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Three common interview questions

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Published: 14 April 2022

University of Sunderland in London student in lecture room

When you’re preparing for an interview, it can be difficult to know where to start. You might feel like they could ask you anything at all, so how can you get ready? 

The truth is, while there is some variation from job to job, interviewers in every company will have common questions they like to ask candidates. 

That is a really good thing for you because it means you can learn them and prepare answers.  

While it’s important not to memorise a response, which can come off as inauthentic, having an idea of what you’re going to say will help put you in the best light on the day. 

Take a look at the three potential questions below and search for some of your own, especially around the specific industry you’re looking to go into. 

Bullet point your answers and practise them out loud either on your own or with a friend until you feel more confident. 

Tell us about yourself 

This is a really common first question and is used as something of an ice-breaker to help get you more comfortable.  

It seems obvious at first. Who doesn’t know how to talk about themselves, right?  

But it’s worth considering exactly what you want to say. It’s a good idea to start with your current role, whether that’s an explanation of your course, your job description, or anything else. 

After that, go through your CV being sure to relate it to the job at hand.  

For example, if you are applying for a front of house role, explain how your experience has taught you about customer relations.  

What are your strengths?  

Again, a deceptively simple one to answer, but you need to carefully think through what you’re good at and how it will help the company you are applying for.  

Use the Point-Example-Explanation rule here. So, say you’re a caring person, give an example from your work life (if possible) showing you looking after people, then explain how that relates to the new role.  

When preparing, write down a list of your strengths using the job description as a guide, and learn them.  

Also, don’t try and get too many examples out. One or two will do. The good thing about an interview is if you say something interesting, the hiring team are likely to ask you to say more about it.  

Avoid waffling, stick to the points and focus on being engaging. 

What are your weaknesses? 

Of course, they could ask you the opposite and are likely to ask you both. This one is a little trickier since you’ve got to be honest but not too honest. 

The big mistake here is to try and spin a positive to make it sounds negative. For example, ‘I’m too efficient’ or ‘I’m too dedicated’. 

This is obvious, and the interviewers will see it coming a mile away. Instead, think carefully about your experiences so far and how you could have done better. 

Approach your answer in a way that shows you know what you need to work on and are actively taking steps to improve. 

For example, say ‘I could perform better in a team’ and ‘I’ve been taking on more opportunities to collaborate with others’.  

This shows that a) you are honest and aware of what you can do better and b) you’re trying to improve. 

A job interview will typically last between 45 minutes and an hour. In that time, they could ask you around ten questions.  

While the three above are just a few examples, they should give you an idea of how to approach preparation for all of them. 

Think through your answers, be honest and show you care about the company and the role.  

Do that and you’ll stand out from the competition and give yourself the best possible chance at an offer.  

For more advice and information, go to our Careers and Employability page. You can read about employability skills on our news pages.    

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