What are interview questionnaires? (Plus how to answer them)
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An interview questionnaire is usually given to candidates before an interview takes place so that an employer can use their answers to gain insight into who this candidate is, helping them to structure the interview. Some of the questions that appear on them are predictable, whilst others are generally asked to see how a candidate works under pressure. Knowing what to prepare for can help you to impress the recruiter. In this article, we look at what interview questionnaires are with some examples of the questions typically featured on them and tips for answering each one.
What are interview questionnaires?
Interview questionnaires are a tool that interviewers use to guide their interviews. They're crafted to collect data from interviewees on a variety of topics, including their backgrounds, experiences and opinions. Questionnaires can either be paper-based or electronic, though they're usually tailored to the interview type, such as job interviews or focus group interviews. They're typically completed by the interviewee either before or after the interview. Their responses help the interviewer to ensure that they cover all the key topics they want to discuss during the interview, whilst also providing a record of the interviewee's responses for later analysis.
Examples of questions typically featured on an interview questionnaire
Interview questionnaires are typically used by employers so that they can gain a better understanding of each candidate. This helps them to make an informed decision about who to hire. Questionnaires can also help employers standardise their interview process, making it more efficient and less likely to lead to bias. Here are some examples of questions that feature on these questionnaires with tips on answering them:
What are your long-term career aspirations?
When answering this question it's important to explain why you want this particular job and how it fits into your long-term plans. Being clear about what you want can help an employer to understand the sort of opportunities that might be available to you in the future and what you want from your career. It also reveals that you have ambition. This is important to demonstrate to employers as it shows them that you have the motivation necessary to perform well.
How did you hear about this position?
When you're applying for a job, employers like to know how you found out about the role. For example, you may say that you saw the job posting online, heard about it from a friend or read about it in the news. Answering the question sincerely is a good way to build trust and credibility with the hiring manager.
Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer or client
When asked about a difficult customer or client, it's a good idea to share an experience in which you successfully handled the situation. Perhaps you were able to calm the customer down and resolve the issue or maybe you found a way to satisfy the customer's needs, even if it was challenging. Whatever the outcome, the focus is on the contribution that you made throughout the process and your ability to handle adversity and collaborate with others.
There are also advantages to telling an employer about a challenging instance even if there wasn't a positive outcome. What an employer is looking for here is for you to be honest and explain what happened, then highlight how you learned from the experience. No one is perfect and employers understand that. They're likely more interested in is your ability to take ownership of the situation and grow from it.
What is your greatest strength?
When answering a question about your greatest strength during an interview, it's important to remember to focus on your qualifications and strengths as they relate to the position you're applying for. Looking back at the job specification is usually an easy way to identify the qualities that the employer is looking for. Some common qualities include teamwork skills, communication skills, problem-solving skills and leadership skills.
What is your greatest weakness?
Try to be honest when disclosing your weaknesses during a job interview, but don't include a weakness that would make you a poor candidate for the role. An employer is generally looking for evidence that you're aware of your weaker areas and making an effort to improve. For example, if you're nervous about public speaking, mention that but also explain that you've been working on developing your skills through workshops and practice. Don't mention this in a job dependent on public speaking skills.
Why are you interested in this position?
When an employer asks why you're interested in a position, they're looking for an answer that shows that you have taken the time to learn about the company and the job opening. Ensure that you've done your research on the company. Find out what their mission statement is, what products or services they offer and what their values are and incorporate this into your answer. For example, if you're applying for a position within a company that emphasises creativity and innovation, you may want to mention how your previous experiences have moulded you into a creative individual.
How would you describe your work style?
When answering questions about your work style, it's important to remain honest and give examples of how you have previously behaved whilst at work. You can also describe how you prefer to work but only if you can link this style with what you suspect the employer is looking for. For example, a candidate interviewing for a job as an investment analyst may explain how their work style relates to working under pressure, as this is likely similar to the work style the employer uses. Whichever way you decide to answer this question, remain positive.
What are some of the things you enjoyed most about your last job?
The goal when answering this question is to show the employer that you were happy in your previous job and that you're looking for something similar in this new position. By emphasising the positive aspects of your last job, you can help convince the employer that you would be a brilliant addition to their organisation. Start your answer by explaining what your job duties were. Once the employer has an understanding of your day-to-day, you can highlight the more enjoyable aspects. Maybe it was the people that you worked with or perhaps it was the challenging projects that worked on.
What were some of the things you didn't enjoy about your last job?
A tactful response to this question can show that you're honest, reflective and able to handle delicate situations. You can mention things from your previous role that you're sure won't be similar in this role. For example, you may say that you didn't have enough freedom in your last role because you know in this next role that the employer is giving you more autonomy. This turns a potential negative into something that demonstrates your enthusiasm and explains your interest in the new position.
The wildcard question
Some employers like to ask a wildcard question in their questionnaires as it allows to see how a candidate reacts to an unexpected element. For example, they may ask what logo you'd be if you had to choose. It's best to put forward a unique answer in these scenarios as there's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but try to link your answer back to the company's values. For example, an individual applying for a sales job might choose a logo that's widespread and associated with high-quality products as they can then talk about branding strategies and iconicity.
Do you have any questions for me?
When you're in an interview, one of the best ways to stand out is to ask questions. An employer usually factors in time towards the end of the interview wherein you can ask them anything, though it's a good idea to limit yourself to three questions as this also shows them that you respect their time. It's important to make use of this allotted time as it shows that you're interested in the company, the position and that you're taking the opportunity seriously. It also gives you a chance to learn more about the company and the job.
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