Q1. Tell me about yourself?
“I am loyal, hard-working, professional and conscientious and, having studied the job description for this role in detail, I feel the attributes I possess are a strong match. Whilst at work, I am someone who takes pride in delivering each task to a high standard and I achieve this by working closely with other people within the team. I also make sure I obtain a clear brief from my manager or supervisor as to what they want to me to achieve whilst working in the role I am employed. If successful, I am looking forward to learning the role quickly and getting to know as much about your products and services, so I can start contributing and making a positive impact within the organization.”
Q2. Why do you want to work for our company?
“Having researched your company you are clearly a leader within the industry and I feel I would be able to excel within the role and put all of my skills, qualities and experience to good use. Whilst studying your company online, it is clear to see you have strong and exciting plans for the future and I would like to be a part of your journey through the role I am being interviewed for today. Finally, it is also clear that you support your employees, so they can excel within their roles. There’s lots of positive comments online about your company and, if I am successful at interview, I would feel quite proud to have your name on my CV/resume.”
Q3. When have you provided excellent customer service?
This one is all about showing you can go ‘above and beyond’ in the call of duty.
Your ability to serve customers politely and efficiently should be a given at this stage, but the interviewer wants to know if you’re passionate enough about helping people to do more than is expected.
To represent your skills accurately, prepare an answer that describes a genuine example of your exceptional customer service.
Reference a time where you really impressed a customer, and describe the exact lengths you went to to make them happy – it’s all about putting extra work in, taking responsibility, and making the customer feel valued.
Top tip: refer to a situation where the customer didn’t need to ask for help in order to receive it.
‘I recently met with a client to sell an event package. Prior to their visit, I explored previous activities that similar groups had found helpful in the past. This meant I could tailor the meeting accordingly, and could ensure they’d get everything they wanted out of the experience. Afterwards, I sent an information pack to send to all the attendees, with a brief recap of the visit. The company appreciated the personal touch, and went on to book six events with us.’
‘I take clients out for drinks all the time. This position does come with an expense card, right?’
Q4. Why do you want to leave your job?
It’s best to avoid going down the slippery slope of discussing specifics regarding compensation, poor management, company finances, poor morale, or any other negative aspect of the job.
You can gloss over negative information by focusing on the future and staying positive, stating something like:
- I want to build on one of the aspects that I like most about the work I currently am doing…
- One of the things that has made things a little more challenging is that I’d like to have a platform where I could share my ideas and offer up ways to improve…(service, operations, technology, communication, etc…)
Using phrases like that still keeps the mood positive, but allows the employer to read between the lines. It also shows that you want to contribute positively to the success of your employer.
You can also just share your interest in this opportunity by saying something like:
- I am interested in learning more about (something this job includes), and this job provides an opportunity to leverage my current areas of expertise and increase my skills in…
- Your focus here is on (something that you like), and I really enjoy doing (whatever that is). So, I expect to increase my enjoyment of my work when I am able to focus more on (that aspect of the job).
- I enjoy working as part of a team and am looking for an opportunity to work on an interesting project. This job is part of a team working on a fascinating project, and I would love to join in this work.
You can demonstrate your interest in this new employer by saying:
- I’ve enjoyed working with a great group of people at my current employer, but this opportunity in this company fits very well with the direction I want to take my career.
- I’ve learned a great deal in my current job, but I’m interested in working at [name of employer] based on the great things I have learned about this organization.
- This job has been a great experience, but growth is limited because the company is relatively small. So, to continue to grow, I need to look elsewhere, and working in this this opportunity looks very interesting to me because…
Be honest, positive, and frame your response in a way that includes the job you are interviewing for.
Q5. What’s your biggest weakness?
You could show that, although you may have had a problem in the past, you’ve taken steps to combat it. For example: ‘I used to find that pressure got to me but I’ve found ways to minimise this. I went on a time management course at university, which has helped me to organise myself and reduce my stress.’
The best response, however, is to describe a weakness that could also be viewed as a strength. But try to avoid the old favourite answer: ‘I’m a perfectionist’. It is such a cliche that intervewers will wonder if it is true. If you do use it, select an element of perfectionism, such as ‘Because I tend to get very passionate about the work I do, I get frustrated if others don’t share my enthusiasm.’
