53 Most Common Job Interview Questions and Answers

Secret Sauce to Answering the 53 Most Common Job Interview Questions

Most Common Job Interview Questions

Imagine you have a complete list of the most common job interview questions.

No matter what the question, you already have the perfect answer prepared.

You would ace the interview.

Or would you?

Well the answer is no. Following scripted answer would be a mistake.

There are no ‘one size fits all’ answers.

But if you understand the motivation behind the questions and practice your own answers then you will be far more successful.

So rather than just giving you a list of common interview questions and recommended answers I prefer to go one better.

I am going to show you how you can answer any question no matter how oddball, awkward or tricky by following the techniques illustrated in my examples.

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The examples given are some of the most commonly asked questions, which makes sense as no doubt many of them will be asked at your interview. I have also added some more unusual questions to keep you on your toes.

Whatever you do, don’t memorise my answers. Use them to help you formulate your own.

Remember the way the questions are answered is actually far more important than the answer you give.

Let me show you what I mean.
1

Tell Me About Yourself?

This question is almost always asked at an interview. Used as an icebreaker and also for the interviewer to form their first impression of you. Have an answer prepared but don’t make it sound as if you are reading a script.

The interviewer does not want to hear your life story. They don’t care about how many brothers and sisters you have or what your goldfish ate for breakfast. Stick to relevant facts such as your work and education history. Highlight your skills and experience that make you a good fit for the job. Also talk about any ongoing education and training you are taking or plan to take.

Answer this well and you can shine. Ramble on like an idiot and you will crash and burn.


2

What is your greatest weakness?

This can be a difficult question if not handled with care. Don’t make the mistake of saying that you don’t have any weaknesses, you won’t be believed. Also don’t come off with the old chestnut of ‘I have a tendency to work too hard’, again a tough one to swallow and looks as if you are swerving the question.

Far better to give a small work related flaw such as you find delegating a struggle which has on occasion led to taking on more than you can handle. Take this question as a golden opportunity to turn weakness into strength. Here’s one example.

After recognising you were struggling with delegating you took a course in time management and productivity. The course taught you the skills you need to delegate. Since taking the course you have led a number of team projects that were extremely successful.


3

What would your last employer say is your greatest weakness?

Now this is a tricky one.

Be careful not to list of multiple weaknesses or say things like ‘my biggest weakness is . . .’ as this infers there are also others. In addition avoid using absolutes such as it is or they said as this sounds as if you do indeed have this weakness.

Here is an example of what you should avoid saying.

My last employer said my biggest weakness is a lack of tolerance towards people on my team that are not performing as well as they I think they should.

​It is far better to answer like this.

​If I had to think of one then it would probably be the fact I sometimes expect others to be able to work at the same level and skill as I do and forget they often have not had the same level of training or experience.


4

What is your greatest strength?

Now here’s a chance to blow your own trumpet. Seize it with both hands and tell the interviewer a few of your strengths, remember though the interviewer is looking for work related strengths.

If your biggest strength is that you can fit 12 hot dogs in your mouth at once or lick your own elbow then keep these to yourself. Impressive but probably not what the interviewer is looking for.

Instead list off a few attributes such as good motivator, work well under pressure, excellent communicator and possess strong IT skills. Don’t invent any that aren’t true and be prepared to give examples. Try something like this.

I have a background in running a successful sales team which has given me strong communication and organisational skills. In addition I have the ability to meet deadlines and targets and have excellent leadership and motivational skills.


5

What would your last employer say is your greatest strength?

Treat this as a golden opportunity to show how well thought of you are at work. Don’t go OTT but feel free to quote your work colleagues and previous boss. Talk about your positive attributes only. Try something like . . . 

John Smith always delegated time sensitive tasks to me as he said that he knew he could rely on me to complete them on time.

Another good example . . .

If we ever needed to call a client for further details I was always asked to make the call as my colleagues always said my communication skills were excellent.


6

What do you know about us?

Do some homework before your interview. Most businesses have websites, check out their ‘About Page’ and also look at their main services or products.

Who are the main players at the company? Have they been in the news lately? Are they running any type of advertising campaign?

This is a chance for you to stand out from the rest of the applicants. Seize this easy win with both hands and show you are interested in them as a business.

Try working yourself into the narrative.

I saw that you are currently advertising your new ‘blue widgets’ which is excellent. At my current job we just finished an online advertising campaign for ‘purple widgets’ which are very similar. My recent experience will be a great asset and I feel sure I would make an easy transition into your team.


7

Who are our biggest competitors?

If you recognise who their biggest competitors are then you show you understand them. You also show you understand the industry and what they are all about.

Take advantage of this question and dig a little deeper by explaining how you think they are different from the competition. Highlight their strengths and their competitor’s weaknesses.

