Sample answers to common interview questions.

Although you can’t predict exactly what questions will be asked – you can think about possible questions and prepare BRIEF responses beforehand.

Some questions will be behavioural (on the assumption that past behaviour is a predictor of future behaviour). This requires examples of where, when or how you did something.

For these use the S.T.A.R. method to help keep your responses relevant.

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S.T.A.R. = Situation, Task, Action & Response

 

Straightforward Questions

Tell us about yourself?

  • Be concise, relevant and interesting.
  • What has lead you to this interview:
    • A passion for . . . . . .
    • Studied &/or worked &/or volunteered with . . . . . .
    • Gained relevant employability skills by . . . .
    • Now keen to . . . . . . .
  • Focus on how and why you became interested in this area or role & show the skills you bring to this position – show that you are a good fit for the position.

A Poor Response: Too few details, not convincing or focusing on one aspect e.g. your childhood.

Why did you apply for this role?

  • Why you are keen to work in this particular role and for this particular organisation.
  • Employers want people who are connected to working for them and working within their team.
  • Focus on the key factors that make you a great fit for the role.
  • You need to match your skills to the skills the role requires e.g.
    • ‘I have always been interested in . . . . ., and valued my studies in . . . . . .
    • ‘I have also gained relevant employability skills such as . . . in my work at/with  . . . and gained further skills such as . . . in my work placement/volunteer role at . . . .’
  • Next: Link that information to what the organisation does and how that connects to the role.
  • Finally, focus on what it is about the organisation that drew you to apply and why you want to be a part of that.

A Poor Response: I need a job.

What do you know about the company?

  • Show you have done some research. This requires information that is found on their website and/or under the ‘About us’ button.
  • Perhaps you can focus on an aspect from their Mission Statement, Values or History e.g. The fact that they are in a new, cutting edge industry.
  • It may require further research about the organisations future plans, or even knowledge of their achievements or the awards they have received.
  • Your networking skills may connect you with a contact person who works or worked there, and may provide more information.
  • Be clear as to why this information or knowledge about the company appeals to you.

A Poor Response: Not much.

Why should we hire you?

  • This is a great opportunity to sell your skills & experiences.
  • You need to show that you are capable of doing the work and delivering the results that the company wants.
  • Show you can fit in with the team as well as the company culture.
  • Show you are the best fit by focusing on examples that demonstrate the required skills and abilities from your recent experiences.

A Poor Response: Little detail.

What are your greatest strengths?

  • Be genuine, accurate and relevant.
  • Show your true skills – not just what they want to hear. It may also include values.
  • Choose the strengths that are most suitable for this particular position and be specific.
  • Give an example of how you’ve demonstrated these traits in a professional setting.

A Poor Response: Everything!

Really Difficult Questions (Don’t be afraid!)

How would you deal with conflict?

  • Examples need to reflect an understanding that we are all different and have different perspectives and ideas. In team meetings you need to show that you embrace the diversity of views, listen to others, appreciate their perspective, contribute and let the group and/or leaders make the decisions.
  • Sometimes people become frustrated and may behave badly. Whether this is someone in the general public or within an organisation, any conflict requires you to remain calm, listen carefully and focus on resolving the issue, or seek assistance from someone who can resolve the issue.
  • For issues with team members it may be that this outburst is unusual and may indicate that someone is struggling with other issue. You may need to check they are OK and encourage them to seek assistance.
  • In any example steer clear of being negative in your example and never criticise others.

A Poor Response: Criticising management

Why did you leave your last job?

  • This is such a tricky question.
  • Turn the focus to why you are seeking a new position.
  • You do not have to divulge personal details or mention everything you thought about your last position.
  • In the end you are seeking a new opportunity, a change, to gain more or broader skills, to work in a different or related area or to take up a promotion. You may have been training in a new area whilst working and now want to use the training and your employability skills in a new or different position. Or you may be passionate about what this company does and want to be a part of that.
  • Even if you felt unappreciated, that the culture has changed or you were no longer happy, now is not the time or place to discuss these issues.
  • It is better to focus on positive aspects such as seeking new challenges, extending skills & experiences, new qualifications and wanting to work in that area, limited opportunities where I was, retrenched, the business closed or had time off to have a family.

