Top Job Interview Questions
Preparing for an interview can be a daunting process - how are you meant to know what interview questions your interviewer will ask? How can you memorize all your answers to each and every interview question?
Well the good news is that most job interview questions fall into a small number of different categories. In fact, we have cateforized each of the most popular interview questions into ten categories which you will find below.
For each interview question (or for at least three in each section) write down the full answer you would hope to use in your next interview. You will find that the answer you use to each question within a category will draw upon similar experiences and concepts that are personal to you. Once you have your personal set of experiences and concepts for a few interview questions in each category, try to use the same themes to answer the rest of the questions in that category.
That way, all you need to do is remember the themes so that you can provide an answer to any top interview question!
Top interview questions about why you want this job
These questions will help give the interviewer a view on what you are looking for in a job, and therefore whether the job on offer will be one that will suit you. Make sure you emphasize and demonstrate your interest in the role, ideally evidenced through actions you have taken before you were aware of the job opening.
- Why do you want this job?
- What made you apply for this job?
- Why are you leaving your current job (or left your previous job)?
- Assuming you have more than one offer, what would make you choose this position over another?
- What other positions are you applying for?
- Why did you choose to work in this industry?
- Why did you choose to work for this company?
- What do you think differentiates our company from our competitors?
- What do you think our company should be doing differently?
- Given your extensive employment history, why are you applying for this entry-level position?
- Given your lack of experience relative to other candidates, what makes you think you are qualified for this position?
- What are your key concerns about accepting a position in this company?
- If you were to join this company, how would you see your role changing in the first few years?
Job interview questions about you
The interviewer will ask these questions to assess whether you are the kind of person who is likely to fit well within the organization
- Who are you?
- Tell me about your education and work history?
- Why did you not further your education (e.g., through a degree, masters, PhD etc.)?
- What benefit will your education bring to this position?
- What are your career goals?
- What have you done to meet these career goals?
- Can you explain how this job will fit with those career goals?
- Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
- Do you prefer working independently or in groups?
- How do you think you are perceived by your friends? What are the good and bad points?
- Do you have a role model? If so, who and why? What aspects of your role model so you aspire to emulate?
- If you had ten million dollars, how would you spend it?
- If you had to spend a million dollars in a day, and end up with nothing, how would you spend it?
- If the day was 25 hours long, how would you spend that extra hour?
Good interview questions about your aptitude
These interview questions will let you show why you are better for this job than any other candidate!
- Why are you right for this job?
- What do you think differentiates you from the other candidates for this position?
- What skills have you developed in your previous roles which you could apply to this position?
- In what ways do you think you will impact positively upon this organisation?
- If you were interviewing a candidate for this position, what qualities would you look for?
- Are you prepared to stay away from home in the course of this job?
- Are you prepared to relocate if our company asked you to?
- What do you think you will find most demanding about this position?
- What do you think you will find easiest about this position?
- How do you expect to develop your role within this position?
- What do you think it takes to be successful in this position?
- Why do you think that you will be successful in this position?
- What examples from your employment history can you use to convince me you will be successful in this position?
Top interview questions about your life
When answering these questions, take the opportunity to show initiative, drive, sacrifice and risk taking.
- What have you done with your life?
- Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of?
- Do you have any regrets about major choices you have made in the past?
- What would you do differently if you could make those choices again?
- What is your educational background?
- What vocational courses have you completed?
- What skills have you developed in your previous roles?
- Are you happy with the way you have balanced personal and professional achievements?
- Are you happy with the way you have managed your work/life balance?
- What are the three key moments which stand out in your memory from the last ten years and why?
- How have your experiences in life changed the person you are today?
Job interview questions about your weaknesses
We have a whole separate article on how to approach interview questions about your weaknesses.
- How do you cope with setbacks or weaknesses?
- What are your major weaknesses?
- How do you know that these are your major weaknesses?
- What have you done to address these weaknesses?
- Tell me about your most challenging six months of work?
- Tell me about the largest mistake you have ever made at work?
- Why did this mistake happen?
- What did you learn from this mistake?
- How have you ensured that this mistake won't happen again?
