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Getting a call back for an interview is a thrilling step forward. However, to truly make an impact, preparation is key. The interview is your prime opportunity to leave a lasting impression on the hiring manager.

Your responses not only showcase your qualifications but also how you align with the company’s values and team dynamics. A pivotal part of your job interview preparation should be acquainting yourself with typical interview questions and formulating concise, relevant answers.

By doing this, you’ll confidently address any inquiries during the interview. Fortunately, many of these questions are predictable. Thus, focus on honing your responses and consider practising with a friend for feedback.

General interview questions and sample answers

General job interview questions are designed to assess your qualifications, experiences, and motivations. While the specific questions may vary depending on the position and company, there are several common ones that are frequently asked.

1. Tell me a bit about yourself.

Instead of delving into personal anecdotes or redundant career details, use this chance to spotlight key achievements. Summarise your career trajectory, emphasising how it aligns with the role you’re seeking.

This isn’t just about recounting your resume; it’s about branding yourself. If you're uncertain about condensing your experiences, focus on industry insights and relevant jargon. Discussing recent industry news and expressing your views on them can demonstrate your enthusiasm and knowledge for the role.

Remember, this question isn’t just about content; it assesses your presentation skills and cultural fit within the company.

Example answer to “Tell me about yourself”

“Over the past six years in the marketing industry, I’ve had the privilege of working with both startups and established brands. I began my journey as a content creator, where I learned the power of storytelling and its impact on brand perception.

“Later, I transitioned into a digital marketing specialist role, where I spearheaded campaigns that increased web traffic by 30% and enhanced our lead generation by 25%.

“One of my most memorable experiences was collaborating with a cross-functional team to launch a product campaign that not only achieved its KPIs but also won an industry award.

“I’m passionate about leveraging data to drive marketing decisions, and I pride myself on staying updated with the latest trends and technologies in our field.

“Outside of work, I enjoy attending marketing seminars and workshops. Continuous learning and networking have always been fundamental to my professional growth. I’m eager to bring my expertise and enthusiasm to your team and contribute to the innovative marketing strategies you’re known for.”

Related: Tell me about yourself: How to answer the dreaded interview question

2. Why do you want to work here?

Hiring managers pose this question to gauge your enthusiasm and understanding of the company and role. To respond effectively, highlight specific aspects of the company and job that attracted you.

Then, connect your strengths and achievements to the role’s requirements. Enhance your answer by researching the company’s online presence and past projects, turning this knowledge into compelling reasons for your interest.

Example answer for “Why do you want to work here?

“I’ve always admired the innovative approaches your company takes in the industry, especially with the recent launch of [specific product or campaign].

“Your commitment to sustainability and community engagement, as evident from your numerous corporate social responsibility initiatives, aligns with my personal values.

“Furthermore, I’ve read about the company’s dedication to employee growth and continuous learning, which is essential for my professional development.

“I believe my skills and experiences, combined with the dynamic environment here, would allow me to make a meaningful contribution and grow alongside the company.”

3. What do you know about us as a company?

To excel in answering this question, thorough research is vital. This question lets you display your understanding of the company’s business and align with its values.

Start by searching for recent updates, product launches, events, and accolades related to the company. Explore their LinkedIn for unique insights from their posts and employees. Demonstrating in-depth research beyond their website indicates genuine interest.

Example answer for “What do you know about us as a company?

“Upon researching your company, I was impressed with the positive reviews I found, both from customers and former employees.

“Your innovative products have garnered significant attention and have been highlighted in various industry publications. Additionally, the feedback on social media from previous staff members speaks volumes about the supportive and collaborative work environment here.

“I was particularly drawn to your company’s commitment to sustainability and your recent community outreach programs. The accolades and awards you’ve received over the past years further solidify your reputation in the industry.

“It’s evident that your company not only values quality in its products and services but also fosters a culture of growth and development for its employees.”

  business lady taking notes while sitting at desk.

4. What do you think we should do differently?

This is a common interview question for start-ups, as interviewers typically want to know that you not only have some knowledge of how the company operates but that you’re able to think critically and bring fresh new ideas to the table.

For example, it could improve the company’s social media presence, a technology-first approach to customer service, or even a policy you want to implement within your team. But, again, the point is to share your opinions and show interest.

Example answer for “What do you think we should do differently?”

“In my research leading up to this interview, I’ve been genuinely impressed with many of the initiatives and products your company has rolled out. However, one area of potential improvement might be in the realm of digital engagement.

“While you have a strong online presence, there’s always room to enhance user experience or explore newer platforms. For instance, I noticed that the company’s mobile application could benefit from some user-friendly updates and features to make it more interactive.

“Additionally, considering the growing trend of interactive content and augmented reality, integrating such elements might provide a more immersive experience for users and set your brand apart in the marketplace.

“However, I’m aware that decisions like these involve many factors, and I'd be eager to learn more about the company’s current strategies and how I could contribute to its ongoing success.”

