Interview Preparation Help

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Coping With Job Interviews

  | James Innes

Most of our clients are understandably nervous about attending job interviews - but nerves can often be a useful tool for sharpening up your performance. However, if your nerves take over to the extent that they interfere with your ability to come across well at interview, then it's clear that you need to calm down. The key to preventing pre-interview jitters is to prepare yourself thoroughly....

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Tough Interview Questions

  | James Innes

In any interview, it is quite possible that you will be faced with having to answer questions that require you to give what seems to be a negative response. This can include being asked to explain what you consider your weaknesses to be, why you failed an exam or even explaining why you were dismissed from a previous position. The trick in any situation like this is to turn this potentially negative situation into a positive one, something that can of course be quite hard to achieve....

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Assessment Centres - How to Succeed

  | James Innes

Assessment Centres are becoming increasingly popular with employers and are considered by many to be the most reliable, objective and fair process of selecting suitable candidates. Traditionally, Assessment Centres have formed the second stage of the interview process, but employers are now often using them as a first interview, enabling them to create a shortlist of the most suitable applicants....

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Presentations

  | James Innes

It is becoming increasingly common for presentations to be delivered as part of the recruitment process, enabling employers to assess your talent for effective organisation, your communication skills, and your ability to collate and analyse information. ...

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Body Language

  | James Innes

If you have been selected for an interview, you have obviously impressed your potential employer - your next challenge is to maintain their positive perception of you in the interview stage. A good interviewer is trained to make an informed assessment of a candidate based not only on what they say but also on how they present themselves, and body language may prove to be a key factor in their decision-making process. It is therefore essential to come across as confident, enthusiastic and capable of rising to the challenge, even if you really feel terrified, negative and ready to run away!...

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Psychometric Testing

  | James Innes

Psychometric Tests have been developed as a means of assessing an individual's character and abilities and are often used by employers to ensure that a candidate is suitable for a specific role. They are becoming increasingly popular during the recruitment process either in the initial stages, where it is necessary to whittle down a large number of applicants, or in the latter stages to finalise the decision. Employers can use generalised psychometric tests or they can even use tests that are specifically tailored towards assessing suitability for a particular role. For example, an administrator would need to be able to demonstrate organisational skills, efficiency and good written communication skills and a psychometric test could be developed to assess these particular attributes....

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Online Psychometric Tests

  | James Innes

Online Psychometric Tests...

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Behaviour Interviews

  | James Innes

Behaviour Interviews are becoming increasingly popular with recruiters as the fairest and most effective means of selecting the most suitable candidate for a position. Also called Competency Based Interviews, they seek to establish how, in the past, you have demonstrated the key competencies required for the position in order to judge your potential to fulfil the job role....

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Telephone Interviews

  | James Innes

The majority of telephone interviews are conducted in the early stages of the recruitment process so that an employer can assess how serious you are about the job before inviting you to attend a face-to-face interview. They are also commonly used as a way of whittling down a large number of applications in a cost effective and less time consuming way. The telephone interview is therefore of vital importance and can be the deciding factor in whether or not your application will be taken any further....

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Top Interview Questions and Answers

  | James Innes

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?...

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How would you describe yourself?

  | James Innes

There’s no need to back up this answer with examples – such as outlining a time when you were particularly understanding with a colleague. It would be going too far....

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In what ways are you a team player?

  | James Innes

I certainly very much enjoy working with others; I’m outgoing, I enjoy the team spirit and I’m understanding of the needs of others. I’m good at helping the team to see the bigger picture – to see the wood from the trees – helping them to focus on what really matters rather than getting bogged down in irrelevant detail. I’m also good at helping the team to spot flaws in our approach – and potential problems and pitfalls....

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Do you work well on your own initiative?

  | James Innes

Even if you do prefer to work on your own, it’s best not to mention this. You don’t want to risk being labelled ‘not a team player’. This question doesn’t ask whether you prefer to work on your own; it simply asks how capable you are of doing so....

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What techniques do you use to get things done?

  | James Innes

Careful planning is critical to my ability to get things done: planning, organisation and action. I rely heavily on ‘To Do’ lists. These enable me to capture and record everything which I need to action. I maintain a master To Do list but also have separate To Do lists for each particular project I’m handling. I review these at least once a day so as to identify my priorities....

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What motivates you?

  | James Innes

I’m very results-driven. Doing a good job and achieving the desired end result is my primary motivation. While I enjoy working on a project on my own, I’m particularly motivated by the buzz of working in a team. It’s very rewarding working closely with others who share the same common goal. I like to take on a challenge; I like to rise to that challenge as part of a concerted team effort – and I naturally appreciate it when my boss compliments me for a job well done...

