Enlightening Minds

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Future Work Interview Questions

Many employers look for a set of competencies and skills that set candidates apart. Working I n world that has changed and is decentralized – leadership abilities and specifically resilience is starting to be highly sought after in their new hires. We are aware that is not always easy to spot -so we listed some probing questions to help you get the information you need from the candidate to make a good assessment.

Resilience is the ability to face setbacks, unforeseen events, obstacles and failures without allowing them to dominate, derail or destroy your life. It is not about being unaffected by stress or pressure; it is about recognising when you are affected by it and having coping strategies to manage it. Your levels of resilience can be increased and improved; resilience is not a static quality.

Why is resilience an important skill to cultivate?

Well, to state the obvious, higher levels of resilience are better for your overall emotional and mental welfare. Resilience is the ability to face setbacks, unforeseen events, obstacles and failures without allowing them to dominate, derail or destroy your life. It is not about being unaffected by stress or pressure; it is about recognising when you are affected by it and having coping strategies to manage it. Your levels of resilience can be increased and improved; resilience is not a static quality.

  • How do you deal with setbacks?
  • How do you cope with pressure?
  • What has been your biggest failure to date and how did you deal with it?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a major crisis.
  • Describe a time when something didn’t work out as well as you’d hoped. What did you do and what did you learn from it?
  • Tell me about a time when you worked with someone you didn’t agree with.
  • How would you respond if you received negative feedback from your manager?

Candidates who have higher levels of resilience are likely to have higher levels of problem-solving skills, self-awareness, adaptability and emotional intelligence.

How will employers assess your problem-solving skills?

Your problem-solving abilities can be assessed in three ways: by asking for examples of times when you previously solved a problem; by presenting you with certain hypothetical situations and asking how you would respond to them; and by seeing how you apply your problem-solving skills to different tests and exercises.

Competency-based application and interview questions about problem solving

You may be asked for an example of when you solved a problem on an application form – for instance, an engineering firm’s application form has previously included the question ‘Please tell us about a time when you have used your technical skills and knowledge to solve a problem’. But these questions are more likely at interview. Typical problem-solving competency-based questions include:

  • Give me an example of a time when you ran into a problem on a project. What did you do?
  • Give me an example of a difficult problem you had to solve outside of your course. How did you approach it?
  • Tell me about a time you worked through a problem as a team.
  • Have you ever had a disagreement with a team member? How was it resolved?
  • Give me an example of a time when you spotted a potential problem and took steps to stop it becoming one.
  • Give me an example of a time when you handled a major crisis.
  • Give me an example of your lateral thinking.

Hypothetical interview questions about problem solving

Interviewers will also be interested to know how you would approach problems that could arise when you are in the workplace. The precise interview questions will vary according to the job, but common ones include:

  • How would you deal with conflict in the workplace? (This is especially likely to be asked of trainee managers and graduate HR professionals.)
  • What would you do if there is an unexpected delay to one of your projects because of supply chain issues? (This is particularly likely to be asked in construction, logistics or retail interviews).
  • What would you do if a client or customer raised a complaint?
  • What would you do if you noticed that a colleague was struggling with their work?
  • How would you react if given negative feedback by a manager on an aspect of your performance?
  • How would you judge whether you should use your own initiative on a task or ask for help?

Interview questions that test your adaptability and flexibility

In an interview, your flexibility and adaptability could be gauged by a range of different questions. If the role or sector requires a great deal of flexibility in terms of working hours or in decision making, you are likely to be asked what you know about the job, in part to see if your expectations are realistic. For example:

  • Please explain what you’ll be doing day-to-day.
  • What do you think the biggest challenge of the job will be?

If the role involves frequently changing strategies and plans in view of changing circumstances or the requirement to think on your feet, you could be asked a direct question about a time when you’ve done this . For example:

  • Describe a time when something didn’t work out as you had planned. What did you do and what did you learn from it?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to change your priorities or planned course of action because of an unexpected event.

