questions in advance: it is OK to write these down

and to refer to your notes to remind yourself of what you wanted to

It often happens that, during the interview, all the points that
you had noted down to ask about will be covered before you
get to this stage. In this situation, you can respond as
Interviewer: Well, that seems to have covered everything: is there
anything you would like to ask me?
Interviewee: Thank you: I'd made a note to ask about your appraisal
system and the study arrangements for professional exams, but we went
over those earlier and I really feel you've covered everything that I need to
know at this moment.
You can also use this opportunity to tell the interviewer anything about
yourself that they have not raised during the interview but which you
feel is important to your application:
Don't feel you have to wait until this point to ask questions - if the chance to
ask a question seems to arise naturally in the course of the interview, take
it! Remember that a traditional interview is a conversation - with a purpose.
Examples of
you can ask
These are just
a few ideas you should
certainly not
attempt to ask
them all and
indeed it's best
to formulate
your own
tailored to your
and the job
you are being
for! Make sure
you have researched the employer carefully, so that you are not asking for
information which you should be expected to know already.

Is there a fixed period of training for graduates?

I see it is possible to switch job functions - how often does this


Do you send your managers on external training courses?

Where would I be based - is this job function located only in ...?

How easy is it for new graduates to find accommodation in this area?

How often is a graduate's performance appraised?

What is a typical career path in this job function?

Can you give me more details of your training programme?

Will I be working in a team? If so, what is the make-up of these


What is the turnover of graduates in this company?

What are the possibilities of using my languages?

What are the travel/mobility requirements of this job?

How would you see this company developing over the next five years?

How would you describe the atmosphere in this company?

What is your personal experience of working for this organisation?

3. Describe a situation in which you led a team.

This is an example of a competency-based question. Many graduate
positions involve people management, where you will be expected to plan,
organise and guide the work of others as well as motivating them to
complete tasks. The interviewer needs to assess how well you relate to other
people, what role you take in a group and whether you are able to focus on
goals and targets.
Outline the situation, your role and the task of the group
overall. Describe any problems which arose and how they were tackled. Say
what the result was and what you learned from it. Examples could include

putting on a drama or music production; a group project at university; a

business game or Young Enterprise scheme or being team leader in a fastfood restaurant.
This, and other skills which the employer considers essential for effective
performance in the job, should have been highlighted in the job description
or graduate brochure - so always be prepared to give examples of situations
where you have demonstrated these qualities! While your example should
indicate the nature of the team and the task, you need to focus on your own
role as leader and on the personal qualities that led you to take on/be
nominated for this role and which helped you to succeed in it. Leadership
involves many skills: planning, decision-making, persuading,
motivating, listening, co-ordinating - but not dictating!
See our Leadership Styles page for more help with this

4. Describe a situation where you worked in a

Another competency-based question. Most jobs will involve a degree of
teamwork. The interviewer needs to assess how well you relate other
people, what role you take in a group and whether you are able to focus
on goals and targets.
Outline the situation, your particular role and the task of the group overall.
Describe any problems which arose and how they were tackled. Say what
the result was and what you learned from it.
Examples could include putting on a drama or music production; a group
project at university; a business game or "Young Enterprise" scheme or
working in a fast-food restaurant.
See our Teamworking page for more help with this

5. What do you expect to be doing in 5 years

Try to avoid vague or general answers such as I would hope to grow with
the responsibility I am offered and to develop myskills as far as I am
able or I would expect to be in a management role by then.
Be specific, but flexible: recruiters want to know you know what you want.
Hiring, training and developing staff costs a lot of money, something like
7,000 to recruit a new graduate, so they want to make sure that you are
committed to staying with the organisation. "I'd like to gradually take more

and more responsibility and perhaps by then be a brand manager for a

major product."
Talk about your interest in the industry in which the company with operates.
Emphasise the value you can bring to the organisation and what you can do
for it.
You need to show that you are ambitious but also your goals must be
realistic - saying you expect to be a senior manager after two years is
unlikely to go down well! Use the employer's website or LinkedIn profiles to
gain an idea of the career paths followed by past graduates. You may be
able to supplement this by showing your knowledge of professional bodies
and the steps you will need to take to gain their qualifications, e.g. in areas
such as marketing or HR.
This question allows you to demonstrate that you have done your research
on the career routes open to you within the organisation and so you should
try to be more specific - not necessarily tying yourself down to a particular
route, but showing that you have at least a general idea of where you want
to go.
Talk about responsibilities you would like to have and expected achievements
rather than how much you would expect to be earning in five year time as
this will make an employer think you're more interested in the material
benefits than the career itself. Talk about your career development: skills
you'd like to acquire or you'd like to be using, and professional qualifications
you'd like to get.
See our Commercial Awareness page for more
help with this

