Top 10 Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

August 25, 2021

One of the reasons interviews are nerve wracking is because of the fear of the unknown. You can never be certain of which interview questions you’ll be asked, so how do you know which answers to prepare?

While we can’t give you an answer for every question you may be asked during an interview, there are 10 commonly asked interview questions that you can prepare beforehand. Regardless of your industry, a selection of the below questions are bound to come up during your interview process. Jot down a couple of sentences you can prepare for each interview question and read over your answers before heading into your interview.

With video interviews on the rise, you can even put sticky notes around your computer screen to prompt your answers without anyone even knowing. Just make sure you’re using them as prompts rather than looking at them whilst reading them! It’s important to be as natural as possible and maintain good eye contact.

1. Tell me about yourself.

Summarise your career into 3 headlines.

  • Firstly, where are you currently in life? Are you established in your career, have you just graduated university?
  • Secondly, what was your route into your current career? What did you study at university and why? Or if you didn’t go to university what made you interested in pursuing your current role?
  • Thirdly, what are you passionate about in your life and/ or career? Talk about the best part about yourself; a quality that benefits your role and career. Are you really good with numbers? Passionate about visual design? Or are you a people person who thrives in customer focused roles?

Example Answer:

I am currently a Test Engineer having worked at X company for 3 years, overseeing the development and execution of testing. I began my testing career 5 years ago as a Test Analyst for a financial services company after graduating from X University with a 2:1 in Science. My passion for technology and testing began when I was in primary school. I enjoyed taking gadgets apart to understand how they worked, which quickly developed into learning to program and creating applications when I started IT lessons in secondary school.

2. Do you have any questions for us?

Your answer should always be yes, and you should have a list of pre prepared questions to ask before you go in.

For a while now, if you can’t think of any questions the advice is to say that your interviewer has ‘already answered all the questions you had’. Perhaps once useful, this is a definite no go. It’s code for ‘I can’t think of any’, which is not going to help you stand out in the interview process.

Stuck for interesting questions to ask your interviewer? Read our top 10 questions to ask in a job interview.

3. Why do you want to work for us?

This is an important question in the interview process. You want to focus on the key attributes of the company.

Whatever the company you’re applying to, research some things about them and get specific. The why is about your motivation for applying to this particular role at this particular company.

Focus on things that get you out of bed in the morning for your job. The things that make it worthwhile when things get tough and challenging. Maybe the company is doing exciting things in their industry, or you’ve read a lot of positive reviews or think their recent marketing campaign is brilliant for X reason etc.

Example Answer Structure:

I want to work with you because you’re a well regarded name in the X industry. You are X size so I feel that I grow with the company. You have X ambitions and goals that align with me personally and professionally.

4. Why do you want to leave your current company?

The best thing to do is not lie, and to also speak positively about your previous employer. Say you thoroughly enjoyed your time there, but are looking for a new challenge and are highly attracted to the role you’re applying to because of X.

Example Answer:

“I’d love to move into a new sector like X because... I feel that now is the time in my life that I can do this and excel within my field because of the work you’re doing in this area.”

It’s not a trick question and no one is trying to catch you out. Your potential future employers want to know what you’re looking for in a new company that you weren’t getting in your previous one. Talk about your motivation for applying.

5. What can you bring to the company?

Focus on two key strengths of yours, particularly your soft skills. You wouldn’t have been brought in for an interview if they didn’t think you had the skills for the job.

We spend ⅓ of our lives working. In your answer focus on your best traits as a person to work with and be around. It could be passion, positivity, excellent communication, stakeholder management - any quality that you have that can’t be assessed by a CV

6. What are your weaknesses?

This is a difficult question because as human beings we worry that we shouldn’t show weakness. The whole point of this question isn’t to impress your interviewers by turning it around into a positive. (Note: saying you’re a ‘perfectionist’ is not a weakness unless you can back it up). Nobody is perfect, and everyone has weaknesses. Be truthful in your answer.

You don’t need to tell your interviewers your whole life story, or give a rap sheet of every mistake you have ever made.

Whatever your weakness, talk about how you are actively working on it. This shows you’re self aware and accountable, and can take onboard constructive criticism.

7. What are your strengths?

You need to bear in mind that not everyone wants to hear that you are the best person in the entire world as a particular task or skill. Pick things that are important to you and the job you’re applying for.

Talk about how you gained this strength and why it is something you enjoy or are passionate about.

8. Why should we hire you? / What can you bring to the table that other candidates can’t?

This is quite a confrontational question which is why it can be difficult to answer. The most honest answer is to link yourself with the company or brand you’re interviewing for.

Example Answer

Say you are applying for a well known drinks company, you could say “I have been a huge advocate of *drink* for many years. I love the new product you have brought out recently because it… I feel that I would bring a huge amount of passion to the brand because I’ve liked your soft drinks since the day I can remember.

Find the reason why you want to work for them, and this should be the reason why they should hire you.

9. What is your proudest achievement?

When under pressure in a job interview, people often think only about their career achievements. When actually, this is an open ended question about your proudest achievements in life.

Maybe you delivered a speech in front of an audience when you were in school, or completed a triathlon, or achieved an award?

Everyone has highlights in their life, but if you feel that you don’t have any like these don’t fret. Have you done exceptionally well on a project in school or at university? Perhaps you took part in an event for charity through volunteering or fundraising? Or maybe you’ve put yourself out of your comfort zone and overcome a fear.

You don’t need to have done something ‘exceptional’ for you to be proud of achieving it. We haven’t all won the World Cup or a Nobel Peace Prize in our lifetime. No achievement is too big or small for this question.

10. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Seeing yourself in five years is a frequently used question in interviews. Five years is a long time, and unless you have a crystal ball you’re not being expected to know exactly where you’ll be in the future.

Break it down into smaller time frames. It’s easier to first talk about where you would like to be in two years time. Most likely it will be a promotion into a more senior role. From this, where can you expect your career to take you in the following two years? Could you be managing your own team, or opening a new office in a different city or country?

Your five year plan doesn’t have to just be about your career. As passionate as you may be about your industry, I bet you have life goals that align with your career goals. Such as saving up for a new car, getting on the property ladder, or running the London Marathon.

Pick things that are interesting, because the point of interviews is to answer a question in a way that makes them want to find out more about you. The importance is the why behind your goals, and to be honest.

Example Answer

“In two years time I would like to use my experience in [role you’re applying for] to become a [more senior role], enabling me to grow my skills further/ manage larger scale projects/ mentor juniors like myself who are similarly passionate.

Following this, in four years time I can picture myself training my own team/ taking ownership of new projects/ leading client meetings. As well as this, I would like to have saved enough money for a deposit on a house so that I can move out of living in a shared apartment and have my own space.”

If you would like further support on interview coaching, visit our CV Writing and Career Coaching page. Get in touch today with one of our experts and discuss how we can support you.

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