The most important part of any interview is the questions; that goes for the ones you’re asked as well as the ones you ask them. But, it can be really nerve-wracking being confronted with what feels like an interrogation. That’s why we’ve come up with some of the most common interview questions, so that you can prepare a few answers ahead of time. You’ll also find some inspiration for the questions you can ask them in return. We’ve even got a handy technique (with examples) for answering interview questions as thoroughly as possible. Follow our tips, and there won’t be a single interview question you can’t answer – good luck!
Why do interview questions matter?
The whole purpose of an interview is for you and the interviewer to get to know each other, and the best way to do that is by asking questions. They want to know about your work or study history, what you’d bring to the job, and how well you’d fit into the company. There are often different rounds of interviews you can go through, so the questions might differ. For example, you might need to tailor your answers for a second interview or final interview. But, at the end of the day, pretty much every interview is going to have questions.
The 10 top interview questions and answers
While jobs themselves can be super varied and different, a lot of the time interviews follow a pretty standard question-and-answer format. There are some questions that you’ll hear in interviews across all industries, so you can already prep for them. Having a few answers already in the bag will take away a lot of the interview nerves. That’s why we’ve rounded up the top 10 most common job interview questions, so that you can prepare your answers ahead of time.
1. Tell me about yourself.
We’ve all heard about this one. You’re probably thinking, ‘you know about me, it’s all on my CV!’ It’s a terrifyingly open-ended question that could really go anywhere. But, that’s actually the beauty of it. You can set the tone for the whole interview in your answer here; mention things not on your CV, go a bit more in-depth, even crack a few jokes! This one is possibly the most important interview question to prepare ahead of time, as it’s the easiest to get flustered on.
2. How do you deal with stressful situations?
It’s pretty normal in an interview to ask questions about how you handle stressful and challenging situations. After all, that happens all the time in work environments. Be honest about how you act and how you solve the problem; if you tell fibs about being cool, calm, and collected, they’ll find out pretty soon that you’re lying. You don’t have to completely bash yourself, but a bit of self-awareness is usually well-received.
3. What kind of work style do you prefer?
Different companies have different ways of working; some are very collaborative, some are mostly remote – it really depends. The reason for this interview question is to see how you fit into their way of working. Again, it’s important that you answer honestly so that, if you’re not a match, you can find a better fit elsewhere.
4. Why do you want this job/to work here?
This job interview question is a golden opportunity for you to showcase your interest in the job. You can demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role through your knowledge of the company and what they do. Researching the business and planning a few talking points ahead of time will show them that you’re a serious and dedicated candidate.
5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
This is one of the most common interview questions that people muck up, either focussing too much on the positives or going too extreme on the negatives. You want to hit a balance, where you highlight your good points while still showing that you can be self-critical. Preparing your strengths and weaknesses in advance will help you give clear and helpful answers that won’t make you sound like a dope.
6. What is your greatest (professional) achievement?
Here is where you can really show yourself off and flex a little. It’s OK to brag a bit, as long as you keep it relevant to your working life. Fitting a dozen grapes in your mouth won’t help you get a job in banking, for example. You can use a personal achievement that reflects some qualities that will be useful in your job.
7. How do you stay organised/prioritise your work?
This interview question ties in with how you deal with stressful situations, but focuses more on preventing them. It’s important for your potential future employer to know how you stay on track. It gives them a better idea of how you’ll fit into the team dynamic.
8. What are your salary expectations?
Ah, the dreaded money question. The interview is the perfect place to get it all out on the table, and be real about how much you value your work and yourself. Scary though, right? Don’t worry, we’ve got a bunch of tips on salary for you to browse through, or more specific tips on discussing your salary expectations.
9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This can be a hard job interview question to answer, because you don’t want to limit yourself too much. The interviewer is trying to suss out how dedicated you are to their company, so make sure you give staying there long-term as an option, if not a goal.
10. Why are you leaving/did you leave your previous job?
Tread carefully here – you don’t want to leave the interview with them thinking you’re crazy or rude. It’s good to be honest about your reasons, but you can always bend the truth a bit to make yourself look better (or at least not worse).
