The most common interview questions

At your job interview you will get a lot of questions, some of which can be difficult to answer. But if you are well-prepared, you will have a better chance of staying calm and give good answers. Here is a list of the questions that you are most likely to encounter in a job interview.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself!

This is where you share a little story about relevant parts of your life in a few minutes. Don’t share your whole life story, just give a short presentation. This will give the interviewer a chance to choose what parts he or she wants to know more about. Concentrate on the last few years. The interviewer’s aim with this question is to break the ice and hear what you choose to share. If you want to, you can use this question to explain why you have made certain choices in your life.

2. What are you like as a person?

The employer is looking for someone who can contribute something to the organization. This is your chance to show them who you are and demonstrate that you are proactive and enthusiastic. Talk about how you have solved problems and made good decisions in previous work situations or similar. Avoid talking about hypothetical situations. Support what you are saying about yourself with real life examples.

3. What are your best qualities?

Prepare two or three qualities that you can support and give examples of. Discuss how to present this with a friend or colleague who knows you well.

4. What are your worst qualities?

Many people find it difficult to give an answer to the question of what their weaknesses are. This question isn’t about the employer making it difficult for you, rather, they are interested in finding out how well you know yourself. Nobody is perfect and when you give an example of a quality that you see as negative, it shows that you have good self-awareness.

Be clear about being aware of your shortcomings and how you handle them. But don’t just answer with a negative quality that can also be seen as positive one. Saying that you are stubborn or too curious are examples of clichés that employers can see through.

5. Do you prefer to work in a group or independently?

The employer is trying to figure out if you are more comfortable on your own or if you enjoy a group setting. It can be difficult to definitively say which personality you have, and it is ok to say that you are both. Give examples of when you prefer to work on your own and when you rather would like to work in a group setting.

6. What role do you take in a group?

Are you a typical leader who takes charge and makes sure that everyone gets to work or are you the calm work horse who waits to be assigned a job and wants direction? It might depend on the groups you’ve been a part of. Think about the various roles you’ve taken and which one you feel the most comfortable in. Remember that all workplaces require many different personality types – both leaders and work horses.

7. How do you react to criticism?

No one is perfect and everyone fails at something at some point in life. How we react to it varies a lot from person to person. If you are applying for a job in a very achievement-oriented environment, it is important that you can take criticism. That includes both personal criticism and criticism regarding the results of your work.

8. How do you define success?

What is important to you? What drives you? Money, personal development, interesting colleagues, the opportunity to lead others or flexible working hours? The answer is of course very personal and you should let it be personal even in your interview.

9. How do you handle failure?

A good way to answer this is to talk about a time when you felt like you failed. Then talk about how you found the reasons for failure and how you could handle the challenge in a better way next time. This shows that you are unafraid to take on difficult assignments and that you don’t give up when you face a setback.

10. How do you handle stress?

Stress is one of the factors that most quickly breaks a person down. Both short-term and long-term stress can lead to health issues like obesity and high blood pressure. There are also fewer conflicts among those who are good at managing their stress. Do you work out or do you have another hobby? Talk about that or say that you are usually clear about when you are starting to feel stressed.

11. What do you know about us?

Even if you have done your research on the company, it is enough to mention just the most important points here. Be concrete and brief. The employer just wants to know if you have made an effort to find out more. Do mention which sources you have turned to.

12. Why are you applying for this position?

You should be able to convincingly say that you are both interested in, and have a natural aptitude for, the specific work in question. Explain why you are so interested in the position. Back up what you are saying with key points from your background. Your answer will show the employer how interested you really are, and what potential you see in the position.

13. What can you contribute to the organization?

The employer wants to see something in you that fills a void in the organization. Talk about what you think you can contribute. You can mention any examples you have of changes you would make. You can also refer back to the criteria in the job ad.

14. Why should we hire you?

Make it clear to the employer why they should choose you. Reiterate why you are applying, your experience and studies and your strong sides. Further develop the points you made in your application.

15. Why did you choose this degree program?

If you have just completed your degree, you are sure to get questions about your program and your field of study. Talk about why you chose the program in particular and what made you interested in it. You can also talk about the most important things you’ve learned during your studies. If you studied abroad, you can talk about what that meant for you.

16. What have you previously worked with?

When you talk about your previous employers, focus on the parts that are relevant to the position you are applying for now. You don’t have to tell the interviewer about everything you know and can do, just highlight the knowledge and skills that are interesting for the position you are applying for.

The interviewer may also want to review your resume. You might get questions about why you changed jobs, what you wanted to achieve through job changes and if you’ve realized those ambitions. If there are gaps in your resume, you should be prepared to answer questions about them. Such gaps may be if you have travelled, been on sick leave or been on parental leave.

Think about why you have made the choices you’ve made in your professional life. Also, think about if there is a common thread running through them that can help to explain your choices to your potential employer.

