Common Interview Questions And How To Answer Them
Boost your confidence by preparing your answers to these common interview questions.
4 Aug 2023
There are certain interview questions that crop up time and again, no matter which role you’re interviewing for. From the classic “what’s your greatest weakness?” to “what attracted you to this company?” and more, we’ll talk you through the best way to structure your responses to these common interview questions.
1) Tell me about yourself
This opening question is a typical icebreaker. The interviewer will be looking for two key things here:
1) A short summary of your work history – First and foremost, the interviewer will want to understand how your skills and experience align with the requirements of the job.
2) A little insight into you as a person – The interviewer will be looking to gauge things like your cultural fit, your self-awareness, and communication skills.
Begin your response with a brief overview of your professional experience. It’s best to keep things concise here, so focus on your most relevant skills, experience and career highlights – rather than a full work history. Tailor your response to show that you’re not only qualified for the job, but are also genuinely interested in the company and its values.
While this question isn’t an invitation to share your life story, the interviewer might prompt you for a bit more information about yourself to help you relax. So use this as your chance to ease into things and let your personality shine through.
2) What’s your greatest strength?
We know this question is pretty cliche, but it’s an incredible opportunity for you to show your suitability for the job. Begin by identifying a strength that aligns closely with the requirements of the role you’re applying for. Then frame your answer with a specific example to show how you’ve used this strength in a previous role. It goes without saying that you should be honest here! Because what you say now might fuel follow-up questions later on in the interview.
3) What’s your greatest weakness?
Now, this can be a tricky one. We know that in an interview, the last thing you want to do is to highlight something you’re not good at! So, you need to tackle this question carefully. We think it’s best to split your answer into two halves:
1) The weakness – This question is all about self awareness. So, you need to pick a legitimate weakness. But, the key is to pick something that is ‘acceptable’ in relation to the job you’re applying for. For example, don’t say you have trouble delegating if you’re applying for a leadership role – because this could be a dealbreaker. You need to be as candid as possible in your answer, without scuppering your chances of getting the job (easy right).
2) The steps you’re taking to correct it – Show the interviewer that you’re trying to grow and develop as a professional by outlining the steps you’re actively taking to improve on your weakness.
Whatever you do, don’t pretend you don’t have a weakness. Because nobody is flawless.
4) Why are you leaving your current job?
This seemingly simple question can carry significant weight. It provides interviewers with insights into your career motivations, work ethic, and potential for long-term commitment. So, you need to tread carefully. You need to strike a delicate balance between honesty and diplomacy here. Our best advice is to:
- Stay positive – Whatever you do, never criticise or complain about your current job or the people you work with. If you vent your frustrations, you may as well stick a giant red flag in the air. Even if you’re running away from a really toxic environment or terrible management, you need to keep your answer professional. So, try to acknowledge the positive aspects (what you’ve learned, the skills you’ve gained etc.)
- Focus on the future – Talk about how you’re looking for a new opportunity that aligns with your aspirations. Your interviewer wants to hear more about why you want to work for them (and less about why you want to leave your existing company), so pick things about your new potential employer that have attracted you and focus your answer on these.
If you’re not sure on what to say, try something like:
“I’ve really appreciated my time in my current job, but I’m ready for my next challenge. I’m keen to expand my skill set and to take on more responsibility.”
Or “I’ve had a great time working with my current team, and I’ve learned a lot, but I’m now looking to work somewhere with a really strong sense of purpose.”
5) How do you handle stress and pressure?
An element of pressure is inevitable in any job, so it’s important to demonstrate your ability to manage it effectively. Discuss specific strategies you’ve used in the past. For example, time management, setting priorities, or seeking help from colleagues. Give some detail on how you used these strategies. For example, if you’re using “priority setting” as your example, you should explain how you identified the most important tasks.
6) Have you interviewed/applied anywhere else recently?
Be honest. If you’re interviewing/applying elsewhere the interviewer needs to know so they can act quickly if they want to hire you.
7) Can you give an example of a mistake you’ve made and how you fixed it?
Everyone makes mistakes, so the interviewer isn’t trying to catch you out here. They just want to see how self aware you are. Before you outline the steps you took to rectify things, it’s important to take accountability for the mistake in the first place. The interviewer will be looking for someone who’s got the courage to own up to their mistakes, so don’t try to shift the blame.
8) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This is a really common interview question so you need to prepare an answer for this one. How you answer this question will depend on whether or not you’ve got a long-term plan:
If you’ve got a long-term plan
Discuss your career goals and how they align with the company’s mission and values. Let the interviewer know how the role you’re applying for fits into that. If you’ve got ambitious plans, that’s great – but don’t be overly confident or cocky because that won’t sit well with the interviewer.
If you don’t have a long-term plan
Don’t panic if you’ve got no idea where you see yourself in 5 years time. It’s totally fine to be unsure, you just need to reassure the interviewer that you’re interested in the job long-term and are keen to keep learning and growing.
Do not (we repeat do not) give an answer that has absolutely nothing to do with the role you’re interviewing for.
9) What attracted you to this company?
Of course the interviewer will be looking for someone who’s a good match for the job. But they’re also looking for someone who’s compatible with the company too. Make sure you study the company thoroughly before your interview to help you answer this question properly. Then mention the specific aspects of the company that align with your values and career goals. If you’re not sure where to begin with your company research, read our blog on how to research a company for an interview.
10) Why should we hire you?
This is your opportunity to show that you’re the best person for the role so you need to give a confident and convincing answer. To answer this question properly, you need to:
- Emphasise your skills and experience – Start with a top line summary of your strengths. Make sure you’ve reviewed the job description thoroughly before the interview so that you can align your response to the role. Remember to mention any unique skills or qualifications that set you apart from other applicants too. Then tie this all back to how you can add value to the team and really make an impact.
- Demonstrate your cultural fit – Your potential employer wants to hire someone who will seamlessly integrate into their company culture. So, this is a great chance to highlight how your personality, work ethic and values align with theirs.
- Show your passion and enthusiasm – The interviewer wants to hire someone who’s genuinely enthusiastic about the opportunity. So make sure you convey just how much you want the job.
11) What’s your biggest achievement?
The interviewer will be looking for evidence of your skills and some insight into your approach to challenges and problem solving abilities here. To give an impactful response, you need to:
- Choose a relevant achievement – You need to pick something that will showcase your relevant skills and qualities, so it’s best to focus on a work-related achievement. If you’re keen to talk about a personal achievement, that’s fine too – so long as your response aligns with the job.
- Highlight your contribution – If your achievement involved working as part of a team, make it clear how your efforts contributed to the achievement and emphasise your unique role. You need to talk about ‘I’ rather than ‘we’ in your response.
- Be quantitative – Use metrics to quantify the impact of your achievement. Numbers provide concrete evidence of your success and will help your interviewer understand the scale of your accomplishment.
Other common interview questions
- How do you handle a difficult or unexpected situation in your work?
- What’s your greatest professional accomplishment?
- How do you manage and prioritise your daily, weekly and monthly activities?
- How did you hear about this position?
- Do you have any questions for me?
The key takeaway here is that preparation is key! If you’re looking for a bit of extra reading on common interview questions, Indeed have got a pretty comprehensive list. Good luck! If you’re still on the hunt for your perfect job opportunity, check out our digital, marketing, and eCommerce jobs today.