6. What are your weaknesses?

One interviewee,
asked about her
weaknesses, thought
briefly and then
replied "Wine,
chocolate and men though not
necessarily in that

The classic answer here is to state a strength

which is disguised as a weakness, such as "I'm
too much of a perfectionist" or "I push myself too
hard". This approach has been used so often that,
even if these answers really are true they sound
clichd. Also,interviewers will know this trick. If
you feel they really apply to you, give examples: you
She got the job!
could say that your attention to detail and
perfectionism make you very single-minded when at
work, often blotting out others in your need to get the task done.

A better strategy, is to choose a weakness that you have worked on to

improveand describe what action you are taking to remedy the weakness.
For example: "I'm not a very self-confident person and used to find it very
difficult to talk to people I didn't know well, but my Saturday job in the local
library meant that I had to help people with all kinds of queries and that
helped me a lot. Now I'm perfectly happy talking to anybody on a one-toone basis and I've joined the debating society this year to give me
experience of speaking in front of an audience."
Don't deny that you have any weaknesses - everyone has weaknesses
and if you refuse to admit to them the interviewer will mark you down as
arrogant, untruthful or lacking in self-awareness
This question may be phrased in other ways, such as "How would your worst
enemy describe you?"

7. Who else have you applied to/got interviews

You are being asked to demonstrate the consistency of your career
aims as well as your interest in the job for which you are being
interviewed. So if you have applied to one large accountancy firm it is
reasonable to assume you will be applying to them all.
What you can certainly say in your favour, however, is that the present
employer is your first choice. You may even answer the question by
explaining you have yet to apply to any other organisations for this very
reason. Perhaps your application to the other firms is imminent, depending
on the stage you are at in the recruitment cycle.
Give examples that are:

Relevant - related to the business you are presently being

interviewed for

Prestigious. They will reflect well on the firm interviewing you

Consistent. Not from lots of different job areas or employment groups

of less interest to you than the present opportunity

Successful so far. Do not list those firms who have rejected you.

See our Commercial Awareness page for more help with this

8. Why did you choose your university and what

factors influenced your choice?
If you had, in fact, no real choice in where you went to University - e.g. if
you had to study close to home for financial or family reasons - you can talk
about the more general issues you had to consider in coming to University
and perhaps lead the question round to your choice of course rather than
Your actual answer is less important than the evidence of decisionmaking, planning and logical reasoning skills that it should
demonstrate. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate these key skills.

9. What are your strengths?

This allows you to put across your "Unique Selling Points" - three or four
of your key strengths. Try to back these points up with examples of
where you have had to use them.
Consider the requirements of the job and compare these with all your own
attributes - your personality, skills, abilities or experience. Where they
match you should consider these to be your major strengths. The employer
certainly will.
For example, team work, interpersonal skills, creative problem solving,
dependability, reliability, originality, leadership etc., could all be cited as
strengths. Work out which is most important for the particular job in
question and make sure you illustrate your answer with examples from as
many parts of your experience, not just university, as you can.
This question may be phrased in other ways, such as "Tell me about
yourself" or "How would a friend describe you?"

10. What has been your

greatest achievement?

And some less common

questions which have
been asked in

To say that your greatest achievement was

getting to University, or getting your degree,
will do nothing to distinguish you from all
the other candidates. Unless you have had
to contend with exceptional difficulties to
gain your academic qualifications - such as
illness or major family problems - try to say
something different that will make you stand
This doesn't have to be an Olympic medal or
an act of heroism. Ideally, it should
give evidence of skills relevant to the
job such
ascommunication, initiative, teamwork, orga
nising or determination:

Duke of Edinburgh's gold award especially the expedition and

community service parts

Why aren't you in a

more interesting

Does your health

insurance cover pets?

