Common Job Interview Questions

HOW TO ANSWER 5 OF THE MOST COMMON JOB INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

At ASTAR Recruitment, we want to help you through the nerves of an interview. Often nerves can get the better of you, so we have created a guide to help you answer 5 of the most common interview questions. These are:

Q1: What prompted you to apply for this job?

  • To answer this question, focus on the match between your skills and experience to that of the company and position you are applying for
  • Honestly is the best policy. So be honest and upfront about your motivations and explain why you are passionate about the role. This will help you impress the interview rather than simply trying to tell them what you think they want to hear.
  • Show that you have researched the company thoroughly and have good reasons for your motivation to work there.
    • For example: ‘I am excited about the possibilities of future success and growth in the company, and I want to assist in that growth’.

Q2: Why are you the best person for the job?

  • Refer to the specific requirements of the role, emphasis what you can offer your potential employer rather than what they can do for you.
  • Set yourself apart from the rest. Choose two of your most unique qualities and use them as influential reasons to employ you.
    • For example: ‘This job is perfectly matched to my main abilities. I really feel like your company is the ideal fit for my interest, qualifications and passions’.

Q3: What would you describe as your key strengths?

  • There is no point in reeling off a list of strengths that are not relevant to the actual role in question. Think about the types of skills your potential employer is looking for from the job advertisement and then select your list of strengths. This will illustrate to the employer how you are the ideal candidate.
  • Elaborate on your named strengths and demonstrate how they are useful in action by using real examples from your experience. Make sure you highlight the actual benefits of each strength in ways that are relevant to the job you applied for.
    • Example: ‘I am organised, efficient and take great pride in doing the best work possible, exceeding all expectations…’.

Q4: What would you describe as your main weaknesses?

  • This is a tricky question, however your best tactic is to not state weaknesses that will greatly impact your ability to do the job. Rather present some minor weaknesses.
  • Alternatively, mention areas that you were once slightly weaker in, but you have successfully been working on improving.
  • You could also mention tasks that you know are part of the role that you are applying for which you may want or require some further training or support on. This may include for example, a software program.
  • With any weakness that you mention, emphasise your awareness, willingness and efforts to improve.
  • For example, ‘I know that public speaking is the number one phobia for most people, and I’d say that is the main area that I would like to work on. Especially now as I know that it is part of the job description for this role’.

Q5:Why did you leave your previous role?

  • Whatever your reason for leaving your last job, resist the urge to bad mouth your previous employer as it can appear unprofessional and disloyal.
  • Focus on the future and ensure that you sound positive and optimistic as you elaborate on you chosen career goals.
  • Example 1: ‘I found myself ‘stuck’ and decided that I need new challenges that weren’t readily available in my previous role’.
  • Example 2: ‘I am interested in a position with greater responsibility and feel that a role like this would provide that kind of opportunity for me’.

HERE ARE SOME OTHER QUESTIONS THAT YOU CAN PRACTICE WITH

About Yourself

  • How would you describe yourself?
  • What motivates you to be successful?
  • What do you know about the company you are applying to?
  • What skills do you think you can bring to this position?
  • Why would you like to work for us?
  • What interests you about this position?
  • What were your main responsibilities at you past employment?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Problem solving skills

  • What was the most significant problem you have had to work with? How did you handle it? What measure did you take once you identified the problem?
  • Describe a decision you had to make that required you to be particularly reasonable and neutral. To what degree did your final decision differ from your initial view of the situation?
  • Tell me about an especially challenging problem that you had to work on. How did you go about gathering the data you needed to solve the problem?

Team Skills

  • Describe a time when you’ve had to work in a team on something that did not particularly interest you. How much did you contribute? What impact did your lack of interest have on the rest of the team? How successful was the team in achieving the outcome?
  • Tell me about a time when you did not agree with a team decision.  How did you handle this?  What was the outcome?
  • Give me an example of a situation where you have had to form and lead a team.  How did you get the best from each team member?  How successful were the team in achieving their objective?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to modify the approach you have to your work in order to accommodate the requirements of another part of the company.
  • When was the last time you were part of a very efficient team?  What made the team efficient?  What was your responsibility in the team?  In what way did you help with the team’s efficiency?
  • Is there a specific role you tend to assume when participating in group activities?  Give me an example.
  • What have you done in your current role to promote teamwork?  Give me some specific examples.
  • Tell me about the last time you recommended an idea or solution that was acted on by your team. How did you present the idea?  What was the team’s response?  How did the team go about executing your idea?  What was the outcome?

