Graduate job seeker

Your ultimate guide to job interview questions (with answers)


Many of the posed questions will be questions which are commonly asked amongst interviewers; therefore, knowing which ones they are and what are their possible answers will help you have a better interview.

Here is how you should use these example questions in order to make them more useful:

  • Read the questions and answers once.
  • Modify the answers according to your vocabulary, knowledge and position to cover.
  • Review the modified answers, repeating the ones that you find most difficult until they feel natural.
  • Act in front of a mirror to gain confidence.

The questions they can pose you are limited and the interviewers can have new options. Preparing the answers for these questions we picked as the most representative ones, will let you answer properly to any variant they may present you.

Newer interview techniques are based on analysing your past experience, including your best achievements, your failures and mistakes. It is possible that you will have to talk about these experiences with your interviewer, so this emphasizes the importance of preparation.

Questions About The Family And Personal Information

Most of the questions in this area have a secondary value to determine your qualities to perform in a specific position. For this group of questions, reply with short and simple answers and limit yourself to talk just about the facts. Remember also that interviewers should not be delving too deeply into your personal life. if they ask for example about childcare arrangements, this can be viewed as discrimination.

1. What do your parents do?

Avoid negative answers. Show your pride about your parents, but don’t exaggerate. If you have a problem with them, comment it with few words, without showing emotion. This is not the time or the place to describe bad situations or old grudges.

2. Do you live with your parents?

Don’t think that living with them is a bad thing. Many people think that sharing the expenses with their parents is financially beneficial. Give the impression you have taken a responsible financial decision. If you live with another person, your partner or a friend, simply explain this without giving the situation any special connotation.

3. What do your brothers and/or sisters do? Or what do your brothers and/or sisters study?

They can pose those questions if you make reference to other members of your family you live with.

4. Do you own your house or you just rent it?

Be brief and honest about your real situation. If you rent a house and your plan includes buying a house in the short term this is additional information you can give.

5. How far from the company do you live?

If you live close, you should show enthusiasm about the situation. Many employers like it when their employees live near the company. If on the contrary you live far away, say that you would be willing to move closer to the company’s offices, if they hire you. Or, if you are not willing to move, say that the transportation time is not a problem for you, that you are interested in the position and that you are willing to travel … if you were hired.

About Your Personal Life

There are countries in which certain questions are against the law, as for example, questions related to race, color, religion, ethnic origin, age, gender, marital status, physical handicap, medical condition, information about arrests or any other criterion included by the legislation.

Here are some common questions you may be asked about your personal life:

1. What is your family life like?

Be brief and spontaneous. Don’t try to be what you really aren’t and don’t feel. On the other hand, keep in mind that all the employers value an organized life with a certain family routine.

2. How much time do you spend with your family?

Try to give a balanced answer. Keep in mind that you may be talking with a person who considers that the work is the most important thing or alternatively with someone who values the time dedicated to the family.

Both things are important in a person’s life; describe your thoughts without expressing which one is more important than the other.

3. Describe your relationship with your children.

(Assuming you have already mentioned them) Keep the balance once again. Show your pride without going to extremes. If you have gorgeous children, this is not the appropriate time to show their pictures. If by the contrary, you got divorced and your ex doesn’t allow you to see them, prepare your answer, so you will avoid showing your emotions during the interview. If you are going through a bad moment, your interviewer will understand it, I recommend you to rehearse these answers in order to manage your emotions better.

4. Women with small children are frequently asked about their care.

Most interviewers know that they should NOT be asking this question. If you discuss childcare with a candidate and don’t offer them the job, the candidate may accuse you of discrimination. However, unsurprisingly, they do sometimes still ask.  You can answer if you like – it is at their peril!

Keep in mind that they don’t expect you to stop taking proper care of your children because of the work, but not to stop taking proper care of your work because of your children either.

A reasonable attitude and an adequate answer is that, whenever there is a problem you will find the way of attending the family emergency and, for example, with a phone call, delegating the work of the day to a work colleague, etc.

NB. You may decide to avoid wearing jewellery or other items to the interview that give away details about your personal life. This is completely your decision but do keep in mind that discrimination does occur, even if it should not.

Personal Finances, Health And Other Personal Details

1. Do you make a budget for your personal finances?

If you don’t, don’t invent one because they can ask you for details.

