11 Popular Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Going into the interview process unprepared often leads candidates to stumble at the first hurdle.

Many of you will be familiar with the anxiety caused by not knowing how to respond to a question during a chat with a prospective employer. Despite the same topics regularly rearing their head, it’s easy to get flustered or start floundering for an anecdote to use when you’re in the moment — no matter how experienced you are.

That’s why preparation is so crucial. By reviewing the most frequently asked interview questions, you can ensure you have an engaging response to anything that comes up and make an excellent first impression…

Can you tell me about yourself?

Often, this is how a hiring manager will kick off an interview. Research suggests that 33% of employers know within the first 90 seconds whether they’ll hire someone, so your response to the first question they ask is critical.

Talk briefly about your current role before giving some background on how you got there and your relevant experience. Then, segue into why you’re looking for from a new position, using this to comment on how perfect this opportunity is.

What do you know about our company?

Did you know that 47% of interviewers don’t hire candidates without knowledge of their company?
Thorough preparation is essential. Knowing how the company is meeting industry trends, its core values and long-term goals will show that you care and do your research and highlight the tenacity you can bring to a team.

Why do you want to work for us?

Instead of putting the emphasis on your needs, focus on the company and how it’s captured your attention and earned your respect.

Demonstrate through your skill set and experience that you’d be a valued team member whose ideas and actions would position the company to do bigger and better things in the marketplace.

What are your greatest strengths?

This question shows what makes you a great candidate whilst offering a little personality. Instead of listing adjectives about how great you are, share an anecdote that proves how you’ve used your strengths to your advantage in the past.

Stories are always more memorable than generalisations. If there’s something you were hoping to mention because it makes you a great candidate, but you haven’t had a chance yet, this would be a perfect time.

What are your weaknesses?

It might seem hard to strike a balance with this question — but all the employer is looking for is a gauge of your self-awareness.

So, think of something you struggle with but are hoping to improve on or a previous experience that prompted you to learn from a mistake.

Why did you leave your last job?

Explaining your reasons for changing roles can be tricky to navigate. Keep your response positive without venting about your previous employer and try to pivot the direction of your answer to why the job at hand is an ideal match for your skills, knowledge and experience.

Adjust your response accordingly if you’re still working but are about to quit, keeping in mind that you want to come across well to a new employer. Every situation is unique, so tailor your answer to fit your circumstances.

What kind of environment do you like best?

This question concerns company culture and working conditions: working hours, team members, ethics and workplace style.

It’s also important to remember that this is a two-way conversation. Make sure the company’s culture fits your expectations as much as you comply with the company’s requirements. Asking questions about how the team gets along or the organisation’s approach to socialising is a great way to see if it sounds like somewhere you want to work.

What’s your expected salary?

Be sure to find out the average salary for this role ahead of time using resources such as Glassdoor’s ‘Know Your Worth’ tool, ensuring you consider experience, education and skills.

If you feel more comfortable, turn the subject on its head: ‘That’s a great question — would you be able to share the estimated salary range you have budgeted for this role?’

What motivates you?

Think about what has energised you in previous roles and pinpoint what stood out in this particular job description. The interviewer wants to ensure you feel excited about the role and that you’ll bring enthusiasm and motivation to the job if they pick you.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

A hiring manager wants to know if you’ve set realistic expectations for your career, if you have ambition and if the position aligns with your goals and growth plans.

If you’re not quite sure what the future holds, emphasise that you see this experience playing an important role in helping you make that decision.

Do you have any questions for us?

It’s always a good idea to ask some engaging questions that show your genuine interest in the role and company. For example, ‘what are you looking for in a candidate that you’re currently missing?’ or ‘what’s the most important thing you’d like a successful candidate to accomplish in the first 90 days?’

A recruitment consultant can help you prepare for asking and answering these typical interview questions and more, guiding you through the dos and don’ts of the interview process.

Ready to start your job search? On Track provides recruitment services to candidates in Farnham and the surrounding areas — whether you’re looking for full-time, part-time or temporary work. Upload your CV today and contact us at 01252 727887 for more information.