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20 most common interview questions (and how to answer them)

20 most common interview questions


(and how to answer them)
How to get hired by nailing the 20 most common interview
questions employers ask. From obvious questions such as ‘why
do you want to work for us?’ to weird and wacky ones like ‘if you
were an animal what would you be?’, you’ll have a head start
with the best answers. Read our tips from top interview experts
and be more prepared at your interview than anyone else.
Posted by Charlotte Seager (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/author/charlotteseager/) on May 17,
2018 | 39 comments

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10/10/2019 20 most common interview questions (and how to answer them) | Totaljobs

You’ve landed a job interview. Congratulations!

And now you’re reading this guide, which means you recognise preparing interview answers is key to
securing the job.

You’re already ahead of some of your competition.

Prepared candidates give detailed, concise and relevant answers. Which is exactly what employers want to
hear.

Preparation means you’ll be more confident, less fearful of the unknown and much less likely to suffer from
interview nerves.

If you’re preparing for interview, we have some good news:

“Surprise questions aren’t as common as you’d think; 85% of questions are entirely predictable,” says John
Lees, interview coach and author of Knockout Interview (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Knockout-Interview-
Professional-Business-Management/dp/0077189566) and The Interview Expert: How to Get the Job You
Want (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Interview-Expert-How-get-want/dp/0273762559/).

To help you nail your interview, we’ve spoken to a wide range of interview experts and determined the 20
most common interview questions. For each common interview question, those experts also tell us:

What the employer really wants to know. By employer, we mean the interviewer(s) and hiring
manager(s).
How to answer the question.
How not to answer the question.

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The typical ways interviewers phrase questions. We find the most common interview questions are
often asked in slightly different ways.

Before getting into the specifics of the 20 questions, it’s worth drawing your attention to two killer pieces of
interview advice that our experts agree apply to all interview questions:

First, match your skills, competencies and experiences with those the employer requested in their job
advert.

Second, come up with your own answers to these common questions. Don’t give stock replies. You won’t
find ready made answers here. Instead, we’ll help you give your very best answer.

See also our handy guides on preparing for competency-based interview questions:

How to handle competency based interview questions (http://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/how-to-


handle-competency-based-interview-questions/)
The most common competency-based interview questions (and how to answer them)
(http://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-competency-based-interview-questions/)

Table of contents
20 most common interview questions

1. Tell me about yourself


2. What do you know about the organisation?
3. Why do you want to work for us?
4. What can you bring to the company?
5. What are your weaknesses?
6. What are your strengths?
7. Why is there a gap in your work history?
8. What challenges are you looking for in a position?
9. What would an excellent performance look like in this role?
10. Tell me an achievement you are proud of
11. Why should we hire you?
12. What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?
13. What would you do in the first month in the job?
14. What kind of environment do you like best?
15. What’s your dream job?
16. What motivates you?
17. If you were an animal what would you be?
18. Describe your character in under 30 words
19. What are your salary expectations?
20. Do you have any questions for us?

Common interview questions do’s and don’ts

1. Tell me about yourself


What the employer wants to know
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This is probably the most common interview question. It’s often the first to be asked and, because it’s an
open question, it’s a tough one to answer.

An employer will have developed an impression of you from your CV and cover letter. Your answer to this
question quickly helps them determine the accuracy of that impression. It also gives them an opportunity to
observe your levels of confidence and composure, through your voice and body language.

“What I generally look for is someone who is at ease with themselves,” says Claude Littner
(https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/15-minutes-claude-littner/), business leader and star of The Apprentice.
Littner believes if you’re calm and confident at the interview, you’ll probably be a good person to work with.

How to answer
A lot of candidates struggle with this question, says Margaret Buj, interview coach and author of Land That
Job.

Her advice is: “Answer this question in terms of the skills and experience required for the position. Start with
a brief summary of your career history. Then give them a short overview of how your career has developed,
focusing more on what you’ve learnt or achieved.

“You might want to prepare by writing down a few key points you want to cover, which you can practise
before the interview.”

James Shaikh, a recruitment manager of experienced hires at EY (Ernst & Young)


(https://www.totaljobs.com/jobs-at/ernst-and-young/jobs), agrees. He says this question is an opportunity to
introduce yourself, and explain how your strengths will enable you to do the job well.

Kathleen McLeary, HR manager for Blue Logic Computers and Blue Digital (https://www.bluedigital.co.uk/),
says keep things at a high level at this point in the interview. “Talk about your employment history, with
timescales and a top-level reasoning as to why you are here.”

To make sure you’ve given the employer all the information they need, end your answer by asking them if
there’s anything they’d like you to cover in more detail.

Remember to project your voice, because it’ll give the impression you’re confident and composed. Even if
you’re a bag of nerves inside.

How not to answer


Candidates often make the mistake of saying too much when answering this question. “Don’t ramble, be
brief,” says Buj. A one- to two-minute summary is the right length.

According to McLeary, there’s no need to go into detail at this early point in the interview, as the employer
will dig deeper into specifics later on.

Abby Blackmore, head of operations at Impero, says: “Often the biggest turn off in a candidate is when they
say what they think interviewers want to hear and it just doesn’t ring true.”

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Finally, as with all interview questions, don’t give a generic answer. Ensure your points are tailored to the
position you’re applying for.

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

2. What do you know about the organisation?


What the employer wants to know
You can’t know everything about an employer from the outside, but it’s important to know the basics.

“We don’t want or expect a candidate to memorise reams of information from the website, but we do expect
them to have an understanding of who we are, what we do, our products and services, and what they can
do to enhance the company,” says Kathleen McLeary, HR manager at Blue Digital.

The employer will expect you to know about their:

Industry/sector.
Goals.
Key challenges.
Major competitors.
Culture and values.

They also want to find out if you’re enthusiastic about the prospect of working for them. Make sure you
demonstrate your enthusiasm through your answer.

As Jamie Betts, a solutions consultant at recruitment and outsourcing company Ochre House, says: “If a
candidate’s knowledge extends little beyond the homepage of the employer’s website, it suggests they can’t
really be bothered.”

Claude Littner, star of The Apprentice, says: “Researching every facet of your job interview is crucial. Too
often I have had candidates who have claimed significant levels of enthusiasm for a role yet have no
significant knowledge of the business.”

The question often leads into 3. Why do you want to work for us?

How to answer
The key to an excellent answer is thorough research.

As Littner (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/jamies-journey-interview-tips) says, you need to go beyond


expectations.

“It’s important to do your research and make it clear you really want to join this company and not that this is
one of 100 jobs you’ve applied for.”

There are many tools you can use to research any company, explains James Shaikh, recruitment manager
at EY. They include:

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The company’s own site or careers website.


Job boards like totaljobs.
Press releases from the company and their competitors.
Industry-specific publications to learn more about the sector.

But don’t stop there. “Researching the company, its structure, values and ambitions will demonstrate that
you have thought about the move more holistically,” adds Shaikh.

Don’t be afraid to get creative in your research. For example, if you’re going for a sales assistant job
(https://www.totaljobs.com/jobs/sales-assistant) at a retailer, visit one of its high street stores to get a
firsthand impression of the role.

How not to answer


Don’t simply repeat the contents of the business’s website, or the company description in the job advert.

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

3. Why do you want to work for us?


What the employer wants to know
The employer wants to uncover your motivations for the job.