Does your company

have a policy
regarding concealed

Do you think the

company would be
willing to lower my

What are the zodiac

signs of the board

What is it that you

people do in this

What is the company


Organising a sports or fund-raising


"Overcoming my fear of heights and

learning to abseil"

"Learning enough Spanish in three

months to make myself understood when I traveled around Mexico"

Training for and completing a marathon .. or even a 5 Kilometre race

Other common questions (in rough order of

popularity) were:

Why do you want to join our organisation?

What would you do if ........ happened? (hypothetical questions)

Describe a situation in which you dealt with confrontation (for example

a difficult customer).

Describe a situation in which you influenced or motivated people.

What other careers have you considered/applied for?

Why did you choose your degree subject?

Describe yourself (in one word).

Are you prepared to be mobile?

Describe a situation in which you used initiative.

Describe a situation in which you solved a problem.

Describe a situation in which you took responsibility.

What are your hobbies?

What was your biggest setback? (How do you deal with adversity?)

Tell me about your project

Describe a situation where you had to plan or organise something.

What computing skills do you have?

What is your usual role in a team?

Describe a situation where you had a difficult decision to make.

How to perform well in a

telephone or Skype interview

What are they?

Who uses telephone interviews?

How long do they last?

Advantages of telephone interviews

Disadvantages of telephone interviews


What questions will I be asked?

Will I be given any tests?

Skype interviews

Video interviews and robotic interviews

Tips from Kent students who have had telephone interviews

What are they?

They are real interviews held over the phone rather than face-to-face. You
will usually be interviewed by a member of the graduate recruitment or HR
A telephone interview will usually be given to candidates who have
passed the online application and/or psychometric teststage of the
graduate recruitment process and is used to sift out applicants to be invited
to a face-to-face interview or assessment
One company had telephone

Who uses telephone


screening interviews with 10

graduates and not one had done
any research into the company,
leading to every single one
being rejected! See
our commercial awareness page

You are more likely to have a telephone

interview with one of the large corporate
recruiters than with a small or medium
sized company. Telephone interviews are
used by all kinds of employers banks,
accountancy and law firms, consultancies, retailers, manufacturing
companies etc

Companies that use telephone interviews include Tesco, HSBC, Corus, BT,
Lloyds of London, Shell, GlaxoSmithKline, Vodaphone, BSkyB and many
They are especially common
for sales-related jobs, such as
recruitment consultancy and
particularly (surprise!) telesales,
where verbal communication
skills are paramount.
You may also expect a telephone
interview if you are applying
for jobs abroad in which case
calls may come in at all hours of
the day or night!

How long do they

Based on a small sample of 14 Kent students who have had telephone
interviews recently, they varied in length from 20 minutes to 1 hour, with the
average length being half an hour: see the pie chart on the right for details.

Advantages of telephone interviews

For the employer:

They are time and costeffective - most last about 20-25


A survey by
found that the most popular
location for telephone interviews
They test your verbal
was the candidate's bedroom
communication skills and
(29%) or living room (25%),
telephone technique.
but 9% of job seekers have
been interviewed whilst in the
For you:
bath and one candidate whilst
riding a horse! 60% of under 34
You can refer (quickly!) to your years old had had a phone
application form, take notes
interview, compared to 32%
even hold on to your teddy bear for aged 45 to 50.
moral support.

You don't need to dress up or smarten up.

You don't need to spend time traveling to interview or wonder if

the employer will pay your expenses.

Disadvantages of telephone interviews (for you)

You can't see the interviewer to gauge their response.

Tension you never know when an employer might call to interview


They can seem to go very quickly, without giving you much time to
think about your answers - so be well prepared!

According to a survey of 2,500

office employees

"Very distant and cold style of

interview: no chitchat. They
only want to know if you can fill
by Jurys Inn Hotels and
their criteria. High rate of
CrossCountry trains, almost 40% questions. Not at all easy but a
of 18-24 year olds said they
good experience. "
were nervous of using the
Kent graduate commenting on
phone in the workplacewhile one their telephone interview.
in twenty said they are terrified of
using the phone, with 94%
claiming to prefer email communication to the phone.

