One of the best ways to be prepared for any interview is to know what questions are going to be asked, and how you can answer them. While you can’t exactly predict every question in an interview, it’s almost certain that at least one or two of the following common interview questions will appear in your interview:
1. Why are you interested in working for us?
2. What made you apply for this position?
3. How did you find out about this position?
4. Why are you looking for a new job?
5. What are your strengths?
6. What are your weaknesses?
7. Describe yourself.
8. What achievement are you most proud of?
9. Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond what was necessary as part of your job.
10. Tell me about a time when you’ve had to handle a difficult situation.
11. Describe a time when you’ve made a mistake.
12. Why should we hire you?
13. What can you offer us that another candidate can’t?
14. Where do you see yourself in five (or ten) years?
15. Tell us what you know about the company.
16. What are your career goals?
17. What would your dream job be?
18. What motivates you?
19. Are you a leader or are you a follower?
20. Are you willing to travel or relocate?
21. What would your former boss like you to improve on?
22. Tell me something that makes you uncomfortable.
23. What are your hobbies?
24. What questions have I missed?
25. What questions would you like to ask us?
Here, we’re going to discuss how to answer these in a way that will help you increase your chances of getting your dream role.
Why are you interested in working for us? – Common Interview Questions
In this question, you should show admiration for the company’s values or success. Don’t go overboard, but show appreciation. Then, link this to personal ambition and a desire for challenge, as though it makes perfect sense for you to be there.
Example: From reading your website I found that you had an incredibly successful year. I feel that the high standards of your company would be a great fit for myself because I’m looking for a new challenge.
What made you apply for this position? – Common Interview Questions
This is similar to the previous question, but focuses a bit more on the role rather than the company. Speak about what you like about the role, and why it’s a great challenge for you. You should also try to express a passion for the main task you’d be doing – the interviewers would prefer a candidate who enjoys the job over someone who loathes it.
Example: I applied for this role because I think it would fulfil my desire for challenge. I also particularly enjoy doing the main tasks that would be set for me to complete, so I believe that this role would be a perfect fit for me.
How did you find out about this position? – Common Interview Questions
This question is usually fairly straightforward, as it’s simply asking where you found the position. If you were referred by an existing employee, then there might be benefits for that individual. This is why companies sometimes ask that question.
They also like to know where their advertising methods were most effective. If you found their job listing on a specific website, they’d like to know because then they can use that one more often in the future.
Why are you looking for a new job? – Common Interview Questions
You need to answer this question carefully, since the reason you give for leaving your current job might indicate a significant character flaw in yourself. So, don’t say that you left because you fell out with members of your team or your manager – that will not look good at all to the interviewer. Rather than making your exit from this previous job negative, try to give it a positive spin. For example, you could say that you’re looking for new and fresh opportunities and challenges. This will give the impression to the interviewer that you are up to the task.
Example: While I enjoyed my previous job for what it was, I don’t think it fulfilled or challenged me enough to get lasting satisfaction from it. I’m now looking for something that suits my level of ability and challenges me sufficiently. I believe that this role is perfect for that reason.
What are your strengths? – Common Interview Questions
This is one of the most common interview questions that you could be asked in your interview. Therefore, you need to prepare for it. Focus on giving work-related strengths, and make sure you supply them with examples. Try and think of three work-related strengths, as well as cases where those strengths have helped on a project.
Example: One of my strengths is that I can inspire those around me to work their hardest. In my previous role, we were approaching a tight deadline. While the work was challenging for everyone, I tried to keep people motivated as well as complete my own work. We were able to meet the deadline with no problem as we kept our spirits up.
What are your weaknesses? – Common Interview Questions
This is the polar opposite to the previous question. This one requires you to think carefully about what weaknesses you do possess, but wouldn’t impact your ability to work well in the role you’re applying. Whatever you do, do not say that you don’t have any weaknesses. Everyone has a weakness of some kind, so if you claim not to have any your interviewer will think you’re lying or simply naïve.