Jemma Rawlins, associate director for home counties at Hudson HR Recruitment, says: “Is it salary,
location, brand, team fit, or job title that is most important to you? This can vary hugely between people.
What might be a great brand for one person might not appeal to someone else.”

Employers also use this question to screen bogus candidates who’ve only applied because they want to
test the market or to negotiate a better salary with their current employer.

How to answer
To answer this question successfully, focus on the employer’s needs, not what you want.

It helps to demonstrate that you’re a good fit for the role, says Margaret Buj, author of Land That Job.

Show your knowledge of the company by mentioning something specific about the job that really interests
you.

“It can be their new lines of business or technology they use – make sure you’ve done your research,” adds
Buj.

You could also talk about the company culture or management structure.

Don’t forget to show enthusiasm, too. “When we ask this question, we are looking for genuine excitement
for the role and company,” says Kathleen McLeary, HR manager at Blue Digital.

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You can’t be overly prepared for this question, advises Abby Blackmore, head of operations at Impero. “It’s
glaringly obvious if you ask a candidate this question and they’ve done zero research or preparation. It
shows they aren’t right for us. It’s not that we are self-important. We want people who want to work with us,
and candidates who want to have always done their homework.”

Although you should focus on the employer’s needs, they may ask you about your personal motivations.
One approach is to talk about your long-term career prospects with them.

If they infer that you’re overqualified, talk about the challenges you can find in the role. If they’re inferring
you’re underqualified, mention you’re a fast learner and that growing with them is one of your major
motivations.

How not to answer


A big mistake is to answer this question by saying negative things about your present employer, says Buj.

“You can talk about wanting progression, without saying your boss is blocking your progress at your current
company,” says McLeary.

Don’t frame your answer in the past or present. Instead, focus on the future.

This is not the time to bring up salary or benefits, or relatively minor incentives such as free parking space.

And avoid sounding desperate for the job. Be clear that you don’t just want any job, but that you want this
job.

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

4. What can you bring to the company?


What the employer wants to know
The employer wants to compare your skills with those required for the role.

They’re also looking for your unique selling point (USP).

It’s a roundabout way of asking why they should offer you the job.

How to answer
Before the interview, study the job ad and figure out the employer’s five most sought-after skills and
competencies.

Think critically about your work history (and education if applicable). For each skill, come up with a brief
example that explains how you acquired or developed that skill, and how your possession of it benefited
your employer at the time.

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If you know someone who already works for the employer, ask them if they need a related skill or service
that hasn’t been stated in the job ad. If you can demonstrate experience with something they’re looking for,
your answer will be particularly strong.

According to Kathleen McLeary, HR manager at Blue Digital, you should also describe:

How you work.


Your passion for the industry.
Your motivation to deliver results.
Ways you can bring a fresh perspective to the business.

“Always ensure you tie these into the role you’re applying for,” says McLeary.appre

Don’t worry if you can’t fill every checkbox. The perfect candidate rarely exists, and interviewers and
recruiters are well aware of this.

“It may be that on paper your experience is not immediately relevant, but the best candidates create angles
that show you why all experience is good experience for the job,” says Claude Littner
(https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/15-minutes-claude-littner/), star of The Apprentice.

How not to answer


Candidates often make the mistake of not using examples to back up their answers.

“Anyone can say that they have good organisational skills, for example, but if you say something specific
such as: ‘I have excellent organisational skills. In the past 12 months I have supervised 10 corporate events
with up to 300 participants each’, you are going to make a better impression,” says Margaret Buj, author of
Land That Job.

This question is also phrased as…


Why do you think you’re suitable for this role?
Why should we hire you?
What would you bring to the team?

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

5. What are your weaknesses?


What the employer wants to know
An employer will ask this to see if you’re aware of your weaknesses, and whether or not you have strategies
in place to tackle them.

“We’ve all got weaknesses. It’s recognising them that’s important. The interviewer is looking for you to be
self-aware,” says Alison Clay, careers advisor, University of Sheffield.

“If a candidate can’t think of anything they want to improve, then that will set alarm bells ringing for the
interviewer, making them a bit mistrustful. Nobody is flawless. I’m 12 years into the HR industry and I still
have things I want to improve,” explains Abby Blackmore, head of operations at Impero.
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Preparing for this question can be tough. Think carefully about a suitable weakness, and come up with a
realistic and achievable approach for overcoming it.

Some employers also use the question to see how you perform under pressure. “It’s as much about your
body language, as it is the answers,” says Kathleen McLeary, HR manager at Blue Digital.

How to answer
It can be difficult to think of a weakness.

One trick is to ask your close friends and family what professional traits they think you need to work on.
Even better, someone at your current job who you trust completely. They’re more likely to give relevant
feedback. The obvious risk is that your employer might find out you’re looking for another job.

Don’t mention any faults that would directly impair your ability to do the job.

“Talk about an area of development – something you’re working on at the moment,” suggests John Lees,
author of Knockout Interview.

Examples include sharpening up skills in a particular area, such as taking an online course, or showing how
you control your own learning agenda. Make sure you:

1. Describe your weakness.


2. Explain how you’re working to overcome it.
Here are some things you could say:

“Previously, when managing multiple projects at the same time, I wasn’t able to remember and
prioritise my tasks. To counter this, each day I created a prioritised to-do list.”
“I used to spend too much time on tasks that weren’t the highest priority. Now I’m better at allocating
my time to things that deliver value to the business.”
“I used to get nervous giving presentations, so I enrolled on a course to improve my public speaking.”

Another tactic is to pick a weakness that isn’t vital to the role, says Claire Jenkins, job interview expert and
founder of 121 Interview Coaching. She says that even though it’s not vital to the role, you still need to
make sure “you have a plan to deal with it and can explain how you are already on the way to fixing it”.

How not to answer


Lees says don’t pick a weakness that’s really a strength in disguise. He says the interviewer will see
through your answer, and it’ll come across as a bluff.

“Gimmicky answers are also unsafe territory as it could make you seem unprofessional,” he adds.

A classic, overused example is “I’m a perfectionist”. Interviewees are often advised to use it. Don’t. The
advice is outdated.

McLeary says don’t get too personal. “We don’t want to know if you never get your washing done in time or
have a few too many drinks at the office parties. Talk about something that relates to work. Being able to
identify an area for improvement is a positive trait, it shows you are willing to learn and progress.”

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“Don’t highlight something that’s a key skill of the job. Give another example that isn’t on the list of
essentials,” says Katie Casserly, careers advisor at the University of Sheffield.

And don’t say that you don’t have any weaknesses.

This question is also phrased as…


What is your greatest weakness?
Tell me about your weaknesses.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Tell me about your main development areas.
What areas do you need to develop the most?

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

6. What are your strengths?


What the employer wants to know
Employers are interested in how your skills, competencies and experiences match what they need for the
role. They want to know if you have the relevant capabilities and experience for the job. If you do, they’ll
want to hire you.

Perfect your answer to this question, and you’ll improve your chances of landing the job greatly.

Another way they might ask the question is What can you bring to the company? (question 4).

How to answer
Analyse the job advert and pick out the key skills and competencies needed for the role. When researching
the company, also keep a lookout for any information that shows what skills and competencies it’s looking
for.

