Possible interview questions

January 2006

Job interviewThere are numerous questions that you can be asked in an interview. Below are lists of some typical questions, possible replies, and questions that you could ask the interviewer.

In thinking of your answers to these questions, consider what skills and experience are needed for the job and what you want to highlight about yourself.

Possible questions by the employer

The job and the company

  • Why are you interested in the job?
  • Why are you interested in this industry (for example financial services, construction or retail)?
  • Which technologies have you used or do you know that would be particularly relevant for this job?
  • What else can you bring to the company?
  • What do you know about the company?
  • What makes you think that you would be good in this role?
  • What aspects least appeal to about this role?
  • How do you hope to develop in this role?
  • What changes would you make if given this job?
  • Have you experience of this sort of role?

About you

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years' time?
  • How do you motivate others?
  • Would you describe yourself as a team player?
  • What do you do in your spare time?

Previous experience

  • What were the key responsibilities in your last job?
  • For programmers, can you give me an example of a project in which you used x language?
  • How successful do you feel you were?
  • What do you rate as your best achievement to date?
  • What is your worst professional failure?
  • What did you enjoy most about your previous job?
  • What do you do particularly well?
  • Can you describe a difficult problem and how you dealt with it?
  • Why do you wish to leave your current job?

About the industry

  • What do you see as the most important current trends in the industry?
  • What do you think of the impact of x (recent developments) will be on the industry?

Scenarios

  • What would you do if:
    • you got behind schedule with your part of a project?
    • a customer accused you of sabotaging their network?

Possible replies to questions

Tell me about yourself.
Keep your answer fairly brief, explaining your background and highlighting your attributes and what you have done that are relevant to the job.

Why do you want to work here?
A chance to show off your knowledge of the company, and you can use this to explain how the company can provide the best environment to fulfil your potential. For example, I am keen to work in a large company that has a highly structured graduate recruitment scheme.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?
For strengths, you can think back to the attributes the company was looking for and which of them fits you, for instance, flexibility, attention to detail, a quick learner, team working, leadership. Put a positive spin on your weaknesses – present them as minor flaws that you can learn from.

What would you do if…
If you have been in a situation similar to the one described, you can explain what you did on that occasion. Otherwise, it’s a matter of giving what you think is the correct course of action. For example, if behind with your contribution to a project, you’d tell the project leader, look at options for the deadline to be extended, work out if you could catch up yourself and if not, get in extra help.

Possible questions for you to ask the employer

The job

  • How much of my time would be spent on…?
  • Where will I fit into the overall organizational structure?
  • Who will I report to?
  • Where does he/she fit in the structure?
  • Who will I be working with? How experienced are they?
  • What do you expect me to achieve in the first six months?
  • Will there be any travel in this post?
  • When will you decide on the appointment? When are you looking for your new employee to start? What is the next step in your recruitment process?

The company

  • Which technologies do you see your organization adopting in the next few years?
  • Which direction is your company moving in?
  • Who are your main customers?
  • Who are your main suppliers?

Training and progression

  • How is training organized? What provision do you make to keep IT skills up-to-date?
  • What opportunities are there for progression in the company?
  • How do you monitor progress?


Avoid asking about the salary at an early interview, unless of course the interviewer brings it up. Once the company has decided they are interested in you, you are in a much stronger position.