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Are you proactive?

  | James Innes

Yes, I would consider myself to be proactive. I believe it’s very important to be as proactive as possible. As the saying goes, a stitch in time saves nine! When my team is working on a project I always do my best to identify possible problems in advance and to make sure that we address them. Recently, a major project of ours was severely affected by a key member of staff leaving the company overnight (for personal reasons)....

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Are you creative?

  | James Innes

Yes, I believe I’m a creative individual. I’m certainly able to think laterally and to be inventive in terms of finding solutions to problems. Quantity surveying isn’t generally seen as a particularly creative profession but I have nevertheless used my creative abilities on numerous occasions, for example converting old manual systems of reporting to highly automated – and much more accurate – spreadsheet based systems. This saved myself and my team a considerable amount of time in the long-term as well as meaning we were less exposed to the professional embarrassment of errors in our calculations. ...

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Are you a risk-taker?

  | James Innes

It depends on how you define risk. I am certainly not somebody who takes unnecessary risks, nor risks that would in any way compromise anyone’s personal safety. However, I fully appreciate that commercial success is dependent on taking risks – calculated risks. If, having given a matter careful consideration and weighed up the possible ramifications, I determine that a risk is – in the best interests of the business – worth taking, then I am not afraid to take it. ...

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How do you handle pressure and stress?

  | James Innes

Working for a small start-up company the past few years has naturally been quite a high pressure experience on occasion. I’ve had to deal with numerous conflicting demands on my time – and often very limited resources. With careful planning and organisation you can normally reduce the pressure you are under – but there will always be factors at play which are outside of your control....

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Can you tell me about a time when you have failed to achieve a goal?

  | James Innes

As well as pinpointing a particular ‘failure’ in your career, the interviewer will also be gauging your overall attitude to failure – how you deal with adversity. Everyone experiences some failures during the course of their careers but not everybody bounces back and learns as much from the experience as they perhaps should....

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What's the worst mistake you've made at work?

  | James Innes

What the interviewer is trying to extract from you here is not an admission of guilt but a demonstration of how you reacted to your error and what steps you took to resolve it. You can learn a lot about someone from the way they handle their mistakes....

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How would you handle the following situation?

  | James Innes

Often, an interviewer may pose a hypothetical, scenario-based question telling you to imagine yourself in a difficult or negative situation and asking how you would deal with it....

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Can you tell me about a major project you have successfully completed?

  | James Innes

The interviewer isn’t really interested in the project itself; they’re interested in how you successfully completed the project. They’re looking for evidence of your ability to successfully complete a project and they’re trying to ascertain how your key skills contribute to this ability....

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Can you tell me about a major problem at work that you've had?

  | James Innes

Problems are inevitable, no matter what your line of work. The interviewer isn’t particularly interested in the problem per se. What they’re interested in his how you dealt with it – what action you took and what the outcome of that action was....

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We have a problem with x. How would you resolve that?

  | James Innes

If you’re asked the alternative question, “Can you tell me about a difficult problem that you resolved?” then you’re lucky – because you can prepare a perfect example for this well in advance of the interview. Please refer to the previous question, Question 14, “Can you tell me about a major problem at work that you’ve had to deal with?” for details of how best to handle this....

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What do you do when you disagree with your line manager?

  | James Innes

Inevitably there will be times when I disagree with my manager’s point of view – or with a decision she has taken or intends to take. In my current role, my manager welcomes input from her team and, while I appreciate that it isn’t appropriate to openly disagree with her, I will query issues in private with her as necessary. ...

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How would you describe yourself as a manager?

  | James Innes

I’m a very hands-on manager. While I am clearly in charge of my team, we are nonetheless a team – and I am very much a member of that team. When the circumstances require it, I will assert my authority and lead my staff in the direction I have determined we should go. However, I’m always open to input, ideas and suggestions and consider myself to be very approachable in that respect. ...

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An example of when you successfully coached a member of your team?

  | James Innes

In my current job for a mail-order company, I work as part of a team, processing orders received and liaising directly with our customers by telephone to handle and resolve any problems or queries. While administration forms the majority of the workload, there’s also a lot of customer contact. Recently, my manager took the decision to hire a new team member who had a lot of very valuable customer-facing experience but not so much administrative experience...

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What is your customer service philosophy?

  | James Innes

I believe the customer is central to everything we do. Profits are certainly our ultimate goal but, without customer satisfaction, profits will suffer. I consequently attach a lot of importance to customer service. A business is nothing without its customers and it’s vital to recognise this. I believe I have strong customer service skills – and working with the public is certainly something I enjoy. It’s not always easy of course. Recently, I had to deal with a particularly difficult client who was – fairly unreasonably, it has to be said – very dissatisfied with the solution our sales team had sold them. Rather than let the complaint escalate, I took the time to calmly and patiently listen to the customer and to demonstrate that I understood and empathised with their concerns. ...