Good interview questions about your last job
These questions will help to give the interviewer an idea of how you operate within an organization - make sure that you are positive about your last job, but also that you saw shortcomings in your last organization which you couldn't change. Of course, make sure that those shortcomings don't apply to the position you are applying for!! We have a whole separate article on how to approach questions about why you are leaving your current job.
- What was your last job?
- How did you choose your last job?
- Tell me about you role and responsibilities at your current/last job?
- What do you like most about your current/last job?
- What do you like least about your current/last job?
- How would you describe the culture of your current/last organisation?
- How would you rate the impact you have had at your current/last organisation?
- What was said at your last performance appraisal?
- Why are you leaving your current job? (Or why did you leave your last job?)
- What did you learn from your last job?
- How will you be able to apply your experience from your last job in this organisation?
- Can you give me an example of when your actions significantly changed someonelse's actions for the better?
- What are the three key moments which stand out in your memory from your last job and why?
Top interview questions about your aspirations
Similar to the first set of questions - this gives the interviewer an idea of what you are looking for within your professional life - can their position live up to your aspirations??
- What experience are you looking for?
- What are you looking for in a new position?
- How does this position match what you are looking for?
- What are you looking for in a new organisation?
- How does this organisation match what you are looking for?
- Other than a salary, what are you hoping to extract from your time in this organisation?
- What position would you most want in this organisation?
- How do you see yourself progressing within this organisation?
- If you could make a living in any way possible, how would you do it?
- If you could try any job for a week, what would you do?
- If money were no object, what would be your ideal career?
Job interview questions about your personal style
These questions point to your behaviors. In fact, we have a whole article on answering these types of questions in our behavioral interviews guide.
- What is your personal style?
- How do you think you are perceived by people around you? (Senior, junior and peers)
- How have you motivated someone who works with you to do something they would not otherwise do? Give me an example
- How do you motivate yourself?
- How are you best motivated by others?
- What is your leadership style?
- Can you give me examples of when you have used a range of influencing tactics to achieve a difficult goal?
- Can you give me examples of when you have developed someone's skill set through active coaching?
- Can you give me an example of when you decided to significantly over deliver against the task which was set for you?
- What do you do when you disagree with colleagues?
- How would you like to be viewed by the people who work around you?
- How do you determine whether you've been successful in your career?
- Do you prefer change or stability? Why?
- Rank these in order of their importance to you: wealth, power, status
- How do you deal with conflict with colleagues?
- If you could instantly change one element of your personal style, what would it be and why?
More help on interview answers
Well hopefully you've now got a much better idea of the kind of questions which you could be asked in an interview, as well as had a go at answering a few within each section. If, however, you're finding it difficult to think of compelling answers to each of these questions, then I recommend that you pick up a copy of Bob Firestone's book on answering the toughest interview questions.
Here are my thoughts on Bob's book, called "The Ultimate Guide to Job Interview Answers"
- Bob is a business, career and sales coach based in the US. Although I strongly believe that the fundamentals behind his approach to answering interview questions are rock solid, I personally found the style of some of his answers a little more 'salesy' than I'd be comfortable with in one of the more 'straight-laced' organizations. So if you do use the book, make sure you tailor your answers to your audience
- Bob's book provides sample interview answers which you can use as inspiration or as a basis for your own answers. Don't simply rehearse his answers or you risk looking like a bad actor and completely unnatural. Interviewers are trained to get to the truth (actually, we quite enjoy exposing untruths), so make sure that your interview answer is personal and truthful to you!
- Because Bob's interview answer guide is an electronic file, it is available for immediate download - this wasn't something I thought about until an interview candidate asked me one evening for something to help him prepare for an interview the next morning!! Bookshops and libraries were closed and Amazon wouldn't even have dispatched his book by the time his interview started. By producing an ebook, Bob allows you to pack in a couple of extra days of critical preparation before your next interview
- Bob offers a no-questions 2-month full money back guarantee. Of all the people who have bought Bob's ebook after visiting this site, not one has asked for their money back (as of 31 May 2006). I don't know of a better recommendation than one offered by other interview candidates!
If you want to see why these candidates are so pleased to have bought Bob's ebook (incidentally, now on special offer and with special bonuses), click on the following link for Bob's interview answers ebook. Just before you go there, please be aware that his website can take a few moments to load - please be patient - I'm sure you'll find it worthwhile!!