The advertisement may ask you to 'phone the


This gives you total control over the time and place of the interview
although means that you will have to pay for the call. At the time
arranged, make sure you are in a quiet location and that you will not
be disturbed during the call.

. . or they may phone you in response to your

CV/application form
You will normally be advised when the telephone call will be
made so always be prepared for this:

Keep your mobile with you, charged, topped up and switched on at

the appropriate time! Make sure that the reception is OK.

If you have given a landline number, and share a house with other
students/graduates or live in the family home, try andprepare other
people in the house for these calls and prevent replies such as: Lo.
Uh? Who? Oh, right OI! DAVE! ITS FOR YOU!

Try and take the phone to as quiet and private a location as


If the call does come

One student had a fire alarm go
unexpectedly and you are not
off in the middle of their
preparedsay "Thank you for
telephone interview!
calling, do you mind waiting for a
minute while I close the door/turn
off the radio/take the phone to a quieter room?". This will give you a
little time to compose yourself.

If it really is a bad time, offer to call back, fix a time and stick to it.

Check your answerphone message: is it one that you would want a

prospective employer to hear? Does it give a professional impression?
If not, change it just in case you do miss a call for any reason.


Keep a copy of your application and

information on the company handy, plus a
pen and notepad to take notes. Have
your laptop turned on if your application is
on this.

Before the call, make a list of your USP's

(unique selling points): the things that
make you better in some ways than most of
the other people who will be applying.

Don't just read out your notes as this will

sound stilted.

Its useful to have a glass of water to hand during a phone

interview (but move the phone away from your mouth when
you swallow ). You will be doing a lot of talking and you dont
want your mouth to dry up at a crucial moment!

Smile when you dial! (and, more importantly, when you

speak): it really does make a difference to your tone of voice.

Although the interviewer cant see you, you may find it easier
to come over in a professional manner if you are sitting at
a desk or table rather than lounging in bed.

In a face to face interview, you show that you are listening

via non-verbal signals such as nodding your head. Over the
phone you have to show this by the occasional "OK", "uh-huh",
"I see", "I understand", "yes" or similar interjections.

Listen very carefully to the interviewer and try to answer with

a lively tone of voice. Speak clearly and not too fast.

Reflect back what the speaker is saying in other words.

This shows you're listening carefully and checks you are
understanding. It is often the most useful way of giving positive
feedback to someone: "I hear what you're saying and take it
seriously". You can't keep saying "uh-huh" or "yes" for too long
without it sounding false.

Immediately after the interview, write down the questions

you were asked and any ways in which you could have
improved your responses.

What questions will I be asked?

These will be identical to those asked in a face to face
Here are some questions that Kent students have been asked at
telephone interviews.

How you choose your

university degree?

Why do you want to

work for our organisation?

Can you mention a time

when you have used your
leadership skills?

Why do you want to

work in the job you have
applied for?

When have you set

yourself a goal? What
challenges did you face?

Describe a time when

you have exceeded a

What qualities are

important to work in the role
you are applying for?
What evidence can you
give to show you possess
these qualities?

Describe when you had

to motivate others?

What do you think is

important when
communicating with people?

What skills do you have

to offer to a team?

What is your greatest


What do we do?

Are you willing to be

mobile on the job?

Tell me a time you have


customer's expectations

Tell me about a time

when you have had to cope
with pressure

Why shouldn't we hire


Where do you see

yourself in 5 years time?

Tell me about a challenge

you have faced. How did you
conduct the challenge? What
were the advantages and
disadvantages of your method?
The steps you took? The

What do you think your

job would involve doing?

Commercial awareness
what has been in news
recently that would affect our

Describe a time when

you had to deal with a difficult

Do you have any

questions for us?