Bonus points if you can show them how you can fit right in and use your skills to play to their strengths.

I believe one of your biggest strengths is that you are well known for your excellent customer service. Something competitor X is failing at. I have a strong background in customer services and will have no problem fitting in with a culture that makes this is a priority.


8

Why are you leaving your current job?

Now you would not be sat in the hot seat if they were not interested in hiring you. Having said that they want to know you will to stay with them for more than a couple of weeks.

The key to answering questions like this is to always stay positive. Here is a good example answer.

I had an excellent time at my current employers and I will be sad to leave. I am ready for a job with more responsibility and more of a challenge. My current employer does not have the career opportunities I am looking for.

Never bad mouth your past employer. No one wants to hire a backstabber or a moaner. Here is an example of a bad answer.

I hate my current job and can’t wait to leave. I am sick of the office politics and the unreasonable expectations of my boss. I think they are unprofessional and to be honest would not be surprised if they went bust. I am jumping ship now before it’s too late.

Remember the interviewer is looking for someone who can fit in with the rest of their team and is going to be someone they can work with. I would rather work with the person who gave the first answer, how about you?


9

Can you explain this gap in your resume?

Now if you have a gap in paid employment in your resume you must be ready to explain why. There are lots of reasons for a break in your resume ranging from taking time off to travel, look after sick relative or running your own business.

The most important thing is you must explain the gap in a positive manner even if you were fired. Let me give you a few of examples.

I had year out from work and decided to fulfill my goal of travelling around the world while I was single. I took the opportunity to experience other cultures and to help me better understand people from other walks of life.
Sadly the company I worked for let me go due to my bad time keeping. I completely understand why they had to let me go and I learned a valuable lesson. They gave me an otherwise excellent reference and after three months I was lucky enough to get a second chance at my current employers. I now arrive at work thirty minutes early each day as not only do I make sure I am never late but the thirty minutes helps me get organised before we open for business.

I started my own business which I ran successfully during this period. I decided that it was time to wind the business up due to saturated market. I learned a lot while running my own business and do not regret it one bit. However having a young family forced me to seek the security of a full time job.


10

What are your career ambitions?

If you are asked this question then you need to focus on achievable goals and how you are already working towards them. An ideal situation would be to involve the company you are interviewing for in your career ambitions.

Here are a couple of examples.

My current position as part of the marketing team at ABC Company has given me a good foundation of knowledge and experience. I have taken courses in online and offline marketing and really enjoyed working with email marketing. Working within your email marketing team will play to my strengths. I hope to prove myself within your organisation, learn from your team and bring my own ideas. I hope one day to run my own email marketing team once I have built up the experience and a proven track record.

Or this . . .

Working in sales and then customer relations I built up my people skills and now head up my own team at ABC Company. Due to the localised nature of my current employer I have with regret decided the time is right to develop my career in a more senior role with customer relations. I have just completed a training course in conflict resolution and will start a night class in psychology next month. To enable me to achieve my career ambitions and utilise the skills I am developing I feel I need to work for a multinational company with opportunities for career development such as yours.


11

Do you work better alone or as part of a team?

Not a trick question and I guess there is no right and wrong answer but in an ideal situation I would like to think anyone I was considering hiring was not a one trick pony.

I recommend your answer be something along these lines.

I enjoy the challenge of working independently and reaching the predefined targets. I can easily work under my own steam and do not need constant supervision. But to be fair I also really enjoy working as part of a team. Working with others brings out the best in the entire group. I feel we can all use our strengths and help out as a group where any weaknesses develop. I also thrive and the joint sense of accountability and letting the rest of the team down is just not an option. So I guess my answer would have to be neither, I work well under either circumstance and actually prefer to alternate between the two.


12

How would you describe your work ethic?

No need to go OTT with this one but still a good chance for you to impress the interviewer with your answer. Try and include benefits to the company such as desire to reach targets, hardworking, punctual, polite or optimistic. Use specific examples as this shows your answer is sincere. For example.

I enjoy my work and enjoy it even more when it is done efficiently. I get a sense of achievement when I have a good day at work. At my last job I used to arrive to work 20 minutes early each day and spend this time checking my schedule and completing a to-do list. This meant when I started work I hit the ground running and by the end of the day after checking off my to-do list items I had a real sense of achievement. I also believe this is one of the biggest factors in consistently achieving the company’s sales targets.


13

Tell me why you think you are suited to this job?

Now remember that your answer should be why you will be suited to the job and not why the job is suited to you.

​Bonus points if you can manage to weave in a few examples of how your skills and experience make you a good fit for the job.

​Double bonus points if you manage to also include a benefit to the company in your example. For instance.

I think that I would be an excellent fit in your customer support team. I have excellent communication skills and I have worked in customer support for over four years with my current employer. Additionally I have a keen interest in your blue widget and am actually a customer myself. I believe this gives me an insight into the difficulties your customers may encounter using your product as I have been there myself.