Claire Jenkins, founder of 121 Interview Coaching, advises memorising three top competencies the hiring
manager will be looking for in their ideal candidate. “Then work out how you can sell your transferable skills
and experience,” she adds.

Especially consider how your strengths could set you apart from other candidates. “Describe a genuine
strength, which you can demonstrate, is needed by the role, and you will enjoy using,” says Alison Clay,
careers advisor at the University of Sheffield.

Make it clear how your current employer has benefited from your strengths. For example, say: “I have met
or exceeded targets every quarter, which I feel is due to my strengths in tenacity and persuasiveness.”

How not to answer


Don’t list strengths that aren’t relevant to the job you’re applying for. And don’t be shy about your
accomplishments.

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“One mistake people make is to think of this as bragging. The best thing to do is to match your top three
strengths with what they’re looking for – that’s much more effective,” says John Lees, author of Knockout
Interview.

You must avoid generic buzzwords and clichés, says Kathleen McLeary, HR manager at Blue Digital.
“Phrases such as ‘I work well independently as well as in a team’, doesn’t tell us much about you.”

Mention real, tangible strengths that you’ll bring to the role.

Most of all, don’t be dishonest. It’s not only unethical, but there’s also a high chance you’ll get caught out.

This question is also phrased as…


What are the key strengths that you’ll bring to this role?
What are your key skills?

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

7. Why is there a gap in your work history?


What the employer wants to know
To avoid this question, don’t leave a gap in your employment history on your job application or in your CV.

From an employer’s perspective, a gap is a red flag. It could put doubt in their mind, when there should be
none. You can counter this by having a reasonable explanation for it.

The most common reasons for a gap on the CV are:

Redundancy.
Dismissal.
Travelling/gap year.
Personal/health issues.
Being a carer.
Being a parent.
The employer will consider whether you put the time to good use. For example, did you take a course to
develop your skill set, or travel to broaden your horizons. Or, on the flipside, did you waste your time, by not
actively job seeking.

How to answer
“Don’t panic. We aren’t here to catch you out. It’s our job to collect the facts. Be honest,” says Kathleen
McLeary, HR manager at Blue Digital.

According to Margaret Buj, author of Land That Job, your approach to this question will depend on many
factors:

How much time you’ve had off.


What you did during the time you were off.
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Your track record in your previous jobs.

“If possible, talk about anything constructive you did during your time off, like preparing for an important
exam, volunteering or completing an MBA. Mention skills or knowledge you cultivated during this time,”
adds Buj.

McLeary adds: “If you went travelling, tell us why you went, what you learned. Tell us about what you did
with your time; was it spent productively?”

If there’s a noticeable gap in your employment and you were going through a personal issue, you’re well
within your rights to say: “I was dealing with something personal and decided to take a break from the
workplace to allow me to focus on getting that resolved as quickly as possible. This enabled me to move
on,” says Stefan Larsen, senior HR business partner at totaljobs.

Another approach, says Buj, is to describe the issue as a past problem that will not interfere with your future
productivity.

Although it may feel counterintuitive, bringing up the gap yourself can be a good tactic. “If you’ve got
missing time in your CV or have experienced redundancy, you’ll need to rehearse a short, upbeat
statement, that gets you out of danger, usually linking past to present,” says John Lees, author of Knockout
Interview.

Always be honest, says James Shaikh, recruitment manager at EY. He says: “If you have taken time out of
the traditional career framework to care for a relative, to pursue a business idea or due to illness, then the
first piece of advice is to be honest and open about it. As an employer, understanding why that experience
was important to you is informative. As a candidate, working for a company that respects your decisions
and values is vitally important. I would also advise any candidate that all experiences are learning
experiences. There will be lessons learned and skills developed even in the most arduous of situations that,
when properly articulated, will contribute to your ability to present yourself as the right person for the role.”

How not to answer


Larsen says you mustn’t lie. Be careful about how much you reveal, and try to put a positive spin on the
situation. “You can take something positive from every experience. If a job didn’t work out, communicate
how you grew from it.”

Don’t be negative or defensive when you explain the gap. “As long as a candidate can explain a gap in their
work history, this isn’t seen as a negative. However, when a gap in a CV is not constructive – for example,
when someone leaves a job because they say they don’t like it – it doesn’t show resilience,” says Claire
Keith, resourcing manager at Mamas & Papas (https://www.mamasandpapas.com/en-gb/careers).

Don’t say: “It’s none of your business” or “I don’t want to talk about that.”

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

8. What challenges are you looking for in a position?


What the employer wants to know

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The employer wants to gauge how you approach challenges on the job and what challenges you expect to
face, says Margaret Buj, author of Land That Job.

“What we’re trying to understand through these questions is how motivated the candidate is to perform both
in the job, and within the company,” says Jamie Betts, a solutions consultant at recruitment and outsourcing
company Ochre House.

The employer will be looking for a candidate whose ambitions match well with the opportunities they can
provide. If you give the impression you don’t have any ambitions, you’ll come across as not wanting to
deliver results. If you describe ambitions that the company could never realistically fulfil, the employer will
be concerned you’ll want to leave too soon after being hired.

How to answer
Frame your response in terms of the employer’s key challenges and how you can help resolve them. This is
where your research in the company is vital, because it allows you to highlight the skills you have that are
most relevant to that company.

Describe challenges that fit the role you’re applying for, and your own skill set. They should be the right
balance between stretching and achievable.

For example, if you’re interviewing for a position as director of human resources in a company where
employee relations are a problem, you could say: “I am looking to focus on resolving employee relations
issues.” If the company is interested in talent development, you could say: “I want to help an organisation
grow through talent development.”

If you couldn’t find the key challenges facing the employer, answer in terms of your own career. “A career is
a challenge. It is not easy pushing a team, product or service higher to achieve success. Talk about skills
you want to improve, what career progression you want and what you need to get there,” says Kathleen
McLeary, HR manager at Blue Digital.

How not to answer


Don’t suggest challenges that would either hinder your ability to do the work or be impossible to overcome.

At the other end of the scale, don’t suggest challenges that would be too easy or too quick to complete, as
this won’t allow you to show room for growth.

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

9. What would an excellent performance look like in this role?


What the employer wants to know
The employer is trying to determine three things:

How committed you’d be to this role.


Your general work ethic.
What impact you might make.
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You also need to ask yourself What challenges are you looking for in a position? (question 8).

How to answer
Think how the employer defines success, says Claire Jenkins, founder of 121 Interview Coaching. It’s not
easy, but see if you can unearth the key performance indicators (KPIs) and other targets the employer
considers as measures of excellence and success. “These may be broader than tangible numbers. They
could be about reputation management or avoiding criticism, winning awards, market recognition, extended
or renewed contracts.”

Your answer should then describe the actions you’ll take to help the employer achieve those measures.
Where possible, describe relevant examples from your current role.

Prepare for this question alongside question 13. What would you do in the first month in the job?, which is
essentially the same question, but set within a timeframe.

If you flip things around, and you pose this question to the employer, you have a good opportunity to learn
more about the job. “Candidates should always remember that a job interview is a conversation and asking
good questions is crucial,” says Abby Blackmore, head of operations at Impero.

How not to answer


Many candidates make the mistake of overpromising, which can damage your credibility.

As with question What would you do in the first month in the job? (question 13), don’t suggest metrics that
are too easy or impossible to achieve.

