Interview for Entry Level Role

Hello my fellow OzBargainers

I have an interview for an entry level office role in a few weeks and I like some advice and possible answers to some of the common questions.

Why would you want this position?
What makes you the right candidate?
What can you bring to the company?
Why did you leave your last role?

If anyone can provide guidelines in how to approach these questions would be appreciated.

How many people remain if i am selected for an interview?

Comments

  • +5 votes

    Have you tried Google?

  • +27 votes

    What are your answers to these that we can assist with querying/polishing? Answering them for you defies the entire purpose. If you can't answer these in some form then maybe you shouldn't get the job instead of others.

  • +1 vote

    The best advice anyone here is going to be able to give you on these forums is just to be honest and approachable. People want to know that they can work with you, not that you're capable of repeating some random internet guy's response verbatim.

    Also you sound a little nervous - try to relax into the piece and just try to spend this weekend having conversations with people, about anything.

    All the best!

  • +49 votes

    Why would you want this position? - AMG C63
    What makes you the right candidate? - Ill do anything for love
    What can you bring to the company? - Deez Nuts
    Why did you leave your last role? - The above 3 answers

  • +39 votes

    I'm assuming that you have relevant, previous experience, in a similar role.

    Why would you want this position?
    After reading the position description for this role, I can see a lot of positive parallels with roles I've held previously held, and would like to be able to apply and develop the skills that I've already acquired, as well as expose myself to new responsibilities, tasks, and problems so I can learn new skills as well.

    What makes you the right candidate?
    My relevant previous experience positions me as a strong candidate for this role, and I have proven skills and abilities to deal with the requirements and responsibilities of the role.

    What can you bring to the company?
    My strong past experience makes me a great fit for this role, my organised and task focused approach to work and activities ensures that I keep track of everything I'm working on and bring them to completion, and my social, collaborative nature allows me to work with teams and people exceptionally well.

    Why did you leave your last role?
    Choose from:

    • It was a contract role with a predetermined finish date
    • I had to refocus my time and attention onto school exams/uni/birth of my child/sick family member/personal health issues
    • I was offered another role for a short term, much more exciting role by a past colleague
    • After some time, my manager and I agreed that the business and myself were not a great fit for each other and parted ways amicably
    • I got caught stealing pens and wireless mice
    •  

      Ok. You've got the job.
      Nice answers.

    • +1 vote

      yes, exactly what I was looking for, nothing really direct and quite generic, with terms such as "positive parallels" is hard to find on the internet.
      Stuffed up my previous interviews when asked these questions and i just froze.
      In my mind I was like "I'm certainly not getting this job".

      Thanks really appreciate it

      • +17 votes

        Stuffed up my previous interviews when asked these questions and i just froze.

        If you can't come up with the answer yourself, in your own words, then you'll still freeze. Or they'll pluck another random question that you haven't rehearsed.

        The way to get a job via an interview is to be able to answer questions without acting like you're reading off a card.

        Receptionists get questions fired at them from both clients/customers, and staff. You've gotta be quick with something

        • +4 votes

          i'm great with the job just bad at the interview

          • +1 vote

            @dsw460p: People can always give you advice, but it very much depends on the style of interview that people choose to run.

            Yes, I don't like interviews either.

            Part of the interview thing is to get through applicants quickly. And another is to see how they deal with preasure. How do manage expectations of everyone asking you questions in a short amout of time.

            When I last did interviews the questions you needed to answer were:
            * What are you strengths?
            * What are your weaknesses?

            And the thing you were supposed to do (before the interview) is think of a weakness, that could be turned around into a strength. How that weakness could be used for benefit, or at last how you understood and worked to it was not a hinderance.

            Also things like:
            * What is something you did well at a previous company?
            * What is something that didn't work, and what have you learnt from it?

            The second one being used to show that you can grow and learn from your experiences.

            Have answers (or situations) prepared. But don't sound like a peice of cardboard rolling them out.