14

What would be your dream job?

Be careful if you are asked this question, when you reply don’t be too specific. Let me explain why.

​If you try and say your dream job is the job you are applying for then unless the job is astronaut or football player you are going to come off as insincere.

​If you say your dream job is to work as social media marketer but the job you are applying for is totally unrelated such as a nursery nurse manager then you will make the interviewer worry about your commitment to the job you are applying for.

​If you say you want to be a pop star or actor, then you run the risk of being seen as a dreamer.

​So what should you say?

​The best answer involves being just a little vague and linking the job you are applying for with your dream job by showing they use similar skills. Here’s how.

I enjoy working with people and would love to one day be sales manager. I would be able to work with a team and also speak to customers each day.

​In the example above the job you are applying for is a sales operative. Showing you want to continue working with people and that you have ambition to progress to sales manager tells the interviewer that you are following a career path and not just trying to get a job.


15

Tell me about any ideas you had that were implemented and what happened?

The important word here is implemented. These are ideas that actually happened. Focus on what worked and what you and the company learned from the experience.

​Of course you want to focus any benefits the company received. Tell the story of how you got the idea; how you pitched it to the company and of course remember to modestly show your part in implementing the idea.


16

Have you applied for any other jobs?

Now feel free to show you are actively looking for a job. Don’t be afraid to demonstrate that you are completely serious about a career move and that you aren't putting all your eggs in one basket with this interview.

​It’s up to you if you decide to be specific where you have also applied. Don’t feel you have an obligation to spill your guts as you can always say something along these lines.

​I have applied for a number of positions within customer services and sales. I feel this is where my strengths lie and wish to actively pursue my career working with people and utilising my communication skills.

​This shows you are serious about job in this field.

​You could even go on to say that you are anticipating many offers after the positive interviews you have been to so far. However you are very keen to hear back from this interview as it is one of the jobs at the top of your list.


17

What experience do you have in this field?

What you need to do here is tie up your experience with the job you are applying for. Additionally give examples of how you believe this experience will directly relate to the job you are applying for and how this will be of benefit to the company.

​Now if you have no relevant experience in this field what you need to do is highlight experience that you do have in a similar field or a skill that you have that can be translated to the position you are applying for. Again the focus should be on the benefits you will bring to the company.

​Here are a couple of examples.

​My experience working with penguins at my first job at the zoo has given me first-hand knowledge of their diet and care requirements. I think working with your penguins will be an easy transition and I look forward to sharing my experience and learning from your own team at your zoo.
​Although never having worked with penguins before I have worked with various other animals such as lions, elephants and also seals in my current position. I understand what it takes to work with wild animals and am used to planning and preparing meals that meet strict dietary requirements. I look forward to the challenge of working with your penguins and will enjoy sharing my experience and learning from your own team at your zoo.


18

If you were doing the hiring for this job what would you look for in a candidate?

The best thing to do here is to talk about some of the qualities that you possess that are also a good match for the job you are applying for.

​So if you are applying for a job in customer services and you have experience in the industry and have taken courses in conflict resolution and communication you would say something like this.

​I would want somebody that ideally has experience in the industry, has strong communication skills and has the ability to deal with irate customers.


19

Have you ever had a problem with a past supervisor or manager?

Now if you have ever had blazing rows or real serious issues with a past supervisor my advice is to not mention them. Instead choose an example of a minor disagreement or misunderstanding and use this.

​What you need to show is that despite a minor conflict you found a way to work within the structure of the company and fit in as a productive member of the workforce.

​Show that you know how to take instructions and that you are happy to work with any supervisor. Any minor issues you had were worked through and show what you learned from the whole experience. You could try something along these lines.

​I once had an issue with my immediate supervisor who I thought at the time was not being clear with his instructions. I would complete a task given to me only to be told that I had not completed it to their satisfaction. After sitting down together we came up with an easy system which fixed this issue of poor communication. After giving me a task and explaining what was required I would then repeat back exactly what I thought was required and also outline my steps for completing the task. This helped with the communication both ways. This is a skill I have since used with different supervisors and also as a supervisor myself.

​Bonus points here if you can show an issue you had that you tackled by improving your skills. Using the example of poor communication you could explain how you bought a book on communication and one on task management. Both helped you find a solution to the minor issue you were having with your supervisor.


20

If you won the lottery would you retire?

This will show if your career is in fact just a series of jobs that have provided you with an income or if your career also actually means something else other than just an income. To be fair as long as you qualify your answer in the right way there is no right and wrong answer.

​Let me show you a couple of different ways of answering this.

If I won the lottery then yes, absolutely I would retire. As much as enjoy my career I would rather spend the rest of my life doing the things I enjoy most with my family than spending it at work.