Alternatively, you might be asked a more general question about how you have overcome a problem or obstacle:

  • What has been the hardest challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?
  • How do you deal with setbacks?
  • Tell us about a time when you took several attempts to solve a problem.

Emotional intelligence can help a graduate become the best at what they do, be the best colleague possible and achieve career success.

Communication, teamwork and relationship-building skills are enhanced by higher levels of emotional intelligence.

What is emotional intelligence (also known as EI or EQ)? A basic definition is:

the ability to identify and deal with our own emotions…

the ability to recognise and understand the feelings of others…

…and to adjust our own behaviours and our responses to others accordingly.

  • Tell us about a time when you’ve worked with a difficult person.
  • If you noticed a team member was underperforming, what would you do?
  • How would you persuade someone to do something that they didn’t want to do?
  • How would you handle conflict?
  • How would you handle a stressful work situation?

Question Bag – more questions by topic

ABILITY TO HANDLE STRESS

  1. What has been the most stressful situation you have ever found yourself in at work? How did you handle it?
  2. What have you done in the past to prevent a situation from becoming too stressful for you or your colleagues to handle?

ADAPTABILITY

  1. Tell me about a situation in which you have had to adjust to changes over which you had no control. How did you handle it?
  2. Tell me about a time when you had to adjust to a colleague’s working style in order to complete a project or achieve your objectives.
  3. How was your transition from high school to university? Did you face any particular problems? How did you handle them?

ANALYTICAL SKILLS / PROBLEM SOLVING

  1. Describe the project or situation that best demonstrates your analytical abilities. What was your role?
  2. Tell me about a time when you had to analyze information and make a recommendation. What kind of thought process did you go through? Was the recommendation accepted? If not, why?
  3. Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem. What did you do? What was the outcome? What do you wish you had done differently?
  4. What steps do you follow to study a problem before making a decision? Why?

ATTENTION TO DETAIL

  1. What process do you use to check that you have the right details from a customer?
  2. Give me an example of a time you discovered an error that been overlooked by a colleague. What did you do? What was the outcome?
  3. Tell me about a time that you were confused by a customer’s request. What steps did you take to clarify things?

CLIENT FOCUS / CUSTOMER ORIENTATION

  1. When have you had to deal with an irate customer? What did you do? How did the situation end up?
  2. Tell me about a time you have “inherited” a customer. What steps did you take to establish rapport with them? What did you do to gain their trust?
  3. How have you handled a situation in the past where your client has changed the brief or “changed the goalposts”?
  4. Give an example of a time you went well out of your way to ensure a customer received the best possible service from you and organisation. What was their reaction?
  5. When have you ever gone out on a limb to defend a customer? What happened?

COMMUNICATION

  1. Tell me about a recent successful experience in making a speech or presentation?
  2. When have you had to present to a group of people with little or no preparation? What obstacles did you face? How did you handle them?
  3. Have you ever had to “sell” an idea to your co-workers? How did you do it?
  4. Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).
  5. What obstacles or difficulties have you ever faced in communicating your ideas to a manager?
  6. Tell me about a time in which you had to use your written communication skills in order to get an important point across.
  7. When have you chosen to communicate a particular message in person as opposed to via email even though the email channel would have been a lot faster?

CREATIVITY

  1. When was the last time you thought “outside the box” and how did you do it? Why?
  2. Tell me about a problem that you’ve solved in a unique or unusual way. What was the outcome? Were you happy or satisfied with it?
  3. Give me an example of when someone brought you a new idea that was odd or unusual. What did you do?
  4. When have you brought an innovative idea into your team? How was it received?

DECISION MAKING

  1. Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision without all the information you needed. How did you handle it?
  2. Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision. What obstacles did you face?
  3. What is the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make at work? How did you arrive at your decision? What was the result?
  4. Give me an example of a business decision you made that you ultimately regretted. What happened?

GOAL SETTING

  1. Give me an example of an important career goal which you set yourself and tell me how you reached it. What obstacles did you encounter? How did you overcome the obstacles?
  2. Tell me about a professional goal that you set that you did not reach. How did it make you feel?
  3. How have you gone about setting short-term goals and long-term goals for yourself or your team? What steps did you take along the way to keep yourself accountable?