Likewise, don’t focus only on your previous role. Instead, describe how everything you have learned
throughout your career will enable you to deliver results in the role you’re applying for.

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

10. Tell me an achievement you are proud of


What the employer wants to know
Alan Andrews, HR manager for KIS Finance (https://www.kisbridgingloans.co.uk/about-us/), says an
employer asks this question to find out what you consider as important, and what your priorities are. He
says these show whether you’d fit in and how well you’d perform.

Kathleen McLeary, HR manager at Blue Digital, adds: “This question is designed to find out more about you
and what makes you tick.”

Clare Keith, resourcing manager at Mamas & Papas, agrees: “As a business you’re not just recruiting
someone to do that role, you’re looking for a personality. You want a rounded individual. If someone
describes a challenge that shows resilience, such as completing an enduring fitness challenge or a
charitable accomplishment that demonstrates a strong social and ethical conscience, this stands them in
good stead.”

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How to answer
“Reciting academic or obvious work achievements are not the best answers – they won’t distinguish you
from the crowd,” says Claire Croft, who works in HR for Asos. “Say something that speaks about your
aspirations and values. Organising a sport or fundraising event, taking part in a race, or learning and using
a new language or musical instrument are good examples.”

Again, try to marry your selected achievement with skills and behaviours that are pertinent for the job,
advises James Shaikh, hiring manager at EY. “This is a great opportunity to highlight the strengths that you
will bring to the role on your own terms.”

Work-based achievements are rarely recognised with an award or celebration, so it’s easy to lose track of
them or forget them entirely. If you don’t keep a record of your work achievements, you might recall some
by:

Looking at your last appraisal.


Asking colleagues for feedback.
Reviewing your work emails to find examples of recognition from your line manager or clients.
You’ll strengthen your answer by spelling out how your achievement benefited your employer.

For the best answers, use the STAR interview technique (http://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/how-to-handle-
competency-based-interview-questions/#star-interview-technique) – situation, task, action and result. To
learn more about the STAR technique, read our How to handle competency-based interview questions
(http://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/how-to-handle-competency-based-interview-questions/) guide.

How not to answer


Don’t pick anything that isn’t relevant to the role – or something that isn’t a big achievement, says Claire
Jenkins, founder of 121 Interview Coach.

Do not be dishonest. Your claims will likely be fact-checked as part of the reference process.

“Don’t be afraid to be proud of something you’ve done. Confidence is achievable without being cocky,” says
Abby Blackmore, head of operations at Impero.

This question is also phrased as…


What is your greatest achievement?
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Tell me about your biggest achievement.
What are you most proud of?

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

11. Why should we hire you?


What the employer wants to know
The important part of this question is ‘you’. That’s who the employer is interested in.

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“What makes you valuable to the business? What are you motivated by?” says Claire Keith, resourcing
manager at Mamas & Papas.

See also: 4. What can you bring to the company?, 6. What are your strengths? and 12. What can you for us
that other candidates can’t?

How to answer
Answering a question like this means explaining your unique selling points (USPs) in particular, says Lisa
LaRue, career coach and founder of CareerWorx.

Typical USPs include:

You’re trained in using a particular tool, application or service.


Your current employer has put you on management training.
You’re certified or possess a renowned qualification.
You’re trained in health and safety or first aid.

“Use questions like this to go beyond simply listing your skills and really demonstrate the research you’ve
done on the company and the role requirements. Talk about how your specific skills can make a difference
to the company and the challenges it faces,” says Kim Whitfield, head of resourcing at M&S.

Stefan Larsen, senior HR business partner at totaljobs, says this question gives you the opportunity to
deliver your elevator pitch. “Have this snappy summary up your sleeve. Imagine you are stuck in an
elevator with the hiring manager – you should be able to easily pitch yourself with the key points you’d want
to make.”

How not to answer


Whatever you do, don’t say “I don’t know.”

Although you need to sell yourself, avoid answers that sound arrogant. Lay out the facts rather than
bragging about your skills and experience.

Avoid clichés, too. “Don’t say you are passionate about the job. It’s a very overused term that doesn’t really
tell me anything. Try not to use generalist terms that could refer to anything in life, not just this role,” advises
Alison Clay, careers advisor at the University of Sheffield.

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

12. What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?


What the employer wants to know
According to Kathleen McLeary, HR manager at Blue Digital, employers ask this question to:

Understand your character.


See if you’re negative about others.
See if you focus on yourself.
Find out whether or not you can cope under the pressure the question puts you under.
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See also: 4. What can you bring to the company?, 6. What are your strengths? and 11. Why should we hire
you?

How to answer
The employer is interviewing people who they believe could do the job, so make sure you stand out, says
John Lees, author of Knockout Interview. “It could be you have combination of skills, or have done a similar
role.”

Ask yourself: “What do I have to offer that others don’t?” says Claire Jenkins, founder of 121 Interview
Coaching. “Make a list of your strengths and take a note of them into the interview with you.”

These can be technical or behavioural skills, suggests Stefan Larsen, senior HR business partner at
totaljobs. “You might be someone who excels at leading a team, or has impact and influence at an
executive level. Focus on these and come to the interview armed with examples of the way you have
applied these and the measurable result.”

Where possible, provide numbers to illustrate the outcomes of your actions.

If you’re struggling to come up with an example, try to think of a time at a previous job where you exceeded
your manager’s expectations.

How not to answer


Don’t make flimsy promises like “I’ve got loads of potential” or “I’ll give this job 110%.”

Provide tangible examples of your skills or experiences. For example, don’t say: “I go above and beyond
what’s required.” Do say: “On project X, I went above and beyond what was required in Y and Z ways.”’

Don’t be negative about the employer you’re interviewing for, such as pointing out lots of their flaws. Avoid
being negative about your current employer, too.

This question is also phrased as…


Why are you suitable for the job?
Why should we hire you?

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

13. What would you do in the first month in the job?


What the employer wants to know
The employer wants to know if you’ve considered what you’d like to achieve in the role.

They’ll want to establish whether you understand what would be required of you, and how you’d contribute
to the organisation.

Employers also use this question to weed out candidates who aren’t serious about getting the job.

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See also 9. What would an excellent performance look like in this role?

How to answer
“The key is to show you understand the scope and nature of the role and industry and to reassure the
interviewer that you’re up for the challenge,” says Lisa LaRue, career coach and founder of CareerWorx.

Prepare some example goals, each with a timescale for completion. Ensure both the goals and the
timescales are realistic.

Goals could be personal, for your team, the business function or for the business as a whole.

“When you outline your vision, demonstrate the experience and knowledge you will bring but also ensure
that you are open minded enough to learn from, and react positively to, the team that you are about to join,”
says James Shaikh, recruitment manager at EY. “As professionals we often wish to make our mark as
quickly as we can. However, it’s important to respect the established working practice of your new team
enough to learn the history and evolution first.”

Don’t claim you’ll make an immediate impact. Savvy employers recognise new hires can only begin to have
a meaningful impact in their second or third months in the role. The first month is often spent getting up to
speed.

Make your answer specific to the job you’ve applied for.

If you’re applying for a project management role, your first main goal might be to complete your first project
within the first three months.

For an office manager, your goal in the first week could be to learn the department’s main systems and
processes.

Maximise your research on the employer. For example, if they’re about to bring a new product to market,
relate your goals to the launch.

