We have all had a moment in an interview where we are asked a question and we are not quite sure how to answer it.
While unfortunately we don’t have a crystal ball, we can give you the next best thing; a list of the 16 most commonly asked questions asked at an interview. And of course, what’s the point in knowing the questions without some guidance on how you could answer them.
While we don’t recommend having a canned response for every question, we do recommend you spend some time reviewing the questions and preparing potential answers that are tailored to the interview and the job role. Try some role-play with a friend or family member and spend some time getting comfortable with what you may be asked and how you can answer.
1. Tell me about yourself
A simple question, but one where most of us aren’t really sure how to answer, nor what the employer is looking for in terms of an answer. What they don’t want is your autobiography. Use this answer as a small sales pitch that’s to the point. Maybe start with a couple of key achievements that the employer would like to hear about. Then end by talking about how your previous experience would benefit you in the role you’re being interviewed for.
2. How did you hear about the job?
This is a great way to show your passion for the company. For example, if you found out about the role through a contact, name-drop them, and then share why you were so excited about it. Even if it was a job you applied for through a jobs board, share what excited you about the role and really caught your attention.
3. What do you know about our company?
This is such a key question. Remember, at an interview you’re selling yourself to the employer. Make sure you spend some time reviewing the company, reading information on their website, understanding their services / products, read articles, and anything relating to the company. Use this then to your advantage and talk about the positives you have seen and show them you understand their business and what they’re selling.
4. Why should I hire you?
A good question that puts a lot of candidates under pressure and on the spot. However, this question can be seen as a positive question and there is no better question to help sell yourself. This is the time you can really open up and sell your skills to the hiring manager. Remember three points in answering this question: you will fit into the team and culture; you can deliver results; and you’d be a better hire than any of the other candidates.
5. What are your weaknesses?
For most people our instincts tell us to say, “I don’t have any weaknesses”. Wrong answer. We all have weaknesses and although we don’t want to highlight any red flags to the employer, they are simply looking to see if you’re able to self-analyse yourself, take constructive criticism and seek ways to improve. For example, maybe you’re not particularly strong at public speaking, but you’ve recently volunteered to run meetings to help you become more comfortable when addressing crowds.
6. What are your strengths?
Be honest and accurate; share your true strengths, not those that you think the employer wants to hear. Be relevant and specific, and then follow up with an example of how you’ve demonstrated those traits in a professional environment.
7. What’s your greatest professional achievement?
The key to this question is not to be shy; it’s a killer way to demonstrate some of your amazing results. A great way to do this is by using the STAR method. You can find out more about S.T.A.R here. Create the scene and the task that you were required to complete. Then spend the majority of the time describing what you actually did and what you achieved.
8. Can you tell me about a conflict or challenge you faced at work, and how you dealt with it?
In this question, the interviewer is gauging how you respond to conflict and difficult situations. Again, use the STAR (you can find out more about S.T.A.R here), being sure to focus on how you handled the situation professionally and ideally close with a happy ending. Don’t use it to be detrimental of Sarah in Accounts, use it as a tool to show you can deal with conflict in a professional manor and work with those around you to come to a resolution.
9. Where do you see yourself in five years time?
First of all, be realistic. If you applying for a job as an Office Junior, don’t say you want to be the Director of the firm. An interviewer is looking for some assurance that you’ve set yourself realistic goals, that you have ambition and drive, and that the position you’re applying for aligns with your goals and growth.
10. Why are you leaving your current role?
First off don’t be negative about the staff or company for any past roles. Instead, focus on the fact your eager to take on new opportunities and challenges and that the role you’re interviewing for is a better fit.
11. What are you looking for in your new position?
The perfect question with only one real answer. The same things that this position has to offer and be specific. Review the job description and use this to form the basis of your answer. This way the employer starts to see you in the role.
12. Can you tell us about a time when you disagreed with a decision that was made at work?
We all from time to time disagree with the boss. When hiring managers ask this question they want to know that you can do so in a professional and productive manor. Concentrate on where your actions made a positive difference to the outcome.
13. How would your previous boss and colleagues describe you?
As with all the questions, be honest, as if you’re offered the role the chances are they will be speaking to these people for a reference. Try and pull out strengths and traits you haven’t yet talked about in other parts of your interview, such as your strong work ethic or willingness to help out in other projects and departments.
14. Why is there a gap in your employment?
If you were unemployed for a period of time, be direct and to the point about what you’ve been doing. Hopefully you have used some of that time to further enhance your skills through courses or volunteering. Talk about these experiences and how the skills you’ve developed can be transferred to the role you’re being interviewed for.
15. What is your salary requirement?
The best piece of advice we can give you here is to carry out your own research on what similar roles in the region are paying. You can also use our salary checker to help you. If you check numerous sites, and we recommend you do, then you’ll probably come up with a range. Start towards the top of the range based on your experiences and qualifications. However, ensure the employer knows you can be flexible as do you really want to lose the job for a fraction of the potential wage?
16. Do you have any questions for us?
Remember, an interview is a two way meeting. Not only does the hiring manager have to decide if you’re the best fit for them, but you also need to decide if this is the role and company you’d like to work for.
It’s always good to have some key questions ready to ask the interviewer such as clarity on the role, development, the companies growth plans, what do you like about working here?