Interview questions and structured interviewing
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Selling Your Benefits

Univ. of Waterloo

The W5 model can be useful for answering questions. The answer should take approximately 90 seconds.

70 seconds

State skill and give an example of it by explaining:

What, Who, When, Where, Why and How

What the successful outcome was


20 seconds

Re-state skill and outline benefits transferable to the interviewer’s organization

For example, in response to the query “What experience do you have organizing projects?” you would determine that the qualification being evaluated is organizational skills. Your Skill/Knowledge/Ability Statement could be, “I have developed excellent organizational skills by working on two major projects. The one I would like to tell you about came to a successful conclusion six months ago.” Whatever statement you make must be true! Don’t lie or embellish. The illustration you would choose to confirm your statement would be a project that required similar competency to the typical project the prospective employer would want you to organize. Describe the what, who, when, where, why, how, and talk about the successful outcome or what you learned from the experience. As you tell the story, the employer can see or live through the action with you. The next step is the one that most candidates for a position do not include. Tell the interviewer what benefits or competitive advantage you can bring to the position because of that experience. “As part of the team being formed, I would be able to co-ordinate....” The key intention should be to sell yourself by using the story to support your strengths.

Questions You Can Ask
To supplement information obtained prior to the interview, you need to ask additional questions during the interview. Some questions will arise naturally throughout the interview but it is wise to bring some written questions with you. It shows the interviewer that you prepared for the interview by doing your homework. The questions should be pertinent to the position and show your enthusiasm and knowledge. By asking intelligent, well-thought-out questions, you show the employer you are serious about the organization and need more information. If a question has been answered during the interview, do not ask it again. This will give the impression you are not listening. It is important to write your own questions. To help you do this, refer to the following examples:

What do you see as the priorities for someone in this position?

Would you be able to describe a typical day on the job?

What would be a typical first-year assignment?

What training programs do you have available for your employees?

What level of responsibility could I expect in this position?

Is there a typical career path for a person in this position?

How are employees evaluated and promoted?

What is a realistic time frame for promotion?

Does the company have a promotion-from-within policy?

What are the company's plans for the future?

What do you see as the greatest threat to the organization?

What/where are the greatest opportunities for the organization?

How would you describe your organization's management style and working environment?

What do you like most about your organization?

Why is this position available? (Is it a new job or where did the former occupant go?)