It’s simple. Put yourself in their position. Why would they pick you to get the job? They want the best person available. You need to show them how you are exactly that.
Otherwise, you just need to be that person who was recommended by someone in the company. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
Interviewers have heard the same answers over and over again. Sometimes you need to take risks to stand out from the others. It’s a risk!
30 typical questions
Some won’t apply to you!
1. Thanks for attending this interview. Tell us a little more about yourself!
They haven’t read your CV or they have forgotten it already or they are checking you wrote it and not some agent.
Summarise your key relevant strengths. Match yourself to the job. Explain why you’re here.
Example: having worked four years in marketing, responsible for achieving challenging targets, expanding our client base and using my initiative to discover new opportunities for the company, I’m now looking for a position in management, and as your company is making innovative moves in this market, it looks like a great place where my skills could develop and thrive.
If you’re a student, or don’t have any experience, it’s recommended to start a personal project, like building a website, looking after children, planning activities, school clubs, building a Twitter profile for a community…
If you have nothing at all then they will look at your personality, but if you haven’t done anything in your life then either you’re very disadvantaged (which they should take into consideration) or just lazy….
Be brief, don’t give all the information but give them opportunities to ask questions. If they don’t ask now, the answers will come with the following questions.
2. How did you hear about the position?
Don’t explain that you know the boss’s sister and if you don’t get the job, she will be angry, this will get you eliminated. Explain that the boss’s sister heard about the position and recommended that you apply because they know you’re a great match.
Perhaps you met someone from the company at a networking meeting and they gave you their card. That’s good, too.
If you don’t know anyone, show that you made efforts researching!
They need to know if you saw the advert on their website or social media or through an agent. This helps them know what is effective, and what they are wasting money on!
3. What do you know about the company?
Did you read the company’s about us page?
Did you search for “company name+news”?
Match the news to your interests, match the news to how you would work with the company.
I read that you’re expanding into Asia and I think my experience of that market would be useful to the company.
I heard about what happened and I wish I could have been involved, to be a part of the team behind that process! This market is critical right now and I think I would be a valuable asset in this period.
Try to find something relevant to the position you are seeking, and explain what interests you or even what you would do if you had the job.
4. Why do you want this job?
“I want money” is usually the honest answer. As the boss, would you hire someone who loves the industry, someone who loves working, someone who wants to improve themselves or someone who wants money?
The perfect hire for a boss, is someone they can trust, wants to help them succeed, will work a lot, and is cheap!
Try to give an answer that matches these requirements but talk about yourself too.
Why you would fit the job: I’m great at customer support because I love helping people and finding solutions quickly.
How this ties to the company: I’ve called your company and witnessed the care and attention to service that was lacking in others. I think this is a part of what drives success and I would be much happier working in a team like yours.
5. Why should we hire you?
Perhaps the interviewer isn’t listening, perhaps they are reading from a script. Regardless, this is an opportunity to repeat your summary of relevant skills, experience and qualities so that they remember. Do it!
I have two years experience with xxx company, which was very challenging, giving me xxx skills and now I would like the opportunity to use these skills to work with (or lead) a team in this company (to succeed/ success).
You could compare yourself to others, without pretension. For example, I think people like me are hard to find because of my background and expertise.
6. What are your greatest professional strengths?
Skill + example showing how it was proved
7. What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
weakness + how you are dealing with it
I’m not great at public speaking but I’m practising in my spare time
I want to improve my English so I’m using apps and taking classes.
8. What is your greatest professional achievement?
STAR : Situation + Task + Action + Result
Situation I was working with xx company and Task direction set a target of xx which was very challenging because of xx. Action I took the initiative to do xx, which resulted in xx increase and my manager was incredibly happy.
9. Tell me about a challenge or conflict you’ve faced at work, and how you dealt with it.
Make sure there is a happy ending! Show you were professional !
10. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Show you understand the company structure.
x: I will be your boss
o: I would like to have greater responsibilities and hope to lead a bigger team or even department.
o: I’m not sure right now, it depends on how the market evolves and my skills too. Will we still be using HTML5 in 5 years? Perhaps I will need to re-train, it all depends.
Compare these expressions:
I’m happy to be
I would like to be
My objective is to
I’m aiming for
I could be
What would the interviewer think, when you use these? Which show you are rigid? Flexible?
11. What’s your dream job?
Whatever it is, it should be relevant to the job you are applying for. Something that shows the job is a stepping stone and not just something to pay the bills.
12. What other companies are you interviewing with?
Risks to be taken: You can show that you are a hot property, loyal or that you are only looking for the biggest salary…
Obviously if I’m not accepted here I need to keep my options open so I have some other interviews lined up.
