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Glassdoor recently announced the Top 10 “Best Places to Interview” as part of their Candidates’ Choice Awards. These awards recognise employers with the best interview experience, according to those who know best – the job candidates – who were asked to provide anonymous feedback based on their interview experiences. And the Top 10 got us thinking; what interview questions do these companies ask their candidates?
In an effort to satisfy our curiosity we trawled through Glassdoor’s website to discover which questions each company were asking and how they were asking them. Not only that, but we’ve also compiled a list of the most common interview questions across all of the companies combined and explained why they have chosen to ask those questions and why you should too.
Interview Questions Asked by the Top 10 Best Places to Interview
- Why Sherwin-Williams?/Why do you want to work for us?
- What are your career goals with Sherwin Williams?
- What is your biggest strength/weakness?
- What motivates you?
- What concerns do you have about the position?
- If you were put into the position with no direction, what would you do?
- What is one time that you failed or didn’t meet a deadline, and how did you handle that situation?
- Give me an example of a goal that you set and how you went about achieving that goal?
- Give me an example of a decision that you made where the outcome wasn’t so good.
- Give me an example of a decision you made that had a good outcome and how did you go about making that decision.
- Explain a time where you had a difficult customer and how you handled the situation.
- Tell us about a time you came up with a theory on how to improve something in your previous job.
- How do you plan to grow sales in your new store?
- How would you build the retail customer base and increase sales for decorative products?
2. Grant Thornton
- Why do you want to work for Grant Thornton? (Intentions and motivations)
- Why do you want this role?
- Tell me about yourself.
- What do you expect to do in [your chosen role]? What are your goals?
- Where would you like to be in your career five years from now? What’s your plan?
- Tell me about a time that you had to be a leader? What steps did you take?
- Tell me how you handle difficult personalities?
- Tell me about a time when you had to meet a harsh deadline, how you approached it, and what the end result was.
- Describe a situation where you had to work with someone you didn’t get along with and how did you deal with it.
- What did you like least about your last job?
- When were you most satisfied in your job?
- How would you advise Grant Thornton to do their service better?
- If you could be a celebrity for 24 hours, who would you be and why? (the last, and ‘zany’ question of the interview)
- What are your weaknesses/strengths?
- Tell me about a situation in which you had to adjust quickly to a significant change in the organisation, department or team priorities. How did the change affect you? What did you do?
- Give me an example of when a coworker was not delivering work on time and what you did. Or give an example of when you managed an underperforming supervisor?
- Describe a time when you have chose between two priorities at one time.
- Tell me about a time that you failed on a project and what could you have done differently to change the outcome?
- Tell me about a time when you did not agree with a decision that you had to make as a team.
- A user can’t log on to their computer, what are the steps you would take to fix the issue?
- When is a time you had difficulty working in a group?
- How would you maintain a bulldozer?
4. BNY Mellon
- Why do you want to work for BNY?
- What are your career goals with BNY?
- Tell us what you understand about your role here.
- Why finance?
- How do you like to be managed?
- What makes you feel uncomfortable?
- How do you prioritise work related tasks?
- Describe a time you had to deal with a difficult team member.
- Tell me about a time where you were out of your comfort zone and how you dealt with it.
- Was there ever a time when you were working on a project and the objectives changed in the middle of the process?
- Describe a situation when you had to handle a compliance issue.
- What is an CDO? Explain it to us.
- What did you like about your last job and what did you dislike?
5. J. Crew
- Why do you want to work at J.Crew?
- Tell me about yourself?
- What designers do you admire?
- Where do you get your fashion inspiration?
- How would you describe our style to clients?
- What do you believe customer service is?/What is good customer service?
- Tell me about a time where you dealt with a difficult customer.
- What’s your favourite thing about working in retail?
- What’s your least favourite thing about working in retail?
6. H&R Block
- Why do you want to work for H&R Block?
- Tell me about yourself.
- What achievement you’re most proud of?
- Tell me about a time when you were able to improve a process.
- Can you think of a time you disagreed with a colleague, how did you handle this and what was the result?
- How would you cope with [particular scenario]?
- What is Income tax?
- What is direct tax?
7. Southwest Airlines
- Why do you want to work for Southwest Airlines?
- Why do you want to be a flight attendant?
- Do you know what a flight attendant does?
- What are your career goals with Southwest Airlines?
- What does hospitality mean to you?
- Tell me about a time you had to deal with an irate customer. How did you handle it?
- Tell me about a time you went above and beyond for a customer.
- Tell me about a time you had a problem with a coworker. How did you handle it?
- Why would you like to work for EY?
- Tell me about yourself?
- Why are you a good fit for EY?
- Tell me how you have prepared yourself to work for EY and in auditing?
- What differentiates EY from the other in the Big 4?
- What economic challenges does [country] face?
- What is depreciation?
- What are the rules of accounting?
- Complete this journal entry.
