The three most important aspects of a job interview
We interviewed experts in the field, who shared with us their own formulas when they have to pick up a candidate.
To draw the complete picture and cover maximally each side of your job interview to be explored before conquering the top, we also interviewed people with diverse profiles, just like you.
Our potential candidates gave us a good overview of considerations and techniques they apply to show the best side of themselves on the job interview.
All of the interviewed people revealed for us some of the most important aspects of the job interview.
- Which questions are the most powerful sources of information about the person they interview?
- What actually shows them how good a candidate is for a given position?
- What did they learn as a result of diverse experience in the field of hiring people?
Are you going to a job interview? One advice that you probably already have received is that you need to prepare your answers carefully.
The question is:
How do you think your answers through in a tensed environment and when you do not know what you will be asked about?
If you also wonder how, there is no doubt – you are on the right page! The tips we give you in this post will be your ultimate guide to the dreamed job of yours.
38 Question and answers for a job interview – complete list
The first interview is my ‘chemistry check’ – get an overview of the obvious things – check the personality.
Tue Holmberg – Holmberg Inc.
Section 1: Introducing questions
– build up a good impression from the start
“The interview for me a feel and it’s a person thing. It’s about what people are and not what they answer in one specific question. For me it’s a whole thing – it’s an impression of people’s personality.”
1. Tell us about yourself
Since this is often the opening question in a job interview, you should be extra cautious not to spend too much time answering.
Keep your expressions brief and precise, your answer should last not more than two minutes.
Some of the themes you might come around are: education, career and recent experience in your career. Stick to the positive aspects, the targeted objective of your resume. Find a common niche that build up to this particular job, but do so only implicitly.
Remember that it is just a warming offhand question – do not tell your life story, just place a good metaphor about yourself, for starters ; )
Make sure you place an impressive definition of yourself from the very beginning.
You’re the one who needs to make sure the following – up questions will be build upon a positive foundation.
2. How much do you know about our company?
You should be able to talk about products, services, income, image, goals, problems, business philosophy, management style and history.
But first – test the water. Show an informed interest, but also let the interviewer tell you more about the company. Your answer should reflect that you have taken time to research, but do not overwhelm your interviewer with knowledge – it works just didactic.
Let the door slightly opened, indicating that you have more to learn.
Begin your answer: “I have examined a number of companies. X is one of the few that interests me, and it is for the following reasons … “.
Give your answer a positive impact. Do not say: “I have heard that you have problems, and therefore I thought that …”.
3. Why do you want to work for us?
Or in other words:
What is your personal motivation?
Why do you actually want this job?
This is defined as one of the most important questions for the experts we interviewed.
This is where they find an inspiration to hire you. So you definitely need to give them one, even more.
Most boring and worst answer you can give is: “Because I think industry is exciting.”
And you should not say: “Because I think it would be blistered to score the job”.
One of the people we interviewed also pointed a specific answer to this question, which surprisingly, gets received quite often nowadays:
“Well, I thought to come in and sort of feel the rush…”
“See, we don’t feel the rush here, we work here”
Here, as well as through the entire interview, come good response because of that you have done your homework so you can speak on behalf of the company’s needs.
You could, for example, say that the company gets involved in things that you would like to work with, and it does so in a way that particularly interests you.
If your company for example is known for strong leadership and strong brand, your answer could include this, at the same time show that you want to be part of the team.
If the company emphasizes that it is innovative and explorative, stress on the fact that you appreciate being able to think innovatively and think aloud.
Show in other words that you can fit into their culture without problem.
Do not talk just about what you want without the involvement of their needs: you want to be part of a specific project in the company, you want to solve a business problem, you can help to achieve a specific goal for the company.
If you do not have something good to answer, you should probably not apply for the job. Because if you slip through the interview with an artificial self-presentation, you win nothing but a job that you do not see yourself in as good fit.
Honesty is the best practice.
4. What can you do for us that others can not?
“People always say: I’m a perfectionist, I’m a proven professional in my sphere…
And this is not interesting for me as an interviewer, this is a cliché.”
Here you have every right – and possibly also the obligation – to honk at your own horn and be a bit smug.
Tell about how you have got things completed – refer to specific headlines in your CV.
Say that your skills and interests, combined with your experience and your results make you valuable asset.
Mention that your experience and skills will enable you to prioritize and solve tasks. In short: If you want to win, so manufacturers like a winner.
