Top 10 interview questions

Top 10 interview questions

Avoid surprises — interviews need preparation. Some questions come up time and time again — usually about you, your experience and the job itself. The Cardiff Job Exchange team gathered together the most common questions so you can get your preparation off to a great start.

Your skills

Typical questions an interviewer might ask:

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?
  • What would your colleagues and friends consider as your best qualities?
  • Why should we hire you?

What the interviewer really wants to know: can you do the job?

Know your strengths, and mention ones that are relevant to the job you’re being interviewed for. It’s important to quote examples of when you used the skills; it’s not enough to just say you have the skills.

The employer

 Typical questions:
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What can you do for us that someone else can’t?

What the interviewer really wants to know: Do you know what we do? Why have you chosen to apply to this company?

The interviewer wants to know you’ve done your homework and that you know about the organisation and its aims. They want to know you’ve thought it through and you’ve chosen to apply to them for a good reason. Show your knowledge of the company by having some facts and figures at the ready.

About the job

Typical questions:

  • What will the main tasks and responsibilities be in this job?
  • What do you think the main challenges will be?
  • What would you do in the first day/week/month/year?

What the interviewer really wants to know: Do you know what the job’s all about?

The interviewer wants to know if you fully understand what the job will involve. They want to know why you think you’d be good at it, and how you’d approach it if they offer you the job.

Your ambitions

Typical questions:

  • What are your goals?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years time?

What the interviewer really wants to know: How ambitious are you?

This is your chance to show how enthusiastic you are to get on. (You should avoid sounding too aggressive and over-ambitious: ‘I want to become managing director in three years’.) Avoid sounding unenthusiastic and passive: ‘I’m not sure – I’ll see how it goes’.

To avoid this, you could talk in terms of short-term and long-term goals. Remember you are at the interview for that particular job

Your work history

Typical questions:

  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • Tell me about a typical day in your current/previous job
  • What experience have you got from previous jobs?

What the interviewer really wants to know: What have you done in your previous jobs?

When talking about previous jobs, focus on the positives. Even if you think your previous or current job wasn’t very demanding, if you jot down the tasks and responsibilities it will sound more impressive than you think.

Your motivation

Typical questions:

  • What motivates you?
  • Which tasks do you get the most satisfaction from?

What the interviewer really wants to know: What makes you tick?

About the product or service

Typical questions:

  • What do you know about our products/services?
  • What do you think of our products/services?
  • Can you think of any improvements to our products/services?

What the interviewer really wants to know: Are you keen enough to have looked at our products and services?

The employer wants to know that you’re familiar with their products or services. They may also want you to have the initiative to look for ways of improving things.

Team working

Typical questions:

  • What makes a good team?
  • What makes a good team member?
  • What makes a good team leader?

What the interviewer really wants to know: Can you operate effectively in a team?

Employers value team-working very highly. They want to know you can work effectively in a team, whatever your role within it is.

Your personality and interests

Typical questions:

  • What was the last film you saw or the last book you read?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • How would your friends describe you?

What the interviewer really wants to know: Are you a well-rounded individual?

By asking personality questions, the employer wants to know how well you know yourself – how self-aware you are. Having self-awareness means you can look at yourself critically, and know what you’re good at and where you could improve.

Unusual questions

Typical questions:

  • If you were a biscuit, what type of biscuit would you be?
  • If you were an animal, what type of animal would you be?

What the interviewer really wants to know: Can you think on the spot and come up with a sensible answer?

You probably won’t have prepared for this, so the interviewer is seeing if you can think on your feet. Take your time over this question, and think of something that generally reflects you, but also has positives you could apply to the world of work.

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