Frequently-asked Interview Questions
Preparation is the key to scoring well during an interview. Remember that most
employers are looking for enthusiasm, confidence and dependability. Be decisive,
confident and enthusiastic. Prepare your answers in order to respond naturally. Take a
few moments to think through your answer before you respond. The key is to know
yourself and the employer.
The following questions are typically used to start the interview:
• Tell me about yourself/How would you describe yourself? You must know
that you will be asked this question – prepare your response ahead of time.
Research the employer and the position. Frame your answer to illustrate how you
can contribute to meet the needs of the employer. Provide a brief synopsis of
your education, work, volunteering work and interests. This is an opportunity to
sell yourself to the employer – know yourself. What are your strengths,
achievements, skills and abilities that make you the most qualified applicant for
• Why are you interested in this position?/Why do you want to work for us?
You have to research the company beforehand. Search for the company website
and discover as much as you can about their mission statement and core values
in order to make intelligent and insightful comments. This is not only important for
your interview, but will also assure that you are doing the right thing to apply for
the position. Talk about the interesting details of the job and why they fascinate
you. Highlight the relevant skills you have.
• What are the key skills and qualifications you bring to this position?
Identify the key skills for the specific position you are applying for. Explain your
education, training and skills. Mention a course in which you excelled, or a
project that was especially beneficial to your skill development. Remember that
the key competencies desired by the employer are communication skills,
problem-solving skills, responsibility, leadership and management skills,
interpersonal skills, adaptability and computer skills. Be prepared to discuss
these skills and to demonstrate WHAT you have done and HOW you have done
• What are your weaknesses/areas of improvement? This is often the most
difficult question to answer. You could name a characteristic that is not essential
to the job. Quickly mention this weakness, then follow it up with actions that you
are taking to overcome the weakness.
Prepare for the following frequently-asked questions:
• How would you handle an angry customer?
• How would you handle a complaint about a product?
• How would you handle a conflict situation?
• Did you ever have a disagreement/conflict with a supervisor? Why? Why not?
• Describe a situation in which you were criticised and the way in which you
• Describe a situation in which you have been under a lot of stress and the way in
which you handled it.
• Describe a project that you had to complete independently.
• Would you rather be in charge of a project or work as part of a team?
• Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully
convince someone to see things your way.
• Describe an instance when you had to think on your feet to extricate yourself
from a difficult situation.
• Give a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in
solving a problem.
• Give an example of a time in which you had to be relatively quick in coming to a
• Describe some time when you were not very satisfied or pleased with your
performance. What did you do about it?
• What steps do you follow to study a problem before making a decision?
• Describe a situation in which you had to arrive at a compromise or guide others
to a compromise.
• Describe an instance in which you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in
order to get a job done.
Something to remember
Answer your questions with the following in mind: STAR
S = Situation
T = Task
A = Action
R = Result
For the full list of frequently-asked interview questions, visit Quintessential Careers at
http://www.quintcareers.com/interview_question_database/. The website also provides
a free book that covers all the essential information job-seekers need to know about job
interviewing. See The Quintessential Guide to Job Interview Preparation by Katharine
Hansen, Ph.D. and Randall Hansen, Ph.D. (Quintessential Careers Press).