9 Common Job Interview Questions You Can Expect (With Answers)

Finding success in a job interview is all a matter of preparation, particularly when it comes to establishing your answers to common job interview questions.

In a typical job interview, you’ll be asked a range of questions that test your competency, skills, experience, work ethic and personality. It’s useful to know what interview questions you may experience so that you can present yourself in the best possible way to your potential employers.

In this article, we explore the 9 most common job interview questions and provide sample answers you can use in your next interview.

Common Job Interview Questions

The questions below represent the general queries you might find yourself being asked in nearly any role – regardless of sector or position.

These questions are common because they allow the recruiter or employer to gauge your general experience, personality and ability to handle workplace challenges.

Here are some of the most common job interview questions you may be asked:

1. Tell us about yourself

This is a common opener in a job interview and represents one of the more ‘open-ended’ questions you may find yourself being asked. While this may seem daunting, remember that it’s an opportunity to highlight and reiterate the key points from your CV or cover letter.

Provide a concise overview of your last role and any other roles you’ve had that were relevant to this position, talk about several key achievements and explain why you’re interested in working the role you’ve applied for.

Example: “In my last role as a marketing assistant I learnt a lot about social media and the impact it can have on a marketing campaign. I really enjoy the end-to-end process of organising, researching and scheduling a social media campaign across multiple platforms, which allows me to make use of my creativity and organisational skills. After working in that role for 2 years, I think I’m ready to step up to a role as a social media specialist and start discovering more advanced working methods whilst experiencing a new challenge.”

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2. Why do you want to work here?

This common interview question is generally used to show that you’ve taken the initiative to research the company. You can easily prepare for this question by learning more about the business, its history and its goals – most of which can usually be found on the website.

By demonstrating a willingness to learn more about the business from the outset, you show a degree of dedication, initiative and passion for helping the company succeed. At a time when many businesses want to find an employee that matches the ‘culture’, this is a key thing to highlight.

Example: “I noticed on your website that your business is looking to help people learn more about new affordable home ownership schemes. I think this is a critical issue in the current economy and I’d like to be able to use my skills in marketing to help raise awareness around these useful schemes for those that struggle to get on the property ladder.”

3. What makes you unique?

If you’re applying for a competitive role in a large company, employers want to know what makes you stand out from the crowd. Depending on the role you’re applying for, it’s likely that many candidates will have the same skill set as you as that’s a requirement for the role.

With that in mind, think about the skills – both technical and transferable – that you have that others might not. Where possible, provide examples of how your expanded skill set might help you in specific circumstances.

Example: “What makes me unique for this sales role is that I also have a history of working in customer services. While my previous sales roles have helped me develop confidence in speaking about various products and benefits, customer service skills such as empathy and objection handling help me connect with the potential buyer I’m speaking to. This directly contributes to the success of my sales calls and makes me better at my role.”

4. How would you describe yourself?

In some cases, you may experience this question rather than the traditional ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses’ – both of which tend to catch people out. While talking about yourself can be embarrassing, this is your opportunity to show your ability, professionalism and self-awareness.

Choose several key attributes that you think accurately describe you and your work experience. Once you have these in mind, find an example of when you demonstrated that attribute in a professional setting. By providing an example to back up what you’re saying, you’re able to provide context and evidence for the employer or recruiter.

Example: “I would say that I’m very organised and process-driven in my work. In my last role, I discovered that our team wasn’t working in an optimal way and spent too much time on secondary tasks that were lower priority. I used an automated spreadsheet and time-management tools to highlight these problem areas and presented them back to the team, demonstrating where we might save time and create a more effective workflow.”

5. What motivates you?

Recruiters and employers tend to ask this question to candidates so they can discover what keeps them engaged at work. This is your opportunity to not only demonstrate your enthusiasm for a position but also be honest about what you’re looking to achieve from a role.

While it’s perfectly fine to say that you’re motivated by money or salary – which many of us are – it’s just as important to contextualise that in the form of what you’re looking to achieve. If you want to earn more money, highlight how you plan to do that while also supporting the company and your own personal development.

Example: “I’m motivated by bettering myself in every aspect of my role, as this leads to better success for the company, higher salaries and more opportunities for my personal development. In my previous roles, I’ve always tried to learn as much as I can about the various aspects of marketing, as well as team management, as I have aspirations of being a marketing manager.”

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6. Why are you leaving your current role?

This is a way for employers to gauge what you’re looking for in a new role, rather than an opportunity for you to highlight the shortcomings of your current employer. Regardless of how you left a company, always remain as positive as you can – potential employers will remember your response and use it as a reflection of your working personality.

When answering this question, focus on how your previous employer has helped you reach long-term career goals and what your new employer can provide.

Example: “While my work at my current role has helped me develop my skills as a graphic designer, there isn’t as much room for upwards career progression as I’d like. I have aspirations of being a creative director, which isn’t a position that my current employer maintains. The fact that this role feeds into a creative director caught my attention and I feel that it can help me learn more about that position and provide the foundations for becoming one myself in the future.

7. How do you handle stress / How do you work under pressure?

Stress is not unique to a single position or industry and as such, stress can occur when we least expect it. For employers, it’s important to get an understanding of how an employee may deal with stresses such as upcoming deadlines, external challenges that impact workflow or challenging customers.

If you can demonstrate your ability to handle stress by providing a story or experience, you’re in a better place to provide context for the employer.

Example: “In my last role as a journalist it was common for us to work to tight publishing deadlines. While this was initially hard to adapt to, I found it was useful to use project management software to organise my time effectively and break larger projects down into smaller, easier tasks. By optimising this method and also making use of the talented team around me, I was able to meet each deadline without compromising the quality of my work.”

8. Tell me about a time you faced conflict at work

This is a common behavioural question that measures your ability to remain professional, demonstrate critical thinking and utilise communication skills. The easiest way to answer this question is to take a real-life example and address it in four simple steps:

· What was the situation?
· What was the ideal outcome?
· What actions did you take?
· What were the results?

If you take this approach, it’s easier to break down a scenario for an employer and gives you the opportunity to hit every important point.

Example: “During my time as a marketing assistant I received a call from a major client that my line manager was directly working with. They were unhappy with the level of service they were receiving that month and wanted to cancel their contract.

While my manager wasn’t available at the time, I took the opportunity to speak with them regarding their goals and expectations as well as where they felt we’d underperformed. Once I had the information, I reassured them that I would speak with my manager regarding the issues and create a more tangible plan for making changes.

Once I’d reviewed this with my manager and actioned the changes, we had a much more satisfied customer that changed their decision to cancel.”

9. What are your goals in the future / where do you see yourself in five years?

This is another common interview question that is used by employers to see if you’re looking for a long-term role. While you may not want to stay at the same job for five years, use this opportunity to explain how your long-term plan and the company’s goals align, which can benefit both parties.

If you’re looking to move into a management role, for example, explain this to the employer and demonstrate how you’d use that position to support success alongside your own personal development.

Example: “In the future, I would like to be a marketing manager in charge of multiple channels and departments. While I feel that I’ve built a solid foundation of technical skills, I feel I have a lot to learn about management and the transferable skills that come with that position. Your company stood out to me because you not only push innovative new ways of working but you also offer excellent employee training that can help me achieve my goals.”