Stefan Larsen, senior HR business partner at totaljobs, says using a presentation is one of the best ways of
communicating your planned impact. “If you can say you have a presentation prepared that you would like
to take them through, it would definitely make you stand out.”

Those applying for managerial and senior roles should include their goals for the second year in the role.
Such foresight signals your your commitment and loyalty, and underscores your strategic thinking.

How not to answer


Don’t make up something on the spot. Prepare examples in advance.

Don’t make overly ambitious claims, such as ‘I can turnaround this poorly performing department in two
weeks.’

Finally, as with all questions, don’t say “I don’t know.” You won’t get the job with that kind of answer,
because it indicates to the employer that you don’t care or that you’re not capable.

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This question is also phrased as…


What would you do in the first week in the job?
What would you do in the first year in the job?

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

14. What kind of environment do you like best?


What the employer wants to know
The employer wants to know if you would fit with their organisational culture and working conditions. That
includes:

Fitting in with the team.


Demographics and personalities of existing employees.
Working hours.
Work ethic.
The style of the workplace (especially relevant for office jobs).

The employer isn’t looking for a perfect match – just a good one. They’re mindful of offering the job to
someone who wouldn’t enjoy working with them.

Equally, you shouldn’t accept a job somewhere you know you won’t be happy.

Do your research before the interview to get a good grasp of the employer’s culture and environment. Abby
Blackmore, head of operations at Impero, says you shouldn’t hesitate to ask the employer about it during
interview: “Candidates should always remember it’s a two-way conversation. It’s important to make sure the
company’s culture fits them as much as they fit the company. That will make for a successful and happy
candidate.”

How to answer
Be honest about who you are, and what you want.

“Candidates should not take a position where they know they will be unhappy, so it is not a terrible thing to
be completely honest. If they don’t want to hire you then they won’t – and it means you’re not a good fit,”
says Katherine Burik, founder of The Interview Doctor.

As Claude Littner, star of The Apprentice, says: “It’s very important to do your research and to try and
understand a bit more about the culture of the company. It’s one thing to know about the facts of the
company but another to know what the culture is like. Is it made up of very relaxed, young trendy people? Is
it a bit more formal, a bit more old fashioned? You’ve got to try and make sure that in the same way they’re
trying to offer you a job, you’re comfortable working in that environment.”

When you research a potential employer, be sure to consider what it’s like to work there (see also 2. What
do you know about the organisation? and 3. Why do you want to work for us?).

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Gain an insight into its culture by visiting the company’s website, social media pages, and LinkedIn profiles
of its current employees. It’s also a good idea to search online for videos of the offices. If you know any
current employees, see if you can speak to them.

If you think you’d be a good fit, spell out in your answer how your personality matches with the employer’s
culture.

How not to answer


Don’t lie to yourself or to the employer. If at interview the employer tells you about their work environment,
and you know straight away that it wouldn’t suit you, say so. The interview might very well end there, so
politely thank the interviewer for their time. They’ll be grateful for your honesty.

It’s a mistake to repeat the employer’s website description of their work environment. Word-for-word
repetition will be obvious to the interviewer and they’ll be left with the impression that you’re not being
honest.

Don’t focus on any negatives about the employer’s environment, for example the dated design of the
building or lack of meeting rooms. In all likelihood these are things that frustrate your interviewers, and they
don’t want to hear about it.

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

15. What’s your dream job?


What the employer wants to know
This is one of the hardest common interview questions to answer.

Not only do you need to answer the question that’s explicitly asked, but you’ve also got to answer any
implied questions such as ‘What’s your career path?’

Claire Keith, resourcing manager at Mamas & Papas, says: “I need to understand, has the candidate
logically thought about the steps they take to get to their end career goal.”

Other implied questions include:

What are your aspirations?


Do your aspirations align with the opportunities this employer can provide?
Would you fit in with the employer’s culture?
How motivated are you for this job?
How happy would you be in this job?

Employers like this question because it tests candidates by putting them under pressure. It often reveals
candidates who are unlikely to be loyal in the short to medium term. It’s not about trying to trip candidates
up. It’s about getting beyond prepared and rehearsed answers, to really find out what candidates want.

How to answer
Talk about:
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The skills you possess, and how they meet the needs of the employer.
Those skills you want to develop, and how this role will enable you to develop them.
The ideals and ideas that motivate you, and how the employer is striving for them.
Your areas of passion or interest, and how this role will help you engage with them.
Your values and how well they align with those of the employer.

One trick is to talk about the nature of your dream job, rather than a specific job title. “For example, perhaps
it’s working as part of a high-performing team or with a progressive company. Think about what’s important
to you and describe how your dream job aligns with this,” says Lisa LaRue, career coach and founder of
CareerWorx.

Stefan Larsen, senior HR business partner at totaljobs, says that it’s ok to have high aspirations at an early
stage in your career, as long as you can show you’re considering your career path. “You could say: ‘This job
that I’m currently interviewing for is absolutely perfect in regards to giving me the skills and experience
required for the career path I’m on’.”

In this case, spell out how the role you’re applying for will help you grow in ways that’ll support your chosen
career path.

“It’s important to have some kind of relevance for jobs in the industry that you’re interviewing for. Whether it
be in the technology or finance field, it’s important to link that dream job to the industry that you’re applying
for,” adds Larsen.

How not to answer


Avoid picking a dream job that doesn’t exist.

You should avoid straying too far from the role you’re applying for. “Don’t create a picture so far removed
from the job you’re applying for that it is unrealistic. List some key areas instead that your dream job would
involve that marry up well with the job you are applying for,” says Katie Casserly, careers advisor at the
University of Sheffield.

Don’t mention anything that could compromise your position if offered the job, such as working for a
competitor, setting up your own business or travelling the world.

Don’t describe the job you’re applying for, because it’ll sound like you lack drive. The same applies to your
current job, as apart from sounding weird, it’ll give the impression that you won’t settle in the role you’re
applying for.

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

16. What motivates you?


What the employer wants to know
The employer wants to know if you’ll be driven to do a good job.

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“This is an important question because it allows a prospective employer to understand you, and also gauge
if your motivations fit the culture of the organisation,” says Stefan Larsen, senior HR business partner at
totaljobs.

Abby Blackmore, head of operations at Impero, feels strongly about this question: “This is a question I think
every employer should ask in every interview. It’s a core element to people… Employers should continue to
ask this question of their staff no matter how long they’ve been with the company. If the motivation isn’t
there, the job performance will begin to flag and the candidate’s enthusiasm will dwindle. We want to keep
employees happy and motivated, so they continue to learn and grow in their job roles for years to come,
creating a good relationship with longevity and trust between the two parties.”

How to answer
“By the interview stage, you should have a good understanding of the role you have applied for and be able
to identify what it is the employer is looking for,” explains Lisa LaRue, career coach and founder of
CareerWorx.

It’s important to get across that your skills, experience and personality match the role.

If you’ve done your research and you have a good grasp of the employer’s mission, then you’ll find it easier
to match your motivations with the role.

“Consider the role that you are applying for and which areas genuinely provide you with job satisfaction.
This should help you understand and craft the best answer,” says Larsen.

“For example, if the employer is seeking a ‘self-starter who thrives in a target-driven environment’ it’s
essential you talk about how you are motivated by targets and love the freedom of being able to use your
initiative to deliver results,” adds LaRue, career coach and founder of CareerWorx.