An honest answer that is in no way negative but puts the emphasis of the positive attribute on enjoying life with those you love. Who can argue with that?

​You could also go the other way and say something like this.

​My career means a lot more than just providing an income for myself and family. No amount of money would ever stop me working. I actually get a great deal of satisfaction and dare I say it pleasure from my career.

​A very positive and pro career answer that is difficult to argue with even though many would think you crazy.


21

What decisions do you find the most difficult to make?

Your answer here will show the interviewer how you have handled difficult situations in the past. Admitting you found something difficult is not a problem in the slightest. Just show how you are combatting your difficulty of making similar decisions.

​Use this question to your advantage by describing an actual event that led to a difficult decision and how you solved the problem. Here is a good example answer.

Working with difficult customers and knowing when to ask for help. I once had an irate customer who decided it was okay to shout and scream and shower me with profanities the minute I answered the phone. I found it difficult to decide when the right time to pass him over to my supervisor was. After seeking further training within the company I learned that I should pass this type of call over straight away.


22

What you did last year to improve yourself?

This question is an invitation for you to show exactly how ambitious, self-motivated and capable you really are.

​Now some examples might include in-house or external training courses that you have taken in direct relation to your current job.

​You can also talk about any online training courses or books you have read. Feel free to talk about other classes you might have taken that are not directly related to work such as improving your social and communication skills, learning to drive or even keeping fit or losing weight.

​Remember to show that you want to improve yourself, learn new skills and take advantage of any training available to you even if they are outside of work hours.


23

What made you choose this as a career?

Ideally you answer will be that this was a path you decided on way back when you were in school, through college and further education. If you are like most of us though it’s probably best to stick to the truth.

​If you started your working life with a career path in mind and then sidestepped into something else then it’s fair to say this is not unusual.

​What you need to explain to the interviewer is why you chose to do this and how this has been a good move for you. Here is an example.

​I started work after leaving college and began my career in customer services. I learned a lot about communication and conflict resolution but to be honest I disliked working exclusively over the phone and wanted more personal interaction. A position within the same company became available in their sales team which involved face to face meetings. I made the move over to sales and have not looked back since. The skills I learned in the customer services translated easily to the sale team and I really enjoyed and also developed a flair for sales.

​Chances are your story is one the person who is interviewing has not only heard before but has actually lived themselves.

​Show you career choices in a positive way as the last thing you want is to come across as if you just drifted into the job and you have no real career goals in mind.


24

What are your ultimate career goals?

The most important thing you need to do is show you have a career plan and goals. Ideally you can show the job you are applying for fits nicely within your chosen career path.

​Your ultimate career goals should be achievable and also related to the job you are applying for. Avoid giving the impression that this job is just a stepping stone or even worse a stop gap.

​You need the person interviewing you to be comfortable with you being a good fit for the job, their company and that they will not be sat interviewing for your position again in the immediate future.

​I started work after leaving college and began my career in customer services. I learned a lot about communication and conflict resolution but to be honest I disliked working exclusively over the phone and wanted more personal interaction. A position within the same company became available in their sales team which involved face to face meetings. I made the move over to sales and have not looked back since. The skills I learned in the customer services translated easily to the sale team and I really enjoyed and also developed a flair for sales.


25

What motivates you in the workplace?

When asked about what motivates you at work stay away from salary, bonuses and any other type of financial reward.

​A better answer would be to talk about recognition, sense of achievement, job satisfaction and seeing the results of your work related to the growth and success of the company.

​Remember the interviewer is interested in what motivates you that will also help the company. An answer along these lines is what they are looking for.

​Seeing the success of my team and how my own efforts have directly contributed to the growth of the company is one of my main motivations at work. I also thrive on challenges, meeting my targets and the sense of job satisfaction I receive as a reward.


26

Would you be happy to work overtime if required?

Tell the truth and avoid issues later. To be fair they probably want to hear a yes. A good answer might be . . .

​I expect most jobs will at some time need employees to pitch in and do a little overtime when the need arises. I have no problem with this and as long as I am asked in advance. My schedule is flexible enough to incorporate some overtime when required.

This way you are showing willingness to work towards the goals of the team even if it means sacrificing some of your free time. In addition you are still protecting yourself from last minute ‘can you stay behind for an hour after work . . .’ requests.


27

Would you rather be liked or feared?

Now there is no right or wrong answer to this question. But what you say will give an insight to what makes you tick.

​Depending on the role you are applying for very much alters the reply you should give. Be careful here as to some extent this is a bit of a loaded question.

A safe answer is to say that what you would prefer is that you have the respect of your colleagues and that you hope that they would also like you.


28

What was the most rewarding part of your last job?