Customer Service Skills

  • Tell me about a time when you took care of a problem that was not theoretically your responsibility.  What did you do?  How did you feel about it?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a tough customer.  What did you do?  What was the end result?
  • Can you think of an example of a time when you had to balance the requirements of the customer with those of the company?  How did you manage the situation?  What was the final result?
  • Describe a time when you personally were able to satisfy a customer.  What were the circumstances?  What did you do?  How did you know the customer was satisfied?
  • Tell me about a time when you promised to call a customer back and forgot.  What did you do?  How did the customer respond?
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to deal with a customer who was very angry or hostile towards you.  How did you react?  How did it make you feel?

Organisational Skills

  • Tell me about a time when you had to handle an especially high workload.  How did you go about doing this?  What were the main challenges you were confronted with?  What was the end result?
  • Describe a recent situation where you had to deal with a number of tasks that required your attention.  How did you go about arranging your tasks?  What was the result?
  • Can you describe a piece of work that needed considerable planning and organising?  What did you have to do?  What gave you the most difficulty?
  • We all get bored sometimes when we have to complete more ordinary work.  Tell me about a time when this happened to you and how you survived it.
  • We all fail to meet deadlines every now and then.  Tell me about a time when this happened to you and how you dealt with it.
  • How did you prepare for this interview?
  • When did you last recognise that an activity performed by yourself or your team was no longer worth doing?  What did you do?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to struggle between getting a job done and doing it well.  What was the result?
  • When planning your time, how do you decide which task is more important?  Give me an example.
  • Tell me about a time when something unexpected ruined your planned work for the day.  What happened?  How did it make you feel?
  • Can you describe a time when someone needed files, records or other information from you?  How did you organise the information so that you could find what they needed?
  • Tell me about a time when you implemented a system for managing information.  What steps did you take?  How effective was the system you implemented?
  • Do you have a procedure for keeping track of information?  Tell me about a time when you used this procedure?  How effective was it?
  • Have you ever improved someone else’s productivity or organisation?  Give me an example.  How did they respond?  How did you improvements affect the person or company?
  • How do you track the progress of projects you’re working on?  Give me an example.

Decision Making Skills

  • Can you tell me about a time when you felt like you didn’t have enough information to make an informed decision?  What did you do?
  • What is the most difficult decision you’ve made in the last six months?  Why was it so difficult?  How did you reach a decision?
  • What kind of decisions are you inclined to make quickly?  Give me some examples.
  • Have you ever found yourself in a situation where any decision was better than none at all?  What did you do?  What effect did your decision have over the longer term?
  • Tell me about a decision you made at work that, looking back, you regretted.  What did you learn from this experience?
  • Tell me about a time when you proceeded to take action without fully thinking about the consequences.  What happened?  What changes would you make in your approach if you were faced with a similar situation now?
  • Give me an example of a time when you’ve chosen to take a risk at your job.  How did you assess the risk?  What made you make this decision?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision that you knew would not be received well by everyone.  How did you manage the situation?  How did it make you feel?
  • Have you ever, for good reason, put off making a decision that related to your work?  Why did you feel putting off the decision was the right thing to do?  What were the consequences of delaying your decision?
  • Tell me about a good decision you’ve made recently.  What possibilities did you take into consideration?  Why did you feel your decision was a good one?
  • In the past, which decisions have caused you to consider them very carefully?  Tell me about a specific decision that you took your time to make.  Why did it take you so long to make it?  What was the impact of the length of your decision-making process?
  • Have you ever been in a situation where the normal course of action was not successful?  Tell me about it.  What other options did you try?  Why did you choose this method?
  • Have you ever made a decision that really wasn’t yours to make?  Give me a specific example.  Why did you take the responsibility for making this decision?
  • Tell me about a time when you decided not to take any action, even though other people were pressuring you to do so.  What was the reason for your decision?  What were the consequences?
  • Has there been a time when you involved others in a decision you were making?  Why did you choose to do this?  How many of their ideas did you use in making your decision?  What was the result?

