Common Interview Questions

Interviews are designed to test whether you have the skills to do the job, the personality to fit in with the company, and the enthusiasm to be a success in the role.

Every interviewer has their own style, however here are a list of common questions which if you can answer using real life examples, will help you on the way to enjoying a successful interview.

We would recommend thinking about your answers, and even rehearsing with family, friends and indeed your dedicated recruiter at de Grouchy Partnership.

Tell me about yourself?

This is a very common interview question, and you will need to have a well rehearsed "elevator pitch" style answer that lasts about three or four minutes. Try to:

  • Give a brief summary of your experience, and keep this relevant to the job in hand
  • Have a list of real life achievements to impress the interviewer
  • Stay positive, and portray and air of enthusiasm
  • Try not to focus on irrelevant subjects to the role in hand

What are your key strengths?

Prepare two or three key strengths, backed up by examples that are relevant to the role you are interviewing for, i.e. if you are applying for a research role, display your analytical prowess.

What are your weaknesses?

A common question – try not to be too cliché with answers like “I just work too hard” – it doesn’t fool anyone! However DO focus on a weakness that might not matter so much for the job in hand. Also consider telling the interviewer how you have overcome a weakness (ie phobia of presenting etc).

Why did you leave your last job?

Too frequently people focus on the negatives of their previous role or company; however remain positive and upbeat and never criticise. For example, if it was due to redundancy, talk around the company restructure.

Why do you want this job / Why should we employ you?

This is the perfect opportunity to sell yourself to your new employer.
Remember to:

  • Convey your interest in the role
  • Show the mutual benefits a hire would have for you
    and the new employer
  • Display your skill set
  • Modest flattery about the company often goes down
    well whilst showing you have done your research


Tell me about a difficult scenario at work and how you dealt with it?

They are testing how you cope under pressure as well as your problem-solving
and communication skills. Good examples are where you:

  • helped resolve or improved a difficult situation
  • were resilient in adverse conditions
  • showed emotional intelligence and cool-headedness

Avoid any examples which still feel sensitive, because in a high-pressure interview situation, old emotions can easily resurface and throw you off balance.

What are your two greatest achievements?

Keep this example work related, and always have more than one example up your sleeve. Remember to explain the situation, what you did, and back up with the end result. If you can quantify your achievement, then all the better.

Where do you want to be in five years time?

The interviewer is looking to see whether you view their business as a long term option. What can the employer offer you? Where is this role likely to take you? Refrain from being over ambitious, keep realistic and focused.

What are your salary expectations?

Always exercise caution when answering this question, it is often best to give a salary range rather than saying a particular figure, and never inflate your current earnings.
Negotiations are best left to the end of the process, and you must reassure the interviewer that your next move is motivated more by the job than the money!

Do you have any questions?

Always prepare questions that are important to you prior to an interview. At first stage try to limit this to no more than four or five and perhaps focus them around;

  • Company or team structure
  • Development opportunities for this role
  • Next steps of the interview
  • Key responsibilities of the role, or perhaps an area you require further clarification on

More in the Career Centre:

CV Template

Your CV is arguably the most important tool you will need when finding a new job. It will often be your first impression to an employer, setting the tone of your interview. Get your CV off to the best start with our free template.

Download CV (MS Word format)

Strengthen your CV
with Numbers

They say a picture can be worth a 1000 words but so can Numbers. Often when speed-reading you find numbers help to explain, prioritise and make understanding easier and quicker.

Find out how to get the most out of numbers when writing your CV with this guide.

Preparing for
Aptitude Tests

It is increasingly common for employers to use numerical and verbal reasoning tests in order to assess candidate’s ability to process verbal and numerical information within a set period of time.

Use this guide to get an understanding what this will mean for your interview.