Key Interview Questions – The “Why?” Questions

The “Why?” questions are the ones that test motivation, curiosity and initiative. They are:

  • why are you interested in the sector you’re applying for and
    why have you chosen a particular employer?
  • Most candidates rely on a mixture of Google searches, milk-round or job fair chats, and hearsay, to answer those questions. That isn’t enough.

What employers are looking for is people who have really bothered to find out what they do as businesses as well as what makes them unique. The key to gaining the right insights, the ones that will really make you stand out at interview, is to talk to as many people as possible who work or have worked in the sectors and organisations you’re applying to. I can’t emphasise this enough. Each conversation will add to knowledge and insights that other candidates don’t have, and will show that you’ve gone the extra mile to find out. That will demonstrate not only curiosity, but real interest and hunger for the job.

Here are some practical tips for building your network.

  • Make a list of family friends, friends of friends, school and university alumni connected with the sector and organisations you want to apply to. LinkedIn Premium allows you to do some really useful targeted searches. Get names from Bright events and campus events. Make sure you target at least two people in each organisation you apply to.
  • Be bold. Contact all the people on your list. It’s surprising, but people love talking about themselves and their jobs, and they do like helping people up the job ladder. So when you e mail your prospects, write something like : “I’d be really interested to understand what your job involves and what you enjoy about it, and how your organisation works as a business”. I always react positively to these requests, and I can assure you from experience that those who bother to ask usually get their placement of choice.
  • Not everyone will respond. But be persistent and follow up. Remember, successful people are persistent.

Image thanks to Emily Morter