            Ask questions of the interviewer if you don't understand their question. Show that you will seek clarification about requests before acting on them. (But maybe don't do it for all questions)

            Do research about the employer before hand. But also ask them questions about the company during the interview. You are there to determine if you want to work for them, just as much as they are trying to determine if you are a fit for the job. And it shows that you are interested.

            Be polite and acknowledge everyone you have to deal with at the company, including the receptionst. This is especially important at small companies. They may give you hints about things you need to know, or be indirectly influencial in who gets hired.

            If this is an entry level job, they should expect people to not have a lot of experience with interviews and be nervous.

            Smile.

            "What do you do outside work?" is another question. This is to show that you are a more rounded person. Or maybe that you interests align with other employees. Choose something not to obnoxious, that you can answer questions about. (Trolling Ozbargin in not a good answer :)

      • +8 votes

        Please don't just parrot buzzwords like 'positive parallels' and think it'll work. Be honest and tailor your answers to the role. If you start sounding like Gordon Gecko at an interview for a reception job, it's plainly obvious that you're reciting from a script. It also invites follow-up questions that you're obviously unprepared to answer.

      • +1 vote

        These answers are super generic and very cliche, make you seem like a real ”yes man”. Read about the company and reflect on why you would like to be there then speak from your heart!

    •  

      Right on money

    • +1 vote

      This is a great answer considering the information OP gave.

      This might be obvious, but the answers need to be rewritten so they sound like answers specific to the situation. Otherwise this scream copypasta.

      I would love to hear someone verbally reply to these questions with these answers verbatim 😂

      • +1 vote

        This might be obvious, but the answers need to be rewritten so they sound like answers specific to the situation. Otherwise this scream copypasta.

        Nah. Next level interview copypasta = getting a dude to lip sync on Skype.

    • +2 votes

      My BS meter would be going off if someone answered like this. People who answer more honestly come across as more genuine rather than these PC responses that are more focused on providing an answer they assume the interviewer wants to hear.

  •  

    What have you come up with so far? People are more likely to help you if they see that you have put in some effort.
    Alternatively, these are very common interview questions, try Google.

  • +10 votes

    "Sell me this pen"

    • +7 votes

      it was a deal on Ozbargain

    • -3 votes

      not in sales

      •  

        That's not the point.

        It's to see if you can come up with an answer without stumbling.

        •  

          let me tell you this, every interview i have been to so far i have stuttered when they ask me any question other than my availability

        •  

          crap test if its entirely different to whatever the role is gonna be

          • +11 votes

            @crentist: I once asked an interviewee, "Who would win a fight between spider-man and Batman?"

            I wasn't really looking for any answer in particular. The candidate was head and shoulder above the rest on paper. But in person , he was shy and nervous.The other 2 interviewers were putting him through the wringer and he was slowly digging himself into a hole.I could see little beads of sweat forming on his forehead.

            We had a list of questions that HR had prepared for us. The one that I was meant to ask him was "Tell us why you deserve the job more than the 5 other candidates who have been shortlisted?" .I thought I'd cut him some slack and ask him an easy oneinstead.

            He said,"Batman because of all the resources he/Bruce Wayne enterprise has at his fingertips; because he has the support of his team (Alfred, Robin, Batgirl…); because he would lock himself in his batcave and research the hell out of Spider-man, learn about his strengths and weaknesses…"

            More importantly, the candidate relaxed. He smiled. His eyes lit up. You could see the real person, under that borrowed suit and when there wasn't 3 complete strangers sitting there, throwing curve-balls at him and judging him.I liked what I saw. I also liked his answer. So I gave him the job on the spot.

            Of course, I got in trouble for that. Final decision was always going to be mine but I believe I was supposed to drag it out, make the suspense last like one of those ridiculous rose ceremonies on the Bachelor.🙄

            • +1 vote

              @Jar Jar binks: Well that's a silly question that cuts tension and creates rapport. That's good. I made a comment below about how I try to break the tension early on in an interview, because I've been that shy and nervous person enough times.

              The "sell me this pen" question would clench me right up though. But maybe not as a test of interpersonal skills, because I think I'd stand a good chance in a high level technical sales/support role, but because it seems to be specifically about fabricating a need, not presenting a solution.

