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On Luxembourg Times: Tips to master your next job interview

The most common and tricky questions that come up in job interviews and how to answer them by Roxane Klein, Recruitment Consultant at GOTOfreedom.

The main aim of all questions is to see if the person is the right fit for the company, team and manager, said recruitment consultant and headhunter, Roxane Klein of GoToFreedom Executive Search. Interviewers need to know if the candidate has the right technical skills for the job but it is also important to know whether his or her way of working and goals are aligned with those of the firm and if the personality will fit.

“Companies look for adaptability and solutions-driven people,” Roxane said. “If you want to stand out from the crowd you have to show you can find solutions to problems and make sure you don’t come across as a passive employee.”

Why are you looking for a new job?

“There is no right or wrong answer here,” said Klein. The aim of the question is not to judge you but to figure out if you are the right match. If the interviewer knows that team members work very autonomously and the candidate says he or she doesn’t like that, it is not a match.

You could mention the working environment you are looking for, that you are searching for a new challenge with more of a learning curve, for example, but keep it factual and avoid talking about emotions, Klein said.

How do you react under stress? Give me an example of a time you had a complicated deadline and how you dealt with it.

It is crucial that you are ready to answer this question as it often comes up in interviews and it is essential that you steer clear of emotions, Roxane explained.

“This is to help the interviewer understand what types of stresses you are used to in your job and what solutions you found,” said Roxane. “We all come across difficult and stressful situations, so do not pretend this doesn’t happen to you.”

It is crucial to avoid talking about workplace drama and your colleagues. The interviewer is not interested in hearing if your colleague was lazy and you had to do all the work or if you think your boss is incompetent and you had to take the lead even though it is not in your job description.

“You could be perceived as someone who is not collaborative or who doesn’t deal well with others,” Klein added. “They want to know about you. Did you collaborate with others, were you able to find the right help to get the task done on time – this would be a much better answer.”

They don’t expect you to be able to do every single task thrown at you but they are interested in knowing how you deal with unforeseen situations.

How do you report to your current manager? How would your manager describe you?

This question is asked to check your soft skills and how you could fit in with your potential new manager. This is a tricky one because you probably don’t know the manager of the position you are applying for, so all you can do is tell the truth about the way you work with your current boss.

Do you mainly communicate with your boss via email or do you prefer to speak in person? Avoid exaggerating your proximity to your boss. Do not pretend you also have direct contact with someone higher up in the organisation if it is not true. Luxembourg is small and HR professionals will know if you are lying about your place in the company, Roxane Klein said.

Give me an example of a task you delivered successfully and one you struggled with

This is another question you should always be prepare to answer. The easy part of the question is talking about your successes but it’s more awkward to talk someone through a difficult work situation.

In any case, every interviewer knows that a job is not all about successes and it is obvious you will have faced difficulties along the way. So be honest.

“It’s ok to say you didn’t meet your targets but be prepared to explain why and what solutions you found,” Roxane said. “It allows us to check your capacity to go beyond difficulties and not remain blocked. It means a lot when people talk about their difficulties, it’s inspiring to hear of their solutions.”

What can you bring to the company? What are your strengths?

Finally, an opportunity to brag about how incredible you are. Here you will need to outline your technical skills and highlight how you think your skills can contribute to the job you’re applying for. Do your research before going to the interview so that you can give a specific answer. Maybe the firm is focusing on a certain project at the moment and you have experience in that field. That will show you took time to look at what the company is doing and will make you seem more interested in the job.

You can also bring in your interpersonal skills to highlight what you can bring to the team in addition to the tasks you carry out. But remember to remain true to your real personality. Perhaps you’re an introvert but you feel you should answer this question by telling the interviewer how much of a team player you are, always eager to mix with colleagues and build a social life with your workmates. They can sense if you’re creating a false personality and would much rather you told the truth. Maybe the people on the team in question actually work autonomously and there isn’t much of a social vibe, so what you just described would mean you’re not the right fit.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

Many candidates ask what the company can offer them but recruiters need to know where you want your career to take you, Roxane Said. “You should think beforehand about what you want to do in the future,” she said. “This is important, to know if it matches what the company can offer you.”You don’t need to give a precise career plan but you should be prepared to say where you see yourself. Maybe you have ambitions to become a team leader, perhaps you know you want to stay in the field but would like to get to work on certain projects, for example.

Why do you want to leave your current job?

Don’t fall into the trap of explaining your workplace drama. This would be disastrous. Steer clear of bad mouthing your boss, colleagues or employer and do not say there is a toxic environment at work, Roxane advised.

Avoid mentioning drama or feuds,” she said. “You never know who knows who. They might know the manager there and they might have heard different versions of what you are saying. Who wants to employ someone who talks badly about another manager? If you mention toxic environment, the recruiter will dig deeper to know what you mean by that. It will be hard to explain without expressing emotions.”

If you are genuinely looking for another job because of a toxic work environment, you could say you have been there for a number of years and you want to change environment. It could be because you want to work on different tasks and it is not possible in your current team. Or maybe there is a specific reason you have applied to the job in question – perhaps you have heard good things about the company, the team or what they work on.

Don’t forget to: Asking a question at the end of the interview

It’s important to have a question for the interviewer,” said Roxane. “It wouldn’t be detrimental to the interview but it helps show you are interested and it avoids the interview ending abruptly.”

Examples of questions you could ask are about the daily tasks you and the team would carry out, the schedule and working hours, ask them to tell you more about the team, the environment.

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