When have you used

your initiative to achieve a

For help with these see our answers

to 150 interview questions

"The telephone is
such an important
Will I be given any tests?
invention that one
Perhaps tests can quite easily be administered
day every town will
over the phone. The interviewer may read out a
have one"
series of statements and you will be asked to say if
you agree or disagree. Sometimes this can be done
Alexander Graham
by pressing the telephone keys.
The tests involved are more likely to be
personality-type questions than reasoning tests. For example, you may
be asked to rate the extent to which you felt the following activities reflect
your personal style, from 1 (not at all) to 5 (a lot):

Meeting new people

Setting yourself targets to achieve

Working on your own

Repairing mechanical equipment

Skype interviews
Conducting interviews via Skype offers employers all the advantages
of a telephone interview in terms of cost-effectiveness with the
bonus of being able to see the candidate. While they are still not
as widely used as telephone interviews, they are particularly helpful
for international recruitment when interviewing the candidate
in another country e.g. for TEFL teachers. Universities often use
them when interviewing candidates for postgraduate study and
As the candidate, you are likely to find that face-to-face contact with
the interviewer helps to make the interview a slightly less unnatural
experience. The disadvantage is that you will have to dress as
smartly as you would for a real-life interview (at least from the waist
up!) and it wont be quite as easy to refer to your notes or
application form during the interview.
A Skype interview will be more like a real-life interview than a
telephone interview, but the following points are worth keeping in

When preparing for the interview, choose your location


Use a private room (not a study area) and put a Do Not

Disturb Interview in Progress sign on the door.

Sitting at a desk or table, rather than in an armchair or on the

bed, will help you feel more professional as you will be sitting up

Make sure that the interviewer is not going to be

distracted by anything in
According to a survey by
the background tatty
posters, lamps, unmade bed, OfficeTeam more than six out of
10 HR managers in the United
piles of unwashed laundry,
States now use video to
interview job applicants.

If you live on the ground

Many British firms are now
floor it may be a good idea
doing the same.
to pull down the blinds to
avoid any of your so-called
friends pulling faces through the window, but make sure that
the lighting is bright enough for the interviewer to see you

Ask a friend to Skype you before the interview to check

that everything is working, that the background is clear and that
any notes or crib sheets are out of view of the camera.

Turn off any other programs running on your computer

you dont want to be distracted by an email suddenly popping up
while you are speaking.

Dress smartly as you would for a normal interview as this

will make you feel more confident. You can however wear
your pyjama bottoms if these are out of view of the camera!

Look at the camera so it looks like you are talking directly to

the employer and smile! Make sure the webcam aligns on
your face and shoulders. Sit up straight with a good posture
rather than slouching.

Speak clearly into the microphone. Avoid speaking at the

same time as other people as this can make it difficult to hear
what is being said on Skype, so you must to allow people to
finish speaking to avoid missing information.

Consider turning off your

own picture in the top right
corner as this can be

Make sure that you have a

phone number and/or
email for your
interviewer, so that you can
contact them in the case of
any technical problems.

A survey by Right
Management found that 18% of
candidates have had a video
interview in the past year more
than twice the number a year
ago. 82% of hiring managers
have used Skype, and 6% used
pre-recorded platforms.
Nineteen percent used video
interviews and more than twothirds expect video interviews to
be used more in the next three
years. (See Video
Interviews below).

For further advice, see:


Skype interview advice

Skype interviews

BBC Article: skype interviews: Is it more tricky to be

grilled by video?

Businesses wasting time and money on face-to-face


Video interviews
The use of recorded video interviews is increasing. These started with
technology companies, but have now spread to mainstream
employers. These differ from Skype interviews in that all
candidates are usually asked the same questions which can be
tailored to the specific job the employer is recruiting for. Recruiters
have the opportunity to replay, review, and rate the interviews
online, so they can compare candidates without having to remember
who said what.
In a recent survey of employers in the US
9.4% currently accepted video CVs
7.1% planned to accept video CVs in the future
28.2% wished to research the implications of video CVs before

accepting them
55.3% did not accept video CVs and probably would not in the future.
A structure used by one company is as follows

Arrangements for an interview are scheduled at a company office

or via the applicant's laptop or tablet.

A tutorial will provide instructions on the webcam and the


The applicant will have 30 seconds to read the question and two
minutes to respond.

How to get prepare. Many of the tips for Skype

interviews above also apply

Ask for help (available online or by phone) if you don't know how
the webcam works or if you have questions.

Follow the directions carefully

Dress just like you would for a face to face interview.

Practice - record yourself to see how you appear on camera.

Be aware of your surroundings and the lighting.

Look at the camera, not down at the desk or table.