            • +3 votes

              @Jar Jar binks:

              So I gave him the job on the spot. Of course, I got in trouble for that.

              As you should. Spider-man always wins that fight.

            •  

              @Jar Jar binks: haha nice one, similar situation, we were interviewing our final three candidates and I asked "if you were a super hero, what would you be?". Can you believe people get stumped at these questions? especially when they are expecting boring baseline questions like "what will you bring to the company?" etc.

              •  

                @TheMindsetTraveller: faaaaaaarrrr, hope i don't see you in an interview.

                What questions do you usually ask, and are they given by HR or off the top of your head?

                How many people remain if I am selected for an interview?

      • +2 votes

        You may not be in sales but you're selling yourself to the interviewer - being able to sell is a essential skill to progressing far in your career.

        •  

          oh yeah, that's pretty much what an interview is now thinking about it just selling yourself

    • +4 votes

      "Why are you holding my pen? That's $3 thanks."

  •  

    The fact you think we can give useful answers without telling us anything about the company itself speaks volumes.

  •  

    If are serious about this job, spend 30 minutes or more finding out about the company.
    What is the business, and what directions are they focussing on?
    What are the main issues/competitors/upcoming disruptive influences for the business?
    Who's who in the company? - learn some names.

    For me this applies whether you are applying to be the CEO or an entry level job.

  • +11 votes

    I love interview preps.

    Why would you want this position?

    Answer truthfully. This question isn't to find the answer. It is to see how eloquently you can answer it and your demeanor whilst you do it.

    Unless you say something straight up f-d up, the answer is meaningless.

    What makes you the right candidate?

    This is a question that probes your investigative skills and proactiveness. You actually need to know what the company is looking for otherwise there's no possible way of answering the question without spouting a whole lot of BS.

    For example - If the company is looking for someone to maintain their online image, there's no point in talking about your ability to predict Bitcoin movement.

    What can you bring to the company?

    Always talk about your mad interpersonal skills. They're not going to hire you anyway if you don't have the technical skills. If you've passed the first hurdle - is this dude/dudess even qualified for the role - then the question is really, "what else you got, homie?"

    Why did you leave your last role?

    This is to eliminate candidates that bad mouth the previous employer.

    Whatever the reason, you must make your previous employer sound totally boss.

    Whatever the reason, you must make the explanation for your leave a voluntary and amicable one.

    Seriously, no exceptions to those final two points. Like not even a little bit.

    • +2 votes

      This is to eliminate candidates that bad mouth the previous employer.
      Whatever the reason, you must make your previous employer sound totally boss.
      Whatever the reason, you must make the explanation for your leave a voluntary and amicable one.
      Seriously, no exceptions to those final two points. Like not even a little bit.

      This is extremely important. As much as you need to be honest, it needs to be selectively honest. You might have thought your boss was a douchebag, but you can’t say that, come up with another reason. . You need to spin whatever the reason into a positive one.

      •  

        I nearly got a job being upfront about being bullied at another job that I had left, I turned it down for another, it’s not always textbook.

    •  

      so what you are saying is even if you were fired, spin it into you left the job

      •  

        What do you mean?

        I thought you left as the place was overstaffed and it is a matter of time before they made someone redundant.

        I heard you always wanted to go on a scuba holiday. Didn't you leave at that time because the sea is calmest during those months?

        Good thing you did otherwise you'd missed that surreal encounter with the giant QLD grouper.

        You have to tell me more about that grouper.

  •  

    I though an Entry Level Role was a Lift Driver. Lol

    •  

      na, its reception

      •  

        you realise that the receptionist is one of the most important roles in the business?