Prepare some examples that centre around how you derive job satisfaction.

“Prepare high-energy stories, which capture roles that have motivated you in the past. If your style is
naturally quiet and downbeat, rehearse replies that have more uplift,” says John Lees, author of Knockout
Interview.

“If you have a passion for meeting new people and you’re going for a customer-facing role, we will see that
as a positive as this is something that is required to be a good candidate,” says Kathleen McLeary, HR
manager at Blue Digital.

A good approach is to describe the goals you’d target in the role you’re interviewing for. The same goes for
questions 9. What would an excellent performance look like in this role? and 13. What would you do in the
first month in the job?

How not to answer


Avoid mentioning financial motivations like salary or other perks of the job. They’re a given, no matter the
job (see also 19. What are your salary expectations?).

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Don’t describe anything that could be interpreted as being counter-productive to the team, or overly
competitive against others in the company. An obvious exception is competition within a sales team.

This question is also phrased as…


What are your career aspirations or goals?
Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years’ time?
^^^ Table of contents ^^^

17. If you were an animal what would you be?


What the employer wants to know
“If you are asked an odd question that feels unrelated to the role, just remember it is more likely that they
want to gauge how you respond rather than what the answer is – approach it with honesty and a light
touch,” says Kim Whitfield, head of resourcing at M&S.

Offbeat interview questions such as this can often be difficult to answer. They’re typically used to assess
how a candidate handles pressure, their levels of initiative, and how they respond to being put outside their
comfort zone.

Other examples of wacky interview questions include:

Which three items would you take with you to Mars?


Sell me this pen.

How to answer
You might wonder ‘how on earth do I prepare for a question that?’. However according to John Lees, author
of Knockout Interview, it is possible. “Strangely enough there are ways. It’s almost like the way comedians
prepare for hecklers – having internal lines memorised that can get you out of difficulty.”

Part of good interview preparation is learning how to tell good stories aloud, particularly ones the interviewer
doesn’t already know.

“It’s just as good to say ‘that’s a really interesting question, I’m sure you get a lot of interesting answers. Off
the top of my head I could probably think of…’ That’s a simple construct that buys you 10 seconds of
thinking time, and flatters the interviewer, as well as showing that you’re not completely like a rabbit in the
headlights,” says Lees.

Once you’ve bought yourself some thinking time, you should be able to pick an animal that reflects some of
your key strengths or traits. Here’s an example: “I’m a bit like a sheepdog, I focus on rounding up the team
to meet a particular goal. I’m a quick learner, as well as being friendly and adaptable.”

Kathleen McLeary, HR manager at Blue Digital, says: “We want to see how you would react to an odd
question. We are looking at your thought process and creativity. It doesn’t really matter which animal you
choose, but it is how you explain the qualities and how it fits into the role.”

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A perfect answer would explicitly reference your professional strengths (see also 6. What are your
strengths?)

How not to answer


The worst response is to say nothing or fail to take the question seriously.

The interviewer is looking for you to think on your feet. So, whatever animal you pick, you need to justify
your answer by tying it back to the skills needed for the job.

Claire Keith, resourcing manager at Mamas & Papas, says: “For me, candidates should also avoid the cute
stuff. Think about the characteristics of an animal and the synergies between the behaviours you exhibit
within the workplace environment. Are you like a lion – strategic and patient?”

Don’t give an answer that suggests you have negative personality traits.

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

18. Describe your character in under 30 words


What the employer wants to know
An employer uses this question to find out if you’re self-aware.

Self-awareness is a positive professional trait. Self-aware people are typically open to feedback and
professional development.

The question also tests your ability to summarise a large volume of complex information in a very limited
amount of words.

As with all challenging interview questions, an employer will observe your voice and body language, since
they’ll indicate how well you cope under pressure.

How to answer
Describe the skills and competencies that make you a perfect fit for the role, advises Kim Whitfield, head of
resourcing at M&S.

You could mention: punctuality, work ethic, team-working skills, interpersonal skills.

John Lees, author of Knockout Interview, provides this example of a good answer:

‘From what I can see, you need a combination of an analytical thinker and someone who is good at
handling clients. That’s how I was described in my last appraisal.’

In your response, stick to two or three traits at the most. To make your answer credible, back up each trait
with an example of a situation where you called upon it, and the end result, advises Stefan Larsen, senior
HR business partner at totaljobs.

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The short word count makes it important to use every word effectively, says Marissa Sanders, graduate
recruitment manager at law firm Irwin Mitchell. “Be creative, but use full sentences rather than a list of
attributes.”

Think about all the skills and competencies you’ll bring to the role (see 6. What are your strengths?).

Consider adding a weakness, but be sure to include how you plan to address it, as in question 5. What are
your weaknesses?

How not to answer


Don’t mention negative traits that would impair your ability to do the job.

“This question delves into how you are perceived within the team and by your peers and manager,” says
Jemma Rawlins, associate director at Hudson HR Recruitment. “It can sometimes uncover other issues that
might not have come to light previously about the relationship with your manager, or your reasons for
leaving.”

This question is also phrased as…


How would your friends describe you?
What would your colleagues or friends say are your best qualities?
What would your boss say about you?

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

19. What are your salary expectations?


What the employer wants to know
The employer wants to find out if your salary expectations match the salary they have in mind for this role.

If your expectation is too high for the budget available for the role, this could put you out of the running.

If your expectation is too low, this could leave the interviewer questioning your suitably for the role, in
regards to your level of experience.

How to answer
Unless the interviewer brings it up, you should avoid getting into salary negotiations in the interview, as it’s
best discussed at the point of a job offer.

However, some employers feel the need to address the subject at interview says Kathleen McLeary, HR
manager at Blue Digital. “We understand this can be a sensitive question, but we need to understand if we
are both on the same page.”

To cover this scenario, ensure you have a salary number in mind.

To determine the right number, research the average rate for this type of role within the particular industry.

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The totaljobs Salary Checker (https://www.totaljobs.com/salary-checker/salary-calculator) is a useful tool


that allows you to easily compare the average salary for a role, across UK locations, disciplines and
industries. By entering your location and job title, the tool reveals the average salary, and the highest and
lowest rates based on recent totaljobs job advertisements.

It’s also worth browsing job ads (https://www.totaljobs.com/jobs) on totaljobs for the role you’re applying for.

When figuring out the average rate for your chosen role, be sure to take into account how salaries vary
across regions, and how some salaries are complemented by strong benefits packages (for example, a
company phone, gym membership, pension schemes and bonus compensation).

In some cases, it’s worth pushing the question back to the employer; ‘What value would the company put on
this role and responsibilities?’.

Lisa LaRue, career coach and founder of CareerWorx, adds that you should be clear on your salary
expectations. “If, for example, you are happy with a salary equal to or greater than your current one, let
them know. If landing the job is more important that the salary, don’t be afraid to let them know.”

How not to answer


Don’t under or overestimate what you’re worth, says Alison Clay, careers advisor at the University of
Sheffield.

Don’t give away more than you need to about your current or desired salary, or ask others in the room about
their remuneration.

If the employer steers the conversation to salary negotiation, and there’s no way of avoiding it, never use
your personal finances as reasoning for your salary expectations. That includes credit card debt, student
loan payments and child maintenance payments.