Choose an aspect of your last job that you found rewarding that matches a key part of the job you are applying for. For a job as shop assistant you might say something like this.

In my last job in customer services I found it really rewarding to help solve a problem customers were having by just using my skills as a communicator. I am pleased that this job will utilise my skills in communication and problem solving when dealing with customers in the shop.

Don’t talk about a rewarding aspect of a past job if it is just not going to happen in the new job.

​For instance you really enjoyed working with penguins at you summer job at the zoo. But working as a sales assistant in a busy retail outlet you are probably not going to get the chance to show off your penguin whispering skills.


29

What was your least rewarding part?

Make sure the least rewarding part of your last job is not a big part of the one you are applying for now. Bonus points here for showing that although you found a part of your last job unrewarding you found a way to power through anyway. You could try something like this.

To be honest I must admit that I did not enjoy dealing with the mountains of emails I seemed to get each day in my last job. I ended up learning a technique called ‘inbox zero’ which taught me to deal with my emails far more efficiently. It not only stopped the feeling of dread every time I had to open up my emails but also made my day far more productive.

Another good way to deal with this question is to try and turn the negative aspect of your last job into a positive for your new job. This method is extremely successful.

I did not enjoy working exclusively within the confines of an office at my last job. Working both in the office and also on the road is an exciting prospect for me. Being able to work like this enables me to utilise my sales skills to their full potential.

​Also when explaining what you did not find rewarding always end with a positive and mention what you do find rewarding.

​I did not enjoy this; I much prefer to do this instead.


30

Have you ever had to bend the rules to achieve something?

You are being asked this question as your answer will very much show your character, honesty and integrity. Your answer should be a big fat no.

​Explain that you have no problem thinking laterally or trying to find an alternative way to achieve your immediate goal. But breaking the rules is not on the agenda as this is dishonest and shows a lack of integrity.

​You would much rather seek the advice of colleagues and management if you needed help than risk the reputation of the company by not abiding by the rules and regulations.

​Trust me when I say that they are not looking for somebody who will go to any lengths and take risks to achieve their goals. The last thing they want is an unpredictable employee who potentially could bring a law suit, prosecution or scandal to the company.


31

How would you describe the best job you ever had?

An easy way to give a good answer here is to match the best job you ever had with the job you are applying for. Look for a connection hard enough and you will find it. Here is an example that illustrates how you can connect even the most unlikely of jobs.

​If you really enjoyed working with penguins in your summer job at the zoo and you are applying for a job in sales you might find this difficult. But actually it’s not hard in the slightest. Try something like this.

Work experience
​The best job I ever had was my time working with penguins at my summer job at the zoo. Yes, I enjoyed working with the penguins but I think what made the job so special to me was working with the public. I loved teaching them about the penguins and talking them through the books and sponsorship deals we had on offer. I received a commission on the sales I generated and found by talking to people about something I was passionate about that the sales almost generated themselves.

In reality the best job you ever had is far more likely to have a stronger connection with the job you are applying for today.

​So just explain what you liked about your best job and tie this up with your skills and experience that you will bring to your new job.


32

Why weren't you promoted at your last job?

Handle this question with care. You must be careful to give a balanced answer that does not portray either yourself or your last employer in a negative manner.

​You can’t blame your own shortcomings and you definitely can’t blame your last employer. So what should you say? Try something like this.

​I will always be grateful to my last employer for my time with them. I genuinely enjoyed working there. However due to the lack of opportunities to develop my career within their organisation due to the localised nature of their business I have made the tough decision to develop my career at a larger organisation. My current employers have been very understanding and support my decision and have said I will always have a job with them should I ever need one.

By speaking fondly about them and citing an aspect out of their control (small local company) you avoid being negative about them. After all would you want to hire someone that with badmouth you in the future?


33

What are you passionate about?

Talk about things you are passionate about in a positive way rather than the negative. Tray and answer along these lines.

​I am very passionate about self-improvement, further education and health and fitness. I think everyone should do their best to make the most of themselves and be the best that they can be.

​Avoid answers like the one below.

I hate seeing people waste their life away. Surely they could get off their behinds and try and improve themselves and their lives.

​Let’s face it nobody likes a complainer even when we might agree with them.


34

What challenges would you look forward to in this job?

Talk about challenges where you can utilise your skills and experience to overcome them. Give specific examples of how you have tackled challenges in the past and how you succeeded including the beneficial effects it had to the company.

​Here is a good example.

I am looking forward to the challenge of boosting sales figures by using my existing skills, experience and contacts within your target market. In my previous position I increased sales by 23% within a three month period by leveraging my contacts within the industry.


35

What do you do to keep yourself organised and productive?

You might be surprised to hear that most people have no system whatsoever when it comes to their personal organisation and productivity.

​It probably won’t be a shock for you to hear that employers are looking to hire people that are organised and productive.