5. What is it about the position that attracts you the most? And the least?
This is not a difficult one. You should mention three or four attractive factors of the job and a minor inconvenience or a natural challenge.
Say that the canteen you are leaving from, prepares some amazing tartlets on Thursdays and that you’re going to miss them.
Or say that you are very well aware that it is an exposed post which requires unpopular decisions – or find similar examples where you indicate that you are well aware what the job actually requires.
If your new view changes negatively, do not say that you will miss the view of the lakes and the many fine inspirations you got while you looked at them.
It is a serious drawback.
And do not say that you are afraid that the project can not be implemented.
6. Why should we hire you?
“Because at the end of the day it is you that would be wounded if I make a mistake hiring you. I’m not a gambler, who can play with people’s life.”
- Tue Holmberg
Keep that quotation in mind.
And answer honestly, do not hide your real side, but show your truthful characteristics through your sincere answers.
A hire by mistake is not only money-consuming for the employer. So do not think selfishly, because:
It will definitely also hurt yourself as a person, involved in “unhappy marriage”, which simply cannot exist without exhaustion and problems on a daily basis for both parties.
“It’s about chemistry and enthusiasm. Those are my guiding lines when hiring a person.”
Remember, do not boast.
Change the viewing angle away from yourself and connect your strengths to the company’s self-perceived needs.
During your answers to 2, 3 and 4, you’ve already got an idea of where the interviewer nods most eagerly, so do not hesitate to use that knowledge.
7. What do you put emphasis on in your job?
Keep your answers revolve around the potential of the company.
Talk about your willingness to do a good job and to be recognized for it.
Remember to be offensive, not defensive – the answer should be about possibilities rather than on security.
So what you can do for the company, and not what it can do for you.
Remember to keep strictly to the company’s interests – these people can not see that you become a better employee because the workplace is close to your residence or that the position can make your life easier in other ways.
It is about how to make business life easier – exclusively.
8. How do you see the position – can you give a definition of it?
Keep your answer short and practical.
Think of “responsibility”, “sense of responsibility” and – depending on the job – “vision” and “development”.
Be sure you really understand what the position involves before you try to respond.
If you are not sure, better ask the interviewer.
The company is interested in hiring someone who can think about themselves.
9. How long will it take you to do your best for the company?
“I hate bragging on a job interview.
I love determination.”
Say that it will take six months to an year before you expect to have such a complete knowledge of the business to an extend that allows your full potential to be expressed.
But this depends on the job. Be careful not to seem uncertain in impossible questions like these – your non-verbal expression may be more important than what you say.
10. How long do you expect to be with us?
Say that you are interested in a career in business, but admit that it will require you to continue feeling challenged and under a good development process.
Lead towards the thought: “As long as both parties get something out of it.” It is fair, and you act like you know what your own worth actually is.
Section 2: Experiences and Achievements
“It’s not always about the facts. I don’t always care if you’ve been to that school or another. It’s about style. And if your style fits with what the company is doing, or what I, as an entrepreneur am doing.”
11. Your application suggests that you may be overqualified for the position. What do you think about that?
Emphasize on your long-term interest in the company and say that you expect that a good action will open new opportunities at the company.
Mention that a strong company needs skilled employees, and experienced managers are always in high demand.
Note that your employer will redeem its investment faster because you’re so qualified.
Say that a growing and ambitious company can never have too much talent.
No one can be over-qualified in a company with opportunities.
12. Are you good at working with others?
The job you seek, should fit the working methods you thrive on.
“There are only few jobs without the need of team playing. So that’s definitely a must”
Then refer to past experiences of your team working.
You can not win by getting into how you have overcome cooperation problems – it’s too complicated and it is negative.
Everyone has experienced problems of cooperation with idiots on their way.
Efficient and constructive people let it slip out of their memory.
So you simply can not remember cooperation problems unless they were media covered.
Use your answer to the question of whether you are task-oriented, results-oriented or something else – or tell an anecdote about a successful cooperation or trade.
Our expert Tue Holberg points out team cooperation to be one of the most important assets he’s examining when interviewing someone.
“I need to know the person is a team player. You should be able to catch a ball and deal with it, but also – to run together with your team players towards the finish line. We win and we lose together – as a team.”
- Tue Holberg
13. Are you good to have many balls in the air? And you are good to prioritize your tasks?
“Are you good in multitasking?”