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How did you get your last job?

  | James Innes

It was actually quite complicated. I was keen for a new challenge and had already started looking around when I saw in the local newspaper that they were opening a new branch in the area. I sent in a speculative application to the HR department at their head office and they wrote back to say that they would only be recruiting through their preferred recruitment agency. So I called them up immediately and, having run through a few key points on my CV, managed to persuade them to at least interview me. ...

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What does your current job involve on a day-to-day basis?

  | James Innes

My most important responsibility is to achieve sales. I spend most of my day on the shop floor, talking directly to potential customers and trying to establish their needs. I have a very thorough knowledge of our product range so, if they’re unsure of their decision, I can give them appropriate advice. I can also steer them towards other – perhaps more expensive – product lines that they haven’t already considered. By building rapport with the customer – and addressing any concerns they may have – I have a good chance of closing the sale....

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What contribution do you make to the department in which you work?

  | James Innes

While I am technically part of the IT department, all my colleagues focus very much on keeping the company’s computer infrastructure fully functional. As the company’s only Web Developer, I work very much on my own in managing and enhancing the website. I do liaise closely with other departments though, most particularly Marketing and HR. As the website is primarily used as a marketing vehicle and as a way to source new employees...

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What changes have you made to your current job role since you started?

  | James Innes

When I first took over the role, I noticed that my predecessor (who was in the job for many years) had been using a number of rather out-dated and laborious systems to help them manage the allocation of work to our sub-contractors. This was clearly wasting a significant amount of time – and time is money....

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What have you learned in your last job?

  | James Innes

My last job was an excellent learning opportunity and I developed my skills and experience in numerous different ways. While I already had strong IT skills, I didn’t have any previous experience of Microsoft Access. When my employer introduced a new order management system which used Access they gave me the opportunity to undertake additional training so as to be able to work effectively with this....

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Can you tell me about your last appraisal?

  | James Innes

My last appraisal was very positive. My manager felt that I had made excellent progress in many areas and had really mastered the intricacies of the project we were working on. He did say that he felt other members of the team had become too dependent on me and that a lot of my time was being taken up in showing them how to tackle difficult or unusual issues. ...

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How would you describe your current boss?

  | James Innes

I’m fortunate to have a pretty positive working relationship with my boss. She gives me a high degree of latitude to get on with my job while always being there to help me with any unusual or difficult situations – to lend me the benefit of her experience. Like many managers, she’s often very busy but she does a good job of closely supervising her team, steering us in the right direction and helping us to achieve the results that are expected of us. I know she appreciates the work I do and this obviously helps to motivate me and to strive to achieve my very best....

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Why did you leave that job?

  | James Innes

I was only in that job for a couple of months and I unfortunately left it sooner than I would have liked to. I had an initial probationary period of three months and, during that time I regrettably had an argument with a customer. I felt they were being extremely unreasonable and, rather than pacifying them, I let the situation escalate....

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Which of your jobs was the best?

  | James Innes

I have tried to plan my career path carefully, only changing jobs when the right role has presented itself. However, I would say my best ever job was my role with Elisabeth Elkins Catering. I was given a considerable degree of autonomy to conceive, plan and implement our marketing strategy. I had a highly productive working relationship with the Managing Director and the outcome was clearly very successful – our sales more than tripled by the end of my two years....

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Why is there a gap in your resume/CV?

  | James Innes

Inability to find a suitable position: This is definitely the most common cause for there being a gap in a CV. The problem you face is that if you tell an interviewer you were struggling to find work then that’s inevitably going to worry them. You need to deal with this by explaining carefully that the right job isn’t always available at the right time. For further advice on how to handle this then please take a look at Question 13, “You’ve been out of work for a while. Has it been difficult finding a job?” in the next chapter, Chapter 4: The top 25 tough questions: taking the heat....

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What do you know about us as an organisation?

  | James Innes

I’ve naturally done some research into your organisation so as to ensure that I fully understand what kind of organisation I would be working for. I read on your website that your sales levels have grown at an average of 25% year on year for the past five years and that you are now working on your expansion into the United States. You’re clearly a very progressive organisation and that’s exactly what I’m looking for....

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What do you know about our products/services?

  | James Innes

I’ve actually got one of your posters framed on the wall at home. I was already familiar with the range you offer and, since seeing this vacancy advertised, I have had a closer and more detailed look....

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What do you think are our organisation's greatest strengths...

  | James Innes

I think your greatest strengths are your market-leading position and the customer service philosophy which has resulted in this. Every business has its weakness and I think we’d agree that your greatest weakness is the lack of a comprehensive marketing strategy. As we’ve already discussed, you focus on a few key marketing avenues and are leaving a lot of money on the table in certain other areas....

