• Customer Services
    Vacancy types in this area:
    • Front of House
    • Call Handling
    • Complaints Management
  • Sales & Marketing
    Vacancy types in this area:
    • Account Management
    • New Business Development
    • Call Centre
    • Tele-marketing
    • Area Sales
    • National Sales
  • Information Technology
    Vacancy types in this area:
    • Digital Marketing
    • Search Engine Optimisation
    • Link Building
    • Web Development
  • Supply Chain
    Vacancy types in this area:
    • Planning
    • Purchasing
    • Logistics
    • Warehousing
  • Accounts
    Vacancy types in this area:
    • AAT
    • ACCA
    • CIMA
  • Administration
    Vacancy types in this area:
    • Secretarial
    • Office Administration
    • Sales Administration
    • Data Input
  • Legal
    Vacancy types in this area:
    • Paralegal

Common Interview Questions

Sally September 27th, 2012
By Sally

1. Tell me about yourself

(The interviewer wants to hear you speak)
This is one of the most often asked questions in interviews and is usually asked as an ice breaker and to test your ability to think on your feet. Your answer should be concise, lively, and upbeat and should include who you are, your career to date, your qualifications, your skills and your career aspirations. Make sure you keep your answer to a maximum of 5 minutes and no more, don’t take this as an opportunity to give your life story! Limit is to work related items unless otherwise instructed.

2. What are your main achievements to date?

(The interviewer wants to know if you are an achiever)
This is almost always asked and for this reason it is advisable that you have a few examples to hand. Choose a recent achievement and answer in a three stage process. The goal, how you achieved the goal and what the outcomes were. If discussing a work achievement, try and quantify the achievement in terms of cost savings made, efficiencies improved, scrap reduction made etc.

3. How would you describe your career to date? Are you happy with it?

(The interviewer wants to understand how you feel about your career, how you view yourself, whether you’re self esteem is high or low.)
You must answer this question positively i.e. you must talk about elements of your career that you are particularly proud of.  However, if you feel you could achieve more or that you have untapped potential then you must mention this; again this will help the interviewer clarify your career aspirations and your key drivers.

4. Give me an example of a challenging situation you have faced and how you overcame it?

(The interviewer wants to know if your definition of difficult and theirs are the same and what process you use to analyse and overcome problems.)
Discuss a work based situation and describe the challenges. Talk about how you analysed the situation and how you came to a decision on how you should act. Talk about what you did and what the outcomes were.  It is also worth mentioning points of learning you took from this situation and how you could use the knowledge gained in the future.

5. What is your greatest strength?

(The interviewer wants a direct answer to explain what you are good at and how this will add value to the organisation.)
This question will be most certainly be asked and therefore you must be prepared for it. It is a good idea to have three or four strengths in mind, which could include things such as technical competency, leadership skills, attention to detail, resilience or ability to learn. Expand on each of your answers and give examples of where you have demonstrated these strengths and importantly what benefits they have brought. Other thing such as problem solving skills, ability to work under pressure and positive attitude all go down well.

6. What are your main weaknesses?

(The interviewer wants to know how you perceive yourself and how self-aware you are)This is another classic question and one you must be ready for. Everyone has a weakness, so don’t suggest you haven’t any! When choosing a weakness to highlight, consider using professional weaknesses such as lack of experience in a given area, at the same time highlighting your desire to close these gaps and your enthusiasm to learn.  You may also want to discuss a personal weakness such as being impatient, but highlight what you are doing about it right now and how you have improved in this area by your continued focus. Understand that this is an opportunity to turn a weakness into strength.  i.e. “I am very focussed on my attention to detail, everything has to be perfect”

7. What would your co-workers say about you?

Be prepared to be able to quote at least 2 or 3 colleagues who would speak highly of you. Add strength to your answer by giving reasons why each of them would speak highly of you. i.e. “Jim Cook would say I’m the hardest worker he has ever worked with. We once worked 24 hours over a weekend to get a particularly challenging job done”

8. What motivates you?

These things are very individual and will be specific to each person. Good examples would be a challenge, achievement, job satisfaction, progression, autonomy. The answer to this one is definitely not money!

9. Tell me about a time when you had to resolve conflict?

Pick a specific incident and concentrate on the process you used to solve the problem and not so much about the problem itself.

10. What do you know about this company?

Demonstrate an understanding of the company and its product range. Attending an interview without checking the company’s website beforehand could spell disaster! Talk about the research you done and highlight positives that you have found out about the company. Being more prepared than other candidates will make you stand out from the crowd.

 13. What is your reason for leaving your current employer?
(The interviewer wants to understand your motives for looking for a new position.)

Stay positive regardless of the situation. Speak about what you are looking for in your next career move and why you aren’t receiving these things at your present company. For example, how you are unable to achieve the level of responsibility you are looking for, how you might be looking for a change of environment/culture. Do not use this as an opportunity to put your present employer down! Speaking badly about a previous employer never goes down well. If there are issues/ challenges at your present company then remain professional and take the emotion out of the answer.

14. Why do you want to work for this company?

In this instance sincerity is important. Give two or three key reasons such as how the job would allow you to move towards achieving your career goals, the positive culture that exists within the business, the content of the role etc.

15. Why should we recruit you?

This is an opportunity to sell yourself. You mustn’t beat around the bush here. Point out your strengths and make sure you clearly explain them. Don’t flower things up and waffle, deliver your reasons directly and straight to the point. Deliver these points with confidence.

16. Do you have any questions for me?

This one will always be asked so make sure you have a few questions in mind.  If it is a first stage interview and this question is asked, it is best not to bring up things such as holidays, salary, working hours etc first of all. Try to ask “bigger picture” questions such as “What is the companies approach to training and development? What are the longer term business goals?”

Other questions worth preparing for

  • How would your present boss describe you, what would they say would be your strengths and weaknesses?
  • How would direct reports describe you? (testing if you have actually considered their thoughts previously and if you see this as important)
  • How do you respond to working under pressure? (Which means can you work under pressure? Give specific examples and outcomes).
  • What is the toughest management challenge you have faced? (testing your leadership skills and ability to handle conflict)
  • What are your career aspirations?

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