What’s up with all the Interview Questions?

Most active job seekers will recall a number of interview instances where they felt stupefied by weird, rude, irrelevant questions asked during interviews.

Being a recruiter, I can say that there is, most often, a perfectly reasonable explanation for the questions we ask; that beings said, there are also questions we ask because of obligations to standards and processes – we have our bosses too.

Below are a few common interview questions, and some advice against how best to navigate.

What is your current role and your everyday tasks?       

One of the first and most common questions.  This may seem redundant to ask about, especially if it is described in great detail on your resume.  There are at least two reasons. Firstly, descriptions in the resume are often copied from contracts and tend to include the most advanced responsibilities; even if they are not core of the job or take up only a small percentage of time spent on the job. By asking this question, we verify the everyday tasks and your responsibilities.  We also want to see what you perceive as “the meat” of your work, where your focus lays.  Lastly, we want to hear you speak, we want to learn (especially for customer facing roles) about your communication style to understand if it is in accordance with what the job calls for.

How to answer this question:

Start with responsibilities that take up the most of your time. Lists things that you believe have allowed you to grow the most. In addition, identify tasks relevant against the job for which you are interviewing. This part is the one where you shine – don’t be ashamed of your job even if you feel it’s beneath you. Try to underline what you’ve learned and where you excelled. Don’t force a recruiter to pulled answers out of you, it’s never a good strategy. On the same token, you don’t need to talk too much or give too many details – don’t list all the responsibilities of the day starting with “I open the door and turn on the computer”.

Why is recruiter repeating or paraphrasing the same questions?

First, the recruiter may be looking for a “fuller” answer. Maybe you concentrated on some small irrelevant detail in your response, or you change the subject entirely. Maybe you gave an answer that wasn’t clear; the recruiter wants to make sure you are on the same page so that the interview notes are appropriately represented. Truth be told, sometimes recruiters will sense exaggerated answers and they want to see if the candidate will stick to their story. Last but not least, occasionally recruiters can lose concentration as well – they are human too. Questions may be asked twice for clarification.

The Salary Question:

I believe, it can be the most frustrating question – “why ask about my salary expectation instead of giving me the range you’re able to offer?”

Viable concerns. That’s why you should always give the range that will be truly satisfying for you. The lowest number you give should be the amount you’re happy with. Why do recruiter ask about your desired salary? The reason is simple, they want to learn what will make you interested and invested in the job at hand. If the range is considerably lower than what you’re asking for, you won’t be staying long, even if you accept the initial offer.

How can you eliminate the knowledge gap about salary between you and potential employer?

First you can ask what they consider offering for this position, some employers will give you straight up answer, in other cases they have a policy not to share this information.  This doesn’t mean they offer less than the competitors, it very often means they are pretty flexible and take into consideration experience, proven skills, education and other talents/abilities.  While making an offer don’t shut the doors in the face of more mysterious future employer. You may think that you don’t want to waste your time on the process that will end up with an offer lower than you are interested in, but in all honesty, no responsible recruiter will advance your application if there is no chance in meeting your expectations. On the other hand sometimes employer can offer what candidate is looking for but decides that given their experience and knowledge they don’t want to.

I would also advise reading up on the company and checking the range offered for the position you’re interviewing – don’t be discourage by the numbers and state your expectations even if they are higher than what the internet is “saying”.

Examples – why do recruiters ask you to recall tales from your past? Are you meticulous? Can you handle stress? meet deadlines?

This is the hardest one for me. There’s this belief amongst recruitment society that when a candidate is able to give us detailed example of situations involving core abilities we look for, it means they really possess it. You can prepare for these questions by thinking about the most important traits demanded for the job at hand, recalling situations from the past that illustrate those traits. This sort of questioning disadvantages people who are not good with translating abstract subjects to real life experiences. That being said, behavioral questioning is very popular this days so the safest bet is to be prepared for it.



By |2018-08-24T13:05:07+00:00August 30th, 2017|Categories: Before the Interview, During the Interview, Talking to Recruiters|0 Comments

About the Author:

Aleksandra worked with Aon Hewitt RPO for 4 years before becoming part of PeopleScout team in Poland. She graduated with a degree in Social Policy studies from Jagiellonski University. Her main focus was on job market issues and fighting unemployment. She's a Junior Sourcing Specialist, currently supporting recruitment for a US-based financial institution.

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