The answer is in principle the same as for question 12.
Refer to previous jobs where it has been important as a part of your qualifications.
You have everything to lose and nothing to gain in this kind of question, so do not tell your story about stress. It is taboo!
Your employer knows whether this job causes stress or not – you’ll find out too.
14. Are you good to meet a deadline?
“You should ask in other ways and trying to get a feel for the person. Because if you ask if they meet deadlines directly, no one’s going to say No. But instead of asking I build an impression about the person from the way they act.”
Being good with deadlines is a part of your personality, you can show that easily.
So take that into consideration and expect the interviewer to skip this question, but make his/her own opinion on your possibilities by the way you act, from your overall behaviour.
“It depends on what kind of experience the person has. For example if I know that you’ve been working for a good company, then I know you must be good with meeting deadlines. But it’s a person without background which I can relate to, it’s good to ask: Do you know what it is to work with deadlines in a team of diverse characters?”
Of course you have had experiences with poor prioritization, lack of inspiration or your vanity about work has challenged certain deadlines – and, of course, you have not always complied with them.
But your interviewer does not check that out, and there is only one valid answer to this question: “Yes, absolutely!”.
And of course it is good to prove it with arguments – examples of previous jobs where deadlines were the most important.
If you are accepted to second and third – round interview, your ability to meet deadlines will be tested in reality.
Tue Holmberg from Holmberg Inc. always tests the candidate’s abilities to deal with a task of his choice, under specified deadline.
This can be an hour or more, up to 24 hours – challenge.
Either way, even if you cannot entirely finish the task, he can get a very good overview of your working methods and how much work you can actually get done in an hour.
Section 3: Leadership
“I see a lot of people underestimate how difficult a job interview as a process is. It shouldn’t be just part of your job responsibilities, you need a special training in order to hire the right people for your business.”
15. How many people were you responsible for in your previous job?
Be specific with that number. It is not a good idea to exaggerate, because this kind of experience is definitely irreplaceable.
As soon as you turn your leadership skills into practice, the real answer to that question will be immediately discovered.
Remember that every experience is counted as your advantage and the numbers are nothing to be ashamed of in this case.
As we said above, during the intro – be honest and think about the positive outcomes.
16. What is important for you when you hire people?
Think about “skills”, “initiative” and “social skills in working with others.”
Mention that you like to hire people who are trying to move up in the company via their responsible and satisfying hard work.
17. Have you helped to increase sales? How did you manage?
Give a slow and detailed description.
Again, do not try to make up stories.
You should be good at sales in order to claim so. Otherwise you are only wasting your time, applying for a position which does not fulfill your interests and skills you posses truthfully.
18. Have you helped to reduce costs? How?
Pursue the same effect like in question 17.
Do not overwhelm, be honest, descriptive and positive in your words.
Show that you sincerely enjoy the story and it is one of the best things you brought to the company of your past experiences.
19. Have you ever had to fire employees? What was the reason? And how did you handle the situation?
Admit that the situation was not easy, but say that it felt reasonable for both parties.
Show that you, like everyone else, do not treasure unpleasant tasks, but you can address them efficiently and – in the current case – humanly.
20. What important trends do you see in the industry?
Be prepared with two or three trends that show your knowledge of the industry.
You might consider technological challenges and opportunities, or for example, economic and competitive conditions.
This is where you must show that you can think of the company’s “visionary glasses”.
21. Why are you leaving your current job?
Come quickly to the point and be as honest as you can without threatening yourself. If you were fired, say so. Otherwise: indicate that it was your own decision.
But do not mention any personal conflicts at all.
The interviewer will probably spend some time on this question, especially if it is clear that you are resigning.
The argument “we agreed to disagree” can be useful. Remember that your references can be checked, so do not invent stories.
Never talk about how badly you think of your boss or your colleagues because this way you can be easily perceived as a conflict person.
It is better for example to say, depending on the job’s specifications, that you are looking for a job where you get to use your experience in recruitment or that you want to use your language skills more.
Section 4: Working Habits
“I’ve already read their CV, so I know about their skills. What interests me during the interview is to see more about their personality, even when referring to job-related skills.”
22. How do you feel about giving up the benefits of your current job in search of a new one?
You are worried, of course. But do not panic.
You are willing to take risks in order to find the right job.