Most strengths – attention to detail, teamworking and so on – have the potential to shade over into weakness. If you’re a natural teamworker, do you find it difficult to cope with conflict, or to assume leadership responsibilities? If you’re great at the details, do you sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture? Another way to approach this question is to think about how you overcome the potential downside of your biggest strength.
Q6. Tell me about a time when you worked as part of a team?
- I worked on a small team of analyst in my last corporate job. Each of us was assigned a certain set of data to analyze daily, and then, at the end of each day, we compared our results and tried to draw some conclusions for the sales team. I enjoyed the team meetings, and it definitely helped with my motivation to know that my colleagues depended on the results of my work, that if I did not do my share, we wouldn’t be able to produce the outcome for the sales department as a team. What’s more, we were supportive to each other, and helped each other with heavy workload. All in all, it was a great experience, and I hope to work on a similar team in the job I try to get with you.
- I belonged to a team of five sales associates in a big retail store with electronics, all of us working on the same floor. The employer paid us bonuses according to the results we achieved as a team, and not as individuals. I consider it an excellent model, because instead of competing for customers who wanted to buy expensive goods, we could simply focus on delivering the best possible customer service to each and every person in the store, regardless of whether they wanted to buy something for a dollar, or something for one thousand dollars. We made a good team, and I enjoyed my experience, but after some time I simply felt I needed a change, a different job. That’s why I am here with you today.
- Working as a barista, I shared close quarters with three other colleagues on each shift. As you can imagine, it wasn’t always easy, and we had some conflicts, which is something you cannot completely avoid in any team. But we had a good system of work. Each of us knew what they were supposed to do, in every moment of the shift, and it really helped with effectiveness of work. Would you like me to elaborate on anything else regarding my experience on this team?
- I actually had a terrible teamwork experience in my last corporate job. We had too many big egos in the team, and instead of cooperating and working on a mutual goal, people were competing against each other, each of them trying to impress the manager and eventually get the promotion. It came to a point when people barely talked to each other, and when I didn’t enjoy going to work anymore. I realized it was a time to leave the place, and that’s one of the reasons why I am here today with you.
- This is my first job application, so I cannot really speak about an example from work. But I recall a seminary project I worked on with a team of four other classmates. I tried to take on a leadership role in the team, because other classmates were rather shy and we weren’t moving forward with the work. So I assigned tasks to each of us, as well as milestones for the project and a realistic schedule. I must say that I enjoyed my leadership role. We did well, scored A for the project, and the entire experience motivated me to pursue a managerial career.
- I worked on a small team of software engineers. We were developing a new mobile app, a new big thing if you want. I really enjoyed this experience, because in many places it is a lonely ride for a software engineer. But here we had daily meetings, discussed the coding and other problems each of us faced, and simply tried to maximize the effectiveness of our work, benefiting from the knowledge of all team members. It was a great experience, the app was a success, and I hope to work in a similar agile team in my new job.
- I’ve worked on a team in my last job, and enjoyed the diversity. Since I was a new force in the company, before anything else I wanted to learn from more experienced colleagues. And boy did I learn a lot. The team was diverse in terms of experience, cultural background, attitude to effective marketing, and many other things. I was like a sponge, absorbing all information, and trying to come up with my own input when I felt I had something important to say. I believe that I grew a lot as a marketer in that team, and will surely benefit from my experience down the road–maybe in the job with you.
Q7. Tell me about a time when you managed multiple tasks all at once?
Roles that require multitasking as part of the job need to be filled by individuals with a basic understanding of the term. Define the term to the best of your ability and consider offering an example of when you used multitasking in the past. If you’re unable to think of a time you multitasked successfully, relate it to the current role you’re interviewing for with a hypothetical example.
Example: “I define multitasking as doing multiple things or carrying out multiple tasks at once. It helps in getting tasks completed at a faster rate, which improves productivity. At my last job, there was a time I needed to listen to a customer on a headset while speaking with another customer in person. I pulled up two instances of our customer service application, one for both customers. I input their information into the required fields. After a few moments, I finished up with the customer on the phone and gave my undivided attention to the customer in person.”
Q8. What’s your biggest achievement in life so far and why?
Now you know how to structure your answer and the common pitfalls to avoid, here are some sample answers using the undefined to help you prepare your own.
Example Answer 1
“My greatest accomplishment is when I took over a children’s reading group in my current position as a Library Assistant.
“Children between the ages of 7 and 12 can come to the library on a Saturday morning, we read a chapter of a book together and then we discuss it.”
