Common Interview Questions

April 12, 2011Posted by carolyn

Need guidance on how to answer some generic interview questions? The main theme is to stay positive and try to come across as passionate about what you do.


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When an interviewer asks you a question, think about the question, be direct and on point with your responses. You can help prepare yourself by reading the examples below.

Q: “So, tell me about yourself”

This question may be used to assess your personality, preparation, communication skills and ability to think on their feet. The answer should be very brief and list your education then number of years work experience in your industry, you can then ask the interviewer, “What are you looking for to fill this position”?

Q: “Why do you want to do this job / work for this company?”

Demonstrate your knowledge of the company and emphasise your suitability for the position, highlighting your relevant skills and experience.

Q: “What do you think you have to offer this company?”

This is a chance to sing your own praises – concentrating on the skills you have that are required for the position e.g. “I have strong planning skills, am a good team player and am very keen to be involved in a greenfields mining operation in Western Australia.”

Q: “What do you think this position involves?”

This question is designed to reveal if you have thought about the position, done some research, listened to the interviewer, and can summarise all of this information clearly.

Q: “What do you know about the company?”

Demonstrate your interest in the job, and your understanding of the organisation and industry. Talk about the research you did into the company’s key areas of interest, its size, its main project & operations, making reference to your source of information.

Q: “Do you have any questions you would like to ask?”

Always prepare a question to ask the interviewer. Ask about the position, request clarification of general information about the company, or summarise your understanding and request confirmation. If they have already answered your questions tell them (be specific) so they know that you have thought about the position in preparing for the interview.

For example:

  • What do see as being the main focus of this role?
  • I’d like to ask about the organisational structure? Who do I report to?
  • What would be the first issues facing me when I start with the company?
  • How would you describe the company’s culture, what are the company’s values?
  • How did the position become vacant?
  • How will my performance be assessed?
  • What are the long-term opportunities for promotion?
  • How does this department integrate with the rest of the operation?

Q: “What do you believe are your key strengths?”

Prepare responses that give specific examples of your strengths at previous positions that will support your job application.

Q: “What do you believe are your weaknesses?”

Try think of something that relates to your experience of work that is plausible as a weakness but is not really a negative point e.g.; “I am very particular about detail”, “I become much focused on the projects I am involved in” Or if you do give a negative state how you have overcome it e.g. “I wasn’t so good at Datamine, so I went on a 3 day intensive training course.”

Q: “What do you enjoy most about your current / last job?”

The trick with this question is to list what you have enjoyed about work that strongly relate to the key competencies of the position in question, and mention that you are looking forward to expanding your experience / scope in these areas.

Q: A question requesting confidential information about a previous employer.

This may be a testing of your discretion and professionalism. It is best to reply that you would prefer not to divulge any confidential information (production figures for instance), citing the fact that you are sure your interviewer would expect the same discretion from their employees.

Q: “Where do you see yourself in five years time?”

This is an assessment of the extent of your ambition and career planning. You should demonstrate that your long term goals are appropriate for the position being discussed and your commitment to them.

Q: “Can you give me an example of your managerial or organisational skills?”

Think of some examples that prove that you possess the key attributes and competencies requested in the job ad and description. These are probably the areas on which your interviewer will probably focus.

Q: “Do you work well under pressure?”

Answer with a ‘yes’, and give a specific example of a time when you were under pressure and how you rose to the challenge.

Q: “Tell me about when something went wrong” or “Tell me about a time when you have encountered conflict in the workplace”

The interviewer is probing your ability to work in a team or to manage difficult people. Be careful to keep things professional and don’t get personal. Divulge how you handled any conflict in a professional manner.

Q: “Have you ever had to deal with conflicting deadlines? How did you decide which task to complete?”

These are behavioral questions designed to elicit information about the required competencies for the position. Cite experiences in your past jobs, and always try to inject a positive note into your answer ( e.g. that you learnt from the experience).