For this question, try to give one example of a weakness, but within it reveal or reiterate your strengths. Also, make sure that your weakness is not one which would stop you from doing the job well. If your job involves working with people, don’t say that you struggle to work with people.
Example: I often find it hard to delegate work to others. This is because I’m a perfectionist and sometimes don’t trust people to handle things for me. This feedback was given to me by my colleagues, and so I made attempts to change my approach which improved morale in my workplace.
Describe yourself. – Common Interview Questions
Depending on the interviewer, you might be faced with this question immediately after starting the interview, or after a few introductory questions. In either case, this is generally used as an ice-breaker. One of the easiest things to talk about is yourself, so this question is meant to get you talking and flowing into the subsequent questions. Try and focus on your qualities and work life when answering this question – the interviewer does not want to hear extensively about your home life, family, or hobbies. You should only talk about these things if the interviewer asks about them.
Instead, gear your question around your skills and qualities to give the interviewer an idea about your personality. Tell them what one of your skills is, followed by an example of when that’s served you well in the work place.
Example: I consider myself to be incredibly motivated. This was helpful in my previous position, where I achieved ‘XYZ’ despite it being a big challenge.
What achievement are you most proud of? – Common Interview Questions
For this question, try and think of a work-related achievement that displays your best qualities, as well as skills that are going to be most valuable in the job for which you’re being interviewed. For example, if your job will require a lot of teamwork, then you should try to think of an achievement where teamwork was one of the leading components to success.
Example: In my previous role, we had a large project that had multiple different elements. This meant that there would be people fulfilling tasks of lots of different kinds. I was placed in charge of this team, and acted as a liaison between all of the different smaller teams. The project was a resounding success and made the company a lot of money.
Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond what was necessary as part of your job. – Common Interview Questions
This is a fairly straightforward question that allows you to really sell yourself as a candidate. Just think of a work scenario where a combination of your talents, plus extra hard work and initiative, led to a successful outcome.
Example: In my previous position, a deadline was approaching fast and there was still a lot to do. Some of my team-mates had been absent due to sickness so they hadn’t been able to complete their work. I asked my manager if it was possible to take over their assignments to get everything finished on time. My manager agreed to this and I completed the remaining work that my colleagues had left. This meant that we were able to meet the deadline.
Tell me about a time when you’ve had to handle a difficult situation. – Common Interview Questions
How you answer this question will almost entirely depend on the example that you give. Try to think of a work-related scenario where you’ve used skills that are relevant to the job that you’re applying for in order to handle the situation. If possible, try to find a situation that was resolved positively.
Example: In a previous role, I was head of a team in which there were two members who couldn’t resolve their differences regarding how we approached a project. I used my leadership skills to work with both of them to find a solution which satisfied both parties, allowing us to get on with the project.
Describe a time when you’ve made a mistake. – Common Interview Questions
This is possibly the most difficult question to answer in an interview. Whatever you do, do not say that you never make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, and your inability to admit that will come across as either disingenuous or naïve. Essentially, you need to choose a mistake that you’ve made – preferably one that didn’t lead to a disaster. Then, explain how you handled it.
Example: I made a mistake in my previous role by sending out a timetable email that had the wrong information. This resulted in some people going to meetings at the wrong times, which resulted in a bit of disruption. Thankfully, I was able to spot my mistake before too many meetings were missed, and then sent another high-priority email to those affected, apologising and giving them the correct times for their meetings.
Why should we hire you? – Common Interview Questions
For this question, you need to answer in a way that shows a benefit for both yourself and your potential employer. You need to make it clear that you’re the best person for the job, and you can only do this if you provide examples. Think about what is required for the position you’re trying to fill, then tailor your answer to that. Here are a few examples of key qualities that might convince the interviewer that you’re the best person for the job:
• You are able to work in a fast-changing environment that requires enthusiasm;
• You can make a positive impact on profit and can deliver under all kinds of conditions;
• You are loyal and hard-working, and can inspire those around you to be at the top of their game in the workplace.