What are your weaknesses?

  • Another really terrifying question.
  • It is best to focus on something you have since addressed, that you used to do but have worked on so that it is not a problem now.
  • Focus on something you have improved e.g. skills such as planning and organisation, communication or working in multidisciplinary teams, or perhaps your personal life such as work/life balance or introducing more exercise in your daily routine.

Written by our resident interview champion, Robyn. If you need help with preparing for an interview, come along to Robyn’s interview workshop or make an appointment for interview coaching with any of the Skills and Jobs Centre advisors.

Picture credit: Geralt

The Ford Transition Project

As part of the Ford Transition Project (FTP), Auto Skills Australia (ASA) has established an Outreach Centre to provide support for exited Ford & supply chain workers in Geelong at the newly opened Skills and Jobs Centre. The Centre will be staffed by an ASA representative.

The Outreach Centres will operate from November 7, 2016, through to April 30, 2017, and will provide exited workers an opportunity to speak to ASA and ensure that they are connected to relevant support services such as Outplacement Providers, jobactive providers, Skills & Job Centre, Training Organisations, Finance & Superannuation Services, Health & Wellbeing, Government Services and Community Networks.

Geelong ASA Outreach Centre:

  • Location: Skills and Jobs Centre, Level 1, Westfield Centre, Corner of Malop & Yarra St, Geelong, Store number 2254-2255 (Located near Big W)
  • Contact: Bob Hope, Mobile: 0419 271 835, Email: rhope@autoskillsaustralia.com.au
  • Times: Monday – Friday, 9.00am to 4.00pm

Your ASA outreach Centre will assist you in the following:

  • Connection to your selected outplacement provider
  • Government support services
  • Connection to training organisations
  • Health and well being programs
  • Superannuation funds and financial planning
  • Community networks and services
  • Continuation of case management
  • Advocacy support
  • Referrals
  • ASA gap funding up to 31 March 2017
  • Advice and support
  • Other services as required

Please see your ASA case manager for more details.

Written by Bob Hope, Ford Transition Program Area Coordinator – Geelong. Bob will be sharing his insights as a guest blogger during his time at The Gordon Skills and Jobs Centre. 

 

MAKING A FRESH START…… Job Applications for Newcomers to Australia

As a skilled immigrant, migrant, refugee or asylum seeker, there are a number of mountains to climb in your new country including mastering the language, adapting to cultural differences and learning how to work and play like the “Aussies” do. So, it is no surprise that negotiating the Australian workplace and its job application processes can also be an uphill battle.

So, to put your best foot forward in relation to job applications, I have provided a few HANDY HINTS below.

BUT FIRST, to avoid disappointment, I would ask that you consider the chart below, and ensure you meet these criteria. You are applying for jobs in a competitive environment with legal and contractual laws.

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1.Stick with the same name

Sometimes when settling in a new country, you may choose to modify your name according to make it easier to pronounce for a native English speaker.

This is a personal preference but just remember that if you choose that name, it needs to be consistent across all your paperwork when applying for a position. Your email address, resume, application and interaction with all employers and services will create a relationship with you based on that name.

2. Ensure an Australian organisation has validated your qualifications.

Although you may have completed a diploma, degree or postgraduate qualification in your country it may not have the same status in Australia.

It’s important to check with the relevant organisation, university, TAFE or industry body that your skills and qualifications are looked upon with the same status.

3. Religious and spiritual beliefs

In Australia, it is an offence to discriminate against any person based on religious grounds, nor to enquire about your religious beliefs in an interview.

In a very ethnically diverse country like Australia, we respect the right of all people to practice their own religious and cultural beliefs. Consequently, we do not put our religion, God or spiritual entities on our resumes or discuss in any way at an interview.

4. Marital status

Every woman and man has equal right within the home, workplace and community in Australia, whether you are married, single, or have children. Again it is against the law to ask questions about your marital status, or not hire you because you have children or are a female. That is private information.

If you feel you need to disclose information regarding your family or children to the employer that is your choice, but do not include that information on a resume.