INITIATIVE

  1. Describe a project or idea (not necessarily your own) that was implemented primarily because of your efforts. What was your role? What was the outcome?
  2. Describe a situation in which you recognized a potential problem as an opportunity. What did you do? What was the result? What, if anything, do you wish you had done differently?
  3. Tell me about a project you initiated. What did you do? Why? What was the outcome? Were you happy with the result?
  4. Tell me about a time when your initiative caused a change to occur.
  5. What has been the best idea you have come up with during your professional career?

INTEGRITY/HONESTY

  1. Discuss a time when your integrity was challenged. How did you handle it?
  2. Tell me about a time when you experienced a loss for doing what is right. How did you react?
  3. Tell me about a business situation when you felt honesty was inappropriate. Why? What did you do?
  4. Give a specific example of a policy you conformed to with which you did not agree. Why?

INTERPERSONAL SKILLS

  1. Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. How/why was this person difficult? How did you handle it? How did the relationship progress?
  2. Describe a situation where you found yourself dealing with someone who didn’t like you. How did you handle it?
  3. Describe a recent unpopular decision you made. How was it received? How did you handle it?
  4. What, in your opinion, are the key ingredients in guiding and maintaining successful business relationships? Give me examples of how you have made these work for you.
  5. Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa). How did you handle the situation?
  6. Tell me about a time when you had to work on a team with someone you did not get along with. What happened?
  7. Describe a situation where you had a conflict with another individual, and how you dealt with it. What was the outcome? How did you feel about it?

LEADERSHIP

  1. Tell me about a team project when you had to take charge of the project? What did you do? What was the result?
  2. Describe a leadership role of yours outside of work. Why did you commit your time to it? How did you feel about it?
  3. What is the toughest group that you have ever had to lead? What were the obstacles? How did you handle the situation?
  4. What has been your greatest leadership achievement in a professional environment? Talk through the steps you took to reach it.
  5. What have been the greatest obstacles you have faced in building/growing a team?
  6. Describe a time when you have not only been responsible for leading a team of people but for also doing the same job as your team members? How did you juggle/balance your time?

PLANNING AND ORGANISATION / TIME MANAGEMENT

  1. Describe a situation that required you to do a number of things at the same time. How did you handle it? What was the result?
  2. How do you prioritize projects and tasks when scheduling your time? Give me some examples.
  3. Tell me about a project that you planned. How did your organize and schedule the tasks? Tell me about your action plan.
  4. When has a project or event you organised not gone according to plan? What happened? Why? How did you feel?

SALES / NEGOTIATION

  1. Tell me about your previous success in building a customer base from a standing start. What steps did you take?
  2. What is your greatest sales-related achievement to date? What steps led to the final outcome?
  3. Describe a time when you convinced a resistant customer to utilize your services.
  4. What was the most stressful professional negotiation you have been involved in? How did you handle it?

TEAMWORK

  1. Describe a situation where others you were working with on a project disagreed with your ideas. What did you do?
  2. Tell me about a time when you worked with a colleague who was not doing their share of the work. How did you handle it?
  3. Describe a situation in which you had to arrive at a compromise or help others to compromise. What was your role? What steps did you take? What was the result?
  4. Tell me about a time when you had to work on a team that did not get along. What happened? What role did you take? What was the result?
  5. What was the biggest mistake you have made when delegating work as part of a team project?
  6. Tell me about a time when you had settle a dispute between team members. How did you go about identifying the issues? What was the result?
  7. What have you found to be the difficult part of being a member, not leader, of a team? How did you handle this?

TENACITY / RESILIENCE

  1. Tell me about a particular work-related setback you have faced. How did you deal with it?
  2. When have you ever found yourself in a competitive situation professionally? How did you handle it?
  3. When have you seen your tenacity or resilience really pay off in a professional setting? What was the outcome?

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