        • they are the first contact most people have with a business
        • they make people happy by doing coffee and stuff
        • they just seem to know everything about everything and everyone
        • they can pull phone numbers outta thing air which are actually correct
        • they make you feel good and happy even though you might be having a shit day

        it's like cleaners … everyone goes thats a shit job (well literally at times) …

        Without receptionists and cleaners, nearly every business would crumble

  • +10 votes

    Why would you want this position? - I need money
    What makes you the right candidate? - My love for money
    What can you bring to the company? - I can help you make money
    Why did you leave your last role? - Not enough money

  • +1 vote

    These are pretty standard interview questions that you've already identified. Take a moment to think of answers yourself and stop crowd-sourcing your laziness.

    None of us know this role more than you, any answers provided will be generic and inauthentic.

  • +3 votes

    Well, you start by saying 'oh, good question. Very good question'
    Then the interviewer spend the first 10 seconds of your reply thinking about how amazing they are at coming up with questions, which means a free pass for you.

  •  

    All the questions answers will require job specific answers - as with any interview.

    You need to work out your own answers that will make the interviewer know you have done some research on the role and company and are interest in taking the role. Spouting rote answers does not help that situation.

  • +3 votes

    If the company has some form of HR expect some behavioral interview questions, even for entry level roles. Key for these is to think of times where you have displayed relevant competency/traits, so think of some examples from previous roles, studies or endeavors where you may have shown things like good people skills, attention to details, focus on deadlines, focus under pressure etc. for each of these scenarios follow STAR describing the situation at hand, what the task was, the actions you took, and the result (probably new models that add a few more letter but above the basics)
    Eg “tell us about a time you had to deliver a piece of work in tight timeframes - how did you go about it” (don’t talk about leaving an assignment until the last minute and scrambling)
    Just google behavioral interview questions but agree with above to learn about company
    Also focus on motivation and why this is interesting to you

    • +1 vote

      yeah hate HR mate, they always asks questions that are not really relevant or necessary
      like i went to this sales interview and you guessed it HR
      Had 2 pages of approximately 18 questions.

      IMO HR is only good for hiring people who can regurgitate whatever bs they made up or thought of, but leaves out those who are actually right for the position.

      •  

        people who can regurgitate whatever bs they made up or thought of

        sounds like a key attribute for a successful sales career

      •  

        Lol HR is going to vary by company mate just like all functions, some are more sophisticated than others.

      •  

        That doesn’t seem like a good attitude towards a job prospect.

      •  

        You will get non HR people asking you these STAR questions too. They are there to show that you can work through problems and find a solution.

        Also, if you are stuck thinking of the way to explain an answer, give the interviewer a placeholder and don't just leave them hanging.

  • +1 vote

    Why would you want this position? I strongly value the ability to meet my rent and grocery commitments in order to live.
    What makes you the right candidate? I am the best candidate for the position that is sitting in this chair right now.
    What can you bring to the company? I can bring my wealth of knowledge and the resources of approximately 10,000 independent operators to assist me via public forums and airtasker.
    Why did you leave your last role? My old employer was in the process of shipping "operations"/"management"/"front line" off shore.

  • +3 votes

    Why would you want this position?

    Your answer: "I don't" . Watch their mouths drop. You get up, shake their hands and walk towards the door. If they chase you down the corridor, congratulations ! The soul-destroying job is yours. If not, well, it was never meant to be.

    What makes you the right candidate?
    What can you bring to the company?
    Why did you leave your last role?

    •  

      And as you walk down the corridor, don't look back, because they will sitting there shaking their heads and thinking, "unbelievable, what a 'millenials' mentality".

  • +3 votes

    Just like the actual job, interviews get easier with time. First few are nerve-wracking, but if you go through a few it gets easier to know what to expect and what to say, and be less nervous about it. Especially important in entry-level since it's more important that they like you, than your lack of skills.

    Best thing is if you can make it feel a little more like a friendly conversation than an interview, and drop the formality. Easy way to do that is to ask them some questions early on, if they respond to happily then the whole tone shifts and it's not as one-sided. This also flips it a little and eases pressure off you, gets them talking a bit (which fills time), and demonstrates that you are interested in them, and in your own career (or at least making sure you aren't gonna hate it and quit after a week).

    This is also effective because, big secret, people like talking about themselves. Sometimes too much, I've had some great interviews (and offers) where I barely got a word in the whole hour.

