Most common interview questions...and how to answer them

Being a recruitment group, we have in-depth knowledge about the type of questions interviewers ask their candidates.

Of course, we can’t predict what you’ll be asked, so we’ve listed the most common questions and how best to answer them:

  • What interests you about this role?
  • How do you align to our company values?
  • Can you tell me a difficult work situation you’ve been in and how you overcame it?
  • What are your biggest strengths?
  • What are you biggest weaknesses?
  • What work environment do you work best in?
  • Tell me about a tough decision you made in the last three months.
  • What makes you stand out from different candidates?
  • Tell me about a time you disagreed with a decision. What did you do?
  • Do you have any questions?

What interests you about this role?

For this question you want to know about both the company and the role itself so make sure you fully understand the position and what is expected of you. Make sure you refer to your past experience and skills highlighted on your CV. Focus on your strengths and express your passion for the company.


How do you align to our company values?

Again, this is your chance to show you’ve researched the company and have an in-depth knowledge about their work culture. Make sure you are aware of their mission & vision and even give examples about how you’ve demonstrated their values in previous work environments when you can.


Can you tell me a difficult work situation you’ve been in and how you overcame it?

This question focuses on your ability to problem solve and your decision making. Ensure you have a scenario lined up where you have acted responsibly or even went above and beyond with the scenario ending with a positive outcome.


 What are your biggest strengths?

Don’t just list them…and don’t go on a huge tangent about how amazing you are. Use the STAR approach (also applicable to the previous questions) to deliver a well-structured response. For example, if you say your strength is problem solving give a situation, task, action and result response to reinforce your argument that these are in fact your strengths.


What are your biggest weaknesses?

This is the question a lot of candidates dread. Understandably you’re trying to inflict the best impression you can and so focusing on aspects of yourself which you aren’t particularly pleased with can feel like a bit of a defeat. However, what the interviewer is looking for is evidence that you’re self-aware and honest with the areas which you need to work on. They want to see that you’re determined to improve on these weaknesses and know how you plan to do so. 


What work environment do you work best in?

Before answering, consider the work environment to which you’re applying for. If you’re looking for a job as a teacher, working alone is not the answer you want to give. Ideally, you would be aware of the workplace environment of the job you’re applying for (if you’re going for one which doesn’t suit you, don’t take the job). If the company offers a flexible schedule, be realistic with what you’re looking for in order to save disappointment further down the line.


Tell me about a tough decision you made in the last three months.

In this question, candidates are being evaluated on their problem solving, judgement and whether the risks they’ve taken have paid off. Make sure you have a well thought out example as everyone is faced with a difficult decision and not having an answer flags as a problem. Again, refer to the STAR model where you can describe the impact of decision you made, despite being a difficult one.


What makes you stand out from other candidates?

This question is likely to come toward the end of an interview to gauge any additional information from you which may not have asked. Obviously, you cannot compare yourself to people you haven’t met so highlight your strengths and why you think you would be a good asset to the company.


Tell me about a time you disagreed with a decision. What did you do?

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion so it’s more than likely you’ve come across a decision you disagree with in the workplace, whether it was made by a manager or a colleague. Show that you handled the situation in a professional manor and that you raised concerns in a productive way. You want to be an individual that provides solutions, not problems. Show how you can either support a decision you think it’s wrong but voiced your concerned in a respectful manor or show how your opinion had an influence to make change. Companies want honest employees!


Do you have any questions?

Your passion for the job can really shine through in this question. Prepare 2 or 3 questions to ask the interviewer, a particularly good one is to ask them about their time at the company if they haven’t done so already. Go into greater detail and ask them what they enjoy about working for the company. It’s also a further opportunity to understand whether you really are the right fit for the role and if there any issues you’d be expecting to face.


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