You have steady nerves and belief in your own abilities.
Refer to these facts in your speech and express sincere admiration about the opportunity to compete for this position.
The only way to win is to show your strengths into practice.
This is one of the question, which allows you doing that in a few sentences.
23. What do (did) you like best about your present (last) job? And what do (did) you like least?
Be careful and be positive. Find more things you liked than did not like – and again, did not transfer into personal conflicts.
If you make your current (last) job sound terrible, the interviewer will wonder why you have been (were) there until now and did not take an action earlier.
And one of your strengths you definitely want to communicate is determination to pursue your brighter future.
24. What do you think of your boss?
Be as positive as you can.
This is your potential boss and he will probably think you would mention him in similar terms at some point in future.
And who says also that the two bosses do not know each other?
25. If I had a chat with your previous boss, what would he / she say your strengths and weaknesses are?
Emphasize strengths and do not be too negative, but respectful to your weaknesses.
It is always safest to point to your weaknesses as developmental challenges you are willing to take on in future perspective.
25. Why you have not gone any further in your career?
Say that this fact is exactly one of the reasons why you are looking for new challenges.
Do not be defensive.
Being considered as a candidate for this position shows that you possess what it takes to become a professional.
Be confident about your qualifications and expertise and refer to the saying that only the brave ones can go further.
Even if your current job does not give you the needed path to go upper, you are willing to spend extra energy and make your own path through “the top”.
26. Can you describe a situation where you have been criticized?
Be as positive as possible and tell what you have learned from the incident.
Section 5: Salary
“Most people don’t want to drop their salary rate”
27. What do you think your salary should be?
Salary is a delicate topic and essential part of the interviewer’s impressions for your value as a candidate.
“Even the most qualified professional who has completely different expectations about the salary than mine is not a possible match.”
- Jeppe Larsen
In order to still feel comfortable you could say: “I understand that the range for this job is between X and Y. And I find this reasonable.”
You could also respond with a question: “Maybe you can help me on the way – is there a corresponding position in the company, which I can compare to?”.
If you are asked this question during an initial round, you can say that you need to know more about the job responsibilities before you can give a meaningful answer.
If you are still working at your previous workplace, which your interviewer is well aware of, you can reply “You know that I earn X now.
And like everyone else, I like to improve my salary, but my main priority is the job itself as a great opportunity for my future growth.”
(Remember that changing jobs does not automatically make yourself more valuable candidate).
If a recruitment agency is involved, your contact there may help you clarify the average wage for this type of job.
If there is no way to only give an income range and the interviewer continues to challenge you to be more specific on this question, there is nothing else to do than to name a number.
Do not give the impression that money mean nothing and for that matter you are willing to accept anything. Moreover, give the impression that salary is the most important issue.
The interviewer may try to find out how much you want the job. Connecting the salary with the job itself will lead to the fact that it is the job that is the most important.
Talk as little about salary as possible until you reach the final round of the interview process.
At this point you know that the company is genuinely interested in you, and that wage bargaining situation therefore is less uncomfortable.
28. What is your current base salary?
“It’s an indication of what they expect. They come from one salary so they at least expect that to be matched or even increased.”
This is another possible question, which will most likely bring your confusion.
How should I respond to this question?
- you start asking yourself and getting more and more uneasy…
But we have exactly the right answer to this question:
You should never answer with specific number
- remember this
All you can do in order to give satisfying answer is to stress that the salary is always related to the value you are able to bring to the company and its successful growth.
You want to make sure you are bringing the level of success and growth, which firstly fulfills the company’s needs and your own.
Only after that you can talk about numbers.
Do not ever talk about your current (previous) payment, because the worst mistake is to relate the salary to a place you are trying to quit (have already quit).
You want to negotiate a salary which corresponds to your personal carer’s improvement and bringing on facts from your background (past) is not a way to accomplish that goal.
So, be confident, stay focused and reference to the future as possible moment of talking more about value and responsibilities vs. specific payment.
29. What are your goals in a long term?
Relate your goals to the company, implicitly or explicitly, but do not act superficially, saying, “I want this job”.
Mention specific professional goals, which will also show a bit of your personality and strivings as a person and professional.
30. How satisfied are you with your career so far?
Speak to the interview all in all, express happiness for what you have achieved so far, and that you have nothing to complain about when you take life’s normal ups and downs into account.
