I’m not sure if HR people all read the same book of interview questions, but in all of the interviews I've had over the years, I hear the same questions time and time again.
If you aren't prepared for these, then you could get caught out. So, it might be a good idea to prepare your answers in advance.
1. What do you know about our company?
I cover this in my Get into IT course, but if you have been too lazy to research the company you applied to work for, then what does that say about you?
What industry are they in? What news has been posted on their website? Do they need security vetted staff? Does the role involve shift work? What is their company mission?
If you don’t know the answers, then say goodbye to the job.
2. Are you flexible?
This is code so beware. Just like when a real estate agent tells you that a house is “cosy,” there is a hidden meaning. For one job, being “flexible” meant working 14 evening shifts in a row, being on call for no extra money, and supporting high profile customers with zero training on the equipment or network documentation.
Sometimes, it’s better to get clarification or just walk away.
3. Why do you want the job?
“Because I’m broke and desperate” is not a good answer, even if it’s the truth. I once overheard an interview taking place at my local Starbucks. The manager asked the above question, and the candidate said “because I live around the corner.” I’m pretty sure they weren’t called back for a second interview.
4. What’s your biggest character flaw?
“I hate stupid interview questions” is the honest, but inappropriate, answer. They are fishing for an idiotic reply, such as “well, I have this drinking problem,” so prepare an answer. The stock response to this stupid question is “I work too hard.”
5. What score did you get on the exam?
A pass is a pass, so I’ve no idea what they are hoping to get from asking this question. I was asked this at Cisco for my interview. I’d gotten 903/1000, but either way I’d passed so who cares?
6. How long do you think you will be working with us?
Again, the wrong answer would be “until a better offer comes along.” You need to assure the interviewer that you aren’t going to leave after they spend thousands of dollars and months training you. Small companies are particularly worried about this.
7. Where do you see yourself in X months?
“Doing your job” is the classic bad answer here. It’s great to be ambitious, but bear in mind that there will be internal procedures, politics, and pecking order so prepare an answer around working your way up, etc.
8. What salary are you expecting?
The first to come up with a number loses here. I’ve never named a salary because HR will be told to pay you as little as they can get away with. You need to do your research here, but I always put it back on them and ask the salary range for the role. At this point, I know if I should get up and leave.
9. What’s the biggest mistake you made at work?
“Well, there was this time I brought the entire network down and cost the company tens of thousands of dollars.” I don’t think so. We all make mistakes but don’t brag about them. Work out something acceptable, such as accidentally hanging up on a customer or some other non-offensive mistake.
What questions have you been asked in interviews? Post a comment.
I hope it helps.