It is supposed that a person who manages their personal finances in an organized way will be an employee who will manage well their orbit of expenses in the company.

If your spouse or civil partner manages the budget in your family, admit it, you will be honest by telling the truth.

2. Do you have debts?

Answer frankly, debts can be seen from many different angles: you have debts because you are ambitious and reflect your growth desires, or in a negative way: you don’t administrate your resources adequately and this is why you have debts.

As you can see, everything can have at least two different interpretations.

3. Do you have a driver’s license?

If the answer is no, you can say: “If the position requires it, I will get a license as soon as possible.”

4. Has your driver’s license ever been revoked? Why?

If the answer to this question is yes, the best thing to do is to consider your personal situation carefully and find the way of presenting the facts as positively as you can.

5. When did you have your last physical exam?

This is again a very difficult topic that can invite a claim of discrimination and there is a very fine line.

I suggest you not to comment minor topics, such as I caught a cold last month, or similar things. There are people who have a natural propensity to be sick. Be optimist and talk only about some relevant situation or something your interviewer should really know.

6. Do you have any chronic health problem we should consider?

This is a question that can be illegal in some countries.

Asking directly if you have any health conditions is not ok in England and Wales. Questioning a person over a disability and whether or not it would affect their ability to do the job is grounds for disability discrimination.

If you decide to answer (remember they are asking this question at their own peril but at the same time, if you answer, you may not be invited back) you could limit yourself to saying that you have no physical problem that can interfere with your duties. However, make careful notes after the interview of exactly what was said by both parties.

Questions About Your Education

1. What university did you attend?

I attended… in…”

2. Why did you attend that university in particular?

“I chose that university because I had very good references about its academic levels and its teachers. Besides that, I know other graduated people who have given me very good references.”

With this type of question they evaluate the autonomy of the decision and your participation in it. Therefore, saying that your father or your mother chose that university for you is not a good answer.

3. How long did it take you to graduate? Tell me about your grades, failed courses …

This question is generally for young people. If you had a standard performance, simply talk about your case. If on the other hand, you took a longer time to graduate than expected and/or you failed courses many times, be aware that they are going to ask about that. Prepare a reasonable explanation about this topic.

4. Why did you choose… as a major? Or why did you choose the… career?

Once again, you are expected to give a coherent answer. If you have an interesting story of how you chose this, talk about it. If you were unsure about your career choice you could answer: “I was a good student and I was fond of many subjects, at the last moment I decided to study… and I took the right choice, I found my vocation!”

5. Do you think you made the right decision?

If you are still on the same career path then give a positive answer. You could add that since choosing this career you have acquired training and experience that has taught you a lot. If you are one of those people who made a change of career because you initially chose the wrong career, you can talk about your experience and comment on the decision to change your career being the right decision.

6. Has your education and training prepared you for this position?

If you do not have all the necessary training for the post, express your interest in taking part in any training courses etc., and put emphasis in your fast learning capacity.

7. Why didn’t you continue your formal education?

“At that time I preferred to work rather than studying.” or “Work absorbed me in such a way that I decided to focus totally on it at that time.” Don’t use phrases like: “I didn’t finish my studies because they were providing nothing to me.” Or “You know, a title is not important.” Don’t say either that it is not possible to work and study at the same time because many people have done it and do it nowadays. Don’t emit value judgments about it. Limit yourself to describe the facts.

8. Do you currently attend or are you planning to attend any kind of course?

I currently study … at …” If you don’t attend any course: “I haven’t found the time to dedicate to a course at the moment, but I will do it as soon as I can.”
Or: “I plan to … for the next year.”

9. Have you attended professional seminars or conferences in the last two years? Was it on your own?

“Yes, I attended the … in … (month). This course helped me to… and the most interesting thing was …”

10. Do the averages in your studies reflect your instruction?

If you are a young person who has just finished your studies or you are still studying, this is a pertinent question. If your grades are high, the answer will be easier. If on the contrary, your grades are not good, one answer could be: “It is true that my grades are not the best, but they don’t represent me, I think that I can be very productive at work.” If you are an adult person who finished your studies many years ago, your best answer will be to value your achievements at work, putting emphasis on the things you can do, further than the things you learnt in the classrooms.

