Top 10 job interview questions and how to answer them
If you’ve got an interview coming up there’s a good chance you’ll be asked at least one of these top 10 job interview questions. Don’t get nervous, we’ve got you covered.
How to answer the top 10 job interview questions
The key to a successful job interview to think about what an employer might ask you, and prepare some answers.
Here’s some good and bad examples of how to answer the top 10 job interview questions.
1. Tell me about yourself
Employers ask this to see how you’ll fit in. They already have a copy of your resume, so you don’t need to go over everything on it. Give a quick summary of your key qualities, skills, experience and goals. Some people call this an elevator pitch.
Good: “I am passionate about giving customers excellent services and experiences. My background is in hotels and restaurants, where I learnt the power of hard work and enthusiasm. I want to shift my focus and take on opportunities in tourism management.”
Bad: Don’t tell your interviewer what you did on the weekend or your favourite TV show (unless it’s actually relevant to the job).
2. What are your strengths?
This is a great opportunity to sell yourself, but you need to give examples.
Good: “I’m a great project manager. In my last job as a chef my role expanded to ordering food for the kitchen. As a result, the kitchen no longer ran out of food before the end of a shift and customer numbers increased by 30 per cent.”
Bad: Don’t give an answer that you can’t back up. Anyone can say they’re hard working. You need to explain how and why.
3. What are your weaknesses?
Don’t be afraid of this question. The ability to identify a weakness is actually a strength! But, you need to say what you have done or plan to do to fix any weakness.
Good: “I don’t have experience using spreadsheets in the workplace. But I asked a friend to show me the basics, and I am doing a course online to learn more.”
Bad: Don’t say you don’t have any weaknesses. It will make you sound like you lack self-awareness. “I work too hard” won’t cut it either.
Bonus tip: Don’t list a weakness that is a key part of the job you’re interviewing for. Don’t say you can’t spell if you’re trying to get a job as a writer. Don’t say you are bad at talking to people if you’re trying to get a sales job.
4. Why do you want to work here?
An employer wants to know if you’re really interested in the job or if you just want a paycheck. Do some research on the company. Talk about the products or services they sell and why you like them.
Good: “I know you recently won an award for your new recyclable coffee cups. I’m passionate about the environment and I want to work for a company that reflects my values.”
Bad: Don’t say that you just want a job.
5. Why should we hire you?
Employers want to know why you’re a perfect fit for the job. Tell them how hiring you will help solve their problems. If you’ve done your research you can work out what these problems are.
Good: You found out the company has opened five new stores in your city, and is hiring a lot of new staff. Tell them you were responsible for training new staff in your last job and have skills in this area.
Bad: Don’t just say you’d be an asset to the team. Explain why.
5. What has been your biggest achievement at work?
Talk about an achievement you’re proud of that relates to the job. Use examples from study or your personal life if you don’t have a work one.
Good: If the job ad you responded to said you need to be a hard worker; you might say: “At my old job at a fast food restaurant I got an award for serving the most customers in a month.”
Bad: Don’t say that you don’t have any achievements!
6. What has been your biggest obstacle or problem at work and how have you overcome it?
Use an example that relates to the job you’re going for.
Good: A customer at the record store you worked at was not happy the store had sold out of a new album and was threatening to buy it online. You solved it by asking the manager to order extra copies, and suggested that in future the manager could order extra stock of the store’s top five releases.
Bad: Don’t say that you’ve never had an obstacle. Everybody has.
7. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Employers want to know how the job lines up with your ambitions and values, and whether you’re likely to stick around or leave after a few months. If you’re not sure what the future holds, that’s OK – you can say the position will help you decide.
Good: For a sales position, you could say, “Within two years I would like to be seen as an expert in customer management and have increased my average monthly sales by 50 per cent.”
Bad: Don’t say that you don’t know. And don’t go in the other direction and something unrealistic like you want to be company CEO.
8. Why do you want to leave your current job / Why did you leave your last job?
Regardless of the actual reason you left, NEVER badmouth your last employer. Think of a way to be diplomatic about why you left.
Good: “My company was cutting back and my position changed in a way that didn’t match my goals” or “I’m looking for a new challenge and to grow my career”.
Bad: “The hours were terrible, they didn’t pay me enough, I hated it.”
9. What are your salary expectations?
Most jobs will specify a salary range in the advertisement. If you’re feeling bold, aim for the top! But note that it’s generally not a good idea to discuss salary at the first interview, unless the employer raises it first.
Good: “Your ad said the salary range for this job was between $45,000 and $55,000. Based on my experience and qualifications I expect a salary at the top end of your range.” An employer might want a specific answer. Do your research and find out what other people get paid to do the job.
Bad: Don’t ask for a salary that’s too high (you might price yourself out of the job) or too low (you need to be able to buy groceries every week!)
10. Do you have any questions?
This is a great opportunity to impress an employer. An interview is a two-way street and a good chance to see if you like the organisation, too. Think of a few questions beforehand, and try to come up with a question based on something said during the interview also.
Good: You’re being interviewed for a job at a bike hire shop. When you checked out the store’s website you noticed the page to hire bikes was broken. Ask if this is being repaired or improved.
Bad: Don’t say that you don’t have any questions. You won’t seem interested in the job.