Give a positive and confident impression of yourself, but do not overdo it.
An answer like: “It runs great! I am very pleased with myself and find myself largely in a state of happiness” will probably get the interviewer to think you are trying to deceive him – or yourself.
The most convincing confidence is usually the quiet self-assurance.
Section 6: Personal characteristics
“I would rate personality higher than skills. Because skills are something you can build up, but personality you cannot change.”
31. Are you creative?
Yes. Give an immediate example without waiting for leading up question.
Try to focus on another positive characteristics you possess which are good compliment to your creativeness.
A colorful pallet of skills which also match well together is one way to step out of the crowd and attract positive attention to yourself.
You should also take into account the possibility that this question will be asked indirectly.
Which means, you can probably receive some kind of extraordinary task to solve.
If they use imaginary scene and impossible in real life scenario, where you have the job to come up with problem-solving ideas, you definitely need to show your creativeness without stumbling.
Image that you are on the other side of that table and try to answer with a funny, yet reasonable (as much as a reasonable answer is possible for the scene you’ve been put into) answer.
Many people feel uncomfortable and stressed to use their imagination on job interview, but it always depends on the type of job.
If you are applying for a highly – creative field of business, you need to show the maximum of your good skills in inventing stories and solving even crazy tasks.
32. How would you describe your personality?
“I want to get in behind your façade.”
Describe a person in balance. Work – leisure, humor – seriousness, controlling – sensitive, work in groups – work independently, and so on.
It is not just that you are creative, happy and good to work with, but try to describe or give examples that illustrate these facts.
“It is my responsibility as interviewer to act seriously and assure that we’ll have ‘happy marriage’ ”
- Tue Holmberg
Build a nicely balanced portrait of a candidate you would wish to hire if you were on the interviewer’s place.
Your positive personal characteristics are a wonderful source of inspiration for him/her to do so.
33. Where are you in five years?
To answer this question, give more long-term goals.
You should literally think in future perspective and imagine yourself in five years, from professional point of view of course.
Be specific and use the question as your advantage to show goal-orientation and persuasion.
Lead to some pure evidences of your way towards achieving the mentioned goals – what are you currently doing in order to put efforts into realizing your big 5-years plan.
34. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
“You never ask someone in if their skills don’t match with what you’re looking for. Therefore everyone should remember to relax before the interview and remember that they wouldn’t be called to it unless their skills fit.”
When you give examples of strengths, you can relate them to the company and the job you are seeking.
Do not say you have no weaknesses, but show instead that you know about them and you also work to improve them.
Turn the negative response which is expected into a positive instead.
35. Tell about something you are proud of.
Here you can give examples of something that affects the job, but it’s not necessary.
There is much in life to be proud of.
Your children, your driver’s license, that you have gone through something difficult and developed appreciation to the lessons you’ve learnt as a result, etc.
36. What is your bad side?
Say something that is positive disguised as something negative (example: I should be better at delegating = I am always in control), or something very general that everyone can agree on.
The best answer is, of course, the all-encompassing and positive: I place very high demands on myself. A forgivable spiritual problem.
Never say the truth here. Your real bad sides is something you talk with your friends, wife and psychologist about.
37. What do you like to do in your free time?
Hmm, this question looks pretty easy, right?
But why is it also so important?
“It’s important to know what a person does apart from the job. We’re going to talk all the time and you cannot talk about work all the time. So having something in common with this person is also important. This is related to our good cooperation.”
Keep in mind that you can also be asked about specific parts of your hobbies.
What book do you like to read?
What do you do when you get off your job?
And this is the point where your interviewer senses whether or not he/she have common interests with yours.
So do not underestimate the importance of this question.
38. What can I do for you to feel better and have fun at work?
This is the question which one of our interviewed on the topic participants always asks his candidates. Because as he says:
“It has to be fun to go to work”
- Jepe Laursen
The answer to this question is essentially important to see what type of person are you.
And of course, there is no one specific answer which is considered correct, but you need to be truthful and express your real personality through the ways you would feel more conformable at your workplace.
Believe me, the most important characteristic for the interviewer is actually your real personality.
Because it defines how valuable are you as a candidate. And moreover, how much the interviewer would enjoy working with you in a future perspective.
This was our ultimate questions + answers list, which will give you descriptive insights and prepare you with detailed expectations.
Thank you for staying with us to the very end.
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