Flexibility/Adaptability

  • Was there ever a time when you had to make major changes to the way you worked due to a change in business requirements?
  • What was the last major change you faced at work?  Why do you consider it a major change?  What impact did it have on your role?
  • Have you ever worked in an organisation where you did not agree with their values and standards?  What were they?  How did you manage this?
  • When did you last readily welcome a change in the way you work?  What encouraged the need for change?  How did this impact your effectiveness?
  • When have you had to change your normal approach to complete something?  In what way did you do this?  How did you feel about this?
  • Describe a time when you had to quickly adjust changes in organisational priorities.  How did this affect you?
  • Tell me about the boss(es) for whom you’ve worked most effectively and why.
  • Tell me about the boss(es) for whom you’ve worked least effectively and why.
  • Have you ever worked for a company undergoing organisational restructuring?  How did the change affect you?
  • When did you last disagree with a new policy or procedure introduced by senior management?  Why?  How did you manage the situation?

Influencing skills

  • Give me an example of a time when you have had to change your work method to achieve a desired result?
  • Have you ever had to convince someone senior to you to do something that they originally did not want to do?  How did you go about it?  What was the end result?
  • When did you last have to convincingly argue a case at work?  How did you prepare yourself?  How did you express your point of view?  How did you handle the objections?  What was the outcome?
  • Give me an example of a time when you needed the co-operation of a number of different people to achieve a goal.  How did you go about doing this?  What was the end result?
  • Tell me about a time when you’ve had to get people, that weren’t under your authority, to do what you needed them to do.  What was your approach?  What was the end result?
  • Was there a time when you found it difficult to get information you needed from someone?  How did you handle the situation?  What was the end result?
  • What was the best idea you ever sold to your boss?  How did you go about it?
  • What was the best idea you failed to sell to your boss?  Why was it rejected?  How did you feel about it?
  • When was the last time you had to conquer opposition from others?  How did you do it?  Were you successful?
  • Apart from being rational and logical, have you ever needed to rely on other persuasive approaches to make a case?  Give me an example.
  • What do you do when you are trying to persuade someone and your tactic isn’t working?  Give me an example.
  • Tell me about your most satisfying experience of acquiring senior management’s backing for an idea or proposal.  How did you go about it?  Why was it so satisfying?
  • Tell me about your most disappointing experience in trying to acquire senior management’s backing for an idea or proposal.  Why was it disappointing?  What did you learn from the experience?
  • Describe a time when you found it difficult to persuade others to accept your point of view.  Why was it difficult?  What did you do?  Were you successful?
  • Tell me about a time when it was vital that you impressed someone within a work setting.  What steps did you take to make sure that you made a good impression?  What feedback did you receive afterwards?

Initiative

  • What is the thing you enjoy least about your current position?  What have you done about this?  What further action do you want to take, if any?
  • How many projects or business activities have you started from scratch?  Describe one you are especially proud of.
  • We all miss opportunities sometimes.  Can you give me an example of a time where you were unable to show initiative?
  • During the last twelve months, have you made any suggestions to your manager about improving the way you or your colleagues work?  What was the result?
  • Describe a time when you remained firm on an important issue.  How did others react?  How did it make you feel?
  • Was there a time where you had to decide on your own without any advice from others?  What was the result?
  • What steps have you taken to improve your own skills/performance?

Leadership Skills

  • Was there ever a situation where you were unable to help improve someone the way you wanted?  Did you learn from this experience?
  • Tell me about a time when you were responsible for a group of people to achieve an especially crucial result.  Describe your leadership style in this situation?  Was your style effective?
  • Give me an example of a time when you gave a member of your team more authority.  What did you consider when deciding how much freedom to give them?  How did you check and evaluate their decisions to guarantee the correct outcome was achieved?
  • What approach have you used to motivate your team members?  Give me a specific example.  What was the result?
  • Tell me about a time when you found it challenging to persuade those working for you to accept your ideas or goals.  What methods did you use?  Was it effective?
  • When did you last need to motivate team members to perform ordinary or dull tasks?  How did you handle this?  Were you successful?

Interpersonal Skills

  • Did you ever find it challenging to establish a good relationship with someone at work?  Tell me about that time.  What did you do?  What was the result?
  • Give me an example of when you were let down by somebody after asking them for their assistance to complete something.  How did you react?
  • Tell me about a situation recently when you had to quickly establish an efficient professional relationship with someone.  How did you go about it?
  • How do you try to be considerate of the needs of others?  Give me an example.
  • Describe a time when you had to modify your usual way of dealing with people.  Why did you have to do this?  What happened and what impact did this have?
  • Tell me about a time when you firmly maintained an opinion that clashed with that of a colleague?  How did you settle this?  How did this affect your working relationship?