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What do you know about the vacancy for which you are applying?

  | James Innes

I’ve carefully studied both the job description and the person specification so I believe I’m fully aware of the precise duties and responsibilities the role entails. You’ve also helped to clarify a few points during the course of this interview....

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How do your skills/experience match the job description specification?

  | James Innes

I believe my skills and experience are a very good match for the person specification. You’re looking for someone with a significant amount of high-level experience in the retail clothing sector. I now have 25 years’ experience within this sector, most recently as General Manager of a flagship central London store. ...

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What appeals to you most about this vacancy?

  | James Innes

I’m particularly taken by the importance you place on customer service. In too many organisations customer service is very much a secondary priority whereas you place the customer at the centre of everything you do. As a Customer Service Manager, I am naturally very committed to excellence in customer service – and I am very keen to work with an organisation that attaches the same importance to customer service that I do. A business is nothing without its customers; it’s vital to recognise this – and your reputation for customer service is clearly enviable. It sets you apart from the competition....

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Why have you chosen this line of work?

  | James Innes

Both my parents are accountants so I grew up listening to them talking about their work together – and I was always very interested in their working lives. While I considered a range of other options, I’ve always had a particular talent for mathematics and, ultimately, accountancy was evidently the best choice. I enjoy working with figures; ...

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Are there any other organisations to which you are applying?

  | James Innes

Finding the right position is obviously very important to me so I am being rather thorough in my job search. I have been quite selective but I have identified a number of different jobs and organisations which fit my criteria and my applications for these vacancies have reached varying stages. However, this opportunity with yourselves remains my preferred choice – both because of the specifics of the role in question and because the organisation itself is one I feel to be particularly appropriate to me....

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How does this job compare to others for which you are applying?

  | James Innes

This job clearly has the edge on other applications I am pursuing. I have taken my time to identify a number of possibilities which are closely suited to me – so as not to waste my time nor anybody else’s. They all have various pros and cons but I am particularly attracted to this job because I feel it offers the best opportunities for me to develop professionally and make a major contribution. It’s a perfect match for my skills and experience. I also believe I will fit in very well with the organisation as a whole....

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Can you describe your ideal employer to me?

  | James Innes

My ideal employer would be a large yet growing company with a strong reputation within its sector, a company which offers plenty of scope for progression within the hierarchy. While my preference is for a larger organisation, I want to work for a company which nevertheless has a dynamic and progressive approach. Your organisation certainly more than meets those requirements....

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What sort of person would you most like to work for?

  | James Innes

I’d most like to work for someone who has the same approach as I do to getting things done – planning, organisation and action. Also, I’m always keen to take on new duties and responsibilities so I’d welcome a manager who was prepared to give me the chance to continue my professional development. Besides this, a good manager is of course always approachable, supportive and sensitive to the needs of their team; while I’m good at working on my own initiative, every team needs a leader to give it direction....

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In what ways is your degree relevant to the work you are now doing?

  | James Innes

While my degree in Geography is of course not directly relevant to my current role as a Market Researcher, it was nevertheless a very worthwhile experience in many different ways. I developed a broad set of transferable skills, including how to compile, interpret and analyse data – skills I now apply on a daily basis. I also undertook a number of team projects, working together to achieve a goal, including writing up the results of our findings...

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What have you learned and how have you developed?

  | James Innes

Over the course of the past five years, I have made an effort to develop my skills and experience in numerous different ways. I have matured as an individual and my experience of working with others – both colleagues and customers – has contributed a lot to my interpersonal skills. I am also better able to see the bigger picture and how my role relates to the overall goals of the organisation. Having built up a broad range of experience,...

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What sports are you/have you been involved in?

  | James Innes

There’s currently little routine to my life. Business needs are such that I travel very frequently and consequently work irregular hours. This leaves little room for me to participate in any sporting activities....

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Do you know what the current headline news is?

  | James Innes

I like to keep abreast of current affairs – mainly via the BBC News website, which gives me a thorough, but balanced, overview. The major news at the moment remains the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. It’s a tragic situation and it’s very hard to see what the long-term solution is going to be, so deep-rooted are the problems....

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How quickly can you adapt to a new work environment?

  | James Innes

I believe I’m very good at adapting to changes in my circumstances. While every organisation is different and no two jobs I’ve had have ever been the same, the core requirements of my role don’t change. I appreciate that there will inevitably be new procedures that I need to absorb and adhere to – and it also takes time to forge positive working relationships with new colleagues. However, I don’t anticipate it taking very long at all before I’m fully up to speed and making a major contribution...