“At the time, my official responsibility was to provide customer service at the front desk. However, one of our Library Supervisors retired and no replacement was hired. Due to the lack of staff, the library made the difficult decision to cut the weekly children’s reading group._”
“I was saddened to hear about the disappointment felt by the children and their parents. I volunteered to change my shifts so I worked on a Saturday morning and could run the reading group.
“I am now the leader of the group. I help choose the books we read, prepare questions for educational discussion and organize games and other activities.”
“We get around five to ten children per session. Their parents are so grateful we were able to continue the group and I enjoy interacting with children who love to read.”
Why this answer is good:
This answer says great things about the candidate’s priorities: they value education, community and childhood development.
The example is relevant to the workplace.
The candidate showed initiative by taking over the group.
They show great management skills and leadership potential through their ability to organize and run the group.
Example Answer 2
“My greatest accomplishment occurred in my previous position as HR Administrator.”
“I noticed team members often had difficulty locating specific files – which reduced productivity, particularly during busy periods.”
“So I took the initiative to implement a team filing system. I scanned every vital document, which I then saved to shared folders on our computer system.”
“At the end of the month, our time sheets indicated that the time spent looking for files had reduced by several hours.”
Why this answer is good:
The example is relevant to the workplace.
The candidate has demonstrated skills such as resourcefulness, creativity, innovation, teamwork, adaptability and problem-solving.
Their project was successful, giving weight to the accomplishment.
Q9. Explain a situation you were in when you handled a customer complaint?
Here’s another sample answer for customer service jobs that work remotely.
Situation: “While working for ABC Furniture Company, I received a phone call from a customer who was angry because the sofa he wanted to order was out of stock.”
Task: “I was the rep handling the hotline for customer inquiries. I understood the customer’s frustration, and I apologized for the inconvenience.”
Action: “I looked up the inventory in the company database. I explained to the customer that his desired sofa would be out-of-stock for another two weeks. So I offered two potential solutions. My first solution was that we could send a similar sofa with his preferred color within the next day. The second solution was that we could schedule a delivery in two weeks when the sofa with his preferred color and model was available, and also send him two matching throw pillows and a blanket for free due to the inconvenience.”
Result: “The customer appreciated that he had a choice in what to do, and he decided to wait the extra two weeks for his preferred sofa. The sofa and extra items were delivered within the two-week time frame, and he gave us a five-star review for service on his post-purchase customer satisfaction form.”
Q10. What are your strengths?
When it comes time to toot your own horn, you need to be specific. Assess your skills to identify your strengths. This is an exercise worth doing before any interview. Make a list of your skills, dividing them into three categories:
- Knowledge-based skills: Acquired from education and experience (e.g., computer skills, languages, degrees, training and technical ability).
- Transferable skills: Your portable skills that you take from job to job (e.g., communication and people skills, analytical problem solving and planning skills)
- Personal traits: Your unique qualities (e.g., dependable, flexible, friendly, hard working, expressive, formal, punctual and being a team player).
Some examples of strengths you might mention include:
When you complete this list, choose three to five of those strengths that match what the employer is seeking in the job posting. Make sure you can give specific examples to demonstrate why you say that is your strength if probed further.
Scripting your answers
Write a positive statement you can say with confidence:
“My strength is my flexibility to handle change. As customer service manager at my last job, I was able to turn around a negative working environment and develop a very supportive team. As far as weaknesses, I feel that my management skills could be stronger, and I am constantly working to improve them.”
When confronted with this interview question, remember the interviewer is looking for a fit. She is forming a picture of you based on your answers. A single answer will probably not keep you from getting the job, unless, of course, it is something blatant. Put your energy into your strengths statement—what you have to offer. Then let the interviewer know that although you may not be perfect, you are working on any shortcomings you have.
Q11. What would you do if you didn’t get on with someone in your team?
Q12. Tell me about a time when you demonstrated strong customer service skills?
Q13. When did you have to complete a difficult task whilst under pressure?
Q14. Describe a stressful situation at work and how you handled it?
Q15. When have you shown flexibility at work?
Q16. Describe a time when you worked alone on a project or task for a long period of time?
Q17. What was the last piece of professional development you undertook?
Q18. Tell me about a time when you overcame conflict in a team?
Q19. Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Q20. What are your salary expectations?
Q21. Do you have questions for the panel?