11. Mention three things you learnt at university that can be used in this position.

If you prepare for the interview, you could think about a response to this kind of question in advance. If you can’t think of three examples, a good answer could be: “The most important thing the university has taught me in order to perform in my professional life is to solve problems.”

12. What subject did you succeed at in your studies?

Try to think of a subject you like and, at the same time, means something to the employer or that has any relation to the job you are applying for.

13. Have you ever needed private classes? In what subjects?

“No, I have never needed them” Or: ‘Yes, I took private lessons of… but just for a short time. They helped me a lot at the time.”

Questions On Your Personality

Keep in mind that you won’t change your individual character just by reading these questions and answers. Many human characteristics can be modified only with training and, in some cases, with support therapies. The following information is included for you to learn better how you will be evaluated according to your personality. Also remember that it isn’t possible to fool a good interviewer.

In order to feel comfortable in the interviews, focus on the real aspects of your history, previous work, achievements, situations you have improved, etc. Relate your past experiences, whenever possible, to the position you are applying for.

1. Do you consider yourself an intelligent person?

You could answer: “Yes. I think I am aware of my strengths and weaknesses and I know how to manage myself adequately.”

2. Do you prefer working alone or in teams?

All management books talk about the advantages of teamwork and that is the current tendency. You could say that although you do work well alone, you do enjoy working as part of a team.

3. Do you like working with other people?

This question is related with the previous one. Do you really like working with other people and in teams? If it were pertinent, a possible answer would be: “Without a doubt. There is nothing better than working with a group of people.” But if the role involves a lot of lone working, you might want to play this down and say that you’re happy either way.

4. What are the reasons of your success?

Do you know them? This is the moment to talk about them without letting your ego go too far. Commitment and the hard work are usually the most common reasons of the success. A possible answer would be: “I work hard and I like what I do.”

5. What is your idea of success?

Success is a word that can have different meanings, depending on who we are asking. An answer could be: “Success is to reach…”, and indicate the highest position you aim to.

6. Do you have many absences, justified or not?

If your attendance is good, then you have no problems.

If your absences have an explanation, as an accident or an illness, explain the reasons and clarify the fact. Don’t lie about it; don’t forget that these facts can easily be determined from your references.

7. Do you have problems traveling?

Think before answering. Does the position you are applying for require traveling? If not, the question can be related to your future career. Be sincere. On the other hand, consider that the employers prefer people who have no problems at all.

8. Mention some books you have read in the last months.

Mention best sellers if possible. Don’t mention books that you know only by the name – you will need to have some knowledge of any books you mention in the event that the interviewer asks you further questions about them.

9. What kind of people do you dislike?

All organizations expect to recruit people “who will cause no problems”, this is why it is desirable for any new employee to be an open person, who gets on well with everybody. You could answer “Generally, I have no problems getting along with other people, even if they think or behave different than me. I try to be open about it.”

10. How do you accept dress codes?

Companies have different dress codes. If you don’t know them, explain that it is important to wear conservative and comfortable clothes. You should transmit the idea that you are an adaptable person.

11. Are you an innovative person?

Being innovative doesn’t mean changing your mind everyday. On the contrary, it means that a person is permeable to the changes and who provides new ideas to induce them into a given context.
“I think so. I give my ideas at any opportunity I can.”

12. Do you think you have made mistakes? Give me an example.

One of the biggest benefits of intelligence is the capacity of learning from our mistakes and disappointments. Talk about a real situation from which you have learnt something.

13. This position requires making frequent presentations. Tell me about a situation that has been difficult for you and how you felt about it.

There are people who have panic attacks when they have to speak in public. If this is your case, take some kind of action today in order to solve it, from a therapy to an oratory course. If you have made presentations or spoken at conferences in the past, talk about a successful experience.

14. What can you say about yourself?

Try a short and positive answer about yourself. Telling the truth but describing positive things.

15. What do you think are your best abilities?

Mention your specific work abilities – try to include ones that are relevant to the position you are applying for.

16. What do you think about big companies?

You may be interviewed by a recruitment agency and not to know who the recruiter is. You may have replied to an advertisement and you are being considered for another position. Or you could be interviewed by a big company and being considered for a position within a small subsidiary. Therefore, be careful with your answer and don’t take risks that may ruin your chances of being offered the job. You can say that you are interested in a big company, but if they offer you something in a small one, it would equally be a very interesting opportunity. “I would love to have the chance of working for a big company like this one. But anyway, I think that the most important thing is the style of management of the leaders.”

