Some Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Some Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Why have you applied for this job? / why do you want this job?

  • Refer to the job description (if you have one), and explain what it is about this job that appeals to you - the tasks involved, the skills being used. Talk about how this relates to tasks and skills you've used in previous work or at University.
  • Briefly discuss your career goals and how this job would help you meet them.
  • Don't forget to mention the company and what it is about them that appeals to you - as this is likely part of your reason for wanting the job.

Tell me about yourself

  • Provide a brief overview of the skills and experiences you have that relate to this job. There are different ways to structure this answer e.g. some find it useful to start with a brief discussion of their degree and then move into work experiences and extra-curricular activities; others find it useful to start with their motivation for pursuing a particular career path and then introduce their degree, experiences and extra-curricular activities as steps which are helping them to pursue that career. It can be helpful to finish by summarising the skills and knowledge you've gained that would be useful for this job.
  • Try to keep your answer to under 4 or 5 minutes.

What do you know about us?

  • Briefly discuss a few things (4 or 5) that you've found out about them through your research. Pick things that interest you so you can relate how that has made you want to work for them.
  • Things that can be useful to discuss include: (this is not a comprehensive list)
    • Their values, mission and culture
    • Their history and the work they do - how they got to where they are - it can be helpful to know the names of the CEO and other key staff
    • If you've spoken with anyone who works for them e.g. at a fair - and what that person said about them as an employer
    • Their clients / customers and recent work they've done  - this can usually be found through News items on their website
    • If they've been mentioned in the press lately - be sure to know details of the issue and remember to relate to how this makes you want to work for them
    • If they've been mentioned in top graduate employer listings or have received awards for their work with students and graduates - be sure to know details of this

What are your main strengths?

  • Pick at least 3 strengths that will be relevant to the job. It can be useful to pick from the Essential Criteria listed in the job description / job advert.
  • Provide brief evidence to back-up each point.

What are your weaknesses / development needs?

  • Pick a skill or that's relevant to this job and discuss what steps you've been taking to address it -  this will demonstrates your self-awareness and drive for improvement. 
  • Avoid saying that you're a perfectionist or that you don't have weaknesses.

What has been your greatest achievement?

  • Pick an achievement that you're proud of and that demonstrates your key strengths. 
  • It doesn't have to be exotic, but you're unlikely to impress if you use the example of graduating from your degree or passing your driving test - unless you overcame significant issues to do so.

Why should we hire you?

  • Summarise your key selling points for the job which could include your skills and strengths,  your relevant knowledge (don't forget your degree!), your experience and your motivation/enthusiasm.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to other candidates - it can seem arrogant to say that you have better skills and experience than them, plus you're unlikely to know what they have to offer.
  • This isn't about saying that you're great - which some people find uncomfortable - instead focus on facts about your achievements and demonstrate enthusiasm. 

Do you have any questions?

See also