Interview Questions For graduates: Entry-Level Positions
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 31 August 2022 | Published 3 January 2022
Updated 31 August 2022
Published 3 January 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Interviews can be stressful for anyone, but particularly for recent graduates seeking their first industry job. Interview questions can be easier when you make the appropriate preparations. Understanding how to answer interview questions for graduates can help you obtain an entry-level position after graduation. In this article, we look at common interview questions for entry-level positions, discuss general questions, experience background questions and detailed questions, determine how to answer all of them and explore how to answer unexpected interview questions.
Common interview questions for graduates seeking entry-level jobs
Learning how to prepare for common interview questions for graduates can boost your confidence and performance during such a meeting. Interviewing for an entry-level job can create stress for any applicant, but especially for fresh graduates seeking an entry-level job. Preparing a few different answers to anticipated questions can help interview performance by choosing an answer that best fits the questions asked. Use these common questions and prepare answers in advance to increase your chances of a good impression.
Types of interviews include competency-based interviews that focus on your past jobs and training, while strengths-based interviews focus more on the skills you love and do best. Expect both types of questions in a blended interview. You may be required to do phone or video interviews, and you might face a whole panel of interviewers.
Related: 16 types of interviews
General graduate interview questions
General questions give insight into your personality in addition to work traits. Use general questions to highlight your unique qualities and how they apply to a job. Be sure when an interviewer asks you a 'negative' question, such as your weaknesses, you follow up with how you plan to continue improving the issue.
Tell me about yourself.
Why do you want to work here?
What do you know about this company?
What is your greatest strength?
What is your greatest weakness?
Why should I hire you?
What can you offer us that someone else can not?
How do you handle pressure and deadlines?
Do you prefer to work independently or as part of a team?
What are your salary requirements?
Where do you see yourself in five years?
What questions haven't I asked you?
How to answer the general graduate interview questions
'Tell me about yourself' traditionally opens an interview, so expect this question and prepare your answer. This presents the perfect opportunity to talk about what inspired you to choose this career and what you like the most about it. You can then add why you chose this company to answer that question. Learning as much as you can makes this easier and also answers the question of what you know about the company. Here are some steps you can follow:
1. List strengths and weaknesses
Preparing answers about your strengths may be easier than discussing weaknesses, but thoroughly assess those so you can answer these questions honestly. Make sure you follow up with ways you have compensated or overcome them to keep your answer positive. When asked why you should get the job and what you bring to the company, try to find something uniquely yours that many applicants might not have. For instance, if you have personal experiences that apply, don't be afraid to talk about them.
2. Determine if you're a team player
Different jobs may have different requirements, but team players often get the job. If you work remotely or engage in some type of lone work, you can follow up with how you have enough discipline to work alone. If applicable, you can mention that you prefer to collaborate and share ideas as a team.
3. Try other general answers
Be sure to research current salaries so you can ask for a competitive wage. Your only concern may be to get that first job but take time to think about the future and the career path you want. Then you can answer questions like 'Where do you want to be in five years?'
Experience and background questions
If you have volunteering, internship or apprenticeship experience, you can highlight it with these questions. You can also draw comparisons to work you have done, whether or not past jobs are related to the posted position. If you recently graduated from university, this may be your first job in your chosen field, but focusing on key skills learned from classes or unrelated jobs can fill this gap. Here are some example questions:
Have you had part-time jobs, internships or apprenticeships?
Why did you choose your college?
Why did you choose your major?
What were your favourite classes? Why?
What coursework prepared you for this position?
What activities do you do outside of work and school?
How would previous professors or managers describe you?
How have you shown leadership qualities at university?
Tell me about a project in school that you were proud of and why?
How to answer the experience and background interview questions
You may not want to speak poorly of previous employers or your university in an interview if you want to make a good impression. Take note if an interviewer asks what you liked least about a previous job. Always frame it as a positive and what you learned from the experience. Here are some steps you can follow:
1. Connect academic projects
If you lack experience, think of academic projects and assignments to show your knowledge and skills. Think about what classes you liked. You can answer why you enjoyed them and then connect them to a skill for the job.
2. Discuss outside activities
When employers ask about activities outside of work, they may gauge how many extra hours you can put in if the job demands it. Employers often value outside activities. They show that you possess a work/life balance.
Detailed graduate interview questions
These questions may be very specific. Interviewers may enquire about your knowledge of the industry or your ambitions. They may ask how you may handle a specific situation. Here are some examples:
How would you describe your ideal job?
What goals do you have for your career?
Tell me about some of your recent goals and how you achieved them.
Why do you want to work in this industry?
If you had no limitations, how would you spend your time?
What qualities do you think a successful manager should have?
What do you think it takes to be successful in this position?
What's your Myers-Briggs personality type?
What is your favourite part about coming to work? What is your least favourite?
How do you keep yourself organised at work?
Related: Questions to ask at an interview
How to answer the detailed interview questions
Think about tough questions like this in advance and how you can answer them. These questions arise less frequently but can affect an otherwise good interview. Reflect on these questions and write answers before you get to your interviews:
1. Answer questions about skills
If a question applies to a skill or quality you expected to develop, try to implement that plan now. If someone asks how you keep yourself organised at work, find something personal that needs organisation and create a plan. Then modify that to how you organise your workspace.
2. Take note of goals questions
An interviewer is likely looking for stability and longevity when asking about goals. They often want to know where you want to be after five years. Sometimes they may ask even longer term.
Tips for answering unexpected questions
Even with thorough preparation, you may get a question you didn't expect. That can derail an otherwise smooth interview performance if you can't think of an answer. Rather than trying to guess what answer you think an employer wants to hear, be honest and be yourself. Interviews also help you decide if a position is a good fit for you.
This also applies to preparation for common questions. Preparing cliched or vague answers may not impress the interviewer. Making questions personal shows more of your potential as an employee and whether your disposition can be a good fit for the company. These unexpected questions usually fall under three categories:
Past: These questions focus on experiences in jobs or your education that may have developed the skills and qualities the company seeks for someone filling this role.
People: The interviewer wants to see how you work with those in management or supervise others. They want to know if you can be a team player.
Personal: Questions about personal life can show whether you can put in extra hours as needed and whether you can maintain a good work/life balance for longevity or suffer burnout.
Related: How To Practice For a Job Interview
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