Preparing yourself for a job interview is crucial for getting through to the next stage of the job application process. Interview questions can stump jobseekers or catch them off guard, leaving them speechless or in a muddle as to what to say. That’s why it’s a good idea to prepare for the most common interview questions and do plenty of research on the company and the type of job before the interview.
Use the following tips to learn how to answer interview questions and read through our typical interview questions.
How to Answer Interview Questions
While it’s handy to have an idea of what you would like to answer for common interview questions, no answer should be memorized or feel practiced. You want to be genuine and answer all interview questions naturally.
Check out our tips on answering interview questions for some basic interview advice:
- Don’t rush your answer. Process the question and stay calm while you gather your thoughts
- Use examples to demonstrate your points
- Don’t babble and take 5 minutes to answer 1 question (also known as nervous chatter)
- If you’re a jokey or humorous character, that’s great and can even ease the tense interview environment. Just make sure you do take the questions seriously!
Common Job Interview Questions
Get a rough idea of how to answer these common interview questions by reading through our tips and suggestions.
1. “Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?”
The key point is to not repeat everything you’ve stated in your resume. Recruiters will have read your resume prior to asking you this interview question, therefore you don’t need to recite it. However, you should make reference to impressive achievements or relevant work experience when touching down on your professional background.
Give a brief summary and state the last job where you worked and the main responsibilities you had. Try not to give too much away and instead, pitch a brief and interesting description of yourself and your career goals.
2. “How did you find out about the job?”
This is a simple question that can be answered in a short sentence, although you can also use it to get your foot in your door by stating that you keep up to date with company activity or that you’ve had your eye on a position in the IT Department for a long time etc.
3. “Why should we give you this job?”
This isn’t the most common interview question, but it is still probable that you’re asked this question in a job interview. It might seem intimidating or you might even feel uncomfortable boasting about yourself, but if you are given the opportunity, go for it!
Identify what it is that makes you a unique candidate or what your most valuable skills are and present these as your main points. You can also express interest in the company, the way they work and why you would like to work for them.
4. “How much do you know about the company?”
This interview question is one of the most common interview questions asked and is essentially a test to check that you’ve done your research and know your stuff. If you can prove that you’ve dug a little deeper than the company website and refer to a company achievement, press release or recent update, you’ll be sure to win extra brownie points.
5. “Could you give us an example of a personal or professional achievement?”
If you can think of an achievement that relates to the job for which you are applying, it will seem more impressive and relevant to recruiters. However, if you have an equally impressive achievement that you would like to share, don’t be afraid to do so. If you are talking about a previous job, be sure to include what you were working as, for how long you worked on the achievement prior to the result or outcome.
6. “What is your dream job?”
This is a way of uncovering your professional passion and helps the recruiter to identify your career goals. If your dream job is nothing to do with the job in hand, depending on the type of job and situation, you might want to be honest and explain your dream job. Recruiters understand that we need part-time jobs, student jobs, and even full-time jobs to help us reach our goals so it won’t come as a surprise if you don’t reply “this job”. This could also be a taking point for the interviewer or a way to discover that you have an interest in common.
That said, if you have been climbing the career ladder and have a career goal relevant to the job post, it is definitely worth explaining your passion for the industry and goals or dream job.
7. “Why did you leave your old job?”
Either a dreaded job interview question, a delicate one or one with a simple answer, you’ll almost definitely have to answer this common interview question. Whatever your situation, be sure to give things positive spin, but also be honest. Another important thing to remember is to not talk negatively about past jobs or employees.
If you were let go from your last job, there’s no need to hide it or over-explain it. You can say something as simple as “unfortunately, I was let go”.
8. “What were you doing in your employment gap?”
Don’t be afraid by employment gaps, as they are justifiable. For example, if you were studying or on maternal/paternal leave. However, these are not the only reasons for a temporary break from work and sometimes these topics can be complicated. Check out our blog or more complex employment gap issues and how to explain employment gaps in your resume.
9. “What salary do you expect?”
Be realistic and answer this question in a respectful manner, as if you want to negotiate a good contract it is wise to be pragmatic. Do your research and propose a realistic salary based on what you earned previously and what you think is adequate for the job position. In the case that the job offers less than you had expected, you can always balance it out by asking for days where you can work from home, the number of holiday days and other benefits.
Read more tips on how to negotiate your salary.
10. “Give an example of a challenge you had to overcome”
This interview question is a tough one and also a disliked one amongst those who find it difficult to think of the different challenges and professional hiccups they have had. Don’t forget that this doesn’t have to be a solitary challenge, as you might have completed it in a group or achieved the goal as a team. When you give your example, include the skills and necessary measures you took to ensure that the goal was reached and the challenge was overcome.
For more interview advice, read our blog for professional career advice such as how to calm nerves before a job interview or how to dress for a job interview. If you haven’t quite got to the interview stage of the job application process and you’re still writing your resume, check out our resume builder and how easy it can really be to write a resume.