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Would it be a problem if we asked you to work overtime/weekends?

  | James Innes

I’m reasonably flexible and if business needs are such that it would be advantageous for me to worker longer hours – and even weekends – then, depending on my other commitments, I would certainly be prepared to do so. However, I would hope that this would be the exception rather than the rule. I do believe in a life outside of work and, while my job is clearly very important to me,...

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What is your current salary package?

  | James Innes

I currently have a basic salary of £32,200 with a Ford Mondeo company car. I also receive an annual bonus; this year it was £2,500. While my remuneration is clearly important, it’s most certainly not the only deciding factor in my choice of a new job and a new employer. Continuing my professional development within a suitably challenging role is also very important to me....

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What salary package are you expecting for this role?

  | James Innes

The opportunities I’m currently pursuing generally involve salary packages between £35K and £40K and I am comfortable with this range. While the salary on offer won’t necessarily be the deciding factor in my choice, I am naturally keen to achieve a position which offers nearer the high end of this scale – a package which best reflects my worth....

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When would you be available to start?

  | James Innes

My current contract stipulates a notice period of four weeks but I fortunately have 10 days’ leave available to me which effectively reduces my notice period to just two weeks. On receipt of a firm job offer I would intend to resign immediately from my current position and conceivably start my new role just two weeks later....

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Do you mind if we contact your current employer for a reference?

  | James Innes

I understand the importance of references and would be delighted for you to have a word with my referees – I’m confident they’ll be very supportive of my application. However, because my decision to change jobs is quite a sensitive issue – particularly with regard to my current employer – I would of course prefer if we could leave the issue of referees until such time as we might be discussing a firm job offer....

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You must surely have more than one weakness?

  | James Innes

I suppose everybody has more than one weakness. If I had to think of another weakness I would say it’s that I have a tendency to focus too much on detail....

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What character flaws do you have?

  | James Innes

Everybody’s character is different of course but I don’t believe I have any major character flaws. I suppose I can, on occasion, be overly demanding – both of myself and members of my team....

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How do you handle being criticised?

  | James Innes

If criticism is due then I generally welcome it. I’m very critical of my own work and I always appreciate constructive criticism and feedback from others, especially those who may have a different angle on matters or possibly more experience than I do. ...

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What really makes you lose your rag?

  | James Innes

I recognise that losing my temper is very unlikely to achieve anything – in fact getting angry is generally very counterproductive. While the behaviour of others can of course sometimes cause me to feel frustrated or even annoyed, ...

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How did you cope with the most difficult colleague you've ever had?

  | James Innes

Like everybody, I’ve certainly had to deal with difficult colleagues on occasion – colleagues who have failed to pull their weight, who have been too ready to blame others for their errors or who simply have an unpleasant and unprofessional attitude...

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Are you able to make difficult decisions and tough choices?

  | James Innes

For me, the most difficult decisions are those with the highest human cost, for example the decision to make redundancies. ...

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Why haven't you achieved more in your career?

  | James Innes

I’m actually very pleased with my career to date. As I’ve progressed from organisation to organisation I’ve gained a great deal of practical experience and developed my abilities considerably....

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What don't you like about this line of work?

  | James Innes

I love this line of work and so it’s hard for me to say there are areas of it that I don’t like – but there are naturally some areas I enjoy less than others. ...

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Where does your current employer think you are at the moment?

  | James Innes

For obvious reasons, I haven’t told my current employer about this interview. I consider it, for the time being, to be a personal matter and that’s precisely what I told my boss – that I would be needing to take a half-day today because I had a personal matter to attend to....

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What are your current boss's weaknesses?

  | James Innes

I’d naturally be wary of criticising my boss because I don’t think it’s very professional. However, everyone has their weaknesses of course....

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What are your current employer's plans for the year ahead?

  | James Innes

I regret that any of my current employer’s plans are of course confidential and commercially sensitive. I’m naturally honour bound not to divulge details. I’m sorry. I would of course be more than happy to talk about how the business has developed over the past 12 months and the role I played in that....

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What reservations do you have about working for us?

  | James Innes

I don’t have any reservations. I’ve done my research and considered the matter in detail and I have concluded that this is an excellent opportunity – and one which I am eager to pursue. Yours is a rapidly growing and dynamic organisation and I am sure I will fit in well here....

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What's your sickness record like?

  | James Innes

Generally, I have a very good sickness record. I’m rarely off work as a result of illness. I was unfortunate last year to catch flu and also to suffer a bout of food poisoning. These both kept me off work for a few days – but only a few days. I’m fit and healthy and I recover quickly. A year can easily go by without my taking a single day off sick....