17. What do you think about middle size companies?

Consider our comments of the previous question. If you are applying to a middle size company, a possible answer could be: “Middle size companies give better possibilities of growth and this is challenging for me.”

18. What do you think about small companies?

If you worked in a big multinational and now you are applying to a very small company, I suggest you to analyse the situation very well in the first place. You may never get adapted to it. If you have already thought about it and the position is good for you, you should convince your interviewer about the reasons why you are interested in the company and that task. A possible answer would be: “Small companies give the opportunity to work in many fields and that is challenging for me.”

19. You mentioned the word challenge, what does it mean for you?

A possible answer: “Challenge is to have a reason to wake up everyday and desire to go to work.”

20. What do you think your boss thinks (or thought) about the way you work?

“I haven’t had problems with my bosses or superiors in my previous jobs; therefore, I think they have a positive opinion of me.” If by the contrary, you have had a bad evaluation or problem with your previous bosses, don’t forget that it can come out later when your future employer asks for references. This is the time for you to give your own version of what happened.

21. Describe your perfect job.

Think about this type of question ahead of time. If you are taken by surprise it is possible that you will give an answer that won’t be satisfactory. A possible answer would be: “When I feel a desire to go to work everyday when I wake up.”

22. Mention aspects of your work that motivate you.

Make a list. Plan these answers in advance.

23. Do you consider yourself an aggressive person?

“I don’t know what you understand by aggressive. I do think I have initiative and at the same time, I respect other people’s opinion.”

24. Do you consider yourself a person with self-initiative?

“Yes. I can state my own objectives and achieve them, considering the organization’s objectives.”

25. Do you consider yourself a person sensitive to criticism?

We are all sensitive to criticism in some way. Even when it can be constructive, the human being has a strong tendency to see it as unfair. Accepting criticism is a sign of maturity and inner security many people don’t have. Therefore, you should not give an answer as if you don’t care about a thing.

26. Do you consider yourself a punctual person?

If you are not punctual, we suggest you to modify your habit, because in the business world it is necessary to respect your time and others’. “Yes. If I have any problems being on time (for example, traffic), I always call to explain the situation. Besides, I am always willing to recover lost time.”

27. How have you enriched your current job?

A good employee tries to improve the routines they are in charge of, but in general, there can’t be radical changes in them without a previous authorization from their superiors. You should give the idea that you are a person who promotes changes, but without being a conflictive figure because of that. Your contributions should generate a personal brilliance, but never to the detriment of your superiors.

28. Tell me about a job that has been really boring for you.

All jobs have a part that we don’t really like. However, you should not talk in detail about the boring or not very interesting aspects. The job you are applying for may have them. A possible answer could be: “All jobs can have a boring part, but I simply tackle the less interesting tasks with the same enthusiasm as the interesting ones.”

29. Which are the aspects of your current job that you do not like.

You are on a job search; therefore it is reasonable that you are not comfortable with certain aspects of your current job. However, be cautious with your answer – you do not want to mention some aspect which may be required for the position you are applying for.

30. Tell me about the aspects of your current job that are more interesting to you.

Try to choose aspects of the job that are interesting to you, but also will be required of you in the position you are applying for.

31. Tell me about a situation in which you had to make a decision you were not authorized for.

Think before answering. It won’t be well seen if you decided something you were not supposed to, also consider that they are asking you for a real anecdote.

32. How do you feel when making important decisions?

“I feel responsible, and I take all the necessary precautions for my decision to be the right one.”

33. Have you been inspired by someone in the development of your career?

You can mention previous bosses or people who have had a big influence on you. Think about the answer. For people who have been fortunate enough to have had the chance to work within highly respected corporations early in their career, you may wish to be careful about how you mention the people who have been a source of inspiration. You do not want to give the impression that no other organization will be as good as the one you belonged to. One possibility is not to give names: “Yes, many people. I have been lucky to work with brilliant, active and talented people.”

Questions About Experience And Training

1. Have ever felt frustrated in your profession/job?

You may have felt frustrated at sometime, but if you tell the story improperly, it can be misinterpreted. A possible answer could be: “I have always faced my profession with enthusiasm; therefore, I haven’t experienced many frustrations.