So . . .​

​By making sure you can talk about your system you can immediately separate yourself from the unorganised, less productive majority.

​An easy win so don’t squander it.

​Show you have a routine, a system and a way to track your progress. Explain you are prepared to alter your routine to improve your organisation and productivity if necessary.

​The main thing is to show you are even thinking about it. Here is a simple example answer.

​To ensure I am organised at work each day I like to arrive at work about twenty minutes early and review my to-do list and schedule for the day. This way I am better prepared for the day. I am also able to reschedule my workload if unforeseen urgent additional work is required.


36

How would you want to improve yourself in the next 12 months?

The only wrong kind of answer you can give here is having no plans whatsoever. You might be planning to learn how to swallow swords, eat fire or something more run of the mill such as learning a new language. As long as you plan to do something to improve yourself you will be fine.

​Ideally the kind of answer you give will show you plan to improve skills that will make you a more valuable employee. An answer like this would be ideal.

I will be learning to speak Spanish at night school and also taking online courses in how to effectively use social media as part of my job in sales. I also have plans to improve my physical fitness levels by joining an exercise class.

​So who would you hire?

​The person who sits at home watching TV never trying to improve themselves?

​Or the person who takes it upon themselves to do everything they can to look after their health and perform at peak performance at work. Whilst also learning skills that will benefit the company in their own time and at their own expense?

Not a tough choice really.


37

What salary are you looking to attain?

Be careful here. No doubt you want the best possible salary you can achieve. Equally your potential employer wants to pay as little as they have to. Don’t tip your hand and give a figure unless you have to. Here is a good solid answer.

​Rather than talk about salary at this stage I am more interested in what the position can do for my career.

If pushed for a figure then go for it. Let them know what you are hoping to attain. Try to give them a range rather than an exact figure. Try something like this . . .

Depending on benefits, holidays etc. I am looking for something in the range of x-amount and x-amount.


38

What goals other than career related do you have?

Your interviewer wants to hear that you are the type of person that actually has some goals. Your answer will also give an insight into you as a person and what you find most important.

My advice here is to give an answer that shows you are responsible, hardworking and intelligent with the desire to make the most of your life. Nobody wants to hire someone with no direction and happy to drift through life with no real purpose or goals.

​You could try an answer like this.

I wish to continue with my goal of one day publishing my own book. To do this I need to complete the writing course I am currently taking. Additionally I have made great progress with my own weight loss and fitness and I wish to continue with my exercise regime. I also want to set a date to get married and start a family.

An answer like this shows you have ambition, enjoy further education, you take care of your health and you have a stable home life that you wish to preserve.


39

What mistakes have you made in the past?

Now the key here is to admit to a mistake that you have made that was not actually a huge mistake after all and was not even that recent. For example.

About four or five years ago when I worked as an office junior at ABC Company and I made the mistake of not preparing for team meetings properly in advance. This meant that our team leader had to go over things more than once for my benefit which really should not have been necessary. In any event after holding up two such meetings I was asked to stay behind after the meeting and was told politely but firmly that I need to be more prepared in the future. I took this to heart and decided then and there that I would be the most prepared member of the team at all meetings in the future. I am pleased to say that soon after my team leader actually used me as an example of how to be prepared for meetings. This valuable lesson is something I have used in all aspects of my life and I am pleased to say being prepared has made a huge and positive impact.

This is how you turn a mistake into a triumph and seriously impress the interviewer.


40

How do you work under pressure?

Now of course the answer you will give here is that you cope well under pressure and you even thrive on it. It’s important to show that you understand that you should not become overloaded.

work under pressure

​Understanding when to say no, when to ask for help and how to prioritise are all skills you need to show you have. Here is a good example.

I actually enjoy working under pressure as I feel I perform at my best when challenged. I cope well because I feel I have a firm understanding of how to prioritise my work and know which tasks to work on myself and which to look for help with.


41

How good are you at delegating a task?

You need to show that you understand when to delegate and when to do a task yourself. You also want to show that you are not afraid of mucking in. Nobody wants to hire a slacker.

​Delegation in itself is a valuable skill; show you understand this with an answer like this.

Yes, I am excellent at delegation. I know when to pass a task on to someone and when to handle it myself. I also understand that it is vital to give clear instructions and expectations when passing a task to someone else to complete. Failure to do this invariably results in having to do the task again. I am more than happy to get my happy to get my hands dirty and am prepared to do any task I ask others to do myself. However I also recognise that sometimes my time is best spent elsewhere.


42

What is your favourite website?

You can tell a lot about somebody by the books they read and the same is equally true for the websites they use.

​Here is a chance to show off a little. If you enjoy using Facebook then this is fine just remember to explain that you enjoy being social and talking to people rather than wasting away the day playing games.