5. Age

Again, it is an offence in Australia to discriminate by age.

There will always be those who will judge by age, and is doesn’t matter where you come from, and what your skills are, preferences are sometimes given to a younger person or someone they wish to train. DO NOT put your age on your resume; it can influence how an employer may view you as a candidate for the position.

6. References

If most of your references come from your country of origin they must be able to be contactable, by email, phone or Skype and be able to speak conversational English. A written reference is no longer an acceptable way to validate your employment history. If you have any local or Australian people you know who can act as a reference for you, in any capacity, that is most favourable. Volunteering for an organisation can also become very useful in providing you with a referee.

7. Written and Spoken English

If you are not confident writing in the English language please, please get assistance. If you are seeking a position relevant to your industry and qualifications then maybe speak to a professional resume writer, Australian industry body or Australian colleague familiar with that industry.

Despite some immigrants having exceptional qualifications and/or conversational English, errors can be made in a resume or interview that can really jeopardise your prospects. Simple spelling or grammar mistakes may betray your talents and skills.

Get to know some locals, as well as other new immigrants who have lived here many years. They can guide you and educate you on how Australians generally live and work and can be a great helping hand. Make sure you socialise, play sport, volunteer and attend community clubs, anything to give you more exposure to the Australian way of life.

Most importantly “WELCOME”, you are taking a very important step toward your new life in Australia.

Written by Erika, our Workshop Wizard. If you are new to Australia and would like some help with understanding the local job market, please make an appointment with any of our advisors.

How to get a public service job.

The Skills and Jobs Centre recently held a government employer panel as part of our Festival of Change, featuring representatives from National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), WorkSafe and Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). In addition to providing an overview of their organisations, the panel offered some excellent tips and tricks for those wanting to work within the sector.

Employer Snapshot: NDIA

  • Currently 7 sites and expected to grow to 95. Geelong will remain the central office.
  • Currently has 1600 employees and is expected to grow to 3000. 80% of the positions will be in service delivery.
  • For potential employees they focus on the person: their passion, their focus on making a difference and those who are flexible and game to stretch their skills out of their own comfort zone.
  • For the future there will be many planner roles needed. Those who can help individuals with plans for moving forward.

The key skills they look for are:

  • Contemporary attitudes to disability
  • A collaborative approach
  • Service orientation
  • Communication skills
  • System orientation
  • Participants at the forefront
  • Empathy
  • Ability to build relationships
  • Leadership qualities, if necessary

Process for applying:

  • Very useful website regarding the application process under jobs.  Values of the organisation are clearly laid out and are very important to the organisation.
  • Also in the vacancies area there is an Expected Vacancies Register for people to express an interest in working with NDIA.
  • As part of that registration process you will need to complete a Statement of Claim: 1500 words that addresses the Selection Criteria for the position. Spend time preparing this before you register.
  • For information about the application process contact the Contact Officer for the position.

Employer Snapshot: WorkSafe

  • Relocating to Geelong by 2018.
  • 1000 employees.
  • Recruitment is through the Talent Acquisition Team.
  • The focus of WorkSafe is on Education, OH&S enforcement, helping injured people return to work, insurance for employers and managing workers compensation scheme. So the roles are varied.

Employees need to show:

  • A passion for safety, be vibrant and dynamic
  • Technical skills, if required
  • Soft skills such as teamwork, flexibility and initiative
  • Values such as integrity and support
  • Leadership skills may be required
  • They are seeking Career Development
  • The right attitude

To apply:

  • The process for applying involves uploading resume online, phone interview to show your motivation, skills and background, then a behavioural interview.
  • See their website under careers.

Employer Snapshot: ABS

  • Has 2000 employees with 300 jobs being in Geelong.
  • Roles in Geelong are technology based.
  • The workforce is dynamic, professional, able to understand and exhibit confidentiality and responsibility.

Key skills required:

  • The sorts of skills or qualities they seek include integrity, confidentiality, motivation, teamwork and people skills. Work is repetitive, flexible, in a high security area and requires knowledge of MS Office and Lotus Notes.

