You are here
17 common interview questions
Interview preparation has never been more crucial than in today’s competitive job market.
Getting ready to interview for a new job? We’ve put together a list of common interview questions that you should be practising well ahead of your interview day – and also make sure you’re adequately prepared with responses that demonstrate your suitability and potential for that specific role.
In addition to having your interview answers at the ready, remember to prepare a suite of compelling examples to help convince the interviewer – either the hiring manager or recruiter – that you are the best candidate for the job. Preparation, positivity, and proof are your keys to interviewing success.
Here are 17 common interview questions.
1. Tell me a bit about yourself
“Tell me a bit about yourself” is a commonly asked interview question to help break the ice and provide a brief, high-level understanding of who you are and your professional work background. A compelling and succinct answer will help you get the interviewer’s attention and allow you to stand out from the crowd.
The key to this is brevity and an overview of who you are, your strengths, skills and qualifications. This will also allow the interviewer to probe more deeply into your areas of strength.
2. Why do you want to work here?
With this question, the interviewer is trying to understand your motivations for applying to the job.
What’s key here is to showcase your knowledge of the company and to highlight insights you have discovered during your interview preparation and research phase. Give specific examples and try to match your skills, strengths and values to the job position and company.
3. What do you know about us as a company?
Preparedness and research are, again, crucial to any successful job interview. And this question allows you to showcase the extent of the time you spent really getting to understand the type of business it is, and using this question as an opportunity to align yourself to their value proposition and the services they offer.
Do a Google search on the company and find some recent information such as product launches, events they are involved in, awards or a particular newsworthy article written about them. Look for information that is not on their website, showing that you have gone a little deeper than most people do.
4. What are your strengths?
With this question, the interviewer is looking to understand your professional strengths and how these will tie into the role. Choose a few of your key strengths that fit the role requirements, and wherever possible, give strong examples to back this up. Ultimately, the interviewer wants to understand what benefit you would bring to the business. Strengths include the ability to work under pressure, delegate successfully and to manage various projects and stakeholders.
5. What are your weaknesses?
While this is possibly one of the trickiest interview questions to answer, the interviewer is simply trying to gauge your level of self-awareness. It can be tempting to try and avoid the question, and maybe job candidates panic and end up responding with “I can’t think of any” or “I don’t have any” because they didn’t spend the time to really consider the point of the question.
So, when it comes to the weaknesses discussion, focus on one or two areas that you could improve on or what you find most challenging. What’s key here is an ability to both acknowledge and be self-aware, while demonstrating your ability and willingness to learn and grow.
6. What have been your greatest achievements to date?
Here, the interviewer is looking to see if you are a high performer and where you have excelled in your previous roles. In this case, select a few recent accomplishments that are directly related to the job position, role and responsibilities wherever possible.
Be precise, and quantify the action, the steps taken and the benefits you provided.
7. When have you had to overcome a difficult situation at work and how did you manage it?
This question is designed to understand, firstly, what you deem as a difficult situation and then how you solve problems and work with other people or departments. In this case, don’t be afraid to select a tough situation that wasn’t caused by you and explain the steps and measurements you took to overcome it.
Focus on and highlight the successful outcome and the learnings from the situation, as well as how the process and improvements enhanced overall performance.
8. What were the best and worst parts about your last role?
Here, the interviewer is trying to gauge whether there are aspects of the job you may not enjoy. Focus on what you enjoyed in your last role, and when addressing the negative side, be cautious about criticising your previous employer – it doesn’t make a good impression.
Include examples that showcase your strengths, as well as the ability to adapt to situations you may have initially found challenging.
9. Why are you looking to make the move from your current company?
This question is also often tricky to answer but reflecting positively on your current employer is important. Highlight the need for change, new challenges and a desire to learn and grow rather than pinpointing things you don’t like about your current job.
10. What are your goals for the next year?
Goal setting and having a purpose are important candidate factors to interviewers. This question is also designed to measure your level of ambition and interest in career planning.
Prepare for this ahead of the interview and really think about where you want to be and how it aligns with the role you are applying for. If your answer mentions continuous growth, learning and a willingness to adapt and take on new challenges, you’re on the right track.
11. How do you respond to high-pressure situations?
This question is designed to understand how you stay focused in different, difficult and high-pressure situations. It’s a chance to highlight your problem-solving skills and your ability to work well under pressure.
Give an example of when you’ve succeeded under pressure that demonstrates logical problem-solving and people skills.
12. If this role wasn’t on offer, what else would you be applying for here?
This is an interesting question as it allows you to showcase your range. So, as part of your interview preparation ensure you have looked at similar and realistic roles or positions. Ensure you have a strong response that highlights your strengths and skills, and demonstrates why you were attracted to the company and similar role attributes.
13. Tell me about a successful project and your role there
This common interview question is aimed at understanding your interpersonal skills and how you work with a team. Showcase your role, the project, and how you assisted your colleagues. Provide examples of communication, collaboration, teamwork and problem-solving.
14. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
As with general goal setting, having a structure for a five-year plan can be helpful for you and the interviewer. For this question, research the company’s vision and mission. Try to set a reasonable target based on your own goals, the company’s goals and the position you are applying for.
15. What do you like to do in your spare time?
This question is designed to uncover your team and culture fit. Whilst it can be tempting to rattle off a laundry list, stick to hobbies that paint a fuller picture of you as a person. Think about what you do in your spare time but remember to keep it professional.
16. Why should we hire you?
Think of this interview question as an opportunity to summarise your experience, skill set and passion for the job and company.
Your interviewer is essentially asking you to give your personal sales pitch, so take the time to explain why you’re qualified to do the work and deliver great results (a combination of skills and achievements), how you can support the interviewer and the broader business in their goals, and why you’ll be a great cultural fit.
17. Do you have any questions for us?
While you may be the one being interviewed you also have a chance to ask some key questions to help you determine if you think you are the right fit for the role. Use this opportunity to ask any questions that haven’t been covered during the interview. Questions could be about KPIs, what a standard day involves, team size, training opportunities, employee perks, or anything else that will help you determine the role’s suitability.
- Your past successes and failures (and what you’ve learned since)
- Why you want to leave your current role and company
- Your goals for the future
- What you know about the company looking to hire
- Your personal strengths and weaknesses