​If you use websites such as Udemy or Lynda.com for further education then tell the interviewer and go on to explain how these courses helped your personal and professional development.

​If you enjoy sites such as Buzzfeed or Mashable then make sure you let the interviewer know that you benefit from the latest news and information keeping you up to date with your interests and also work related topics.

​The key with this question is to show you are enriching your mind and not wasting your time. Show the positive qualities of your favourite website and the benefits you receive.


43

What hobbies do you have?

When asked a question like this your interviewer is trying to find out what sort of person you are like outside of work. As always honesty is the best policy here. But if you like partying, gambling and illegal drugs then keep this to yourself.

However if you enjoy going to the gym, further education and self-improvement then feel free to spill your guts.

​Your potential employer is not looking for someone who enjoys taking Mondays off to recover from a drug fueled weekend bender. They are looking for someone who has good health and fitness and spends their own spare time improving their own skills.


44

Have you ever worked as part of a team?

Talk about an experience of working as part of team that worked well. One that helped you as individual and also that made the team as a whole improve.

If you can also show how this directly benefited the company then this will be music to their ears.

​Ideally include in your answer an example of how you have seen others fail, what you have learned from their mistakes and how you would do it differently.

​Here is an example.

​I worked with four other people to create a social media presence for the company I currently work for. Working as a team helped with brainstorming ideas and additionally meant we could divide the tasks to best utilise our individual skills. At the time my biggest strength was the graphics and image sourcing. Working closely with the person responsible for the messaging used we developed a mutual understanding of what worked well together. The right image with the right text made a huge difference. The other two members of the team worked on the scheduling of the updates and also dealt with answering and talking to the social media followers. This was something they had a natural ability for and it also freed us to concentrate on our part. I learned so much from the person responsible for the messaging and I think he learned a lot about image and graphics. I also learned that sometime it’s better to be ‘hands off’ on tasks that I don’t excel at. Working in a focused team gives you this luxury. To be fair working with this team was easy as the company had already had a failed attempt at dealing with social media. Three people working individually on separate social media platforms all singing from completely different hymn sheets. Easy to see where they went wrong in hindsight and a mistake we were determined not to repeat.


45

How are you when working independently?

If you can show that you have the drive to work on a project individually without the need to be micro managed then you are on the right track. Show what it taught you, how it benefited the company and ideally show how you could repeat it for the company you are interviewing for.

Use phrases that show you really grasped the bull by the horns and how the task became very important to you. Something you took real pride in.

​Try an answer like this.

I worked on improving the retention rate of existing customers and generating the potential for increased sales with our existing clients. The main area of success was basically picking up the phone and asking them if everything was okay and if they had anything they needed help with. Seems really simple but it worked a treat. Engaging them in conversation often led to opportunities to talk about solutions we had for their problems. Not only did we sell more products but we also formed a bond with our customers which increased loyalty. This simple method became so successful that I was tasked with training others within the team in my methods. It very much became ‘my baby’ and is something they adopted company wide. I am very proud of this fact.


46

What was the most recent book your read?

This allows you to give an insight into what makes you tick. Fiction or non-fiction are both fine just be honest as I find this will avoid embarrassment should your interviewer share your ‘imagined’ taste in books. The last thing you want is a discussion on a book you have never even opened.

If the last thing you read was a comic book or a top shelf magazine then perhaps you might decide to not include this as part of your literary diet.

​It is far better to discuss a recently read educational, self-improvement or even the latest best-selling fiction masterpiece.

​If you don’t read books then first of all can I say you should start as you missing out. But how can you answer the question without telling lies or painting yourself as some sort of illiterate slacker? Try something like this.

If I am honest I don’t enjoy reading books. I know this might seem as if I am limiting myself but I actually prefer to digest new information via video, podcasts or on quality blogs. I find the information current and easier to digest.


47

What is more important to you, money or job satisfaction?

Now unless you are already filthy rich and have chosen to continue working then a smart answer would go something like this.

Of course money is important as this is how we pay for what we want in life, however happiness is far more important to me and part of this includes job satisfaction. In an ideal world I would achieve both. I think the best way I can do this is to work really hard and take pride in what I do. The financial rewards of being successful at work will happen. Working hard to provide a comfortable life for my family is the driving force in what I do.

An answer like this appears sincere as you happily admit that money is a motivating factor. By talking about working hard to achieve success and job satisfaction you also show that you are willing to work hard for your financial rewards.


48

Why do you want to work here?

This is a chance to show you are serious about this job. It’s not just a job you want . . . it’s actually the job that you want.

​Show this by quickly covering how you align perfectly with the job and the company in general. Do so with enthusiasm but be careful not come across too excitable.

​For example.

