20 December 2014
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Typical interview questions

Job interviews can be stressful as they are a make or break opportunity for you to get your dream job. The key to making them less stressful and for you to perform well is to practice and prepare for the interview.

Listed below are some common questions that you are likely to be asked during an interview and also answers for them.

Tell me more about yourself?
Do not reply by telling them trivial things like what you had for breakfast or who your favorite uncle is. Instead try to focus on points that show you in a positive light and relate to the job you are applying for. If they ask about your hobbies or what you do in your spare time, try to give examples that demonstrate your social skills and ability to fit in with groups. One of the best ways to answer this is to ask the interviewer:

  • What would you like to know about me?

By asking this you quickly find out exactly what the interviewer wants to know.

What do you like most about your present job?
Mention things in your current job that you are good at and can explain. Focus on customer or client satisfaction.


What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your present / previous job / career?
Have ready details of a project you completed successfully. For instance where you were put in charge of a department for a month or where you had to meet a deadline for a major customer.


Why are you applying for this job?
Answer along the lines that you are looking to further your career, or that you feel your skill sets and experience match perfectly the job role. Also mention that you enjoy this particular type of work / role.

Another good point is to highlight some point that the company is particularly proud of. For instance they may have a brand or public image they are very proud of, in this case stress that you want to be working for their brand. Although you may not be able to use this technique with small companies.


How do you think you can benefit our company?
Refer back to the job requirements in the vacancy advert and then point by point illustrate how you can meet all of those requirements.


What do you think your greatest strength is?
Try not to be big headed by giving extravagant examples of what you think you are good at, for instance do not say that you are a workaholic, it will reflect badly on you. Below are some examples of what you could mention:

  • Communication - I have been told that my greatest strengths is my ability to communicate with work colleagues. I feel my interpersonal skills allow me to get along with people from all backgrounds by listening to their views and advice on important issues.
  • Able to prioritize - I believe one of my greatest strengths is my ability to prioritize my work. Ensuring that important tasks are done first so that all of my projects are completed on time.
  • Positive - I have a positive attitude to my work and social life that helps me in challenging situations and also in finding solutions to problems. It also rubs off on my colleagues and I believe helps to keep them motivated.
  • Quick learner - I have a proven ability to be able to pick things up very quickly.

What do you think your greatest weakness is?
When telling a interviewer about a flaw you have always mention at the end of it how you are doing something to fix your weakness. Never mention emotional problems or a inability to socialize with people. Below are some examples of what you could mention:

  • Slowness - In the past I have been criticized for being slow completing projects. The reason for this is that I always want to make sure a job is done properly, however I am aware of the need for meeting deadlines and work extra hard to ensure all project deadlines are met.
  • Over friendly Some people have criticized me in the past for being over friendly.


Have you applied to any other companies or vacancies?
Answer this by saying that their company is your preferred first choice and for this reason you have not applied to any other companies. If you have applied to other companies then only mention them if you have been invited to interviews, especially if they are large prestigious organizations. Do not mention those who have rejected you.


Where do you see yourself in say 5 years time?
Use this question to demonstrate your ambition and loyalty by reassuring them you want to stay with their company and not move on. The last thing an employer wants to hear is that you are only going to stay there temporarily until you see a better job somewhere else.

  • I would see myself still with your company focusing on doing the job in hand. If opportunities for promotion do arise within the company I would consider applying for them, but that depends on the circumstances at the time.
  • I want to remain with your company and become a expert in my field.


What motivates you?
Do not mention money or that you want to get promoted quickly. Instead focus on issues that benefit the company.

  • I get satisfaction out of knowing that my customers are satisfied and happy with the service I give them.
  • If given a task that I know will benefit my employer and also get my contribution noticed by my superiors, then I am motivated every day to ensure that the project is completed.


What is the most difficult decision you have had to make?
This is a opportunity for you to give a example of your ability to make tough decisions but also to show that you have feelings as well.

  • I once had to make a member of staff whom i personally knew redundant. It was a difficult decision and task for me and it did not make me feel good. However i did try to help them find another job by writing them a good reference.

Have you got any questions you would like to ask us?
This is a opportunity for you to demonstrate your interest in their company and products and services. Ask questions about their products or services that have been in the news recently, this will show them that are up to date with company developments. Limit questions to career development and training opportunities.

Below are examples of questions you could ask:

  • Will I require special training, if so how will I get this?
  • Who will be my immediate manager, who am I responsible to?
  • Which staff will I be in charge of?
  • If I am successful when can I expect to hear from you?
  • Will I be working on my won or as part of a team?

What are your hobbies, or what do you do in your spare time?
Only mention genuine sociable hobbies that you know about. The last thing you want to do is mention that you build model aircraft and then be asked detailed questions about it that you can't answer!


Related interview topics:

How to deal with nerves during an interview

Interview preparation

Job interview tips


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