- How do you manage team conflicts?
- Why do you want to do public accounting, and more specifically, auditing?
- How do you get someone to trust you?
- Tell us about a situation where you encountered a mistake from a fellow team member in a project and how you dealt with it.
- Why do you want to work at Disney?
- What are your goals?
- What did you like best about your past job? What did you like least?
- How did you handle a specific situation of workplace conflict?
- Describe a time when you had trouble implementing a process.
- Which Disney character are you most like and why?
- Why PwC?
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are you career aspirations?
- What inspires you the most?
- Tell me something that’s not on your CV.
- Tell us when you demonstrated leadership and what difficulties and challenges you faced.
- Give an example of things one might have to consider when consulting for public contracts.
- Tell me about a time you solved a problem creatively.
- How do you keep up-to-date with the news?
The 8 Most Common Interview Questions Asked by the Top 10 Best Places to Interview (and Why You Should Ask Them Too!)
1. “Why [this company]?”
Pretty much every one of the top 10 asked this question in some way, shape or form. It’s a nice way to establish a candidate’s motivations for wanting to take the job and helps you see whether or not they’ve done their research on your company.
2. “Tell us about yourself?”
This gives the candidate the opportunity to tell you why they feel they are good for this position and how their skills and past experiences will help your business achieve its goals. It should also help you establish an idea of how they would fit in culturally in the organisation.
3. “What are your career goals?”/”What are your career goals with [this company]?”
Does the candidate see themselves here for the long haul? By asking this question you can establish how committed the candidate is to their career with your company versus it just being a job to tide them over until they find something better. What does the candidate want to get out of this role? You should seek to get past the here-and-now to understand what plans, if any, the candidate has made for the progression of their career and how they feel they can carry out these plans in your organisation.
4. “Tell me about a time when…?” (Behavioural Questioning)
“Tell me about a time you had to deal with an irate customer. How did you handle it?”, “Tell me about a time when you were able to improve a process.”, or “Tell me about a time when you had to meet a harsh deadline, how you approached it, and what the end result was.”
These types of questions are great for establishing how a candidate has handled situations pertaining to their previous roles. It also gives you an idea of how they approach problem solving and gives you an indication as to how they prefer to work.
5. “What would you do if…?” (Behavioural Pivot Questioning)
Behavioural questions don’t always tell you if someone will be good at the job you have open at your company. They only really tell you if they were good in their last job. Therefore, the key to using behavioural questions effectively is to know when to pivot. When the candidate explains how they solved a problem or coped with a situation in their last role, it’s up to you to then pivot and probe further by asking them how they would solve the same problem but with a smaller budget, a tighter deadline or whatever constraint is most relevant to your company. Moving on from past experiences these test candidates’ ability to transfer current skills to a new hypothetical situation.
This pivot questioning should give you a much better idea of how the candidate approaches tasks, goes about problem solving and how they would cope in the environment they would find themselves in at your company.
6. “What did you like most about your previous role?”/”What did you like least about your previous role?”
The candidate may have all the hard and soft skills needed to do the job, and they may be a good fit with the organisation, but if they’re not motivated to do the kind of work this role entails, they will not be a high-performing employee. Therefore, it’s very important that you understand job match i.e. whether or not they’re motivated to do the kind of work that this role requires. Asking either of these questions should help you work out what motivates the candidate in front of you.
For example, if the candidate says they enjoy a particular aspect of the job that will not be very prevalent in the role you’re offering, then you could have a potential mismatch in interest. Similarly, if the candidate happens to show a passionate interest in a particular aspect of the role, you need to determine whether there will be enough of that aspect in this role to keep them interested as time goes on.
7. “What is…”/”Explain [subject]” Questions
As Einstein once said, “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. By asking candidates to explain industry/role specific concepts or processes to you in their own words you will get a real flavour for their knowledge of and experience with the industry/role. Questions like “What is an CDO? Explain it to us.”, “What is income tax?” and “How would you maintain a bulldozer?” might seem very basic, but they are excellent for discovering whether or not the candidate in front of you truly understands the industry and the role they’re applying for.
8. “How did you resolve a conflict with a colleague?”
Almost every single one of the Top 10 asked this question in one way or another. For the most part, your candidate will not be working in isolation, they will be working as part of team made up of several personalities. As a result, we need to know how they normally tend to use their interpersonal skills to address or solve any issues that arise when conflict inevitably creeps in. Anyone can seem nice and pleasant in a job interview, but what will happen if you hire this person and a disagreement pops up?
So there you have interviewers, a glimpse at the interview questions asked by the most popular places to interview (as voted for by the candidates who’ve actually interviewed there), and an explanation as to why they have chosen to use those questions. Will you try to incorporate some of these into your interviews from now on? Do you use any questions we haven’t included that you feel work particularly well? If you do, we’d love to hear them! Get in touch with us on Twitter @SocialTalent or leave us a comment below.