    This can be tricky if you have HR sticking to a script, or a few interviewers together.

  •  

    Why would you want this position?
    - to buy more bargains on ozbargain
    What makes you the right candidate?
    - I have collated extensive posts from ozbargain to present to you why I am the best candidate. (send URL to this forum)
    What can you bring to the company?
    - the ozbargain posts and comments
    Why did you leave your last role?
    - let me whip up an MS paint for you Mr interviewer - a picture is worth a thousand words…

  • +1 vote

    Interviews are a game mate, you just gotta learn how to play it. Sometimes you just need to tell them what they want to hear…

    • +1 vote

      yeah that's the hard part

      • +3 votes

        The game aspect…
        I find having several interviews helps.
        I'll go to an interview with the intention of only gaining experience from having it.
        I'll be 20 minutes late, give a bad handshake, mess up a couple answers to questions, then get offered the role…

        You also have to realise that not every job is worthy of you. You're finding out about the job and environment as well.
        I think as far as nerves and confidence goes, it helps to have low expectations and be prepared for failure.
        My last interview last week I told them I'm not familiar with a lot of aspects of the role, but I think they liked how optimistic I was about everything and the clear way I communicated. It was supposed to be an hour long interview but I left after half an hour and still got the role without even answering a bulk of the questions.

        What they want to hear shouldn't be hard. It's written in the position description.
        I've had interviews where I practically read back what they've put in the position description and they love that.
        Where it says "must be ___, must be willing to ___" just repeat a few of those back to them, it's what they want to hear.
        At the very least, use key terms used in the job ad or position description.

  • +1 vote

    Most interviews are about confidence… you could be the dumbest person in that room but if you sell yourself as a confident people person they'll hire you. True story.

  • +3 votes

    Use the STAR method when answering certain behavioural questions. They could ask…"When have you had to use your leadership skills in the workplace?".

    S - Situation
    T - Task
    A - Approach
    R - Result

    •  

      is this a common thing that's taught

      • +2 votes

        Yes. Most interview prep consultants (found at universities and schools) will reccommend this method when answering this style of question.

  • +3 votes

    Know the company, know your CV and be able to provide examples of strengths and/or achievements using the STAR framework.

    Don’t try to prepare for every commonly asked question or you may be too tense and come across as reading from a script in your head.

  • +1 vote

    Ultimately you need to show how YOU can benefit them.

    Most people make the mistake about making the interview all about THEMSELVES. I want to learn, i want your companies name on my resume blah blah bah.

    The company/boss wants someone to make their lives easier/do their job for them, prove to them your the right person.

  • +1 vote

    Oh yes I can photocopy.
    Oh yes I can make coffee.
    Oh yes I can answer the phone.
    Oh yes I can clean up around the office.
    Oh yes I can walk your dog.
    Oh yes I can collect the kids for you.
    Oh yes I can prepare dinner.

  • +1 vote

    Just tell them the truth, that its a stepping stone to a six figure salary, if they think their entry level role is anything more than that they have rocks in their head.

  • +4 votes

    'I have an interview for an entry level office role in a few weeks and I like some advice and possible answers to some of the common questions.

    Why would you want this position?
    What makes you the right candidate?
    What can you bring to the company?
    Why did you leave your last role?'

    I've recommended to students to find out about the company and what they're doing, then find what their problems are, and what you're interested in about them. Bottom line - their boss wants you to make more money than you cost - to feel that you are worth at least twice as much as you cost them. So follow the money to find out why they are employing. Talk money and you get their attention.

    The other factor for hire and fire lazy employers who don't plan to keep you for long - is do you fit, and do they like you. If you can estimate the interviewers' personality and talk sport or something they love, you may be a shoo in - 'how about that football game on the weekend?' can get you in for such types.

    Confidence - exude confidence and reliability - eye contact in Australia is expected - I once failed an interview and the report was 'didn't make eye contact' - that's seen as shifty in Australia - no longer than 5 seconds at a time or that becomes creepy and leering too much.

    Relaxed body language - you don't need this job - they need you - project that feeling.