Questions to ask in a job interview
While the majority of questions will be coming from the interviewer, you might also have a few of your own. It’s good to ask your own questions in an interview to show that you’re excited, interested, and enthusiastic about the position. Not sure what to ask? Don’t worry; we’ve come up with some inspiration for typical questions to ask in your interview so you don’t have to.
1. What does a typical day look like for this role?
You’ll get a better understanding of the team dynamics with this question – how much collaboration there is, how much alone time you’ll get, etc. You can also figure out some of the hidden responsibilities of the role that may not be immediately obvious.
2. Can you describe the working culture of this company?
This interview question focuses more on the company as a whole. You want to feel like the place you work matches your values, priorities, and goals, so that you feel good about going to work.
3. What does the onboarding process look like?
How they treat new employees in the first few days or weeks can tell you a lot about the company in general. You might not want to work somewhere that throws you in the deep end with no guidance, or you might enjoy the independence – it all depends on you. This isn’t a particularly hard interview question to ask, so make sure it’s on your list.
4. What are the opportunities for growth and development?
Let’s be real: you’re probably not going to stay in this role forever. You’ll want to develop and build your career, which means you’ll have to do some learning while you work. It’s good to know going in whether there’ll be opportunities to better your knowledge and skills in the company, as that’ll be a real time-saver. This one can be one of the more difficult questions in an interview, as you don’t want it to seem like you’re already itching to get out. Go about it with caution.
5. Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?
Knowing about who your colleagues will be is key to understanding whether you’ll vibe well in the workplace. If you find out that it’s a team full of introverts who don’t like to socialise, you might not mesh well if you’re a total extrovert. While it’s not always a deal-breaker, it can be a huge factor in how much you enjoy your job.
6. What do you enjoy about your job/working here?
What’s better than getting your information straight from the horse’s mouth? With this job interview question, you’ll get a peek into how the company really operates, and how much the employees like it. The interviewer might have a different or more high-up position than the one you’re applying for, but you’ll still get a look into the company.
7. Can I answer any final questions for you?
As the interview comes to a close, you want to make sure that nothing’s been left unsaid. By asking if there are any final questions to ask in the job interview, you’re showing that you’re open and still enthusiastic about the job. You can also take this opportunity to ask for a bit of feedback about how you did.
How to answer questions with the STAR Interview Technique
Want a simple guideline on how to formulate your answers? Use the STAR technique! It’s a simple and effective way to structure your interview question answers in a way that’s easy for the interviewer to understand. You give real-world examples to put your answers into context. That way, the interviewer has a better understanding of what you mean.
This technique can be applied to all types of interview questions, so it’s a handy one to have prepared. We’ve got some examples of answers so that you can see how the technique works, using some of the questions above. For a more in-depth explanation, check out our full article on using the STAR technique.
Interview questions: in short
You won’t be able to avoid interview questions, but you can make them work for you. There are plenty of ways to take the stress out of facing interview questions. Follow our top tips, and you’ll be more than able to handle anything they throw at you.
- Read over the common questions and prepare some answers for them in advance.
- Pick a few questions you can ask them that will give you more information about the role and the company.
- Try using the STAR technique to make your answers seem realistic and valuable.
Haven’t got any interviews lined up yet? You might need to spruce up your CV. Have a look at our CV templates to see if there’s anything you’re missing, or make use of our free CV maker if you want to save some time and energy.
FAQs about interview questions
What are the hardest interview questions to answer?
What question should you not ask in an interview?
That really depends on what you find the most difficult. A lot of people get overwhelmed by the thought of where they’ll be in five years. Other people hate talking about their strengths and weaknesses. That’s why preparing answers in advance is so helpful – it takes away some of the worry and fear of the unknown.
It’s not so much about avoiding particular interview questions, but more so watching how you phrase them. ‘How soon can I get a raise?’ is bordering on rude, and may make you seem overly-confident. By saying ‘how often do opportunities for raises come up, and how can I prove that I deserve one?’, you come across as hard-working and ambitious. Watch your wording, and you should be fine.