Interview questions you may be asked
Before attending an interview you should think about your responses to
the following questions. Your answers may depend on the job or company
in question, so you should go through your responses just before each
Why do you want this job?
Think carefully about this question. Stress the positive aspects which have attracted you to applying for this position. Do not mention the negative aspects of your current job or the job in question.
What qualities do you think will be required for this job?
The job specification I sent you for the job may help you a little bit, but you should also think of the other qualities that may be required.
These may include team player, leadership ability, communication skills,
interpersonal skills, problem solving, analytical skills, etc.
What can you contribute?
This is your chance to shine. Tell them about your achievements in your
previous position(s) which are relevant to the new position you are
Why do you want to work for this company?
Emphasise the positive reasons why you want to join their company, but
avoid aspects such as more money or shorter hours. These would not
endear you to a prospective employer.
What do you know about this company?
This is your chance to impress the interviewer with your knowledge of
their company. Give them a run down of their products/services, sales
figures, news, company figures, customers, etc.
What interests you about our product (or service)?
Again, your research into the company should aid you in answering this
You have not done this sort of job before. How will you cope/succeed?
Say that you are the sort of person who aims to succeed at everything
you do and that you are very determined and will do whatever it takes to
get the job done.
Why should we employ you?
The answer to this question will be based on your previous experience
and achievements which relate to the company. At the end you could add
that you think there is a good fit between you and the job, and do ask
the interviewer for their opinion.
What do you like and dislike about the job we are discussing?
Likes: stress things such as a new challenge or the opportunity to bring
fresh experience to the company. Dislikes: Imply there is nothing to
dislike about the job, which is why you are so interested.
Why did you choose a career in …?
Be positive about your reasons. If you have changed careers make a
logical argument as to why you did so. Career should come from your
experience and achievements, stress the transferable skills you have,
such as leadership ability, etc.
How much does your last job resemble the one you are applying for? What
are the differences?
The interviewer is trying to see how well you would fit in to the
position you are applying for. So you should stress the similarities
rather than the differences. When it comes to discussing the differences
it will help your case if you can show that either you have done
something similar in the past or that you can quickly pick up the new
What do you think of the last company you worked for?
You should stress the positive aspects of your last company saying that
they were a good company to work for. Tell them about the training you
received or the work related experience you gained.
How long have you been looking for a new job?
If you have been unemployed for a long time this may be a rather tricky
question to answer. But be honest. If you have been away on holiday or
done some voluntary work you could mention this.
Do you prefer to work in a small, medium or large company?
Remember where you are! If the company interviewing you is a small to
medium sized company say that you enjoy a close atmosphere with a good
team spirit. At a large company say that you enjoy the stability of
working for a large and established company.
What are you looking for in a new job?
Make sure your answer fits in with the company who is interviewing you.
A suitable reply would be that you are looking for a new job where you
can apply your existing skills and learn new ones.
What would your ideal job be?
Again, remember where you are! Describe the job in terms of the criteria
they have used to describe their job. An ideal job might include things
like challenging work, a fair rate of pay for the job, nice colleagues,
good career prospects, good team atmosphere, opportunity to learn new
skills, apply old skills, etc.
Are you considering any other positions at the moment?
If you are say so, but do not give too many details away – it will
weaken your negotiating position later. If you do not have any other job
offers at the moment just say that you have a few irons in the fire.
What did you think of your manager/supervisor?
Say that he/she was the sort of person you could learn from and you
communicated well, which meant that the task in hand was completed on
How would you describe yourself? / How would others describe you?
Pick your best attributes and achievements from your career.
How could you improve yourself?
Do not mention anything negative about yourself – the interviewer is
looking for a chink in your armour.
Did you feel you progressed satisfactorily in your last job?
If you progressed faster than normal you should say so. If growth was
not as good as expected then be careful how you phrase this.
How do you handle criticism?
Your answer should be along the following lines: “I always think that it
is important to get feedback on how I am performing so that I can
improve any areas which my manager/supervisor highlights. Do you have
regular staff appraisals and a staff development plan?”
Are you accepted into a team quickly?
Hopefully you can answer a resounding “Yes” to this question.
Can you act on your own initiative?
You should say that you can. You could ask how much responsibility you
What motivates you?
Our suggestions are career growth, opportunity to learn new skills, good
Can you work under pressure?
You need to say that you can. You could ask how much pressure the job
How many hours are you prepared to work?
You would be prepared to work the necessary hours to get the job done on
What are your career goals?
Link in your goals with the company who is interviewing you.
What interests do you have outside work?
Your hobbies and interests can tell an employer a lot about you,
including whether you are sociable or solitary, and whether you can take
on ‘leadership’ roles. So you should think about which interests will
paint the right picture of you given the position you are discussing.
Are you prepared to relocate?
If you are, say so. If you do not want to move then you do not have to
accept the job – try and come across as someone who is positive.
How often are you off sick?
This can be a difficult question to answer if you are frequently off
sick or you have just recovered from a prolonged period of illness. If
you have generally enjoyed good health and this period of illness is not
typical then you should say so.
What did you earn in your last job?
You have to be very careful when answering this question because once an
interviewer knows your current salary they will try and fix your next
remuneration based on this figure. This may be satisfactory if you only
wanted a modest rise in salary and your current salary is in line with
their salary range, but, what if your current salary is substantially
lower than the rate for the job, or if you want a substantial salary
rise? In these cases you would be best advised to say that you do not
really want to prejudice yourself by being too high or too low. Ask if
you can discuss this later after the responsibilities for the job have
been discussed; you may also want to ask them what the range for the job
is (if you do not already know).
What level of salary are you looking for now?
Be very careful when you answer this question – you do not want to
appear to be greedy. If you are applying for a specific vacancy you
could ask them what the salary range is. Once they have answered you
could say “I think my experience would place me at the top end of your
range, don’t you?” If they ask you this question fairly early on in the
interview you could delay answering by saying “It is hard to discuss
salary without first knowing a little bit more about the job and the
What will your referees say about you?
Say that you expect excellent references.
If you cannot answer a question you might reply with “That’s an
interesting question – how would you tackle it?”
Questions you may want to ask an interviewer
The interview is a two-way process. The company interviewing you will
want to find out whether you are suitable for the position and you will
want to find out if the company and position are right for you. You
should therefore ensure that you have enough information to make up your
mind whether you want the job. For example:
* What will be my responsibilities?
* Who will I report to?
* Who are your customers?
* What training do you provide?
* What is the next step?
From a website:
* Why is this position available?
* Is this a new position? How long has this position existed?
* What happened to the person that held this position before?
* How many people have held this position in the last four years?
* What do you like about working here?
* With whom will I be working most closely?
* What kind of staff turnover rate does the company have?
* What projects and assignments will I be working on?
* How would you describe the company’s culture?
* What do you consider to be the company’s strengths and weaknesses
as an employer?
* What are the most challenging aspects of the position?
* What are the opportunities for training and professional development?
* Will I receive any formal training?
* What is the company’s promotional policy?
* Are there opportunities for advancement within the organisation?
* When can I expect to hear from you?