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You've been out of work for a while. Has it been difficult finding a job?

  | James Innes

While it wouldn’t have been difficult for me to find a job, I will admit that it hasn’t been easy for me to find the right job. My career path is important to me and, given that I expect to remain in my next role for a fair few years,...

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What do you think of me as an interviewer?

  | James Innes

Well, I would say you’re doing a good job of assessing my specific ability to undertake this role as well as identifying what sort of a person I am – what my character is, how I interact on a social level, what I’d be like to work with – and, with questions like this, you’re doing a very good job of seeing how I react when I’m put on the spot!...

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If you were in my position, what questions would you be asking?

  | James Innes

You’ve already asked many of the questions that I myself would be asking. I’ve obviously been to a few interviews in my time and, if I had to think of a question I would ask – that you haven’t already asked – I think I would say, “What have you learned and how have you developed over the last year/five years?”...

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What would be the toughest question I could ask you?

  | James Innes

I would say this question itself is probably one of the toughest you could ask me! Let me see… I suppose that, for me, a really tough question would be one which exposes a weakness, something along the lines of, “What’s the worst mistake you’ve made at work?”...

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What makes you better than any of the other candidates I'm interviewing?

  | James Innes

I couldn’t comment on other candidates for the job but I can say that, having now been working in this industry for over a decade, I have built up a very enviable network of contacts which I think most other candidates would find hard to beat. I have developed successful relationships with key decision makers in numerous companies and this enables me to achieve a sales conversion rate much higher than average....

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I think you're overqualified for this job. Don't you?

  | James Innes

I realise that my last position was a management role – and I certainly found that experience invaluable. However, I have concluded that what I really want to do is work directly with clients, finding solutions to their needs and subsequently delivering and implementing those solutions....

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What will you do if I decide not to hire you?

  | James Innes

I would naturally be disappointed. I’m very keen to get this job. It meets all my requirements and I firmly believe that I also meet all your requirements. Yours is an organisation I can certainly see myself working well for. ...

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See this pen? Can you sell it to me?

  | James Innes

I’m sure you’ll agree with me that a pen is vital to your day-to-day work and it’s therefore important to make sure you’ve got just the right one?...

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If you were an animal at the zoo, which animal would you be and why?

  | James Innes

I can’t say anyone has ever asked me that before! If I could just have a second to think about it… Right, I think the chimpanzee springs to my mind. They’re a lot like humans really. They work together as a team, co-operate with each other for the benefit of the whole group, are sensitive to each other socially – and they always seem to have a good sense of fun and humour!...

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If there was a monkey hanging from a chandelier, how would you get it down?

  | James Innes

Interesting question! I suppose there are a number of possible solutions to this problem. It’s a case of identifying these possible solutions and selecting the one which has the best chance of success. The most obvious idea which springs to my mind is to try to entice it down by offering it, for example, a banana....

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Why don't polar bears eat penguins?

  | James Innes

I’m afraid I’ll have to admit that biology isn’t one of my strong points! I do enjoy watching documentaries but I haven’t seen one yet which would give me the answer to this question. I can think of a number of possible hypotheses – maybe penguins are too small for a polar bear to bother with and they stick to larger prey, maybe polar bears aren’t fast enough to catch a penguin, perhaps there’s something toxic about penguins...

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How much water would it take to fill St. Paul's Cathedral?

  | James Innes

That’s a difficult question! If we assume that we have already plugged up any potential leaks then the answer primarily......

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Can you tell me what you enjoy about your current job?

  | James Innes

That's a difficult question – because there's a lot I like about my current job. I want to move on because I'm looking for a new and greater challenge – not because I dislike my current job. ...

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What will you remember most about your last job?

  | James Innes

What I'll remember most is the team I work with. They're an outstanding team and I'm proud to have been a member. We've achieved an awful lot together, increasing production by over 20% in the past year and consequently winning the Team of the Year award. There's a great sense of cohesion and, while we all have our individual characters, we work very well together....

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Is this the first time you have made an effort to move away from your current employers?

  | James Innes

No, it's not the first time I've considered moving on. An opportunity did previously arise via my network. However, at the time I still felt sufficiently challenged in my role and still had plenty of things I wanted to achieve. So I declined the offer. Clearly, things are different now and I feel ready to embrace a new challenge....

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How do you feel about the possibility of leaving your current job?

  | James Innes

I'll naturally be sad to leave behind many colleagues with whom I get on extremely well. That's an inevitable aspect of moving to a new and different job. But I'm mainly feeling very positive about my decision to want to move on. ...

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How would you describe your current employer?

  | James Innes

I have no complaints. I'm happy with the way they operate and with the way they treat me and the way they treat their staff in general. They're good employers. ...

