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15 common job interview questions and how to answer them

Job interview questions and how to answer them

Are you ready to impress with amazing answers to any job interview questions in your upcoming interview? A crucial part of your interview preparations is being primed and prepared to give firm answers to any question that your interviewer throws your way. 

In an ideal world, we would know and be able to tell you exactly what questions would come up in your upcoming job interview so that you can go in fully prepared. Unfortunately, that isn't how it works, so we can't give you that. But, what we can give you is a list of the most common job interview questions and some guidance on how to answer them.

Although we don't recommend having a canned answer for every interview question, it is recommended to do a little bit of research and try to find out:

  • What questions you might be asked in the interview.
  • What kind of answers that the interviewers might be looking for.
  • How you can demonstrate that you are the right person for the job.

So let's break down our list of the most common interview questions you might face and how to answer them.

Job interview question 1 - Tell me about yourself?

This is likely to be one of the first questions that you will be asked in a job interview. It's also one that a lot of interviewees fail to prepare for. It would be best if you were ready to talk about yourself and why you're an ideal person to fill the position.

We recommend the present, past, and future formula. Start by giving some information on your current role, including the scope of your job and your accomplishments. Move on to provide background on how you got to that position and your relevant experience.

Job interview question 2 - Tell me why you are the best person for this job?

Are you the best person that this hiring manager will interview for this job? They want to know whether you hold all of the relevant skills, experience and qualifications. This is your shot at explaining exactly why you should be the person they hire.

This is your chance to drop your sales pitch. You should be confident, focused and to the point explaining fully why you can offer and why you should get the job. You should already have a good idea of how to answer this interview question if you have done your interview prep thoroughly. If you haven't, you should revisit the job spec and review the qualifications and requirements to help you craft your answer to this question.

Job interview question 3 - Why do you want to work for our company?

This question offers you a fantastic chance to stand out from everyone else being interviewed. Avoid generic answers. If you answer this question with something generic that could apply to any other company, you have missed a trick here. Do your research on the business and do one of the following:

- Focus on something that the company does that appeals to you.

- Speak about how you have seen the company grow and change since you first heard of it.

- Tell them how you feel that you can contribute to their future growth.

- Give details on interactions with their employees and what has gotten you excited to join them.

If by the time it gets to the interview stage of the hiring process and you can't pinpoint a single reason why you want to work for the company, this could be a sign to tell you that this role might not actually be the right fit.

Read our blog on pre-interview research here

Job interview question 4 - What value can you add to the company?

If you get asked this question in your interview, you've struck gold! This is an excellent chance to sell yourself and your skillset to the interviewer. There are three main things that your answer needs to cover here:

- That you can do the work that they are asking you to do.

- Deliver excellent results

- Fit in with the team and the company culture

This is your chance to show the interviewer how you can add value to their business and why you would be a better hire than their other candidates.

Job interview question 5 - What are your greatest strengths?

What makes you great? What would you be the best fit for this role? This is your opening to answer those things. The key here is to think in terms of quality, not quantity. This isn't a chance to reel off a list of adjectives that describe you. You should choose specific qualities and attributes relevant to the job and give examples. Stories are often more memorable than generic answers, so if there is a story you were hoping to tell because it makes you a great candidate, then now would be the time.

Job interview question 6 - Tell me about your greatest professional achievement?

Ready to be a job interview star? When it comes to this question, don't be shy! Nothing gets a recruiter or hiring manager more excited than a candidate with a track record of doing amazing things in their past jobs. It's time to blow your own horn, and there is no better way than using the STAR method (situation, task, action, results).

First, set up the situation and describe the task that you had to complete to your interviewer whilst adding some context (e.g., "In my last job as a Welder, it was my role to make sure the welds were as strong as possible"), then go on to describe what you did (this would be the action) and what you achieved (the result): "in one month I made the checks procedures five times more reliable and managed to save the company over 25% in wastages."

Read more about the STAR method here

Job interview question 7 - Why do you want to leave your current role?

This is a tricky question to answer but one that you are sure to be asked in an interview. Keep your answer positive. There is nothing to gain from being negative about your current employer, and you may even put off your new potential employer.

Frame your answer to this around being eager to take on new opportunities and skills and that the new role is probably a better fit for you. Also, honesty is vital here. If you were let go from your last role, keep it simple. "Unfortunately, I was let go," is a perfectly reasonable answer.