5. What are your strengths?

With this interview question, the interviewer aims to gauge your professional attributes and their relevance to the role. Highlight a few strengths aligned with the job requirements and provide concrete examples.

This helps the interviewer discern the value you would add. Key strengths might encompass handling pressure, effective delegation, and project management. Be modest in your response to avoid seeming arrogant.

A practical approach is to recount a past challenge and how you utilised your skills to overcome it, emphasising facts over self-praise.

Example answer for “What are your strengths?”

“One of my core strengths is my ability to collaborate effectively with teams. Throughout my career, I’ve often found myself in roles where cross-functional collaboration was pivotal.

“I pride myself on being able to understand different perspectives and bridge gaps, ensuring that projects run smoothly and efficiently. This collaborative nature has not only allowed me to contribute to successful team projects but has also fostered a positive working environment.

“Another strength I possess is my analytical mindset. I consistently use data-driven insights to inform my decisions, ensuring that they are well-grounded and can yield the desired results.

“This combination of collaboration and analytical skills has been instrumental in my past roles, and I’m confident it will be valuable in this new position.”

6. What are your weaknesses?

Answering this can be challenging, but it is a test of your self-awareness. If you’re missing a skill, acknowledge it and share your improvement plan.

For instance, if delegation or presentations are not your strengths, be candid and highlight your efforts to enhance these areas. It’s essential to recognise and admit your weaknesses, showcasing your commitment to growth and learning.

Example answer for “What are your weaknesses?”

“One area I’ve been working on is my tendency to focus too much on the finer details of a project. While being detail-oriented has served me well in ensuring high-quality work, I've realised it can sometimes cause me to spend more time on certain tasks than necessary.

“To address this, I’ve been actively practising prioritisation and setting time limits for each phase of a project. This not only helps me manage my time more effectively but also ensures that I maintain a balance between detail and efficiency.

“I am continuously seeking feedback and employing strategies to improve in this area, and I believe this self-awareness and willingness to adapt will benefit me in any role.”

Related15 ways to prepare and succeed at virtual job interviews

7. What were the best and worst parts of your last role?

Woman in Brown Blazer seated beside Table

This interview question aims to gauge your interests and assess how they align with the prospective role. For the positive aspects of your previous role, highlight what you enjoyed, what you learned, and how it contributed to your growth.

When discussing less favourable experiences, avoid openly criticising past employers or colleagues. Instead of focusing on personal disputes, opt for neutral reasons like company, flat organisational structure, or decision-making processes.

The goal is to present negatives in a way that underscores your adaptability and positive outlook.

Example answer for “What were the best and worst parts of your last role?

“The best part of my last role was the collaborative environment and the opportunity to work on diverse projects. I had the chance to liaise with various departments, which provided me with a holistic view of the company’s operations.

“This collaboration led to innovative solutions and consistent team successes. On the flip side, one challenge I faced was the lack of advanced analytical tools which sometimes made data analysis more time-consuming than it could have been.

“However, this also pushed me to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to extract the necessary insights. While it was a hurdle, it also became a learning opportunity for me, reinforcing the importance of adaptability and problem-solving in any role.”

8. Why are you looking to make the move from your current company?

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Answering this often poses a challenge, but it is crucial to remain positive about your current employer. Emphasise seeking new challenges and personal growth instead of focusing on any negatives of your current position.

Example answer for “Why are you looking to make the move from your current company?

“While I greatly appreciate the opportunities and experiences my current company has provided, I believe that now is the right time for me to seek new challenges and grow in a different direction.

“I’ve always been passionate about [specific area or skill], and while I've had the chance to work on some projects related to this at my current job, I’m eager to delve deeper into this area.

“I've done my research, and your company’s commitment to [specific initiatives or projects] aligns perfectly with where I see my career heading.

“Making this move would allow me to contribute more meaningfully in my area of passion while also benefiting from the diverse experiences and learning opportunities that your company offers.”

9. What are your future goals?

This interview question, in its various forms like “Where do you see yourself in five years?” aims to understand your ambition and career vision. When answering, emphasise your desire to grow, learn, and contribute in ways that align with the role you are applying for.

Refrain from generic responses like “I see myself with the company,” as this is implied by your presence at the interview. There is no wrong answer. Some might even highlight the pandemic, and use that as a reason to talk about more realistic, short-term goals.

While many hiring managers stick to common questions, be prepared for unique or behavioural ones, too. Being well-versed in standard questions sets a foundation for tackling more intricate interview scenarios.

Example answer for “What are your future goals?

“In the short term, my goal is to join a company like yours, where I can apply my skills and knowledge while also learning from experienced professionals.

“I’m particularly excited about the potential to work on [specific projects/initiatives the company is known for] which aligns with my passion for [specific area of interest]. In the longer term, I see myself growing within the organisation, taking on more challenging roles, and eventually leading a team.

“I’m also committed to continuous learning and plan on pursuing further certifications or courses that can enhance my expertise in [specific domain/field]. Ultimately, I aim to make meaningful contributions to the industry and stay at the forefront of [specific domain/field] advancements.”

