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Interviewing is a skill that you get better at the more you do it. You can (and should) train yourself prior to interviews. A significant aspect to your interview training is understanding common mistakes people make so you can avoid them. 

Below are two frequently asked interview questions that candidates often fail.

1. Why are you leaving your current role?

Your answer to this question should be as truthful as possible without denigrating your current employer. It’s the language you use and clarity of your answer on which you will be judged. 

People typically leave a role for one of six reasons:

a.) Salary – Don’t ever make this your primary reason for leaving, because if an employer perceives you as being money driven, they will be concerned that you’ll leave them as soon as you get a better offer. 

b.) Career progression – Potential employers love when this is your major issue. The desire to keep moving up the ranks, continue learning and improve your skills makes you someone that is committed to their profession and the best chance of staying long-term.

c.) Flexibility – People now expect be able to have more flexible hours and working-from-home arrangements. If your current employer is unnecessarily insisting on five days a week in the office, then the interviewer is likely to be sympathetic. However, be mindful of not having unreasonable expectations (for example, stating that you never want to come into the office, when it may sometimes be required).

d.) Culture – No culture is perfect and if this is the main reason you are looking to leave then your wording needs to be carefully chosen. Items to mention could include changes in the environment; a waning work pipeline threatening your job security; or high staff turnover forcing you to have to do the job of multiple people when staff leave. Just don’t directly talk down your current employer and make yourself a victim of circumstance.

e.) Better work – Looking to diversify your experience into an area that your current employer doesn’t work in.

f.) Location – Pretty simple if this is your issue.

2. What is your salary expectation?

You need to have a clear idea of the salary you are aiming for and most importantly, have a logical justification for that figure. Interviewees usually know what figure they want, but the reason they want that figure is sometimes unclear. For instance, statements such as “that’s just what I want” and “my friend gets that much with a different company” are never strong arguments in the eyes of a potential employer.

Understand your value to the company you work for in dollars. 

  • How much did the work you do contribute to your current companies bottom line in the past 12 months?
  • Are you in a profession that has statistics and KPIs to monitor your performance?
  • What other ways did you add value to your current company? This might include bringing in clients; being part of the social club within the firm; or developing new systems and efficiencies that improved company productivity.
  • Understand how the role you are being interviewed for is benchmarked relative to other comparable roles currently on the job market

Be specific about the salary you’re seeking. Never give a range you are open to because you are likely to get the lowest figure in the range you offer. It is a negotiating tactic with little benefit. Indicate if the figure you want includes or excludes superannuation.

Remember that the salary you go for is tied to an expectation and if you are not ready to deliver at that level, you may not pass your probation period.