Top job interview questions and answers: examples and tips
Updated 31 August 2023
The interview stage of a job application gives employers the opportunity to ask you more about yourself and your qualities beyond what your CV outlines. Answering these questions impressively and concisely assures your employer that you respond well in this sort of environment and can work under pressure. If you want to showcase your abilities in an interview setting, it is useful to know some common questions and how to answer them professionally. In this article, we discuss the top job interview questions and answers you may experience along with some example answers and interview tips.
What do interviewers use top job interview questions and answers for?
Generally, recruiters use the top job interview questions and answers to discover more about the candidate's ability to perform a role and confidence in their own skills. They employ questions to gather information and context about the interviewee beyond their CV or to simulate a situation that could occur in the role. Some interviewers may value a swift and confident response. Others might want a more thoughtful and detailed response. The ideal answer to a question depends on what the recruiter wants in their perfect applicant for the job.
10 common general interview questions
General interview questions may focus on exploring your mood, personality and general abilities. They may also lead to more detailed interview questions later. Some examples of common interview questions on general topics are:
Tell me about yourself.
How do you deal with stress and work pressure daily?
How was your day?
How was the journey?
How would you describe yourself?
What are your main career goals?
What do you consider to be your greatest weakness?
What do you consider to be your greatest strength?
What makes you unique in comparison with other candidates?
What motivates you to work?
Related: 10 online job interview tips
10 interview questions about experience and background
A recruiter may spend more time asking you for further details about your previous job roles to better perceive whether you can perform the offered job. Some examples of questions that focus on exploring your previous work experience are:
How does your experience make you suitable for this role?
Why did you leave your previous job?
Did you generally work independently or as part of a team?
Do you have experience in managing a team of colleagues?
Are you comfortable in fast-paced work environments?
What would you miss about your last job?
What did you consider to be the most rewarding aspect of your previous job?
Which part of your previous job did you find the most challenging?
Would you consider retraining for a new role?
Tell me more about your education and how it helped you in the workplace.
10 interview questions that relate directly to job roles
Some interview questions relate directly to the offered position (such as the candidate's expectations for their new job) or challenge their ability to perform the role. A few examples of interview questions that address the offered role are:
Do you consider yourself overqualified for this role?
Why are you the best person for the job?
Why do you want this position?
What strategies might you use to motivate your team?
What difficulties do you foresee occurring if you accept this job?
What are your salary expectations for this position?
What can we expect from you after you accept this role?
How would this role benefit you in relation to your long-term goals?
How would you describe our company's mission?
Are you comfortable with working overtime in this position?
4 interview questions with sample answers
While different recruiters may value varied qualities, you can respond to most interview questions with a similar approach that targets what the interviewer is looking for. The following list has some examples of interview questions with explanations of why the recruiter is asking them and what to target in your answer:
1. What did you do to prepare for this interview?
A recruiter may ask this (possibly trick) question to perceive how well you prepare for tasks and whether you are committed to the role. The best plan is to give a convincing, honest answer and use visual cues to show that you are a professional who doesn’t spend excessive time worrying or preparing. You could include any exercise or dietary choices because some employers value a healthy lifestyle.
Example answer: ‘I wanted to be ready for the interview and able to answer questions to the best of my ability. I believed that exercising yesterday before getting a good amount of sleep would make me feel good today. I did a short workout, ate a nutritious dinner and slept a full eight hours. As a result, I felt prepared this morning and confident coming into the room. I am happy with my preparations.’
2. Did your previous job satisfy you?
Interviewers may ask this to investigate why you left your previous company and whether you left on good terms. This also helps them establish why you might resign from the role they are offering. While also showing that you value your professional development, the best plan is to state truthfully whether your job satisfied you and why.
Example answer: ‘My previous job was rewarding, and I felt that I was part of a healthy and productive team environment. I was satisfied with my team members and with the type of work I was doing, but I believed that the company hindered my progress because they lacked resources. Therefore, I am applying to larger firms to move my career forward.’
3. Do you think your experience fits this role?
Recruiters already have an idea of whether you are suitable for a role, but they ask this to perceive how well you understand and can apply your own abilities. They may try to catch you unawares by implying that your skill set doesn't suit the job (even if it does). In this situation, focus on useful knowledge you already have and add that you are ready to learn new things to cover any shortcomings.
Example answer: ‘I believe my degree has provided me with useful background knowledge to help me understand this role. My previous job also gave me practical work experience. This new role may surprise me and put me in new scenarios, but I am willing to learn and look forward to the challenge.’
4. Do you struggle with time management?
Recruiters may use this as a trick question. It's simple and casual, but your time management abilities are important for delivering work on schedule. Giving an indifferent or casual answer to this question is tempting, but this could lead them to ask for more details. Be confident and suggest that you are a capable time manager and provide an example to demonstrate your time-management skills.
Example answer: ‘I don't believe I struggle with time management. I deliver my work on time without much difficulty. If I have delivered work late, it's usually for reasons outside of my control or delays in other processes. For example, I have previously received tasks late and submitted work after the expected submission date, but my colleagues were aware of the involved issues. I don't have any concerns about my ability to manage time and deliver work on a schedule.’
Tips for responding to interview questions
Even if the content of your answer is perfect, recruiters can still analyse you using your body language and delivery. Here are some tips for responding to interview questions confidently:
Relax your body: Interview nerves may be visible to an interviewer and make them wonder if you have a reason to feel nervous. Relax your body and breathe properly during the interview to demonstrate your confidence and respond to questions correctly.
Provide details: Whenever possible, respond with sufficient detail to show the interviewer that you have a good memory and can rationally express yourself. Also, stay concise and provide only necessary information, as doing so shows self-assurance.
Name your colleagues: You can impress recruiters who prioritise teamwork by naming your colleagues if you provide an anecdote from a previous job. Using their names indicates that you worked as part of the group and are supplying a genuine account.
Take time to think: You may take time to respond relevantly to an impromptu question in a challenging interview environment. To stay calm, pause to think about the question instead of giving an impulsive response.
Disclaimer: The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.
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