Management Skills

  • Have you set goals for your team members?  How did you do this?  How did you keep them informed?
  • Was there a time when you needed to speak to a team member because they needed to improve their performance?  How did you go about doing this?  How did the employee react?  Was there a change in their performance?  If you had to do it again, would you approach this matter differently?  If so, what would you change in your approach?
  • Has a member of your team ever had to receive a warning from you?  How did you approach this?  What was the outcome?
  • Has a member or your team ever had to receive disciplinary action from you?  What was the situation?  How did you come to your decision on what course of action to take?  What was the result?
  • In previous jobs, how did you decide which parts of your jobs to delegate to those assisting you?
  • Can you think of a time when you delegated a specific duty to a team member but were not satisfied with the result?  What happened?
  • Have you ever noticed anybody working for you to be straying from the standards and practices you expected from them?  What did you do?  What was the situation?  What did you learn from this experience?
  • How often do you have team meetings?   What did you do to prepare for these meetings?  What happens at these meetings?  What do you do as a result of the meeting?  When was your last meeting held?
  • Have you ever had any team members who did not get on well with each other?  How did you go about this?  How successful was it?
  • What measures do you take to develop the efficiency of your team?  Give me some examples?
  • Has there ever been a disagreement within your team that you’ve had to deal with?  How did you urge the team to participate in settling the matter?  What was the result?
  • When did your team last produce work that surpassed your expectations?  What led to this?  How did you acknowledge their achievements?  What did you learn from this experience?
  • Who is your most efficient team member?  Who is your least efficient team member?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of each?  What have you done to improve each of them?
  • Have you ever had to incorporate development activities into a job that a team member had to assume?  Give me an example.
  • Tell me about a specific occasion where you helped an employee with their personal improvement.
  • If you are not available, is there someone able to take over for you in your team?  What have you done to develop the skills of that person?
  • Do your team members get involved in their development?  How do they do this?  Give me some examples.

Personal Drive/Resilience

  • In your career, was there ever a time of change and uncertainty?  If so, describe how you felt.  How did this impact your motivation?  How did you cope?
  • When was the last time you took a risk or went over your authority to get things accomplished?  What was at risk?  How did things turn out?
  • Have you ever found ways to make your work simpler?  How effective were you in introducing these changes?
  • Can you think of an instance when new projects or ideas – not specifically your own – were executed successfully, mostly because of your own hard work?
  • Can you think of an occasion where you were determined to reach high perform standards and where you surpassed what was expected of you?  Give me an example.
  • Describe a time when you had to work at a fast pace over an extended period.  What did you do when you got tired?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to motivate yourself to get through a long and difficult day?  What did you do to keep motivated?  What did you accomplish?
  • Can you think of an occasion when you had to work under pressure?  Give me an example.  What was the result?
  • How do you cope when you are unsure about something?  Give me an example.
  • Describe an occasion at work which you found to be stressful.   How did this affect you and the way you worked?
  • Have you ever lost your temper at work?  Describe the circumstances.
  • Tell me about a time when you felt you accomplished a goal through total perseverance.
  • Throughout your career, you must have faced rejection at some stage.  Describe an occasion, your feelings and actions.
  • In the last six months, have you had an occasion when you have really been under pressure?  How did you cope and what was the outcome?
  • Do you think it is essential to take work home?  How often?  Why?
  • Can you think of a time at work that your feelings were hurt?  Tell me about it.  How did you handle this?

Integrity/Ethics

  • Have you ever been at work when your supervisor was away?  Was there a difference in what you did when your supervisor was present compared to what you would normally do?
  • Have you ever been asked by your supervisor to do something that clashed with your values?  How did you manage the situation?
  • How would you define integrity?  How have you shown integrity in your current position? Give me an example.
  • Have you ever worked with someone who you thought needed to demonstrate more integrity?  How did they show this?  How did you manage your relationship with them?
  • What is your definition of ethics?  Can you think of a time when you maintained your ethical values even if it wasn’t welcomed by others?
  • In your current role, what is your definition of a job well done?
  • To succeed in the world, sometimes people must bend a little bit.  What is the most you’ve had to bend your standards to succeed?
  • Sometimes we must bend the truth a little bit when dealing with a difficult customer.  Can you tell me of an instance when you have had to do that?
  • We all break the rules every now and then.  Can you give me an example of a time when you have had to do this?  What effect did this have?  How did you feel about it?
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