2. Do/did you like working for your current/previous supervisor?

If you like/liked working with them, a possible answer would be: “Working with my current/previous boss is/was a good experience. My boss is a good professional, who really knows about the business and how to be successful in it. From the very first time I began working at…, my supervisor was interested in my work. Under their supervision, I have grown personally and professionally.”

If on the contrary, you want to change jobs because you don’t get along with your current boss, say it, but look for the right words, for example: “My current boss is well intentioned with his management, but I don’t share…, that is why I am facing this search.

3. Why do you wish to/did you leave your current/last position?

You should have a good explanation prepared. For example: “I am interested in having additional responsibilities and new opportunities that unfortunately I don’t at…, due to…”

4. Mention three areas of your job you like the most.

Even if you want to change jobs because you dislike the current one, you will always find something attractive about it. If you really like your job, a possible answer would be: “This is hard to answer because I like everything I do.” And right after that, mention some aspects of your job you like and – and at the same time – are related with the job you are applying for.

5. Describe the best job you have ever had.

Answer this question in relation with your own experience and without exaggerating. Be aware of the requirements for the position and describe a similar one, if it corresponds.

6. Describe the best company you have ever worked at.

You can describe a company from which you learnt a lot, but don’t exaggerate. Your future employer will want someone who is happy to work with them, if they pick you.

7. Do you think your work in better/worse/equal than your work mates?

Be cautious with this type of question. You shouldn’t appear too big-headed, or undervalue yourself. One idea: “It is difficult to talk about myself, but the quality of my work has always been good. I have always fulfilled my boss’s expectations.”

8. In what areas of your current job don’t you stand out?

A possible answer: “I don’t have important weaknesses that can interfere with my performance at work. The only area in which I occasionally don’t stand out is…“

9. Describe a typical day at work.

This question allows the interviewer to determine how the interviewee distributes their time in relation with the different responsibilities they have. Don’t tell what happened the previous day. Try to  describe a representative day.

10. What specific aspects turn you into the adequate candidate for this position?

One example: “My education in…, my experience in… and my knowledge in the areas of….”

11. How do you keep yourself informed about the important changes in your field of study/specialty, etc.?

An employee is expected to keep their knowledge up-to-date, not only in their specialty but also in related topics. If you have not kept abreast of changes in your specialty, you should get hold of some recent publications on the topic.

12. Have you ever published any article on your specialty?

This question is habitual in some environments (advisors, doctors, etc.).

If the answer is yes: “Yes, I published … I have copies of the articles here, just in case you want to read them or I can send them to you if you wish…”

If the answer is no: “Not yet. My knowledge on the topic and my writing abilities have considerably improved, I may try to get one published in the near future.”

13. In your opinion, what has been your most important achievement?

Remember that “most important achievement” doesn’t necessarily mean an important discovery or something exceptional. You can mention any personal achievement that has improved your professional development or an idea you have contributed with at work.

14. How did you begin working at…?

Never answer: “I was lucky”, because even when you consider it so (that they offered you a chance), you had the vision of taking it. Every one of us has a history and you should talk about yours. Remember that the successful men admit that their success has been achieved with “95% of effort and 5% of luck/opportunity.”

15. Have any of your employers denied giving you good references?

If this has ever happened to you, talk about the situation. Consider that many ex bosses don’t give good references just because of their hurt feelings and the selectors know it.

16. Does your current employer know that we are interviewing you?

If the answer is no: “No, I decided not to mention it until I had received a formal job offer.”
If the answer is yes: “Yes, my employer knows about it. He is sorry to loose me, but he values my personal growth more.”

17. Why did you have so many jobs in such a short time?

Keep in mind that employers are afraid of hiring people who go quickly from one job to the other. You should transmit your interest in the job you are applying for and your interest in staying there, as long as you find the proper field for developing.

18. What is the situation of your company?

If your company doing well a possible answer would be: “Yes, the sales have increased by “X” percent this last year. We had a very good year.” If on the contrary the company has had loses in the last year, consider that you are part of it and you shouldn’t be indifferent to the situation. In some way, you are also responsible for the results. Take into consideration that you it doesn’t speak well about you if you mention confidential company information in an interview. Be careful.

The questions we have mentioned here are just some examples with their corresponding “expected” answers. If you use these as a guide to prepare answers which would be relevant to you, then you will be much more prepared and should feel more confident going into the interview.

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