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Classic Interview Questions and Answers

What contribution do you make to the department in which you work?

Alternative and related questions:

How does your job relate to the overall goals of your department/organization?

The meaning behind the question:

The interviewer could have rephrased this question, “Are you able to see the bigger picture?” They’re searching for evidence that you understand the purpose and goals of your department as a whole – and how your role fits into the big scheme of things. While it might not be vital to your ability to undertake your job, it is always preferable for an employee to understand what the overall purpose is of their team or department – and what part they are expected to play in that.

Your answer:

Even if the interviewer hasn’t phrased their question so as to use the word “contribution”, you still need to place a clear emphasis in your answer on what it is that you contribute to the overall goals of your department. You’ve got to demonstrate your value. The interviewer knows what job you perform – but how is it of benefit to your colleagues and to your employer?

Some people won’t necessarily work in a specific department as such but, if this is the case for you, then you can simply talk about the contribution you make to other departments and to the organization as a whole – as in the example below.


While I am technically part of the IT department, all my colleagues focus very much on keeping the company’s computer infrastructure fully functional. As the company’s only Web Developer, I work very much on my own in managing and enhancing the website. I do liaise closely with other departments though, most particularly Marketing and HR. As the website is primarily used as a marketing vehicle and as a way to source new employees, my work is of significant importance to both of these departments. The systems I put in place to collect potential sales leads online make a major contribution to the results of the sales team – these days more and more of our new business comes via the website. And, by identifying ways to attract potential new employees online, I have contributed to a reduction in the amount we spend on recruitment consultants – again resulting in a direct impact on the company’s bottom line.

The Interview Question & Answer Book

The Interview Question and Answer Book

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The job market is fierce, competition has never been greater and it's important that you can grab every opportunity for competitive advantage and stay one step ahead. Written by one of the world's leading careers experts and bestselling author of The Interview Book, this definitive guide to questions and answers encourages every job-hunter to think on your feet and express your individuality while supplying ideal responses to interview questions so that you’re seen as the ideal candidate for the job.


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More classic interview questions and answers


How would you describe yourself? / How would your boss/colleagues/team/family/friends describe you?

In what ways are you a team player?

Do you work well on your own initiative?

What techniques do you use to get things done?

What motivates you?

Are you proactive?

Are you creative?

Are you a risk-taker?

How do you handle pressure and stress?

Can you tell me about a time when you have failed to achieve a goal?

What's the worst mistake you've made at work and how did you deal with it?

How would you handle the following situation?

Can you tell me about a major project you have successfully completed?

Can you tell me about a major problem at work that you've had to deal with?

We have a problem with x. How would you resolve that?

What do you do when you disagree with your line manager?

How would you describe yourself as a manager?

Can you give me an example of when you have successfully coached a member of your team?

What is your customer service philosophy?

How did you get your last job?

What does your current job involve on a day-to-day basis?

What contribution do you make to the department in which you work?

What changes have you made to your current job role since you started?

What have you learned in your last job?

Can you tell me about your last appraisal?

How would you describe your current boss?

Why did you leave that job?

Which of your jobs was the best?

Why is there a gap in your resume/CV?

What do you know about us as an organization?

What do you know about our products/services?

What do you think are our organization's greatest strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?

What do you know about the vacancy for which you are applying?

How do your skills and experience match the job description/person specification?

What appeals to you most about this vacancy?

Why have you chosen this line of work?

Are there any other organizations to which you are applying?

How does this job compare to others for which you are applying?

Can you describe your ideal employer to me?

What sort of person would you most like to work for?

In what ways is your degree relevant to the work you are now doing?

What have you learned and how have you developed over the last year/five years?

What sports are you/have you been involved in?

Do you know what the current headline news is?

How quickly can you adapt to a new work environment?

Would it be a problem if we asked you to work overtime/evenings/weekends?

What is your current salary package?

What salary package are you expecting for this role?

When would you be available to start?

Do you mind if we contact your current employer for a reference?