As we all know, interviewing can be a tricky business! The cost of making a bad recruitment decision in terms of wasted time, effort and money should also not be under-estimated.

Just getting to the interview stage can be a lengthy process, what with compiling a current Job Description and Person Specification, advertising the role via traditional advertising methods and Social Media, sifting the influx of CVs and whittling them down to suitable candidates with relevant experience, before arranging appointments and embarking on face to face interviews.

Read on for some tips on how to get the best result from those all-important interviews…

‘Tell me about a time you’ve had to answer a competency question…’


One of the most enlightening and informative ways to interview a candidate is to use Competency Based questions, namely questions that require candidates to provide real-life examples as the basis of their answers, and not simply speculate as to what they would do in a given situation.

At Pam Anthony Recruitment, Competency Based questions are an integral part of our own interview process and we always incorporate opening questions such as ‘tell me about a time’, or ‘give an example of how’, to gain an insight into a candidate’s personality, experience and ability to handle given situations that are likely to crop up in the role they are applying for.

Below are some great examples that you might like to try when next interviewing, and the sort of responses you should be looking for:

1. Tell me about a time you supported a member of your team who was struggling

This may seem pretty straightforward, but while you might quite rightly value teamwork and empathy in a manager, you also need to see the benefit to your bottom line. Therefore:

Good answer: ‘My job comes with a fair amount of analysis on a day-to-day basis, which means I’m pretty confident using software like Excel. One of my newer colleagues didn’t have much experience and was having a tough time with their reporting, so I offered to help out a few days after work to get him up to speed. Since then, he’s never had a problem with reporting, and I’ve never had a problem getting a drink if he’s at the bar.’

Bad answer: ‘Team? If I’m honest, I like to think of myself as more of a one man wolf pack…’


2. Give an example of a time you’ve had to improvise to achieve your goal

Translation: Can the candidate think on their feet?

Good answer: ‘My previous company often hosted client conferences, which were an important revenue driver for the business. For each event we booked an MC to introduce speakers and keep things entertaining. At a conference last year, to my horror, our scheduled MC came down with food poisoning the night before the event. We were too close to the event to find a replacement, so as the event manager, it fell to me to fill in. I was incredibly nervous, but after a lot of deep breaths and a little practice backstage, and I got through it. I had some great feedback, and my presenting skills even improved as a result, which was a bonus.

Bad answer: ‘I improvised a lot on my CV to get this interview…’


3. Why are you a good fit for the company?

The way a great candidate stands out when answering this question is by not just selling themselves for the role, but also stating exactly why they’d make a perfect match for your business.

If they’ve done their homework correctly, they’ll know what your company’s values are and will use their own skills, accomplishments and personality and tie them in with everything they’ve learned to come up with the perfect response.

Good answer: ‘Based on the research I’ve done about your company, you’re an organisation that really values staying on the cutting edge of technology. I was especially impressed with some of the technical details I read about the XYZ project. I think there’s a really good fit between my interest in evolving my own skills and technical knowledge, and the fact that your firm is known for continual technical improvements. That’s one reason I’m really excited to have the opportunity to work here’

Bad answer: ‘You have a job. I need a job. Put your hands together, and everyone’s a winner’


4. If you were offered the job, what’s the first thing you’d change?
Ah, the loaded question…

If you have given your candidate the sense that the role is focussed on making changes, allowing a candidate to highlight some specific areas for improvement can be a shrewd move, allowing you to see what impact their hiring could really have.

Here you are looking for people who tactfully try and get their point across without riding roughshod over the experience and opinions of their prospective team.

Good answer: ‘I can see from the job description that part of this role will involve helping to manage the company’s social media channels. I noticed in my research that you don’t post very often, and the tone seems a little inconsistent. I’d be looking to help develop a more reliable voice and personality for the brand, to help set us apart from the competition.’

Bad answer: ‘Where do I start?/I’m glad you asked. I’ve bought along a thirty-seven slide PowerPoint presentation detailing each change. Can someone dim the lights?’


Adapted from: “Why You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again” – James Read


Don’t hesitate to call us on 44+(0)1706 231354 for further guidance on interview techniques, or let us take the recruitment strain and do the work for you!

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