Feeling nervous about a job interview and wondering what questions you’ll be asked? The best way to overcome those nerves is to be prepared – and we’re here to help. We’ve pulled together the 25 most common interview questions and, importantly, how to answer them.
Job interviews can be nerve-wracking at any stage of your career, as there’s no way of telling how formal they will be. Some are friendly chats while others involve a panel of interviewers and tough, competency-based interview questions.
The best bet is to prepare well and think about how you’ll answer the mostly likely interview questions. Remember, It’s not just about what you say – it’s also how you answer each interview question. When it comes to interview tips, remember that confidence and enthusiasm are really important.
Preparing in advance for some of the questions you expect to come up against will enable you to put in the best performance on the day. Here are some of the job interview questions you’re most likely to face…Being ready for them will boost your confidence and get you off to a good start.
These are some of the most frequent job interview questions:
This interview question isn’t a cue to walk through your entire working life – the interviewer has already read your CV. Instead, have ready a short description about yourself as a professional and what you’re looking for in a role.
Here’s an example: “I’m an experienced customer services manager with excellent leadership skills. I’m looking for a new role where I can expand my knowledge of the energy sector and work with a great team of people.”
This is a great opportunity to show off some of your research about the company, as well as your key skills and your passion for the job. “I’m really attracted to [name of company] because of [reason]. I think that my background in [experience] will be an asset to your team and that I will fit well into the culture here.”
Here, you need to evidence that you’ve done some research into the company and are genuinely interested in working there. Talk about what you like about the organisation’s strategy or values, or how its brand is seen in the field you work in. You can also ask some questions here to help show your interest and understand more about the company’s current successes and challenges.
This interview question will highlight any ‘red flags’ to your interviewer – things that might affect how well you can do the role. It’s important to be honest about any gap – taking some time out after redundancy, going travelling or needing to care for a family member are all completely valid reasons to have a gap between jobs.
The reason you’re leaving (or have already left) your current job can give the interviewer valuable insights about you. Are you purely focused on money or are you looking for a job that you hope will turn into a career? Try to find a positive slant on why you’re leaving: perhaps that you’re looking for more challenge in your role, or better career development opportunities. Try to avoid being negative about your former (or current) employer.
This interview question is all about how your skills match those required for the role – and it’s crucial to get this across at some point in your interview.
Before the interview, study the job advert and note the employer’s most sought-after skills and competencies. For each skill, come up with a brief summary of how you acquired or developed that skill, and how you’ve applied it at work. Be ready with examples of key successes and achievements.
This question is seeking out your ‘unique selling point’ – and again this is something to think about before the interview. Perhaps you have previous experience in the company’s industry that others won’t have, or an additional skill that will be useful. It might even be that some of your interests outside work will give you the edge.
A straightforward interview question but one that can stump you if you haven’t prepared an answer! Make sure you have at least one example of something you really enjoyed or got real satisfaction from. This interview question is a great opportunity to demonstrate how passionate and enthusiastic you are about your work.
A similar question to be ready for. It may also be asked as ‘how do you handle stress and pressure?’ Find an example that shows you in a positive light. Perhaps you were instrumental in managing or developing a colleague that needed support; or came up with an innovative solution to a problem. Or it could be a major piece of work that generated excellent feedback. If the question directly asks you how you manage stress at work, you might also like to bring out healthy habits like yoga or running that present you as health conscious.
Here, the interviewer is trying to understand how you work with others, plus assessing your negotiation skills. Your example should highlight that you’re not afraid to voice your own opinion and that you can work with others to reach the right decision. If you managed to persuade your boss that you were right, back this up with details of the outcome. If not, it’s just as important to demonstrate that you can move on from any disagreement and deliver on the final decision.
The pitfall here is trying to sound too nice. Don’t get caught up in whether your colleagues like you or not – this is about whether you’re a good team player, you do what you say you will and can be relied on to get the job done well.
There are lots of options here so make sure you’ve thought about your answer in advance. A safe direction is to talk about using what you’ve learned so far in your career to further your development and take you to the next level.
The purpose of this interview question is to test whether you understand what the role involves on a daily basis. You need to demonstrate an understanding of that, but also explain how you will settle in quickly. It’s a safe bet to say you’ll spend time listening: to your colleagues and key stakeholders to understand what’s expected and how you can do a good job.
Don’t talk yourself out of the job at this point! If you have a clear understanding of the working environment at this company, talk about which elements really appeal to you. But if you aren’t sure, talk about the kind of team structure and work day you’re used to, and ask questions about how this organisation works. Then demonstrate enthusiasm about what you hear!
This should be fairly straightforward as most of us know what we’re aiming for. Don’t demand access to expensive training courses, but do talk about learning from others, perhaps through coaching and mentoring opportunities to help you achieve your goals.
This is an opportunity to show some personality, but make sure your answer fits with what the company will want from you. Demonstrate ambition but be realistic. Find a middle ground between “I want to be your boss” and “I want to be writing my first novel in a French chateau.”
Again this could help you establish a bit of personality and rapport. Your example could be lighthearted (did you know you can be a panda nanny?) or serious – but the main thing is to talk about what appeals about the dream job and why you’d be good at it. Even better is if you can link it in some way to the role you are applying for!
Make sure you align your strengths with what’s needed in this role. If you’ll be managing people, highlight skills in this area. Mention strengths that are listed in the job description. Some other good ones to mention are creativity, diplomacy or relationship building.
One of the most famous interview questions! It’s a tricky one and not an opportunity for complete honesty. Stick to something commonplace that won’t affect your ability to do the role. Ideally, also talk about how you’re working on addressing the limitation. For example, you find presenting nerve-wracking but have actively sought opportunities to practice.
This interview question is again designed to get a flavour of your personality, and is a great way to sell yourself. Good answers could include: supporting others to develop their careers, delivering great results, hitting and exceeding targets, or delighting a customer.
With this interview question you’re being assessed on both honesty and resilience. Have an example ready, but make sure you focus less on the failure and more on what you did to recover from it or turn it around. Clearly a serious failure that cost you a job or promotion is not the kind of example to give here – instead, perhaps look further back to an early job or your education for inspiration.
There’s no hidden agenda with this interview question – it’s simply to understand how soon you might be able to start work. If you’re ready to start, say so. If not, give details of your notice period.
A simple one – but you need to have an answer. Make sure you know what salary is stated in the role description, if any. Have a minimum in mind and perhaps some rationale, such as ‘this is in line with what I was paid in my previous role’ – but don’t be apologetic. Everyone is entitled to ask for a realistic salary.
If there’s nothing in the job description about the location, it’s fine to ask questions at this point. Don’t readily agree to move unless you were already clear that this was required. Find out where the relocation would be and whether there is a relocation package available.
This is probably asked most often of all. Don’t waste the opportunity: ask at least three questions that will help you assess if you really want the job. Do bear in mind that you may be judged on what they are. Avoid questions about time off, perks or the lunch menu!
Good things to ask about are the team structure, challenges and opportunities that the company is facing, how long your interviewer has worked at the company and what they like about it. You’ll find other suggested questions in this article.
Being prepared for the most common interview questions will certainly help you make a good impression. Make sure you have also read our articles on interview tips, advice for a video interview and interview questions for a customer service job. Good luck!