5 common interview questions and how to answer them

Whether you’re interviewing for work experience, an internship, graduate role or regular job, the interviewer generally wants to find out a couple of things: are you competent? Would you fit well into their team? Do you know your stuff?

This line of inquiry usually translates to common questions that arise in every employment interview. If you know what’s most likely to come up, then you can be prepared to impress with your answers.

But even before then, the first thing to consider is how you treat the interview. Don’t look at it as a grilling but view it as a mutually beneficial conversation that is as much for you to work out whether you’d get on with the employer as it is the other way around. 

Question 1: “Tell us about yourself”
Answer: This will usually come up at the start of the interview, if not the first question. It invites you to share your background so know your CV – dates of work placements, tasks carried out, things you learned. Stick to your academic and work background, but to really impress, tell your interviewer why you want to work for them.

Question 2: “What do you know about the job role?”
Answer: This question is designed to find out if you have a realistic understanding of what the job actually involves and is typically followed by further inquiry into how committed you are to the career path as a whole. If you have done your research on the job, company, and even career path, then you will have no problems answering this. 

Question 3: “What do you know about the company?”
Answer: This is another one for your research. Mine the company’s website for their core values and aims. Look at its main competitors and how they are doing against them. Check social media and trade press to see what is being said about the company and how they are perceived. For extra bonus points you can even throw the question back to the interviewer and ask for their opinion of the company’s direction. This shows real engagement with the company.

Question 4: “Give an example of when…”
Answer: This is a ‘competency-based’ question to find out whether you have the skills for the job. Try to pick examples outside of your academic experience such as internships, part-time jobs or extracurricular activities. And follow the STAR format when giving your examples. Explain the Situation, the Tasks you had to complete, the Actions you took and the Results of your actions. Place the most emphasis on the actions and the results.

Question 5: “What would you do if….?”
Answer: Scenario-based questions are used to see how you deal with problem solving. Make sure you fully understand the problem that needs solving so don’t be afraid to ask questions to clarify anything before answering. If you can and appropriate, refer to occasions where you have faced similar situations in your past.

It’s all good saying all the right things but if your body language is telling a different story then that will have a greater effect on the impression you leave on the interviewer.

 

ec.europa.eu

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