Common interview questions

In an interview, you’ll be asked a number of specific questions about the job and general questions about you. Here are some of the common questions you may be asked and how to answer them.

Questions you may be asked at an interview

Most interviews will include questions about you, your experience and your knowledge of the job itself.

Don't rush through your interview, take time answering and think about what you are saying. What you say will have a big effect on whether you get the job.    

Tell me about yourself

The interviewer is not looking for your life story.  Choose four or five key things about yourself that are relevant to the job such as specific skills, qualifications, experience, or passion for your area of expertise.

You could choose something you are particularly proud of to show your expertise in the job you are being interviewed for. Keep your answer under two minutes.

Why are you interested in this job?

Show that you have researched the organisation, their products, services, expansion plans, working culture and so on.

The employer is trying to find out whether you will take this job if offered and, if so, whether you would stay for any length of time. If you appear uncertain, they will not be happy to employ you.

Why should we employ you?

Always be prepared to answer this question. Few candidates do this well. Make it clear that you believe you meet all of the job requirements, support each of these skills by identifying one or more relevant examples of how you've demonstrated that skill.

Finally, you must show that you are proactive and have identified problems or opportunities in the past and then took the initiative on decisions and actions which led to a successful result.

What are your strengths?

Anyone can say they have good experience or are good at communicating but that won't make you stand out. Let the interviewer know why you are better than other candidates by supporting every answer with a relevant example from previous jobs.

Tell me about your proudest achievement

Talking about your achievements might not come naturally but you need to be able to tell a story with a beginning, middle and an end.

You should start by describing the challenge you had. The middle of the story needs to focus on what you had to do in order to make progress. End with what you achieved and what you learned, which will help you in the future.

Describe a situation where you solved a problem

You should think of a recent problem that is similar to the challenges you might face in the job you're interviewing for. Begin by explaining the problem in a few sentences but give enough detail so the interviewer can understand the challenge you had.

Next describe the action you took and the steps you completed. Be clear about the part you played in the result.

If possible, give statistics or figures to illustrate your success, mention positive feedback you received and talk about what you learned that will help you in the job you are applying for.

Describe a situation in which you led a team

In your example it's important to show that you are a good listener, not too bossy, that you understand your team's strengths and weaknesses and can delegate appropriately.

Do you have any questions?

This final question gives you the chance to show your genuine interest and enthusiasm for the job. You should adopt the right tone and a positive attitude. Make sure you ask them in a natural way as an interviewer will be able to tell if you are just asking questions for the sake of it.

Below are some suggestions for effective questions to ask at the end of your interview.

Questions to ask at a job interview

What training opportunities do you offer?

This shows that you're keen to advance your skills and add further value to the organisation.

Is there a chance for promotion in the future?

This question emphasises a determination to make progress.

What challenges do I face?

This can show that you like to know what sort of challenges you are going to face so that you can prepare for them.

How does the job fit in to the  organisation structure?

With this question you're demonstrating a preference for teamwork. It shows that you want to know where you would fit in and how your contribution would affect the rest of the company.

How is performance measured and reviewed?

This shows that you appreciate the importance of delivering real results and see the value of commitment, reliability and returns.

How will the new sector benefit the organisation?

This shows that you are interested in the job and the employer too. It will be obvious that you have done some research and are eager to hear their analysis.

How would you describe the work culture here?

This indicates that you want to work to your best and that you require a positive environment. It shows that you're a good self-manager who knows how to get the best out of yourself.

What salary can I expect?

It is ok to ask what the salary is likely to be if this has not been dealt with already. If they can’t give you a range, be ambitious, but not unrealistic.

May I mention a little more about my interest in...?

Examples may include communicating with clients / developing new ideas / implementing better systems. This is an obvious way of getting permission to blow your own trumpet but that's what interviews are all about.

Do you feel that I am suited to this job?

This is a more brazen way of highlighting some of your strengths while also giving you a chance to address any weaknesses the interviewer may think you have. It allows you to finish on a high, emphasising why you think you are the right person for the job.

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