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Wouldn't you be better suited to working in a larger or smaller organisation?

  | James Innes

It's true to say that I have generally worked for larger companies. However, while larger companies have certain advantages over smaller ones, they also have certain disadvantages. Your company may not be the biggest in the sector but you clearly have a reputation as one of the most progressive. The company is evolving and developing rapidly, undoubtedly helped by the fact that you are smaller than some others....

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How do you feel this vacancy differs from your current role?

  | James Innes

There are certainly a number of differences. In particular, there's the challenge of the new international markets we'll be expanding into. I'm looking forward to working with clients beyond just the UK. I'll also have considerably more autonomy and responsibility for managing my own workload which will make my day-to-day working life a whole lot more rewarding. And, of course, I'll be learning and helping to develop an entirely new database system, which is something I particularly enjoy....

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What reservations do you have about your ability to undertake the job?

  | James Innes

No, I don’t have any reservations about my ability to undertake the role. I trust I've demonstrated how my background and my experience have enabled me to develop the precise skills you are looking for and that I'm a perfect match for the job description you've outlined. I feel entirely ready and able for the challenge....

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Can you describe your ideal working environment to me?

  | James Innes

My ideal working environment is one where there's a good sense of team spirit. A strong work ethic is obviously important but the human side is also important. I enjoy working with people who have a decent sense of humour and who, while they might take their work very seriously, don't necessarily take themselves overly seriously! I like people who are down to earth but who have a dynamic and progressive approach to their work. I really enjoy working as part of a highly committed and professional team....

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How do you feel we compare to our competitors?

  | James Innes

In conducting my market research when embarking on my job hunt, I obviously took a close look not only at your company but also at your competitors. I'm aware that some of your competitors have a larger market share, higher turnover and higher profits but what struck me about your company was its outstanding reputation for customer service and customer care. ...

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What would you say is our Unique Selling Point?

  | James Innes

The USP you clearly communicate to customers is that the food you produce is entirely handmade and natural and totally avoids any artificial additives and preservatives......

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What would be your analysis of the current trends in our industry or sector?

  | James Innes

In terms of the marketplace, there's a lot more poaching and raiding than there used to be and, while I and many others see that as somewhat unethical, it's clearly something we're going to have to contend with, like it or not....

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What aspects of your career path would you like to have been different?

  | James Innes

I'm very pleased with the path my career has taken to date. I've made a series of conscious decisions that have led me to where I am and to be sitting before you today. If there was any aspect of my career path that I would like to have been different then it would probably be to have embarked on my MBA a little earlier....

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What are your greatest regrets about the path your career has taken?

  | James Innes

I don't think I'd say I have any specific regrets about the path my career has taken, let alone any major regrets. I'm very pleased with the path my career has taken to date....

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What has been the greatest challenge you have faced in your career to date?

  | James Innes

The greatest challenge I've faced in my career to date has to be the key role I played in helping my company survive the recent recession. The company was undoubtedly ill-prepared for the advent and impact of the recession; their financial reserves were just too weak. ...

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What do you think are your main career options for the next five years?

  | James Innes

I see myself remaining with your organisation for the next five years. I feel that's my best career option at present. Naturally, I will be hoping to progress significantly over the course......

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What exactly does the word success mean to you?

  | James Innes

For me, success has a number of different elements. On the one hand, it's clearly having achieved a specific goal or goals – the satisfaction of a job well done, having achieved one's purpose......

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Why did you only stay with this organisation for such a short time?

  | James Innes

Shortly after I started with the company, external management consultants were called in and tasked with undertaking a major restructuring. While my role wasn't made redundant as such......

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Why did you stay with this organisation for such a long time?

  | James Innes

I chose to stay within that organisation because my work always remained an interesting challenge. Over the course of the decade, the company grew from a small outfit with just five employees......

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Are you able to multitask?

  | James Innes

It does depend how you define multitasking. I've read that, when multitasking, people just appear to be handling more than one task at the same time and that it's largely counter-productive......

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Can you juggle a number of different projects simultaneously?

  | James Innes

Yes. I've had plenty of experience handling a very full workload and dealing with numerous different projects simultaneously. When starting out in my current job......

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How do you handle rejection/disappointment/failure?

  | James Innes

Even if you don't give the interviewer a specific example, you will of course have to be prepared for the possibility that they will push to get one out of you......

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How do you deal with interpersonal conflict?

  | James Innes

I'm not the kind of person who lets herself get readily drawn into interpersonal conflict but, sometimes, it's obviously unavoidable. In such cases, I’m not afraid......

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What does tact and diplomacy mean to you?

  | James Innes

Tact and diplomacy are all about skill and sensitivity in dealing with others, particularly when dealing with difficult people and tricky situations......

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What makes for a successful team?

  | James Innes

For me, what really makes for a successful team is clearly the people within that team. Communication is obviously key. Teamwork requires you to communicate......

