Practising interview questions is one of the best ways to prepare for an interview. Here are some of the most common interview questions and answers.
Practice these questions before your interview with a friend or relative. Your local job club could also help.
1. Tell me about yourself
It can be difficult to know how long you should talk for and what you should say. If you are asked this question, you should
aim to speak for between 3 to 5 mins
talk about your achievements, especially ones which may be relevant to the job or show that you have the right skills or attitude for it
mention your skills or interests, and how you have developed them
avoid personal details, unless they’re specifically relevant to the job (e.g. if you are applying to be a care worker, highlighting the fact that you have cared for a relative could be very relevant).
2. What are your strengths ?
Remember that the job description and person specification should give you a good idea of what they are looking for, so tailor your answer and highlight any of your strengths that are relevant to the role. Stick to just 1-3 strengths to keep your answer succinct.
Example : ’I am a people person – I am good at talking to people I don’t know and finding out their needs. I am also a great communicator and find it easy to quickly and clearly tell people the information they need. I think this would really help me in this role, where you have to approach customers and help them find the right products.’
3. What are your weaknesses ?
It’s good to show an employer that you’re self-aware, but you don’t want to over-emphasise your weaknesses.
Try to frame your weaknesses in a positive light. Mention how you deal with your weaknesses to ensure they don’t adversely affect your work, or talk about how you have taken steps to improve upon them.
You should only pick one or two - the employer doesn’t need a list of your top 10 worst qualities.
Example : ’I find presenting difficult, but I have gone on a course on public speaking, which has really given me confidence. I also find that if I prepare well for presentations, then I feel much better equipped and less nervous. It’s an area I intend to improve upon with more practice.’
4. Why are you interested in this job ?
To answer this, you could mention what appeals to you about the organisation. You can also talk about specific aspects of the job that you like or that fit well with your experience and interests. Be enthusiastic and positive.
Example : ’I feel that I could do this job really well using my previous experience, but I would also have the chance to learn new skills here. I like the variety of tasks that the role demands, as I am good at juggling different things at once. I would also be really excited to work for such a well-established and respected school with such good Ofsted results.’
5. Why did you leave your last job ?
Don’t criticise your former employer even if you would like to. Try to frame your answer in a positive light, even if the circumstances were difficult.
Example : ’I really enjoyed my time with my last employer, but I feel like I am ready to learn new things and put my skills to use in a different environment.’
6. Are you over-qualified for this role ?
Focus on what you can bring to the role and why you feel that you would enjoy it. You may wish to explain why you feel the role suits you at this stage of your life, for example, if you no longer wish to be in management role.
Remember that the person interviewing you may be the one who will be your manager. If they are younger than you they may be concerned that you will be difficult to manage or that you will question their authority because of your age or experience. Make it clear that you would support them in their role.
Example : ’I would be really happy working at this level as I feel that the job would use my skills and be very interesting. At this point in my career I think that this role would suit me and be very fulfilling. I would hope to use my skills and experience to do this role to the best of my ability.’
7. Tell me about a time you… (competency based questions)
A common interview format is to ask candidates to describe situations they have experienced and how they responded so the employer can hear concrete examples of your competencies. Try thinking of examples for when you had to :
work in a team
work on your own
work to a deadline to accomplish a project
deal with a complaint
deal with a mistake that you made
When you are asked to provide examples of things you have done, remember that you can refer to voluntary work and even personal experiences too, if they are relevant.
It can be tempting to get bogged down in unnecessary details when talking about a previous experience. Keep it succinct. You may find the STAR approach useful for helping to focus your response :
Situation : Describe what happened
Task : Describe what your responsibility was in that situation
Action : Describe what action you took in the situation
Result : Describe what happened as a result of your action