What can you offer us that another candidate can’t? – Common Interview Questions
This is similar to the previous question, except that it’s a bit harsh as it puts you in direct competition with the rest of the candidates being interviewed. You need to sell yourself even further when asked this question, and assure the interviewer that you’re the best candidate for the role. Here’s a sample response that you can fill in with your own examples – try and adapt it to the role that you’re applying for.
Example: I honestly believe that I am the best candidate for the position. While I know that there are others who are also capable, I think that I am the most capable. Along with the core skillset required to perform this role well, I can bring additional skills and qualities into play, such as [insert relevant skills]. If I am successful, I promise that you will not be disappointed. If I am unsuccessful, I will apply for the next opening since working for your company would be a pleasure.
Where do you see yourself in five (or ten) years? – Common Interview Questions
This is a common question which appears very tricky to answer. You want to demonstrate some ambition and be positive. Try and keep in mind what the interviewer is looking for. If the company you’re applying for likes a constant turnover in staff, then it might not be appropriate to say that you’d like to still be there in 5 or 10 years. In contrast, an employer that seeks longevity when it comes to staff would likely want to see you say that you’d still be with them. Don’t be arrogant, and curb your ambition slightly.
Example: I consider myself to be an ambitious person, and hope that I would show my value to your company and have progressed appropriately. However, I want to make sure that I learn the role properly so that I can serve the company as well as possible.
What are your career goals? – Common Interview Questions
This is somewhat similar to the previous question, as the interviewer is asking you to think ahead. Essentially, the interviewer wants to know the following:
1. Whether you are ambitious or not.
2. Whether you want a lasting career in the industry that this role belongs to.
3. How long you’d likely stay with them.
Employers like to know these things because they usually don’t want to employ someone who is going to jump ship for a completely different career in six months’ time. Training you might be expensive for them, so they’d rather have a strong candidate that they can invest in rather than someone who flits between jobs and careers. For example, if you’re applying for a role in marketing, it’s not a good idea to tell your interviewer that your career goal is to become a teacher. Try and keep your career goals within the same industry, as it shows that you have ambition to work hard and move up.
With this question, you can assure the interviewer that you intend on staying at the company for a long time. If you do this, you’ll come across as a much stronger candidate than someone who doesn’t seem as committed to staying in one position.
Example: I am quite ambitious, so would eventually like to reach the position of ‘XYZ’. I’m very fond of doing ‘ABC’, so would like to be in a position where I can do that as my day-to-day job.
Tell us what you know about the company. – Common Interview Questions
Unless you’re applying to work at a top-secret organisation, interviewers will expect you to have researched their company prior to the interview. When finding out about a company, try and learn and revise the following:
• The year the company was established;
• The name of the founder(s) and the current CEO;
• The vision of the company and some of its core beliefs;
• The company’s main competitors;
• The number of staff that they have currently employed;
• What the company actually does!
You don’t need to know the ins and outs of the company. Just find out enough to demonstrate your genuine interest in them and the work that they do.
Example: While researching your company, I found out that your company was established in 1998. You currently employ 60 people, and provide your service throughout the UK.
What would your dream job be? – Common Interview Questions
This is a bizarre question but you still need to take it fairly seriously, since your answer will say a lot about what you’d like out of a career. Try and link your dream job to the one that you’re being interviewed for.
For instance, if you’re applying for a role that involves programming, you might want to say that your dream job would be to create a video game or some kind of software.
What motivates you? – Common Interview Questions
Here, you should try to emphasise challenges and ambition as the things that motivate you. Interviewers like to see candidates who are driven by good opportunities since it shows passion and determination. From here, you can be a bit more specific to match the job that you’re applying for.
Example: I’m motivated by the challenge of meeting new people and working with them. Since this role would involve me working with new people regularly, I believe that my motivation would encourage me to work at my very best.