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Would you describe yourself as a good manager?

  | James Innes

Yes, I would. I believe I'm particularly good at motivating my subordinates. For example, I aim to align their aims with those of their organisation. Once an employee is......

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Do you really think you're management material?

  | James Innes

Yes, I do. In my current role, I'm the most senior and experienced member of the team and, in all but my job title, I'm already undertaking many elements of a management role. The team is highly......

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What is your attitude to delegation?

  | James Innes

I believe that delegation is an essential management skill. It's a manager's job to delegate and to supervise that delegation; it's not possible – or desirable......

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Can you give me an example of a time when you had to lead?

  | James Innes

I frequently have to lead from the front. To give you a recent example, in my current role I initiated the design and implementation of a completely new database system......

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Have you ever had to fire or lay off a member of your staff?

  | James Innes

No. But, although I've never had to do this in the past, I'm not one to shy away from my responsibilities and I fully recognise that such decisions do need to be made from time to time......

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How would you describe your ideal team member?

  | James Innes

My ideal team member is someone who is firmly committed to the common goals of the team, someone who is not afraid to roll up their sleeves and 'muck in' to get the job done – someone......

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In what ways do you intend to improve upon your performance?

  | James Innes

I'm always looking for ways in which I can improve upon my performance; I'm always open to training and development opportunities. Everyone always has room for improvement......

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How has your current job prepared you for greater challenges?

  | James Innes

My current job has prepared me in many ways to take on new and greater challenges and responsibility. This is one of my main reasons for wishing to move on to a new job......

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What book are you reading at the moment?

  | James Innes

I'm currently reading 'Disturbing the Peace' by Richard Yates. I saw the film 'Revolutionary Road' and went on to read the book and I enjoyed it so much that I'm......

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What newspaper do you take?

  | James Innes

I read The Independent. I recognise that all newspapers, The Independent included, inevitably have various editorial biases but I feel The Independent gives a particularly......

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Are you interested in current affairs?

  | James Innes

Yes, I am indeed interested in current affairs. I read The Independent, I keep an eye on the BBC News website and I normally listen to the news in the car on the way home......

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If you won the lottery what would you do?

  | James Innes

That's a very interesting question. I assume you're meaning a sufficiently large sum of money that I'd be financially independent for life? Initially......

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Can you tell me about the best teacher you ever had?

  | James Innes

For me, the best teacher I ever had was my GCSE History teacher at secondary school. While I find History interesting, it's certainly not one of my favourite subjects......

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If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be and why?

  | James Innes

Now that's a very interesting question! Let me just think a second... I reckon I would like to have been able to meet William Shakespeare. I've always been fascinated by his work......

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What are you most afraid of?

  | James Innes

There's really nothing that I'm particularly afraid of. Like most people, I do get somewhat nervous about having to give presentations, probably because it's not......

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Why aren't you earning more?

  | James Innes

Rather than focus on short-term earnings, I have been more focussed during my career to date on gaining a broad variety of marketable skills and experience......

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How much do you think you are really worth?

  | James Innes

I feel I have significant worth to a prospective employer – and to your organisation in particular. My broad range of experience has enabled me to develop the precise skills you are looking......

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How much does money matter to you?

  | James Innes

I think money probably matters to me about as much as it does to anyone. It's obviously vital and necessary for us to live and prosper but, at the same time, it's not my single......

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Would you still be interested in this job if you current employer offered a pay rise?

  | James Innes

I would most definitely still be interested in this job, even if my current employer did offer me a pay rise. Money is not my only motivator......

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Have you ever had to take a pay cut to keep your job?

  | James Innes

As my company entered the last recession, it was particularly badly hit financially. It was clear that they couldn't – at least in the short-term – continue as they had been......

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Have you ever asked for but been refused a pay rise?

  | James Innes

Yes, I have. In asking for a pay rise, I outlined the progress I had made since I started the role, demonstrating to the HR manager the value I added to the organisation which......

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Do you have any medical conditions to declare?

  | James Innes

I am partially deaf in my left ear but I wear a very discreet hearing aid in that ear and this effectively resolves the problem. No adjustment......

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Why do you want to relocate?

  | James Innes

I principally want to locate quite simply because of the excellent opportunity I feel this role within your organisation represents. I am very interested in the role and believe......

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Can you perceive any problems in relocating?

  | James Innes

I haven't actually been previously made aware that relocation was a possibility. It hasn't been mentioned to me. However, it's nonetheless something that I would be prepared......

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How would you react if I were to offer you this job on the spot?

  | James Innes

I'd naturally be very pleased. I am definitely very interested in this role and in your organisation. However, before formally accepting, I would of course need to see the precise......