Common Interview Questions

There are certain interview questions that are very common, and will crop up time and time again no matter what sort of job you are going for and at what level. In total there are perhaps 40 - 50 questions that are seem frequently. Here we look at a selection of the ten most common interview questions, with suggested methods on how to approach a good answer to that question.

1 - Why do you want to work for us?

This question is very common so it pays to have a good answer prepared. It is a good opportunity to show that you have done your research on the company and if you can illustrate that you actively picked that company as one you want to work for, then so much the better. Try to pick on three specific things about that company that particularly attracted you to them.

2 - What do you know about us as a company?

Another question that requires research up front, and you should always try to find out as much about a company as you can in advance. With most businesses know having some sort of 'about us' section on their website and larger businesses having fairly extensive press release information on their site and so forth, there is no excuse not to know all the key details about a business before an interview.

3 - Why do you want to leave your current job?

This one can be awkward to answer, because it can be tempting to whinge about your current role if you are disenchanted with it. However rather that cite negative reasons for wanting to move on, stick to positive ones - even if the real reason is that you hate your boss or can't stand your current job. Pick good elements like wanting career progression, fresh challenges and so on...

4 - What experience could you bring to this role?

Assuming you do have lots of experience in this field, then this is a great chance to showcase some of your work to date and how it could benefit this potential employer. So have some key examples of your relevant experience at the front of your mind, as there are certainly going to be questions that will require you to give specific examples such as this. If you are changing career and so don't have ready experience, be honest about this (they'll have read your CV after all) and instead emphasise the general transferable skills you have rather than specific industry or technical know-how that you may lack.

5 - What's your greatest career achievement to date?

Take some time to think before the interview what you are most proud of. Outside the pressure cooker environment of an interview this may be obvious, but if it comes up and you've not thought about it beforehand it can be surprisingly difficult to pick something on the spur of the moment and describe clearly why that particular achievement is the one that stands out most.

6 - Describe your main weakness?

This is one of those annoying questions that comes up time and again. You may suspect the Interviewer is asking it because when they went for a job they had to answer the question and found it uncomfortable so now they are sharing the misery! The best answer to this one is a political answer, state something in such a way so that it is actually a positive in disguise: perhaps you are a workaholic and so struggle to hit the infamous work-life balance. If you do have a genuine weakness you are aware of then you can state it, but so that it does not appear such a big deal.

7 - What do you see as your core strengths?

This is a nice question - you should be well aware of what your strengths are and certainly many people have almost too much material to throw at this question. Therefore you should be careful not to ramble and state your key strengths clearly and concisely, and then explain why you believe that is such a great strength of yours.

8 - Do you prefer working in a team environment or alone?

This is one of those questions where really you should answer both. Certainly you should say that you like working in a team environment as virtually everyone works in an office environment around other people - so if you can't get on with others, you won't be getting the job. However, an ability to work alone is of course also a clear advantage, therefore if you can say that you enjoy working in both capacities then that would seen the sage answer here.

9 - How do you manage your time and workload?

It is tempting to waffle on this answer. Instead try to show that you have a clear methodology that you use to work out how to prioritise workload. You could mention a simple method such as listing projects based on their urgency and importance, and then showing how you use that as a basis to prioritise the order in which to perform each of your many pressing tasks.

10 - How do you look to manage your staff?

If you are applying for a leadership role then this is quite likely to come up, of course it won't if you are applying for a job where there is no management of others required but rather you are at the bottom of a depressingly long chain. You should show that you are a people person, that your staff are important to you, and most importantly of all that you are prepared to make the time to get to know them, address any concerns or issues they have and so forth. A boss who has no time or interest in his or her staff is the worst boss of all, so make it clear that's not you, and that you enjoy helping to develop your staff to enhance their own careers.