    What can you bring? - something unique - research the company goals and find something you match - community, experience, interest - especially like the boss who started the company - if you can match that you can be in like Flynn.

    Why did you leave your last role? - from the sound of it, this is your first job - if so talk about team sports at school to show you can play well with others to achieve success.

    Basically smile at the interviewers - they hate doing interviews too - let them relax and start to like you, that's the biggest hurdle - come across as a$$hole and it's a no, come across as no problemo and it's when can you start.

    •  

      very detailed explanation, how do you suggest starting a conversation- eyyyy how's the game last night
      eye contact in last interview kind of ruins it, used too much was getting kinda creepy imo

  • +1 vote

    Wear a tuxedo so you get to ask the questions!

  • +1 vote

    Biggest question you missed is ' tell us how you overcame a problem in a previous job' or similar. Have some stories about work ready! Best be as honest as possible without being negative. If you don't get it, either they have someone else in mind or they think the job is not right for you. Don't take it the hard way if that happens. They want to see that you're friendly and can get along well with others. Good luck

  • +3 votes

    How many people remain if i am selected for an interview?

    Who are you asking this?
    Ask in the interview if you want. I do, why not. I find they tend to be honest and will say how many candidates they're interviewing.

    Anyway for job interviews, I don't even bother with specific questions. I go in and start talking about myself and ask them how their work has been.
    What ends up happening is we cover 90% of the written questions through general conversation.
    The interview formula is very unnatural, reading questions out…
    The most important thing is to express that you actually want the job. I just tell them either I like X aspect of the job because I've done it before or I like X aspect of the job because it'll be something new for me to learn.
    I've had 3 job interviews in the past month, each of them landed me the job fairly easily.

    These questions…

    Why would you want this position?
    What makes you the right candidate?
    What can you bring to the company?
    Why did you leave your last role?

    The first 3 are all the same thing. You just give the basic info of literally what appeals to you about the role. As I said earlier, turn everything into a positive. If you're inexperienced say you're eager to learn and develop. If you're experienced give a brief explanation about your experience and what you enjoy about the type of work.
    The last question, again you want to give a positive answer. Don't lie but be prepared to twist the truth a little and make it sound positive. If you have to say something negative, follow it with something positive.
    Hopefully you didn't end the previous role on bad terms. Personally I just remove bad roles from my resume completely so I don't have to talk about them.

    If anyone can provide guidelines in how to approach these questions would be appreciated.

    I'd suggest speaking with a friend, family member, or peer to discuss the job you're applying for.
    Some things that may seem obvious and implied still need to be expressed. Talk to someone and tell them what you'd like about working in the role and what it'd mean for you. Ideally they'll have some basic questions too, like what is the role? Who is it for?
    Having a discussion like this makes it much easier to draw the same information up in the formal interview scenario.

    Another suggestion is, prepare a couple of questions for the interviewers to ask at the end.
    It's standard practice for them to ask if you have any questions. It doesn't mean anything, you've already discussed everything but if you have a couple of questions for them it shows you're interested and makes their interview session more interesting. (Imagine interviewing someone and just writing down their answers without anything unpredictable happening, then you do another and another but then one guy acknowledges your existence and actually asks you a question for a change. It's a polite thing to do if anything.)

    To summarise, know yourself. Study your resume and re-think why you're applying for the role. Think career goals and long term.
    If it's entry level then they don't need skills or experience. They want the right "can-do" attitude, along with a reasonable level of natural instinct for the role's responsibilities. Be prepared to explain how getting the role will be a progression to your life and career.

  • +1 vote

    Find out as much as you can about the company (and maybe the hierarchy there) so you can weave that specific knowledge into some of your answers so they know you’re actually interested in the company and the role. If you “personalise” your responses to the role, you’ll stand out from the crowd. Look at company blogs and on-line feedback for the company to get a greater depth of knowledge (if those things exist). Then PRACTISE your answers with a friend/family member. Good luck.

  • +3 votes

    Next Ozbargain post. "I got an entry level role. How do I do it?"

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