Common interview questions and answers

When it comes to interview tips and how to prepare for an interview, many of us are daunted by the idea of having to think on the spot and quickly formulate answers which will highlight our knowledge and expertise. While this thought can be anxiety-inducing, you should remember that many employers will use generic interview questions that can be researched and prepared for in advance of your interview.

Preparing interview questions prior to your interview can be hugely beneficial because it will enable you to start thinking of how your skills and experience are relevant. Even if the exact questions you have prepared don’t come up in the interview, the practise will be helpful in making you appear more rehearsed, eloquent and confident at the interview.

In this article, we will explore some of the most common interview questions and how to answer them.

Common interview questions and how to answer them

1. “Why do you want to work for us?”

This is a good opportunity to showcase your knowledge of the company while also highlighting your relevant skills and experience. For example:

“The company has recently won an award for innovative marketing. In my current role, I have been praised for my ability to create innovative, eye-catching marketing campaigns so I would be excited to work in a company where I could work to my full potential”

2. “What skills would you bring to the role?”

Again, in your answer, you should make it clear that you have done your research and link your knowledge of the company back to your personal skillset. For example:

“I understand that you are renowned for your good customer service. I love working with people who have an attention to detail and have a customer-first attitude. I would love to join your team where I could contribute to the success of your customer service team.”

3. “Can you tell me about a difficult situation you experienced at work and how you overcame it?”

The key to this question is to show how you successfully dealt with a tricky situation in a professional manner. Ideally, you will have successfully turned a negative situation into a positive one. For example:

“The client was upset that their company was not the first to hear about our new range of products. I successfully turned the situation into a positive by apologising, providing comprehensive information about the products in question and I offered the client access to new products ahead of general release in the future. They placed orders and the clients account grew by 5% that period”.

4. “How well do you work under stress/time pressure?”

Ideally, you are used to working under pressure and can cope easily with the demands of a busy working environment. However, the best answer to this question is to be honest. If you know that you are unable to work well under pressure you could say that it is something that you are committed to working on and offer an example of a time you were able to work successfully under pressure to achieve a positive outcome.

Top interview tip - If you are totally stuck for an answer in an interview try not to panic, it happens to everyone at some point. If you have a glass of water you can buy time by taking a sip. If you are really stuck you can request that you come back to the question at the end of the interview.

Questions to ask in an interview

If you are never sure what questions to ask at the end of the interview you should prepare some questions you can ask in advance. Asking questions is another good way of showing your interest in the company and that you are motivated to make a difference in the company’s future. Here are some good examples of questions to ask in an interview:

1. “Can you tell me more about the day-to-day tasks involved in this job?”

This can help show that you want to know as much as possible about the role and highlights to the potential employers that you are motivated to do a good job.

2. “Can you tell me more about the company’s culture and values?”

This is a good way to tell whether or not the company would be a good fit for you as an individual. This can also signal to the employer that you are a good people person.

3. “What do you see the successful candidate doing during the first 30 days, 60 days, year etc.?”

This is a good way to find out more about the employer’s specific expectations and shows that you would be focused on meeting objectives in the role.

4. “Is training something that you would be able to offer as part of the role?”

Asking about the possibility of training is a really good way to gauge an employer’s attitude to upskilling and training their workforce. This can also help you to tell a committed employer apart, from an employer who doesn’t value training and development.

Try not to ask questions about pay and holiday entitlement in your first interview as this can signal to the recruiter that you are more interested in personal benefits than the company’s journey. Furthermore, try not to ask questions that you should already know that answer to. For example, “Who are your main competitors?”.

Our guide on "Most Common Interview Mistakes" is a worthwhile read.

Thanks for reading our guide on how to ace an interview - best of luck with your interview!