A video interview is a "real" interview, just like when you

interview in an office. Given that the interview can be scored and
reviewed, it can be even more important than a typical first
round phone interview

Robotic interviews!
Some companies are now using virtual interviewers using life-like
avatars to ask the questions normally asked by an interviewer via
online video interview software. It helps companies to save money and
improves the candidates interview experience. The average cost per
hire in the UK is about 5,000, and this software may save 43% of the
screening cost by reducing the time involved in the process.

The avatar keeps interviewees engaged via visual, audio and text
prompts and is visible during the whole process so that the interviewee
has something to focus on. Avatars are consistent, asking each
question in the same way to each interviewee. See New software
replaces recruiters with avatars (HR Grapevine)

Tips from Kent students who have had telephone interviews

Shut yourself away in a quiet place. Have a glass of water

by the phone.

Be positive and articulate. Initial presentation is vital: you

phoning them means first impressions really count. It's
actually good fun though, provided you're prepared. (graduate sales

Supply good examples. Talk slowly! (Smith and Williamson


Relax, speak confidently (Accenture)

Interviewer was very nice and didn't mind if you took a few
minutes to think. Their call centre is very noisy so you have to
speak quite loud for them to hear you properly (HP)

The structure of the interview was explained well and the

interviewer seemed friendly. (Logica)

If you do your research and follow the advice on the

careers website you should have no problemswith the
telephone interview. I was notified of passing the interview after five
days. When first contacted to arrange time for interview, the HR
person made a point of stating that no knowledge would be needed
of SAS for the telephone interview. I ignored this and read their
website, their Wikipedia page and any other information that Google
produced. Unsurprisingly, the first question asked was about my
knowledge of SAS! After about five minutes the interviewer moved
on to other questions, so always do your research on the
company. The rest of the interview questions were the standard;
tell me a time when style of question, although one I was not
expecting was tell me about a time when you had to persuade

someone to change their mind and how did you achieve this? (SAS)

Read your application and give strong examples. They

seemed friendly: treat it as a chat and relax as they are quite
people-focused and pride themselves on their open
approach. (Grant Thornton Accountants)

Calm down and be prepared. Think of examples when you

demonstrated the competencies that they are looking
for. (Mercer Investment Consulting)

Prior to the telephone interview there were online

numerical and verbal tests. Take your time. Keep your answers
to a reasonable length. Each competency question was covering a
key area. Make sure you read through your application answers
beforehand. (3M )

When on the phone, make sure you have a copy of your

application form in front of you - and notes! (Cable & Wireless)

Prior to the telephone interview there was verbal tests. Make

sure you read through your application answers beforehand.
Interview is entirely on soft skills. No need to worry about time
limit , you'll even be asked if you wish to add to an earlier
statement. (Orange)

Prepare for interviews by researching the

company (including recent press releases) and re-reading your
original application. Personality test took about 10 minutes.
Questions were describing a situation and asking which course of
action you would take (multiple choice answers) (Barratt Homes)

Just be yourself, try to relax and dont panic when they fire
the questions at you. The questions seem to be based on your
application and your knowledge of BT. They are checking if you fit
in with their business. Asked a lot of questions, and they kept
asking similar questions again to check you were telling the truth.
They appeared to be checking what you had written on your
application form and CV, and were trying to ensure it was true. This
was certainly a verbal reasoning test and a test to see if you could
think on the spot. It was hard not to repeat yourself. (BT)

It was a telephone based interview consists of a role play

and competency questions. Just prepare answers for all the
common questions and you should ace the interview. The
telephone interview can be tricky and the interviewer will be difficult
during the role, so just stay calm and think practically. (Centrica)

For details of telephone interviews with a range of

companies see our Interview Reports

How to Answer 23 of the Most

Common Interview Questions
By Paul Michael on 4 October 2007 (Updated 19 November 2013)274 comments


Photo: Marco Bellucci / Flickr

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Let's face it; no one likes the interview process. Well, certainly not the people being
interviewed anyway. You have to be on your best behavior, you only get one chance to get it
right, and it's like taking your driving test all over again. Over the years I've been to
countless interviews. To get my first job out of college I attended some 15-20 interviews a
week. Whether it was in Britain or over here in the States, the questions never really
seemed to change from job to job. Not only that, but the answers to them are usually the
same, with your own personal interpretation of course. Here I present 23 questions you're
likely to be asked, and how I have learned to answer them. Why 23? Because I had more
than 20 and less than 25. Remember, being interviewed is a skill, and if you do the
preparation you should ace it every time. (See also: 12 Unique Ways to Score a Job

1. So, tell me a little about yourself.

I'd be very surprised if you haven't been asked this one at every interview. It's probably the
most asked question because it sets the stage for the interview and it gets you talking. Be
careful not to give the interviewer your life story here. You don't need to explain everything
from birth to present day. Relevant facts about education, your career and your current life
situation are fine.