To apply:

  • The website includes information about the application process including an understanding of the APS Code of Conduct and their values.
  • The application process is an online one and further tips are given with the vacancy.
  • It is important to match your skills to the skills required in the position.
  • Do your background research of the ABS on their website.
  • Read the selection criteria very carefully.
  • Give real examples and think about your experiences.
  • Ongoing positions advertised on the website.
  • There is a non-ongoing register.

So you think you’ve got the gift of the gab?

Phew! I’ve got an interview…

So I’ll be right now!

As a careers counsellor I sometimes hear people say,

‘Once I get to the interview, I’ll be right!’

‘I have the gift of the gab. I can talk to anyone about anything so it’ll be sweet!

This makes me want to cry!! An opportunity could be missed simply because you have not prepared.

It is never a good idea to speak ‘off the cuff’.

Even for politicians who believe they have the gift! They come unstuck. Regularly.

It is true you do not know what will be asked, so what can you do?

1. Be prepared, and you might have a chance to land the job.

2. Allow plenty of time. Seriously, it takes a lot of effort to think through what you might say.

Doing your research is essential. Research the organisation: online or through contacts, observations, talking to others, ringing to ask relevant thoughtful questions.

Find out as much as you can about who they are, what they do, plans for the future, what they value, what the culture of the place is?

  1. You can prepare some responses. Take a punt on other questions and prepare responses.
  2. Keep these responses brief. Dot points only.
  3. Use examples that demonstrate what you have done. Sum up by ensuring that it is clear how past training, volunteering or work has equipped you for this new role.
  4. Have a practice asking and answering.
  5. Transfer this information to prompt cards or notes with even briefer words that remind you of what you have been practicing.
  6. Practice your responses in front of the mirror, or family & friends.

Handy hint: As you go in you can ask if you can have your notes on the table.

If it is OK make sure you DO NOT READ the notes as you respond. Glance down to remind yourself, if stress has made your mind a vacuum.

These notes are a prompt resource only, to allow you to consider whether you have covered what you wanted to say and address it if not.

If they do not want you to bring these notes in, at least you have prepared yourself by practicing and you may in fact remember this information as you relax and enjoy the process of having a chat with the interviewer(s)!

Tips:

It is a chat! Enjoy meeting with new people and relax a bit. Smile. Look at the interviewer or interviewers.

They want to know if you have the skills and experience. So you have to be specific. You do have to talk about yourself and why you would be a good addition to the team. Don’t forget you are also trying to gauge whether you want to work for them. So listen carefully to their language.

You can do it. But only if you really prepare!

Written by our resident interview champion, Robyn. If you would like to find out more about preparing for an interview, come along to Robyn’s interview workshop at our Festival of Change.

Most common interview questions & how to answer them!

What will they ask? What do I say?

About them questions 

  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What do you know about our company?

About you questions

  • Tell us about yourself?
  • What has been your greatest strength?
  • Why should we hire you?

Behavioural questions

  • Tell us about a time . . .
    • You made a difference to a team or process or colleague?
    • You had conflicting deadlines at work? What did you do about it?
    • When you built rapport with someone at work, even in a stressful or challenging situation.
  • Can you give an example of a time when you had to cope with interpersonal conflict when working on a team project and how you handled this?

How will I answer?

  • Focus on real examples
  • From a diversity of situations

Written by our resident interview champion, Robyn. If you would like to know more about answering interview questions, come along to Robyn’s interview workshop.

 

Practice makes perfect!

But Practice what?

Firstly, prepare!

  1. Common Interview Questions – it’s an educated guess!
  2. Responses to these common interview questions – use the STAR method & keep it brief!
  3. Focus on your strengths, experiences and skills from a range of areas.
  4. Talk about your education choices and achievements.

And then practice!

  1. Identify examples of achievements you want to promote & how they are relevant to this job.
  2. Get help – friends, colleagues, family or the Skills & Job Centre team – to practice potential responses.
  3. Focus on speaking clearly and concisely.
  4. Prepare a list of 2 to 3 questions you’d like to ask – Choose wisely!

And remember, practice makes perfect!

By our resident interview champion, Robyn Gray. If you need to prepare or practice for an interview, make an appointment with Robyn or another of our lovely advisors.