Are you a leader or are you a follower? – Common Interview Questions
With this question, the interviewer is trying to gauge how well you’ll fit in with the team that you’d be working with if successful. In most roles, you’ll be taking orders from someone. In other roles, you’ll also be giving directions to other people. So, it’s important that you demonstrate that you can be a leader or a follower, and that you have the qualities of both. Try to think of examples which demonstrate leadership, but also the ability to be directed by others.
Example: In a previous role, I worked as part of a large team, and would be given tasks by my manager daily. I would create a ‘to-do’ list of all these tasks, and inform my manager whenever they were completed. I also spent a short time managing a small group. I kept track of all the tasks that they were currently working on, so that I knew how far along the project was and what further tasks I could give to them.
Are you willing to travel or relocate? – Common Interview Questions
The answer to this question will depend on your situation. Generally speaking, the interviewer won’t bother asking this question unless there’s the possibility that you will be asked to do either. If you answer with ‘no’, then you probably won’t get the job. However, there’s no point in saying ‘yes’ if you don’t mean it. If you are prepared to travel or relocate, assure them that this won’t be a problem.
Example: I’m willing to travel/relocate and have discussed this with my family. I’d like to know the relocation package and offers if I was successful in getting this job, and understand why there might be a need to relocate. I’ve moved in the past and so I’m more than ready to relocate if necessary.
What would your former boss like you to improve on? – Common Interview Questions
For a question like this, try to think of a minor issue that your previous boss brought up with you. Don’t think of anything too drastic as it won’t sell you as a candidate. Instead, think of something that’s fairly insignificant. If possible, try to think of a way that you rectified the problem already, or put a positive spin on it.
Example: In my last role, my manager thought that I needed to be more vocal in meetings and when planning projects. I tended to stay quiet in these scenarios because I wanted to focus on listening to other people’s ideas, then possibly approach them individually with improvements or other follow-ups.
Tell me something that makes you uncomfortable. – Common Interview Questions
The trick to this question is to focus on a single thing that makes you uncomfortable, and give an example of it. While this might seem to be a weakness, you should put a positive spin on it by giving an example of how you overcome this discomfort, meaning that you were capable of doing your job.
Example: I’m uncomfortable in environments where things aren’t well organised. I entered my previous role to find that a lot of the information I had to work with regularly was disorganised. Therefore, I took the time to ensure that everything was well organised, so that I could work more efficiently and comfortably.
What are your hobbies? – Common Interview Questions
This question can have multiple purposes for the interviewer. The first is that they might be wondering about your physical health, especially if the role is physically strenuous. However, they might just be trying to get a better picture of who you are as a human being, and how you might fit in with the rest of the team. If you share a lot of hobbies with people already working in the team, this might play in your favour.
Example: My main hobbies are cycling and running. I also enjoy hiking, watching sports and films.
What questions have I missed? – Common Interview Questions
In a way, this is a trick question. The interviewer is asking you to quickly reflect on the interview, and tell them if anything important has been missed. If there are any questions on this list that have been missed, maybe it’s worth bringing them to the interviewer’s attention. This will show that you’re thinking outside of the box, and not simply following the interview.
What questions would you like to ask us? – Common Interview Questions
This question is almost a given in any interview. While this might seem like a harmless final question for the sake of courtesy, the truth is that many interviewers will take your response here into account when considering you. If you don’t ask any questions, you’ll look disinterested or perhaps even oblivious. If you ask too many, or ask questions you should definitely know the answer to, you might come across as clueless. If the questions you ask are irrelevant or arrogant, this will also leave a bad impression on the interviewer.
So, you need to come up with maybe two or three relevant questions which show enthusiasm. Think of questions which will highlight that you’ve taken the time to look into the company even further.
Example: I was reading on your website about a campaign you’ve been running to bring more customers. How successful has it been?
Now you should have some ideas about how to answer some of the most common interview questions for your next interview. For more interview tips, check out our guide: How to Pass an Interview.