10. If this role wasn’t on offer, what other roles would you be looking to apply for in our company?

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This is an interesting interview question as it allows you to showcase your range. So, as part of your interview preparation ensure you have looked at similar and realistic roles or positions.

Ensure you have a strong response that highlights your strengths and skills, and demonstrates why you were attracted to the company and similar role attributes.

Example answer for “If this role wasn’t on offer, what other roles would you be looking to apply for in our company?

“While I’m genuinely enthusiastic about the position I’ve applied for, I’m also interested in [another role or department, e.g., Product Development or Customer Relationship Marketing] within your company.

“My background and experience in [specific skill or area, e.g., data analytics or human resources] make me feel that I could also contribute significantly in that area. I’ve always admired [specific project or achievement related to that other role, e.g., your company’s innovative marketing campaigns or the cutting-edge products your development team has produced].

“I believe in the mission and values of this company, so any opportunity to be a part of it, in whichever capacity, would be a privilege.”

11. Why should we hire you?

Think of this interview question as an opportunity to summarise your experience, skill set, and passion for the job and company.

Your interviewer is essentially asking you to give your personal sales pitch, so take the time to explain why you’re qualified to do the work and deliver great results (a combination of skills and achievements), how you can support the interviewer and the broader business in their goals, and why you’ll be a great cultural fit.

Example answer for “Why should we hire you?

“I believe you should hire me because I bring a unique combination of skills and experiences that align closely with the requirements of this position. First, my passion for [specific domain, e.g., digital advertising] has led me to achieve [specific achievement, e.g., a 30% increase in online sales for my previous employer].

“Additionally, my background in [relevant field or study, e.g., data analytics] allows me to approach problems with a strategic and data-driven mindset. I also pride myself on my strong [specific soft skills, e.g., time management, coordination, and interpersonal] skills, which I’ve seen mentioned as key attributes for this role.

“I’m not only excited about the job scope but also about the opportunity to contribute to [specific company goal or project, e.g., your upcoming product launch or your mission of sustainable energy]. I genuinely believe that with my dedication and the expertise I bring, I can add significant value to your team.”

12. What are your salary expectations?

When faced with the question of salary expectations, it is pivotal to be well-equipped with negotiation skills. It is essential to find a middle ground: confidently highlight your value without being rigid.

Begin by conducting comprehensive research on the industry’s pay standards, understanding the size and reach of the company, the intricacies of the role, and recognising your unique contributions.

Emphasise your eagerness for the position, but keep the conversation about compensation open. When you back your statements with solid data and present them assertively, you not only address the salary question adeptly but also pave the way for a fruitful discussion as the interview progresses.

Keep in mind that the key is to strike a balance between showcasing your value and being open to negotiation. Here are some guidelines to consider:

Aim high

Start with a number slightly above your desired salary. This gives you room for negotiation and increases the chances of reaching your target figure.

Don’t commit too early

It is beneficial to remain noncommittal in the initial stages of the interview. This strategy can provide you with better leverage later in the negotiation process.

Exude confidence

Your answer’s delivery is as essential as the content. Present your expectations confidently, showing that you’ve done your research and understand your worth.

Research ahead

Understand the industry standards, the company’s scale, and the specific job responsibilities. This will help you provide a realistic and justifiable figure.

Example answer for “What are your salary expectations?"

“Based on my research of the industry standard for this role, as well as considering my experience, skills, and the cost of living in this area, I’m looking for a salary in the range of $[specific lower number] to $[specific higher number].

“However, I’m also open to discussing the entire compensation package, including benefits and other perks. I’m genuinely interested in this position and the opportunity to contribute to [Company Name], so I’m confident that we can find a mutually beneficial arrangement.”

Related: What to expect in your second interview

13. Do you have any questions for us?

While you may be the one being interviewed you also have a chance to ask some key questions to help you determine if you think you are the right fit for the role.

Use this opportunity to ask any questions that haven’t been covered during the interview and to clarify anything about the role that may be unclear to you.

Questions could be about KPIs, what a standard day involves, team size, training opportunities, employee perks, or anything else that will help you determine the role’s suitability.

The questions you ask will help provide valuable insights into the role you are applying for and the culture at the organisation. It is not about asking as many questions as possible but rather asking thoughtful questions that demonstrate your understanding of the company and your fit within the role.

Preparing for job interview success: Beyond general interview questions

Mastering the art of answering common job interview questions is undeniably crucial for any job seeker. However, it’s equally essential to be well-prepared for behavioural and culture-related interview questions.

These questions delve deeper into your interpersonal skills, communication abilities, problem-solving prowess, and cultural fit within the organisation.

By understanding and practising responses to these multifaceted inquiries, you not only showcase your expertise and qualifications but also demonstrate your adaptability and readiness to excel in diverse work environments.

So, as you embark on your job search journey, remember that a comprehensive understanding of interview questions from various categories will empower you to shine in any interview scenario.

Read more:
How to succeed at a panel interview
How to write a Thank You email after a job interview
How to send an engaging follow-up email after your interview

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