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

20. Do you have any questions for us?


What the employer wants to know
Many employers ask this question because they simply want to give you fair opportunity to find out more
about them. Others ask because their HR department requires them to do so.

This question also gives employers one final opportunity to gauge your interest in the role and to assess
your critical thinking skills.

How to answer
This question is a great way to open up a discussion, says Renu Gundala, recruitment team lead at Oxfam
UK.

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“You could ask about the industry in general, such as ‘what are the biggest challenges you’re experiencing?’
or ask for more information about the potential role. Good questions will explore not just how the company
operates, but also give a flavour of whether you are a good fit for that environment.”

Many candidates wonder ‘what questions should I ask in an interview?’ Open-ended questions are better
than ones that require yes or no answers. You could ask questions around:

The company or department.


Organisational culture.
The team you’d be joining.
The challenges you may face in the first month.
The future direction of the company.
What the company is doing to beat competitors.
What a typical day would be like.
Why the role has become available.

John Lees, author of Knockout Interview, suggests you also prepare three to five key points based on the
role and your skills.

“If you have outstanding points that you’d like to convey, ask ‘before I ask my questions to you, may I tell
you about this one thing we haven’t discussed yet?’”

This ensures that your key skills and strengths are given the airtime you need.

Examples of good interview questions to ask


What would you expect me to achieve in the first several months?
What is the department’s biggest challenge at this time?
In your opinion, what do you see as the greatest challenge to this organisation’s future growth?
How would you describe the ideal employee?
What type of training does the company provide?
What are the current goals of the department?
How soon are you looking for someone to start?
I’m really interested in this job. When can I expect to hear back from you?

How not to answer


The most important thing is that you’ve prepared a shortlist of questions, as not preparing any shows a lack
of enthusiasm for the role and company.

“Don’t ask questions you could discover yourself, or ones that sound as if you‘re being sniffy about the role.
For example, ask how the role will develop or how quickly you can progress,” explains Lees.

Don’t stick rigidly to your list of pre-prepared questions. If one has already been answered earlier in the
interview, don’t ask it.

And make sure you don’t take up the interviewer’s time by asking too many!

Also, don’t discuss pay until they’ve shown you a job offer, say Lees. “You can say ‘I’m applying for jobs in X
pay range’, but don’t get into the nitty gritty of salary negotiations.”
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Questions to avoid include:

Asking about lunch breaks, holiday allowance, etc.


Basic questions which should have already been covered in your research, job description or person
specification.
Irrelevant or silly questions, such as where the bathroom is or the company’s policy on office pets.
Questions that are too personal or gossipy.

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

Common interview questions do’s and don’ts


1. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Preparation is key to landing the job. “My tip is to do an analysis of
yourself before the interview,” says Renu Gundala, recruitment team lead at Oxfam UK. “Sit down and
identify your strengths and weaknesses specified in the job description. A good job advert will give
you a starting point.
2. This will tell you a lot about your capability and how strong a candidate you are for the role.”
3. Be honest. Any lies are likely to be caught out when the employer contacts your references.
4. Wherever possible, match your skills with those the employer is looking for.
5. Whenever you say you have a skill, describe a situation in your work history that demonstrates you
possess it or how you developed it.
6. Make a good first impression with positive and confident body language.
7. Do your homework on the people you will meet, the company, culture and the role, to confirm your
interest to the potential employer and better tailor your answers.
8. Have a list of five key points you’d like to convey during the interview. If you don’t get an opportunity
to raise them during the main part of the interview, cover them at the end.
9. Have a selection of pre-prepared strengths and weaknesses. Make sure your strengths are relevant
to the role, and the weaknesses include competencies that you are working to improve. Avoid clichés.
10. Be prepared to be tested with difficult interview questions and pushed on areas you would rather
avoid on your CV. Have answers memorised in advance.
11. Think about what you want to achieve in this role and to what timelines.
12. Use the right amount of detail in your responses – about two minutes’ worth of speaking for each
answer.
13. Make sure you have some well-planned questions for the interviewer, so you don’t fall down at this
important final hurdle.

^^^ Table of contents ^^^

Find a Job
Job title, skill or company

Town, city or postcode

10 miles Search

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(https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/author/charlotteseager/)

About the author: Charlotte Seager


Charlotte Seager is editor of The Guardian careers desk and a freelance writer.

View Charlotte's other posts

39 Comments

(All comments have to be approved before they appear)

Theresa Weafer
Sun, 27 May, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-312728)
I enjoyed reading the article. I recently had a telephone interview for a travel advisor job. I was
called to be interviewed there and then. But had to be interviewed by phone later. I was a bit
shocked to hear from them. I was prepared as she called. But because I love the career of
travel advisor I do feel I was too happy and bubbly with my replies. I Thom k I’ve let myself
down. ☹
Reply

dave
Sun, 27 May, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-312731)
some great tips here
and some pitfalls if you are an engineering professional
you have to be aware the interviewer has probably got a mindset of what he can get
Reply

Angelito Deiparine
Sun, 12 Aug, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-313669)
Yes iwill acccept any interview any question or answer
Reply

salman khan

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10/10/2019 20 most common interview questions (and how to answer them) | Totaljobs

Sun, 12 Aug, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-questions/#com


313670)
I want to do a good job for my boss that he is happy and his company has profits and all of me.
Reply

MICHAEL
Sun, 12 Aug, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-313671)
I read the article by halfway through it I could not stop yawning .im glad im not desperate for
employment as all these pointers that you gave would have overwhelmed me and I would have
stayed in bed and watched Jeremy kyle.
Reply

loretta kenny
Sun, 12 Aug, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-313674)
Thanks James for sending me this article ,it has been really helpful ,and it’s going to give
something to learn for my future end goal , a job . Loretta Kenny
Reply

Reetsang Modisaemang
Mon, 13 Aug, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-313676)
I have learned more, how to answer questions. I’m ready to write interview, and I’m prepared to
work as waiter. Thanks
Reply

Paul Bacchus
Mon, 13 Aug, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-313678)
This advice is pure gold bust,
and 100 times more valueable
getting a job now days is a job
in its self and it pays to do your
home work. Thank you for posting this.
Paul Bacchus esq
Reply

Wendy

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Tue, 14 Aug, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-questions/#com


313683)
A very useful and comprehensive document which I will read over and over in preparation of ho
some forthcoming interviews.
Reply

Susan C Coston
Wed, 15 Aug, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-313690)
I found this article pretty interesting, personally, I have actually been asked some of these
questions, and a couple of your suggested replies beat mine !
Reply

Jackson Udeh
Wed, 15 Aug, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-313696)
This is simply brilliant, I’m well equipped for any job interview, many thanks for posting.
Reply

mehran khan
Tue, 21 Aug, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-313754)
i wish to bring motivation in our field
Reply

Sarah
Sun, 30 Sep, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-313985)
Very useful for a interview and preparation on how to handle a interview.
Reply

Nigel
Mon, 1 Oct, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-313993)
Excellent article, summarising much of the advice I have previously found useful. My main
difficulty is in fitting my answers into the time available. So practice with a friend and sharpen
up your answers sussinctly.
Reply

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Ali
Mon, 24 Dec, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-questions/#c
314336)
True that . I also have the same feelings .
Reply

