What sort of questions am I likely to be asked at interview?

Posted on Posted in Ask Alison

The good news is you’ve been invited for an interview.

The bad news is you’ve no idea what to expect. Don’t panic – just make sure you take some time to prepare well.

Most interviewers use a well-worn set of standard questions and, in general, you can expect to be asked questions on the following:

The role and/or the company:

  • What do you know about this company and/or our products and services?
  • What experience do you have in this industry?
  • Why would you like to work for this company?

I can’t stress it strongly enough – do your research. Don’t just look at the company website though, check them out on social media too and make sure you also read the job description for the role. If you know exactly what skills and strengths the company wants you’ll be able to highlight your positive points.

You and what makes you tick:

  • How would you describe yourself?/How would your colleagues describe you?
  • What are your strengths? How do they help you?
  • What are your weaknesses? How do you overcome them?
  • What are your short-/medium-/long-term career goals?

This is your time to shine. If you’ve done your research you’ll know exactly what type of person the company is looking for so you can sell yourself to them. Focus on what they want and show exactly how you are the perfect fit.

Your current employer:

  • Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • What do you like/dislike most about your current job?

Rule number one – DO NOT say anything negative about your current employer even if you want to leave because it’s the worst place you’ve ever worked and you have the boss from hell.

Rule number two – refer to rule number one.


Competency based interviews are becoming more popular and are designed to test how you react to actual situations. The interviewer will describe a scenario and you will be expected to demonstrate how you have dealt with something similar in the past.

Typical questions include:

  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer
  • Tell me about a time when you have worked in a group where there was interpersonal conflict

There is a knack to answering competency based questions and that’s to use the STAR technique:

  • SITUATION– put your answer in context
  • TASK– what was required from you as a result of this situation?
  • ACTION– what did you actually do?
  • RESULT– what was the outcome of that action?

Remember to be yourself when answering this type of question and make sure you use real life examples that you can relate to your own experience. Despite how it may seem, they’re not trick questions but are used to help the employer get the best match for the job. Prepare for them and you have the perfect opportunity to showcase your skills.

Finally, what many interviewees forget is that an interview is a two-way process. It’s your opportunity to ask questions about the job and the company and decide if you would actually like a career with them. What sounds great on paper may not sound so appealing once you’re in the interview room.

Have you been asked any unusual questions during an interview? I’d love to hear your comments.

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