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Lily Shippen Recruitment Agency | Typical Interview questions


We spoke to a number of Office Managers’ and HR Managers’ in both London and Manchester and asked what questions that they ask when interviewing candidates. We found that most will ask you the following questions after talking through your CV and here are our tips on how best to answer them.

What is your reason for leaving your last role / why are you looking for a new role?

Don’t go into unnecessary detail. Keep it short and simple. Be positive.

What do you know about the business?

Demonstrate research here, clients often like reference to heri core values and how you emulate those in your day to day role

Why does working for this company appeal to you?

“I have looked on your website and spoken with others in the market and what really strikes me about this company is……”

Discuss what you have discovered about the firm’s culture that appeals to you. Like;

  • Training and development
  • Employee recognition and mobility
  • Internal and external client focus
  • Opportunity to contribute to improved processes etc
  • Team focus
  • Their recent results or new worth stories

Why does this particular role appeal to you?

“I have read the job spec in detail and what appeals to me is…..”

  • Relate it to your past experience and how you can leverage off that
  • Perhaps the level or person you are supporting or the team or the firm

What strengths / transferrable skills can you bring to the team / position?

Make sure you support your strengths up with some evidence (just a snapshot of the evidence)

Some examples are;

  • I am a team player – I always ask others before leaving for the day if there is anything I can help them with
  • Strong time management and ability to prioritise. For example..
  • I use my initiative – I identified a process improvement in my last role for example…

What are your weaknesses/ areas for improvement?

Some good examples of these are;

  • Potentially mentoring more junior support staff if you are in a PA role
  • Potentially supporting a more senior person or board level work
  • Giving an example of something you used to be weaker at but have tried to improve on. For example, “I used to find it difficult saying no to my boss and always wanted to overachieve for him which meant I was working incredibly long hours. I decided to have a daily meeting with him at 9am and we would go through all the priorities with him for that day, of course things came up throughout the day but I had built such a strong relationship with him that I was able to push back in a positive way and communicate with him, ensuring that everything got done.

What are your aspirations/ where do you see yourself in 3/5 years?

  • Be specific about whether you would like to be a people manager or be involved with projects
  • Ensure that you know where progression is before you answer the question as it may put you at a disadvantage if you seem overly ambitious in some roles / firms.

Some other sample questions that you may be asked

  1. Can you talk me through your current role?
  2. What appeals to you about this company?
  3. What appeals to you about this role?
  4. What do you do on a daily basis in your current role?
  5. Working for our firm can at times be stressful and long hours are involved, how would you deal with this pressure?
  6. Name a time when you have been under great stress and how did you deal with this?
  7. Give an example of a time when you have helped your team members when they were presented with a difficult situation?
  8. Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years’ time?
  9. Why should we pick you, rather than other candidates?
  10. How have you dealt with people who have objected to a change to a process or procedure you have tried to make?