2. Why are you looking (or why did you leave you last job)?
This should be a straightforward question to answer, but it can trip you up. Presumably you
are looking for a new job (or any job) because you want to advance your career and get a
position that allows you to grow as a person and an employee. It's not a good idea to
mention money here, it can make you sound mercenary. And if you are in the unfortunate

situation of having been downsized, stay positive and be as brief as possible about it. If you
were fired, you'll need a good explanation. But once again, stay positive.

3. Tell me what you know about this company.

Do your homework before you go to any interview. Whether it's being the VP of marketing
or the mailroom clerk, you should know about the company or business you're going to
work for. Has this company been in the news lately? Who are the people in the company you
should know about? Do the background work, it will make you stand out as someone who
comes prepared, and is genuinely interested in the company and the job.

4. Why do you want to work at X Company?

This should be directly related to the last question. Any research you've done on the
company should have led you to the conclusion that you'd want to work there. After all,
you're at the interview, right? Put some thought into this answer before you have your
interview, mention your career goals and highlight forward-thinking goals and career plans.

5. What relevant experience do you have?

Hopefully if you're applying for this position you have bags of related experience, and if
that's the case you should mention it all. But if you're switching careers or trying something
a little different, your experience may initially not look like it's matching up. That's when you
need a little honest creativity to match the experiences required with the ones you have.
People skills are people skills after all, you just need to show how customer service skills
can apply to internal management positions, and so on.

6. If your previous co-workers were here, what would they say about
Ok, this is not the time for full disclosure. If some people from your past are going to say
you're a boring A-hole, you don't need to bring that up. Stay positive, always, and maybe
have a few specific quotes in mind. "They'd say I was a hard worker" or even better "John
Doe has always said I was the most reliable, creative problem-solver he'd ever met."

7. Have you done anything to further your experience?

This could include anything from night classes to hobbies and sports. If it's related, it's
worth mentioning. Obviously anything to do with further education is great, but maybe
you're spending time on a home improvement project to work on skills such as selfsufficiency, time management and motivation.

8. Where else have you applied?

This is a good way to hint that you're in demand, without sounding like you're whoring
yourself all over town. So, be honest and mention a few other companies but don't go into
detail. The fact that you're seriously looking and keeping your options open is what the
interviewer is driving at.

9. How are you when you're working under pressure?

Once again, there are a few ways to answer this but they should all be positive. You may
work well under pressure, you may thrive under pressure, and you may actually PREFER
working under pressure. If you say you crumble like aged blue cheese, this is not going to
help you get your foot in the door.

10. What motivates you to do a good job?

The answer to this one is not money, even if it is. You should be motivated by life's noble
pursuits. You want recognition for a job well done. You want to become better at your job.
You want to help others or be a leader in your field.

11. What's your greatest strength?

This is your chance to shine. You're being asked to explain why you are a great employee,
so don't hold back and stay do stay positive. You could be someone who thrives under
pressure, a great motivator, an amazing problem solver or someone with extraordinary
attention to detail. If your greatest strength, however, is to drink anyone under the table or

get a top score on Mario Kart, keep it to yourself. The interviewer is looking for work-related

12. What's your biggest weakness?

If you're completely honest, you may be kicking yourself in the butt. If you say you don't
have one, you're obviously lying. This is a horrible question and one that politicians have
become masters at answering. They say things like "I'm perhaps too committed to my work
and don't spend enough time with my family." Oh, there's a fireable offense. I've even heard
"I think I'm too good at my job, it can often make people jealous." Please, let's keep our
feet on the ground. If you're asked this question, give a small, work-related flaw that you're
working hard to improve. Example: "I've been told I occasionally focus on details and miss
the bigger picture, so I've been spending time laying out the complete project every day to
see my overall progress."