I have 10 years of experience in selling/making ‘blue widgets’ and XYZ company are internationally known for ‘blue widgets’. Joining your company would enable me to bring my experience and enthusiasm to a larger market and with my proven track record I believe it would be an exciting opportunity for both myself and also the XYZ company.

Showing mutual benefit shows you are serious about the job whilst reminding them you also have something to offer their business.


49

Would you be prepared to relocate if required?

This is not a trick question or a way of finding out if you will be completely loyal to the company come what may. Being prepared to relocate is not something everyone is able, or willing to do. This is fine.

​Just answer the question honestly as in all likelihood the question is being asked because they just want an honest answer. Chances are if it willingness to relocate was a requirement then they would have mentioned it when advertising the job.

​If the answer is no then try an answer along these lines.

Due to family ties and my current accommodation I would not be able to relocate at this time. I would not completely rule it out in the future.

​Just give a straight answer and avoid embarrassment and problems further down the road.


50

What is your morning routine?

This is a question that will tell your interviewer how organised you are. Just showing you have a morning routine is a huge step in the right direction. Morning routines show you actually take the time to prepare and plan for the day ahead.

​If you can also show that your preparation gets you firing on all cylinders and increases your readiness for work both physically and mentally then you can officially categorise your answer as a slam dunk. Try something like this.

I like to start each morning with a quick shower to wake myself up and to spend five or ten minutes thinking about the day ahead. Many of my best ideas have been in the shower. After dressing for work I like to drink a glass of water then prepare and eat my breakfast. I think it is really important to give myself the right fuel to see me through the day until lunch. When travelling to work I like to use my time on the train to go over my to-do list for the day ahead. This always helps to give me clarity for the day ahead.


51

Why should we give you the job?

An amazing opportunity to completely tie yourself into the job you are applying for. Talk about all the reasons that you are tailor made for this job. Include your skills, qualifications and experience.

​Additionally talk about what you can do for the company and the benefits you will bring to them if they hire you.

​This is a golden opportunity to make you sound like the most irresistible match for the job.


52

What questions haven’t I asked you?

An excellent chance to let the interviewer know about any skills or attributes they have not already asked you about.

​Here are two quick examples.

I was hoping you might ask me about my time working for ABC Company in customer services. I know the job experience is not directly related to the HR position I am applying for today but what I did learn was how to deal with unhappy customers and ways to find solutions to problems. I have used these skills ever since in a variety of different ways and found them invaluable.
​I thought you might ask me about my volunteer work with children. I run a youth club where we go on excursions such as hiking, cycling and swimming. Organising these day trips has helped with my communication skills and also because of the budget constraints I have become rather adept at securing a discount.


53

Do you have any questions for me?

I can almost guarantee that you will be asked this question. So I recommend you go to the interview prepared. Unbelievably the most common answer when asked this question is no. So you could say this is an easy way for you to stand out from the crowd . . . but be careful.

​Whatever you do make sure the questions are about how you will be able to benefit the company rather than what’s in it for you. A couple of good examples would be.

Can you describe the challenges I might face learning your IT system? I ask this as if possible I would like to prepare in advance.
​How long do you think it will be before I am able to complete the induction and start to make sales?

​A common mistake often made is asking questions that to be fair are a little selfish. Here a couple of questions that you should not be asking.

​When do we get paid?
​How long do we get for lunch?

​Think about what you can do for the company and not what the company can do for you and you will be golden.


Using my Example Interview Questions and Answers to Land Your Dream Job

Remember whatever you do please don’t copy the answers above word for word. They are examples given to illustrate the following important techniques you should be using in your answers.

Always answer questions in a positive manner. Nobody likes a complainer or a moaner, don’t be that person.

Always try and show how your skills and experience are a good fit for the job you are applying for.

and because of my experience in customer services and my ongoing training in communication skills I believe I would be an excellent choice for your sales team.

You can even give a positive answer when you don’t have the relevant skills.

I have had limited face to face interaction with the public but I relish the challenge of working as part of your sales team as I think I will bring a unique perspective as . . .

Always remember to ‘ask what you can do for the company and not what the company can do for you’ and you will not go far wrong.

​The company you are interviewing for are selfish. They are only interested in what you can do for them; they have little interest in what they can do for you.

Final Bonus Tip: If you can weave a story into your answers then do so as it is the best way to help the interviewer remember you. Now don’t turn every single answer into a story of your life, just now and again seize the opportunity when it’s given.

​Out of the two candidates below who are you most likely to remember?

​the guy who went to Japan for a year to improve his understanding of different cultures and improve his language and communication skills
​the guy who likes football, socialising and reading

​Use each question you are asked to your advantage.

​Give answers that will make a memorable impression on the interviewer.

​Show you will be a huge asset to their company.

​Follow these techniques and you will leave them no choice.

They will literally be begging you to accept their job offer.

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