17. Why are you looking for a new job or why did you decide to leave your last position?

Talk about what you’ve learned and what knowledge and skills you can bring with you from your last position into your next one. Highlight your desire to learn new things, take on more responsibility or work in another industry. This will give the interviewer a more in-depth understanding of your current or past position and what is motivating you to move on.

Remember to never speak badly of your previous employer. It is better to say that you want to move on to new challenges than to say that you didn’t get along with your old boss.

18. What do you value in an employer?

Share what is important to you. Is it training and skills development, good personnel policies or maybe the possibility of working abroad? Remember to stay true to yourself. The interview is not only about the employer’s needs and wishes, but also a chance for you to figure out if you want to work for this specific employer.

19. What makes a good manager?

If you get this question, you should answer it carefully. If you paint a picture of a super boss with a dynamic leadership style and your potential manager has a more reserved style, this can be problematic. However, don’t try to tailor your answer to describe the manager who is interviewing you either. Talk about what you have appreciated in your previous managers. It is the most believable answer and it is positive to hear that you appreciate your manager. An answer you should avoid is “I’ve never had a good boss”. Try to be both honest and diplomatic.

20. Where do you see yourself in five years?

This question is still fairly common, even though the job market is more dynamic than before. This question gives you the perfect opportunity to talk about your ambitions and dreams for your career. But it can be difficult to look into the future, so it is also alright to answer “I don’t know”. However, your potential employer wants to know what ambitions you have and if this position is in line with them. Avoid making jokes like “in five years I’ll be 30 years old and CEO of this company”.

21. What kind of corporate culture appeals to you?

You are going to spend a lot of time at your new job. Is it important to you that there is a clear division between your personal life and your work life or do you like it when there are a lot of social activities at work? What kind of organizational structure appeals to you? Do you prefer a very hierarchical organization or more informal?

22. Are you applying for other jobs?

Be diplomatic. Decide if you are going to disclose other applications you have submitted or if you are going to keep them to yourself. If you disclose that you are applying for other jobs, it is important that you can motivate why you want this particular job. The employer wants to understand how interested you are and if there are others competing for you.

23. What do you do in your free time?

It is always good if you can say that you work out or at least engage in some physical activity, since we all know that it often leads to better general health and an ability to focus. A potential employer wants to see that you have balance in your life. If you have very many hobbies and interests, don’t talk about all of them. Just highlight your main interests and focus on them.

24. What is your family situation?

An employer is not allowed to ask you if you are planning to start a family or what your sexual orientation is. But unfortunately, many do still ask if you are planning to have children. Often, the question is concealed in other questions, for example if you and you partner have been together for a long time. Prepare yourself well for such questions so that you have a clear answer to give. You don’t have to answer the question and you should never disclose more than you feel comfortable with. Remember that if you say that you are not planning to have children, it doesn’t mean that you are bound by your answer forever.

25. Are you prepared to work overtime if necessary?

The employer wants to know if you are flexible and willing to work overtime when there is a lot to do. Be accommodating but ask if a lot of overtime is a common occurrence and how it is compensated.

26. This position includes travel. What do you think about that?

Most times you have seen in the ad if traveling is required, so you probably have taken this into consideration when deciding whether to apply for the job. Talk about why you enjoy traveling for work and how you deal with logistical issues that may arise as a result.

27. Questions about irregularities

Background checks are more and more common these days. Be prepared in case the employer checks if you have a criminal record, unpaid debts and so on. If you expect something to come up in these checks, it is better to disclose this before the check is done, so it doesn’t have to become a big deal.

28. What is your salary requirement?

Try to hold off as long as you can before you give your salary requirement. You can say that you first want to know more about the position and if you are under consideration for it. If the employer absolutely wants to know your salary requirement, you will of course have to give it. You should therefore be prepared for this in the first interview. Contact us for more information about current salary levels [länk: till Kontakta Jusek eller liknande].

29. When can you start?

This might be the easiest question to answer. Do so in positive terms, for example “I can start already in two months” rather than “I can’t start until two months from now”.

30. Do you have any questions for us?

Prepare some questions in advance. It is important that you get answers to the questions you have so that you can decide if you actually want the job. Remember, the interview is not just about being chosen, it is just as much about making your own choice. Having pertinent questions also shows that you are genuinely interested in the company and position.

Some questions that you could ask

  • What opportunities for career development will I have in this company?
  • What will a typical work week look like?
  • Do you work in teams and in projects?
  • Is there a job description or will I define it myself?
  • What is expected of me in terms of work assignments, responsibility and authority?
  • How is the workload distributed over a year? Is it even or are there peaks and slower periods?
  • What is the employee turnover rate?
  • What benefits do you offer?
  • Is the company bound by a collective bargaining agreement?
  • What does the recruitment process look like?