Risks: if you give the names of rival companies, you show that you are not loyal (they may get offended) or that they need to decide quickly. Or maybe they don’t care…
13. Why are you leaving your current job?
x: I hate my job
o: There are no opportunities to progress at this time / It’s a young company so it doesn’t seem like the higher positions will be open any time soon.
o: I need to stretch my skills, I feel like I’ve learnt everything at my current level.
o: I’ve achieved a lot but I would like a change of environment
x: I hate my boss
14. Why were you fired?
I made a decision that didn’t work out as I expected and I had to take responsibility for it. I’ve learnt a lot from that.
I had an error of judgement which led to consequences where I had to be fired.
15. What are you looking for in a new position?
The things that are described in the advert for this position! But ask questions if you don’t see what you would like.
16. What type of work environment do you prefer?
Same as above.
17. What’s your management style?
Firm but flexible / adaptable. Give an example.
18. What’s a time you exercised leadership?
The best example will show you are amazing.
19. What’s a time you disagreed with a decision that was made at work?
Similar to the conflict question, give an example with a happy ending, or at least demonstrate that you were professional and followed procedure.
20. How would your boss and co-workers describe you?
Hopefully whatever you say will match what your reference will say…. repeat your stories of your achievements and hope your boss will back this up.
21. Why was there a gap in your employment?
x: I got fed up with working
x: I had a burn out
o: I needed to review my career choices and went into training
o: I started a company / with the support of my family and friends, I started a personal project
o: I went travelling to look at other cultures and work on my communication skills and adaptability to situations – tell a nice story of what skills / experience you acquired / can bring to the company
22. Can you explain why you changed career paths?
x: I hated my boss
x: The grease from the kitchen was giving me spots
o: I was offered an amazing opportunity and a fresh new interesting start that was more relevant to my core values
23. How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?
method + example of how it worked
I summarise the task
I take 10 seconds to breathe
I look at the situation and prioritise
I review with a colleague and then do my best
24. What would your first 30, 60, or 90 days look like in this role?
What will you need before you can become the amazing employee they want?
I need to look at the current infrastructure and processes
I would need to shadow someone
I need to know who is in charge of what
I would like to look at xx process and offer any suggestions from my experience
I would need some time to train with this process, would I do that on the job or before?
I would like to set up meetings with xx and look at how we can achieve xx
Do you think it would upset the team if I asked them to use a different xx?
25. What are your salary requirements?
Do the research and find the usual salary for someone of your position and experience. Show that you are negotiable. Ask questions
Do you think xx is too high? We can negotiate. What are your thoughts on xx? Is this including overtime?
There are websites that give average salaries.
26. What do you like to do outside of work?
o: I like to unwind with a few drinks with colleagues on fridays
x: I like to get wasted
x: I like to go cinema
o: I watch news reports about the industry and then keep in touch with friends with online gaming / I’m part of an online game competitive team
o: I’m working on my other skills / building a social media brand / side projects
o: I need to keep my mind healthy so I go to the gym every evening
27. If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?
If you need time to think, repeat the question
The animal (stereotype) needs to reflect everything you’ve said about yourself!
Explain the qualities and how you have them too.
The boring answer is the Lion because you are a leader and strong and able to take decisions.
28. How many tennis balls can you fit into a limousine?
1,000? 10,000? 100,000? Seriously?
Show your logical thinking. Ask questions: How big is the limo? Are we talking about the passenger space or other spaces like the boot or engine? Are there any other restrictions? Etc.
Show that you are adaptable to sudden crazy situations.
29. Are you planning on having children?
Questions about your family status, gender (“How would you handle managing a team of all men?”), nationality (“Where were you born?”), religion, or age, are illegal—but they still get asked (and frequently).
Can you reply without sounding rude or creating an awkward atmosphere?
That’s an interesting question but (use diversion)
-a little personal, perhaps we could chat about it sometime in the bar, when we are colleagues?
– could we talk about opportunities for career progression?
– I’m not sure it’s best to ask this question right now, I’m not sure it’s legal for me to answer! Perhaps later!
30. What do you think we could do better or differently?
Try to give them new ideas and try to show they need you to implement them – they might not need you but show that you have the knowledge and skills – again.
31. Do you have any questions for us?
What wasn’t written in the job description? What do you need?
- opportunities for progression
- hours of work
- do people stay after closing
- do people work weekends
- training opportunities
- remote working
- online access
- flexible working hours
- If they asked you discriminatory questions, and you gave answers you think they didn’t like and you will not get the job: ask them back: what’s the current statistics of diversity in the office / options for maternity leave / sick leave / creche / disability access / procedures for conflicts / discrimination (this can be seen as petty but it could raise some flags for them and be useful!)
Questions source / Also see: https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-answer-the-31-most-common-interview-questions