Interview Questions You May Be Asked
Interviews can be tricky. You can overthink them, expect certain reactions, find yourself over prepared or worse, be under prepared! Alongside planning questions to ask in your interview, it might be worth thinking about questions you might be asked; after all, there is going to be quite a lot of them. Most interviewers will use the same 20-30 questions time and time again but they’ll each ask them in a different way.
We have outlined our top 10 questions you’re likely to be asked…
- “What can you tell us about [COMPANY NAME]?”
Interviewers like to see how much a candidate has prepared for the interview, and in this case, how much research they’ve done about the company. If you turn up to an interview without knowing a bit about the company, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll impress in the interview.
TIP – Really dig deep into the company. Understand its values, its USP, what makes it different, and finally find out about the owner.
- “Tell us about yourself…”
This is one of the most common questions and tends to be asked at the very beginning of an interview. The interviewer will have had a good read of your CV and maybe a look at your social media profiles to see what you’re like outside of work. This question acts as an open forum for you to describe yourself as a person and a candidate, but keep it short - 2-3 minutes is perfect. Remember, they don’t want to hear your life story; you’re there for an interview, so they’ll be testing your reactions.
TIP – We would suggest structuring your answer like this: a brief outline of your qualifications, relevant work history, why you want to work in this sector and interests outside of work.
- “What are your strengths?”
When you’re asked a question like this, you may fall into the common trap of reeling off a list of adjectives like ‘productive, diligent and efficient’ which won’t interest the person on the opposite side of the table. Simply listing adjectives doesn’t reflect you as a person or show off your personality. They want to know about strengths which you can bring to a particular role.
TIP - We would suggest using three keywords but give reasons on them. For example, ‘I would say one of my biggest strengths is my attention to detail. When delivering a recent project, I was in charge of various elements and had to make sure it was completed within a certain time frame. Each task was tackled with the highest attention to detail so we didn’t have to go over things at a later date.’
- “Tell me about a time you made a mistake”
Interviewers ask questions like this for a couple of reasons. It reveals how you react under pressure and how you may have learnt from a mistake.
TIP – Think about a time you made a mistake at work and then write down why it went wrong, what happened, but most importantly, you need to explain what you learnt from it. What motions/actions did you put into place to make sure you didn’t make that same mistake again?
- “What are your salary expectations?”
This is an awkward one, because we all want to get paid a decent amount of money and some people feel ‘cheeky’ or uncomfortable about proposing a pay level. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be asked this in a first interview, but prepare yourself anyway as you don’t want to end up in a negotiation match before the end of the interview. If they don’t ask, but they schedule you in for a second interview we would suggest asking about salary once the issue is raised.
TIP – If you don’t know how much you should be earning, research similar roles in your area. If you feel you are worth a certain amount, don’t hold back in saying ‘I am looking for a salary between £xx & £xx.’
- “Why should we hire you?”
Selling yourself in an interview is key. If you are already at a senior level in your career, you will most certainly be selling yourself from the offset. However, don’t get complacent; there could be someone out there with your skillset so you have to up your game.
TIP – Don’t forget about your soft skills, such as great communication, positive attitude and teamwork. Look at their business and see what you can bring to the table, from creativity for a design or marketing role, sales experience for a retail position, or working well under pressure as a customer service assistant.
- “Why do you want to leave your current role?”
All companies will ask this. Don’t forget an interview is for them to find out as much as possible from you in that one to two-hour window. Telling them inappropriate stories about your line manager or focusing on negative feedback in general is never a good idea. If you use the same old ‘I’m just looking for a new challenge’, the interviewer will keep on drilling until you say something that sounds authentic.
TIP – Be as honest as you can be, but try not to be negative. You could highlight your passion and drive, for example, by claiming that ‘In such a small team there wasn’t any career progression’.
- “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
Some people struggle with this question as they might not know what they want to do. If this is the case, keep it relevant to the position. The interviewer won’t want to hear about your ambitions to be a hockey player in Iceland. If you do have a clear career path in mind, explain the progression you want and the position you would like within five years.
TIP – Don’t sound arrogant by claiming that you’d like to be company director. This won’t come off great. Alternatively, explain how you hope to progress through the coming years. If you don’t want to advance right up the career ladder, explain how you would like to develop your existing skills to become a more efficient and productive employee in your current role.
- “What motivates you?”
Every single person is motivated by different things. Money could be at the top of your priorities, maybe work culture, providing for your family or career progression. Whatever it is, there isn’t a wrong answer – apart from saying nothing at all! Every manager wants to know what motivates their staff so they know how to get the most out of them.
TIP - Just keep your answer simple and explain your genuine motivations rather than what you think they may want to hear.
- “Do you have any questions?”
This is actually one of the most important questions that you’ll be asked. Once you’ve been asked a stream of questions, this slot is the time for you ask some of your own.
TIP – Be prepared with a handful of questions to ask – never say ‘I don’t have any questions!’ This shows that you are keen, passionate and you really want to find out more.