Interview question and answer sessions can seem a bit superficial and context based, especially when they tend to be formally conducted and people are nervous and ill at ease. But the main aim is to get a dialogue going between the parties and only question and answers will provide that.
Interview questions are never random. They are always carefully chosen to elicit certain responses that match the requirements of the position and the duties involved. Questions are likely to fall into four categories: personal, occupational, the organisation, and the job itself. By starting with questions about themselves that people can easily answer, applicants are helped into a more meaningful dialogue. By asking virtually the same questions to every applicant, a better comparison between them is possible, hence why certain questions become crucial.
Usually, interview questions are designed to elicit four main things:
First, the kind of person who is applying for the job: The personality they have, whether happy or sad, go-getting or laid back; whether they will fit into the company culture with ease or be too individual within it; whether they are leaders or followers, and how their best talents can be exploited with the tasks provided. Personal questions tend to be 'open' ones which encourage you to talk at length, there being no right or wrong answers, only what is appropriate to you. However, one has to be aware of not rambling too much, and to be guided by the responses from the interviewer in what is actually said and how much is added.
Second, the degree to which candidates are suitable for what is required: What qualifications and experience they have that could be used in the new situation; how competent they are compared to other applicants; how they could cope in a crisis; how they will handle new situations and how they might fit in with the team/boss they have to work with. This part is particularly important because it is all based on job fit. If that person doesn't really fit the job identikit, nothing else will fit either. Questions here are likely to come out of your resume/CV and relate to what you have been doing. It's basically an expansion of what you have written so be careful that you know your own job history!!
Third, your motives for joining the company/organisation, whether sincere or superficial. Some people might be just interested in the money, regardless of whether they really like the job or not, while some want to relocate, and others are genuinely interested in the work and learning the ropes. Company questions are designed to identify the different types, to weed out the superficial ones, and leave the genuine applicants who would like the challenge of the post.
Finally, what candidates will be individually bringing to that organisation. This part is designed to discover their unique contribution to assisting the achievement of the objectives of the company. Is the applicant good with people? Good with gadgets? Leadership material who can be developed further for great things? Organisations have an eye on their bottom line performance. Who is going to enhance it or hold it back? Those are key questions for them.
By asking certain personal and professional questions in the interview, employers hope to have a flavour of that person, his/her level of competence and suitability to be appointed. That is why it is very important to be prepared, to research the organisation and establish their main goals, to see how those align with where you are heading in your own life. If there isn't a match, it is likely to be picked up under close scrutiny and make you appear insincere. Understanding the organisation will help you towards understanding your own needs and whether they will be fulfilled by joining that company. That should make the interviewing process less daunting and more enjoyable instead of merely going through the motions.
©Elaine Sihera (Ms CYPRAH) 2011
Emotional Health and People Management Consultant
"Respect and love begin with the self. If we have none, how can we give away any?"