13. Let's talk about salary. What are you looking for?
Run for cover! This is one tricky game to play in an interview. Even if you know the salary
range for the job, if you answer first you're already showing all your cards. You want as
much as possible, the employer wants you for as little as you're willing to take. Before you
apply, take a look at for a good idea of what someone with your specific
experience should be paid. You may want to say, "well, that's something I've thought long
and hard about and I think someone with my experience should get between X & Y." Or, you
could be sly and say, "right now, I'm more interested in talking more about what the
position can offer my career." That could at least buy you a little time to scope out the
situation. But if you do have a specific figure in mind and you are confident that you can get
it, I'd say go for it. I have on many occasions, and every time I got very close to that figure
(both below and sometimes above).

14. Are you good at working in a team?

Unless you have the I.Q. of a houseplant, you'll always answer YES to this one. It's the only
answer. How can anyone function inside an organization if they are a loner? You may want

to mention what part you like to play in a team though; it's a great chance to explain that
you're a natural leader.

15. Tell me a suggestion you have made that was implemented.

It's important here to focus on the word "implemented." There's nothing wrong with having
a thousand great ideas, but if the only place they live is on your notepad what's the point?
Better still, you need a good ending. If your previous company took your advice and ended
up going bankrupt, that's not such a great example either. Be prepared with a story about
an idea of yours that was taken from idea to implementation, and considered successful.

16. Has anything ever irritated you about people you've worked with?
Of course, you have a list as long as your arm. But you can't say that, it shows you as being
negative and difficult to work with. The best way to answer this one is to think for a while
and then say something like "I've always got on just fine with my co-workers actually."

17. Is there anyone you just could not work with?

No. Well, unless you're talking about murderers, racists, rapists, thieves or other dastardly
characters, you can work with anyone. Otherwise you could be flagged as someone who's
picky and difficult if you say, "I can't work with anyone who's a Bronco's fan. Sorry."

18. Tell me about any issues you've had with a previous boss.
Arrgh! If you fall for this one you shouldn't be hired anyway. The interviewer is testing you
to see if you'll speak badly about your previous supervisor. Simply answer this question with
extreme tact, diplomacy and if necessary, a big fat loss of memory. In short, you've never
had any issues.

19. Would you rather work for money or job satisfaction?

It's not a very fair question is it? We'd all love to get paid a Trump-like salary doing a job we
love but that's rare indeed. It's fine to say money is important, but remember that

NOTHING is more important to you than the job. Otherwise, you're just someone looking for
a bigger paycheck.

20. Would you rather be liked or feared?

I have been asked this a lot, in various incarnations. The first time I just drew a blank and
said, "I don't know." That went over badly, but it was right at the start of my career when I
had little to no experience. Since then I've realized that my genuine answer is "Neither, I'd
rather be respected." You don't want to be feared because fear is no way to motivate a
team. You may got the job done but at what cost? Similarly, if you're everyone's best friend
you'll find it difficult to make tough decisions or hit deadlines. But when you're respected,
you don't have to be a complete bastard or a lame duck to get the job done.

21. Are you willing to put the interests of X Company ahead of your
Again, another nasty question. If you say yes, you're a corporate whore who doesn't care
about family. If you say no, you're disloyal to the company. I'm afraid that you'll probably
have to say yes to this one though, because you're trying to be the perfect employee at this
point, and perfect employees don't cut out early for Jimmy's baseball game.

22. So, explain why I should hire you.

As I'm sure you know, "because I'm great" or "I really need a job" are not good answers
here. This is a time to give the employer a laundry list of your greatest talents that just so
happen to match the job description. It's also good to avoid taking potshots at other
potential candidates here. Focus on yourself and your talents, not other people's flaws.

23. Finally, do you have any questions to ask me?

I'll finish the way I started, with one of the most common questions asked in interviews.
This directly relates to the research you've done on the company and also gives you a
chance to show how eager and prepared you are. You'll probably want to ask about benefits
if they haven't been covered already. A good generic one is "how soon could I start, if I

were offered the job of course." You may also ask what you'd be working on. Specifically, in
the role you're applying for and how that affects the rest of the company. Always have
questions ready, greeting this one with a blank stare is a rotten way to finish your interview.
Good luck and happy job hunting.