Job interview question 8 - Can you tell us about this gap in your CV?

Sometimes, some people can end up with gaps in their CV for one reason or another. Perhaps you took time off to care for an elderly parent, you had health issues, took some time off to see the world, or maybe it just took some time to land the right job. Whatever the reason, you should be ready to discuss the gap (or gaps) in your resume. The key here is honesty but only share as much detail as you are comfortable with. Also, highlight any skills you picked up between employment, whether you gained this volunteering, running a home, or dealing with a crisis. You could even highlight how these skills could help you in this role.

Read more about writing a winning CV here

Job interview question 9 - What is one example of a time that you have had to deal with conflict in the workplace?

Nobody likes talking about conflicts that they have had at work, especially in an interview for a new job. If you are asked this question in your interview, don't pretend that you haven't ever had one. Be honest about a difficult situation that you have come up against. Your interviewer is likely looking for evidence that you are willing to face difficult situations if the need should ever arise and have the ability to make an attempt at coming to a resolution.

Keep it calm. Keep it professional and tell the story. Spend more time talking about the resolution than the conflict and talk about what you would do differently to demonstrate that you are willing to grow and learn from tough situations.

Job interview question 10 - What motivates you?

Although this may seem like a very probing existential question, keep it in mind that the interviewer wants to make sure that you are excited about the role and the company and that you will be motivated to succeed should they hire you.

Think back to what has got you excited in your previous roles? What was it that excited you enough in the job description to hit the apply button? Pick one thing relevant to the job and tell a story to illustrate your point to the interviewer. If you're honest, which you should be, your enthusiasm should shine through.

Job interview question 11 - Where do you see yourself in five years?

If you get asked this question in your interview, be honest about your future goals. Remember to consider that a hiring manager will want to know:

- Have you set realistic expectations for your career

- Do you have ambition

- Does the position line up with your personal growth goals.

Think about where this role could take you and form your answer around that. If the job isn't quite the rocket to the moon in regards to reaching your career ambitions, it's okay, to be honest, and to say that you are not quite sure what the future holds.

Job interview question 12 - What are your salary expectations?

When it comes to answering this question in a job interview, knowing the role's salary ahead of time is vital. Do research on similar jobs, look on glassdoor, ask your recruiter or reach out to your network. Make sure that you also factor in your skills, experience and personal needs as well. Three tips you could use:

- Give a salary range. Keep the lower end of your toward the mid to high point of the salary you are looking for.

- Reverse the question. Go back with a question like, "that's a great question - it would be helpful if you could share what the range is for this job."

- Tell your interviewer that you would like to learn more about the position and the rest of the benefits package before answering.

Read more about how to answer this question here

Job interview question 13 - When can you start?

The answer here depends on your circumstances. Your goal is to set realistic expectations that are going to work for both yourself and your potential new employer. If you are out of work, you could offer to start within the week. If you need to give notice to your current employer, don't be afraid to let the interviewer know, they'll probably be expecting it. If you want to take a break between finishing your old job and starting your new one, that is fine too.

Read more about handing in your notice the right way here 

Job interview question 14 - Is there anything else you would like me to know?

Don't panic! This isn't a trick question. You can use this to end the interview on a positive note and maybe mention anything relevant that you may not have had a chance to cover earlier and reaffirm that you would be an excellent hire for the business.

Job interview question 15 - Do you have any questions for me?

We shouldn't have to tell you that an interview isn't just a chance for the hiring manager to grill you - it's a chance for you to dig into the role and make sure that it will be a fit from your perspective. What specifically do you want to know about the role? The business? The team you will be joining? You will go over a lot of this in the interview, so it is wise to have a couple of less common questions in your back pocket ready to go if you are asked this. Questions like:

- What is your favourite thing about working here?

- What are the company's new products or growth plans?

We have some advice on great questions to ask in an interview, you can read more here

This is by no means a definitive list of the questions that you will be asked in an interview. Doing your research so that you can answer questions well and strike up conversations about the business will; demonstrate your interest and help you dig into the company culture to make a more informed decision about joining the business. 

If you are currently looking for a new job, check out our latest roles here or speak to our expert Recruiters and find out if we have a position that could be right for you.