Part 2 - ​Common Interview Questions and Answers

by Fionnuala Hegarty

Tim Gouw Bwki71ap Y8 Unsplash
Estimated Reading Time: minutes

Judgement & problem-solving

Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgement and logic to solve a problem.

I had a client come into the bank where I worked and request a $5,000 personal loan to ‘pay off some bills.’ In the customary review process, I determined that what was really needed was a $25,000 debt-consolidation loan. Rather than giving the customer a ‘quick fix’ to the problem, I logically solved the problem in a way that was in the best interest of both the bank and the client.


Describe a time when you were faced with problems or stresses that tested your coping skills.

Arriving in France in the middle of the night with very minimal French speaking skills, I found my way to the small town my host family was living in – a small town with no street addresses or names and found my temporary living accommodations, as I was doing hand over from the previous au pair. I was scared, but I handled the situation very well and very calmly. In very stressful situations, I am always the one in the group to stay calm and focused. My friends, family and professors have always said that I am an oasis of calm in a storm.


Give me an example of a time in which you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.

This happens often in the IT industry, but one recent example was when we had a core backbone switch die. It died at the worst possible time – during exams – as they always seem to do, and I needed to get it back up and running quickly.

I analysed the logs and system status, and used my previous experience to make some quick decisions that rectified the problem and got the equipment back up only minutes later.


Give me a specific occasion in which you conformed to a policy with which you did not agree.

When I worked at Bunnings as an assistant manager, I was always looking for a way to boost my employees’ morale. Unloading trucks is a very routine and physical job and can become very boring and exhausting. So, to improve the unloaders’ attitude toward their duties and make the best of the situation, I put a radio in the receiving dock.

It worked; however, the district manager did not approve of the radio in the workplace even though it did not interfere with any set policy of company objectives. The radio was also out of any areas where customers would hear the music.

I did not agree with my DMs decision, however when he explained to me that it was a health and safety issue, I understood his reasoning and quickly complied to his request. The employees were not happy that their radio was gone, so I found an alternative method of reward and morale boosting by implementing a program in which we provided lunch for the unloaders from any restaurant of their choice if they unloaded the trucks faster than usual. The program was successful in increasing their unloading time from 2.5 hours to only 1.5 hours – a savings in payroll of 8 per cent for that shift.


Conflict resolution

How would you evaluate your ability to deal with conflict?

I believe that I am quite good at handling conflict. In my previous role, I was required to make unpopular decisions at times, whether it was terminating and employee or pushing back on changes from more senior management that I felt would not be best practice for the business.

No matter the reaction of the person in conflict with me, I would always make sure that I explained the situation and my point of view clearly, the policies, stats and research behind my decision and explain its importance to the project or to my point of view. By the end of the conversation, the other person would usually understand my point of view and I would ensure to ask enough questions to fully understand their point of view. 


Have you ever had a conflict with a boss or professor? How was it resolved?

Note: If you say ‘No,’ interviewers will likely keep drilling deeper to find a conflict.

However, if you say ‘Yes,’ the key is to show how you reacted to the conflict and what you did to resolve it.

For instance:

Yes, I have had conflicts with my manager in the past. Never major ones, just disagreements that needed to be resolved. I’ve found that when conflict occurs, it helps to fully understand the other person’s perspective. So, I take time to listen to their point of view before working toward finding a collaborative solution. For example…

Be sure to show your process in resolving the conflict and how you work collaboratively with the other party.


Your motivators

What is more important to you, the job itself or your salary?

A salary commensurate with my experience and skills is important, but it’s only one piece of the package. Many other elements go into making up a compensation package, but more importantly, it’s critical to me that I enjoy what I’m doing, fit into the company culture and feel like I’m making a contribution in order to be the most successful version of myself.


What level of compensation would it take to make you happy? 

I am not dependent on money to make me happy. What makes me happy is having a satisfying job that provides challenges and new situations daily.


Tell me about the salary range you’re seeking.

I am sure that I am the candidate that you are looking for. If you feel the same, then I’m sure that your offer will be fair and commensurate with the value I can bring the company. 

(If pressed.) My recruitment consultant has also discussed salary ranges either with yourself or with the hiring team, and has requested that I leave these details with them.


Would you say that you can easily deal with high-pressure situations?

Yes. Throughout my University degree, I consistently maintained above a 3.8 GPA – which allowed me to graduate on the Dean’s List – worked 20 to 30 hours per week part-time as a waitress, was part of our University’s acapela team and volunteered at a local animal shelter. As I was constantly juggling many plates with many tasks to be completed and many people relying on me, I prioritised and dealt with each task based on its importance. I understand that this may be an extreme example not typically found in the financial consulting field; however it shows just how well I can deal with extreme pressure.


What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?

You would think that because I’m interested in sales, only financial compensation would motivate me to achieve. Although monetary rewards are important to me, I am driven to succeed internally. 

More than anything, I want to be respected by my friends and coworkers for being the best at what I do. Whether I am considered to be the best car detailer in my hometown or the best columnist for my local newspaper – I want to be recognised as the best.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series, where we will look into Goals & aspirations, What success means to you, and Understanding your weaknesses. A blog filled with really great tips and tricks that will benefit you for smashing your next interview!

Hiring Manager

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