Mike Gee
Mon, 1 Oct, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-313995)
I found this very useful and learnt a lot. I have a chequered past including gaps in employment
and a criminal record ( including 9 months in prison on remand). I am a different person now
but middle aged. So can I lie on a CV? I cannot think of any other way to explain the gaps in
employment. I managed to get hold of my criminal record via ACRO and thought I did not have
to mention being remanded. Yet I have since found out that if you have 2 or more convictions ,
you have to be upfront about disclosure? Any advise would be very much appreciated.
Reply

Aunty
Sun, 11 Nov, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-314171)
You do have to mention time on remand but not if it’s in the “spent” category. Spent
convictions depend on what your sentence was and how long ago. The government’s website
has clear guidelines about when it’s spent. That said an enhanced disclosure can mention
spent convictions if it’s relevant to the job. Pay for your own disclosure to see what they
reveal and then tailor your job search around that. For example I have two convictions for
fraud so I’d be mad to look for a job in finance. An employer wouldn’t want me and I could lay
myself open to allegations or suspicion.
Some jobs don’t need a disclosure and while they may not be the best paid work it’s a good
way to show people you really do want to turn your life around. If you need a disclosure for a
better job it can show you’ve done the ground work to gain people’s trust again. I’ve never got
a job when I was honest about my convictions so don’t mention them unless you absolutely
have to. A criminal record can be an advantage, for example, if you want to work with ex
offenders because it gives you a unique insight. Doing a training course can show you are
serious about changing your life too. If you aren’t having a lot of success think about self
employment. You don’t need a lot of money to set up a window cleaning round or tidy up
gardens for older people. It’s up to you to find a way round problems instead of being
defeated by them. Best of luck.
Reply

Catherine
Sun, 21 Oct, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-314072)

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10/10/2019 20 most common interview questions (and how to answer them) | Totaljobs

I read through everything and some points didn’t seem to apply to my situation but other points
where really helpful so I’m going to use them when I attend my next interview and hopefully it
will increase my chances
Reply

christianah
Mon, 22 Oct, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-314076)
Wow, thank you for this write-up and with this, I can face any interview now without any panic.
Thanks a lot.
Reply

Saud siddiqui
Mon, 17 Dec, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-314309)
Wow great… Very Help full. Thank you.
Reply

Clementine
Mon, 17 Dec, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-314311)
I’m havin’ interviews on this same week,Thursday and Saturday…. Right now I’m pretty sure
that I’ll get them both because of this article..its really helpful
Reply

Ahmad
Mon, 24 Dec, 2018 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-314337)
Nice post
Reply

Andy
Mon, 7 Jan, 2019 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-314397)
Extremely useful and great for preparation..
Reply

Isaac

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Tue, 15 Jan, 2019 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-questions/#com


314416)
The only thing that bothers me is saying my weaknesses as I think it would put them off. I’m qui
hard to stick up for myself and cant speak up when there’s lots of people
Reply

connie
Thu, 28 Feb, 2019 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-314584)
Very helpful information.
Thank you so much!!!
Reply

Sabby
Wed, 16 Jan, 2019 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-314419)
The “Why do you want to work for us?” is a very common question that most applicants tend
fail answering properly and you’re spot-on that it should be answered focusing on the
employer’s needs. This is an excellent post Charlotte. Here’s also a good-read article that has
some nice tips on how to stand out during job interviews: https://www.freesumes.com/seven-
ways-stand-job-interview (https://www.freesumes.com/seven-ways-stand-job-interview). Your
readers might find it interesting. Regards
Reply

Ivor Cuders
Sun, 24 Feb, 2019 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-314566)
Why do we need a guide. Just be honest and say what you feel. That way you do not get
tripped up later on in the job. If you have to twist your answers to get the job then you are not
job matched.
Reply

Lola
Mon, 25 Feb, 2019 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-314575)
Very interesting and useful.
Thank You
Reply

Mary Latimer
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10/10/2019 20 most common interview questions (and how to answer them) | Totaljobs

Thu, 11 Apr, 2019 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-questions/#com


314774)
I am 79 yrs and despite having worked since 15 yrs – retd nurse/care manager/graduate counse
skills/private care/leisure & social co-ordinator in care home. Applying for a position in care hom
for leisure & social needs as still got the drive and mental/physical energy, spanning over 64 yea
updating with new ways and new ideas, still learning and never feel I have nothing more to learn
found your whole article invaluable. Never to old to learn – an old adage and true.
Reply

Colin Sworder
Sun, 14 Apr, 2019 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-314786)
The purpose of an interview is to establish the truth about an individual, thereby enabling a
decision to be made using as much objectivity as possible. Subjectivity, as with first
impressions, should be treated with extreme caution. This is how to achieve success in
recruitment.
Tell me about yourself? is a time waster, the real reply being: ‘ I prepared my CV with care to
focus it on the advertisement. Are you telling me that you have not read it?
Unless the vacancy is for a Board appointment, no outsider can know the real goals of a
department within the organisation, nor the culture, nor the politics or receptiveness to change.
The CEO and Chairman’s annual and1/4ly report statements plus an analysis of the accounts
can be revealing. However, the real reply to why do you want to work here is ‘Because your job
advert attrected me for the following reasons…’ Any other response is likely to be a
speculation.
What are your weaknesses is a cop out question. because the interviewer does not know how
to establish these, and likewise the strengths of the candidate.
It is the interviewer’s task to establish suitability, not the candidate’s to speculate on what the
organisation wants.
I know this from 24 year’s recruitment consulting, incidentally with only one hire which did not
go well.
Enjoy!
Reply

Serban
Mon, 10 Jun, 2019 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-314984)
Straight to the point! The recruiters clichees are so stupid sometimes…
Reply

shanthi
Mon, 15 Apr, 2019 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-314804)
its realy helpfull thank you for sending
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10/10/2019 20 most common interview questions (and how to answer them) | Totaljobs

shanthi
Reply

kungfu
Sat, 4 May, 2019 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-314876)
My Mottor is “delivery on time with great quality. Meet customer’s quality as they want”.
Reply

kungfu
Sat, 4 May, 2019 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-314877)
The purpose of an interview is to establish the truth about an individual, thereby enabling a
decision to be made using as much objectivity as possible. Subjectivity, as with first
impressions, should be treated with extreme caution. This is how to achieve success in
recruitment.
Reply

king
Wed, 8 May, 2019 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-314888)
Great and very helpful
Reply

Zahra (souzan)
Thu, 9 May, 2019 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-314895)
That’s really helpful, thank you so much for sending.
Reply

parmen nadiradze
Sat, 15 Jun, 2019 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-315019)
thank you very much
Reply

Keneth baikya
Sun, 14 Jul, 2019 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-315086)
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10/10/2019 20 most common interview questions (and how to answer them) | Totaljobs

Thank you very much for creating positive mind’s to job seekers
Reply

Caroline Smith
Fri, 19 Jul, 2019 (https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/most-common-interview-
questions/#comment-315096)
I have a problem. I have had a continuous history of 40 yrs in nhs. Unfortunately I was
dismissed in January this year. The reason was complex- basiscally failure to complete a
performance and capability policy. I did appeal on union reps advice. I was successful in and
reenstated to my job but pending another investigation as original flawed. I have now resigned
but have applied for a job as crisis worker which requires me to be nurse/ midwife which I am.
As part of settlement agreement is a set reference with only facts, length of time etc. What do
you think I should disclose at interview if at all.
Really appreciate comments.
Reply

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