What questions will I be asked in a job interview?
The style of the interview and kind of questions to expect will vary significantly depending on the role and industry. However, we have compiled below some tips and tricks to help you in knowing what to expect from your next job interview and how to prepare intelligent and comprehensive answers to these questions.
1. Can you tell me a bit about yourself/can you talk me through your CV?
Regardless of the industry or role, most interviewers will begin with an open question like this, giving you the opportunity to comprehensively explain who you are and why you’re suitable for the position. It is important that you prepare an answer that aptly demonstrates all of your skills/experience/education and says why these are applicable to the role that you’re applying for. It is especially useful to pick out significant achievements (e.g. Employee of the Month) to quantify your suitability.
2. Why do you want to work for this company/in this role?
Questions like these are designed to test your knowledge of the company and the role that you’re applying for (take a look at How to: Prepare for an Interview for more advice on how to carry out your research pre-interview). Almost every candidate will be able to regurgitate the job description or the company’s ‘About Us’ page, so try to compile an intelligent and relevant answer. It might be useful to take a look at their social media channels or Glassdoor reviews in order to gather some more insightful and up-to-date information. And, of course, ensure that you show that you are genuinely passionate and committed to their company and role.
3. What is your main strength?
Here it makes sense to choose a professional strength that is relevant to the role. It’s also important to be truthful (after all, if you do achieve the job they will soon realise if you weren’t honest at the interview stage). It’s also useful to be specific. Vague answers are a lot less engaging and representative of your skillset. It’s worth explaining your strength with a real-life example of a time when you demonstrated this attribute.
4. What is your main weakness?
Again, make sure to be truthful and specific. It’s helpful to pick a weakness that isn’t detrimental to your potential success in the role, as this will be seen as a major disadvantage. Additionally, using clichéd answers like ‘my main weakness is that I work too hard’ tend to come across as artificial and meaningless. Instead, choose a genuine weakness but provide evidence of improvement, for example ‘I’ve always struggled with public speaking but at university, I was required to do various presentations and this has significantly improved my confidence.’
5. Give an example of a difficult situation that you’ve experienced in the workplace and how you handled it.
Give a logical and comprehensive overview of the problem, the context, the action you took and the resolution. Preferably the story should produce a positive outcome, whereby you took the right action to amend the problem. The actual nature of the situation is fairly
irrelevant but try and pick something that’s easy to explain and relevant to the role you’re applying for.
6. How would you improve our product/service?
This is usually a question asked by start-up companies and will be a good indicator of the extent of your company research. Be honest and try and think of a genuine improvement that could be made but make sure not to criticise too much, pick something relatively minor and provide a solution for it.
7. Give me an example of a time that you showed strong leadership skills.
Make sure to provide an example that is relevant to the role you’re applying for. For example, in one instance you could demonstrate project management skills and in another people management skills. Either way, provide a comprehensive and logical explanation. Firstly setting out context, then the action you took and the outcome of this (ideally a positive one!)
8. What are your career goals/where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Be honest and show that you’re ambitious and serious about pursuing a successful career. Having said that, make sure that your answer is relevant to the sector that you’re applying for, e.g. applying for a role in estate agency and then saying you want to be an IT consultant will evidently damage your chances. If you’re at the start of your career and unsure of what you want the next 5 years to look like, focus on more generic aspects of a career that you would like to achieve, e.g. would you like to progress to management? or would you like to specialise in a specific skill?
9. Why should we hire you?
This is a great opportunity to really sell yourself. Try and be as clear and coherent as possible. For example, pick out key skills/attributes and back these up with factual evidence/achievements (related to either work experience, education or your personal life). Try your best to set yourself apart from other candidates, showcase your ability to excel in the role and evidence how you will fit into their company and culture.
10. What do you like to do outside of work?
This question is designed to see how you would fit in with the culture of the company. Be as honest as possible but make sure to explain your interests in a positive light, e.g. ‘I like socialising with friends’ as opposed to ‘I like going out 3 – 4 times a week and coming to work with a hangover.’ It is important that you give a few genuine examples of your personal interests. Saying ‘I don’t have any hobbies’ will make you seem unmotivated, unsociable and uninterested.
11. What other companies are you interviewing with? How do we compare?
Be honest but make sure to show that you’re set on a certain industry or role. If you say that you’re interviewing with a recruitment agency and a nursing home this is likely to cause some concern regarding your goals and dedication. If asked to compare the opportunities,
again do be honest but ensure that you focus on the positives of the company you’re applying for, rather than the negatives of the other opportunities.
12. Why are you leaving your current role?
This can be a tricky question to answer but try not to worry. Again, focus on the positives by saying how this opportunity is better suited to you and your goals. Being negative about your previous/current employer will come across as unprofessional, instead, you want to show that this is just a better opportunity for you personally. For example, if the role you’re applying for is a step up, you can say that you’re looking to leave your current employer in order to develop professionally and progress your career.
13. Do you have any questions?
This is a crucial part of the interview and it is essential that you prepare a list of questions to ask at the end of the interview. This will show that you’ve done your research and that you’re genuinely enthusiastic about the opportunity. It is important to ask a variety of questions, about the company, role and the interview. Finish the interview by asking a closing question, such as ‘do you have any concerns regarding my application?’ This is a good way to end the interview and it gives you a chance to objection handle. For more examples of possible interview questions, take a look at our How to: Prepare for an Interview page.