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Common Interview Questions

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Most interviews will include some of the questions below so make sure you are ready for them by rehearsing your answers. To be fully prepared, ensure you take our DISC assessment test.

Why do you want to leave your current job?

It may be true that the real reason is money motivation but this should not be your answer.  You should think of how the environment and challenges will differ in the new job compared to your old one and discuss that.  Talk about what new challenges you are looking for, what you want to learn, what additional responsibilities you are looking for and how this fits in with your overall career plan.

What's the biggest challenge you've ever faced?

This question is a chance to highlight to an employer how you learn and adapt.  Choose a difficult situation from your past work or education experience that you found tough but that you managed to overcome.  Be prepared to elaborate on how you overcame the challenge and take the opportunity to highlight how this challenge ended up benefiting your previous employer.

What's your biggest achievement?

This interview question gives you another chance to talk about how you helped your previous employer in some way.  You should ideally talk about an achievement which involved making customers happier, saving your company time or money and had tight timescales or other tight constraints.  If you have no prior work experience, talk about a project of your own that you have worked on - either educational or team/sports based.  You want to try and demonstrate initiative, leadership and passion in your answer.

What's your biggest strength?

You're almost certainly going to be asked this so it's important to know what your real strengths are.  You can discuss skills based strengths if you like but employers are normally more keen to see how you would operate in unfamiliar situations where you don't have sector-based skills to fall back on.  Take our free psychometric test and produce the strengths and limitations report.

Ideally, paint a picture of a situation where you had a chance to use your strength to a previous employers advantage - again, think of how you used your strength to save your employer time or money or make their customers happy.

What's your biggest weakness?

This question will normally follow on from the strength-based question.  Do not answer with "I'm a perfectionist" or "I work too hard" - these answers are transparent and you've just missed an opportunity to impress.  The interviewer wants to know how self-aware you are, that you are aware of your weaknesses and that you actively work to improve.  Take our free psychometric test and look at the strengths & limitations report - notice how your limitations are quite strongly linked to your strengths - i.e. if it wasn't for a particular weakness you wouldn't have a particular strength.  When discussing your weakness, try and turn it around into your strength and illustrate what steps you have taken in the past to improve your weakness.  You can also use this opportunity to demonstrate your team-working skills - perhaps someone else in the team didn't have this weakness and you were able to work together to produce a favourable outcome for your company.

Why do you want this job?

Hopefully you've done your research and chosen your new employer for all the right reasons.  Chat about the challenges you expect to be given in your new role, how it fits in with your career path, how you are looking for the valuable experience this new role will provide.  Most of all, take the opportunity this question provides to show the employer how much passion you have for this role.  Passion impresses every employer.  If you have done anything outside of work which can be related to your new role at all then you should discuss this too to provide evidence of your passion for the role.

Where do you want to be in 3 or 5 years time?

This question sounds like a trap but it's really not - the employer wants to know that you're not randomly going from job to job and that you have an overall plan for your career.  Your best answer is probably to choose a follow-on role from the one you're applying for at this company and chat about what experience and skills/knowledge you'll need to get a position like that in 3 to 5 years time.  This shows overall career ambition, research and knowledge of the role and the willingness to learn and improve.

Why should we hire you?

Be passionate - discuss how the role makes use of your strengths and experience and talk about a particular part of the role you are passionate about.  Don't be afraid to talk about the parts of the role you are weak in - you want the role because of your strengths in the other areas and the chance you'll get to learn and improve in these weaker areas.  Big up the company too - if you know anyone who works there, name-drop them at this point by saying how highly they talk of the company and how you would love to work in a similar atmosphere.  If there is something in the company's workplace that they are particularly proud of (Top 100 company in Times 100 for example) then highlight a couple of reasons from their entry in that list.

How do you handle pressure?

Our comprehensive overview report provides a section about how you react under pressure so take our free psychometric test and produce that report so that you are a little more aware of how you respond under pressure.  Your ideal answer here should touch on the truth but include some words about how you stay calm, try and pinpoint the direction you should be heading in to solve the pressing problem, get others involved if need be, and focus on what needs to be done to solve the problem.  You should think in relation to the job role and what they are looking for in the successful candidate - would they want you to slow down and become more deliberate and accurate under pressure or would they want you to drop everything else you're doing to focus on the one important problem?  It's such an open question that the most honest answer will always be - "it depends".  Feel free to use this answer and then ask them questions about what kind of pressure they are talking about - is it time pressure, pressure to be more accurate, pressure to sell more, or some other kind of pressure?  You should then be able to frame your answer accordingly.

For deep insights into how to frame your answers you should take the free psychometric test now. With this you will receive 8 reports including your strengths & weaknesses report, your career guidance report and your targeted interview questionnaire based on your personality.

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Comments about our common interview questions

Please let us know what you think and that you're all alive!

Hi ,

Just letting you know that this article really helps a lot. I already shared this to some of my friends. Thank you!


August 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPlan Template

thank you sir.i will prepare as you guide.we want some more interview questions

September 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdivya

Great post!
They're exactly the interview questions I was asked in my interview. I only want to add an other common question:" Please tell me about yourself".
I agree with your suggestions, however, I guess you give an example answer for each question.
Tks so much!

September 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElla Pacey

Agreed - "Please tell me about yourself" should definitely make it onto this list. This question I would categorise in the 'self awareness' section - i.e. the interviewer wishes to give you a chance to talk and relax, but if they are interviewing correctly they also wish to discover how much you know about yourself.

When you are asked this question, you should take the chance to demonstrate that you are aware of the career path you are on and what is motivating you to keep moving on this career path. You could also take this question as an opportunity to talk about skills that you have 'learned' or weaknesses you have overcome.

You should definitely talk about your strengths with this question but when it comes to weaknesses, since they are not specifically asking about weaknesses, I'd recommend that you talk about a weakness you had in the past which no longer exists since you recognised it, learned more about it, trained to overcome it and now have habits which have eliminated your weakness.

I can't stress enough how highly interviewers rate 'self awareness' - the more self aware candidates are the ones which are able to work better with team mates, are better able to improve and are better able to adapt to new situations. Self aware candidates are also far less likely to be defensive when talking about any problems that may have been caused, in part, by them.

Think of situations in your CV that you can refer to when you overcame challenges and talk about these too when talking about yourself - you should be able to hold court for about 60 seconds and really impress an interviewer with your self awareness and challenges you have overcome.

September 29, 2011 | Registered CommenterDavid Hilditch

Great post!

Interviewers around the world have a finite set of questions that they repeatedly ask all applicants. The key to answering tough questions is knowing what they are. Most often while interviewing candidates i have found that 'taking them by surprise' is the only thing i need to do as an interviewer. Conversely, as an interviewee, knowing and preparing for the possible questions is all what you need to do!

Good Luck!

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAashish
Yes, these are absolutely common interview questions. They are all the same but different delivery and according the company's human resource protocol. Some of these are also included as <a href=""> top interview questions </a>. But, since they are common then there is always a common answer or can be answered differently.
May 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoelTR

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