20 Questions to Prepare for Your Next Big Interview

by | Nov 10, 2021 | Interviewing

A job interview is always going to be a nerve-wracking experience – particularly when it comes to your dream role with an amazing company.

50% of hiring managers admit that a candidate could be eliminated from the running based on the way they dress or carry themselves when walking into an interview. It’s no wonder the process is a stressful one for jobseekers. Throw new practices borne from the COVID-19 pandemic into the mix, such as virtual recruitment, and those pre-interview jitters can really go into overdrive.

Whether you’re preparing for a traditional face-to-face interview, or you’re trying to get to grips with the etiquette expected during video interviewing, the key thing to remember is that the questions you are asked will largely remain unchanged. By studying these questions, becoming comfortable with the topics, and preparing your answers in advance, you will do justice to any interview you attend.

To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of the 20 questions to get your head around before your next big interview.

The icebreaker question

Tell me about yourself.

The main point of this question is to give you an opportunity to sell yourself professionally. Be sure to keep your answer relevant to the job at hand by discussing your qualifications and previous experience that make you a great fit for the role. Bring in your applicable skills and perhaps any particular stand-out events in your career that will set you apart from the other candidates.

The post-COVID questions

What are the challenges you have faced when adapting to remote working?

Although this question has a negative undertone, try to keep your response positive. Explain that as a team player, you found the lack of face-to-face interaction with your colleagues difficult at first, but go on to say that you quickly learned how to maintain successful communication through other methods. This opens up an avenue of conversation into how your digital skills have improved since remote working was implemented.

How did the pandemic change your professional outlook?

The answer to this question is reliant on where you are professionally. Are you going for a job in the same sector you’ve worked in for many years, or is the role you’re interviewing for in a completely different discipline? Depending on your situation, you can discuss how the change in workplace structure and the news of redundancies in other sectors really gave you a new appreciation for your chosen career. Alternatively, you can discuss how the pandemic gave you time to reflect on the direction of your professional life and inspired you to follow the path you are most passionate about and qualified for.

How do you stay productive when working remotely?

Emphasise the importance of organisation here. Explain how you like to keep a routine similar to the workplace through writing daily to-do lists, prioritising urgent tasks, and ensuring regular check-ins via Zoom or Teams with managers and colleagues.

Questions to Prepare for Your Next Big Interview - International Achievers Group

The probing questions

Why are you leaving your current role/company?

Again, this question is all about sticking to the positives. Whatever conflict you may or may not have had with previous employers or colleagues has no place in your response. Stick to statements like: “The opportunities for development that this role offers intrigued me” or “I have admired your company’s work for some time and would love to be a part of it”.

Tell us about a challenging situation you encountered and how you overcame it.

Whether you’re describing an issue with a difficult client or a particular project, the best way to answer this question is to describe the scenario, identify the elements of that scenario you found most challenging, and give a detailed rundown of how you eventually rose above the problem. And, as always, keep it relevant!

What are your biggest strengths?

An oldie but a goodie, this question is still a winner with 51% of interviewers, according to a 2021 survey. Use it as an opportunity to speak about your skills relevant to the role, elaborating by referencing situations when you used this skillset to great effect.

What are your biggest weaknesses?

Rather than jeopardising your chances by putting yourself down, name certain skills that you feel are not your strongest points; ones you’d either like to learn or improve on. This will show that you are willing to grow within the role and are a believer in continuous professional development.

What’s your definition of success?

If you think of your past achievements that brought you success, what do they have in common? It may be exceeding a client’s expectations or being confident in the knowledge that you’ve done a good job. If your response is genuine, it will come across that way.

A wise move would also be to research the company’s culture statement to find out how they define success. If you can incorporate some of their language into your response, it is likely to make an impression.

How do you handle stressful workplace situations?

With a recent study revealing that almost 70% of employees experience stress at work in some form, it’s no surprise that this is a pertinent question for hiring managers to ask. Discuss your stress-management strategies, both during and outside of work hours. It may be reaching out to your colleagues or managers, practicing mindfulness techniques at home, or even getting 10 minutes of fresh air during your lunch break.

Whatever your coping mechanism, showing awareness of when and how to deal with stress at work will be a plus for any interviewer.

What are you passionate about?

This question gives you an opportunity to showcase your personality as you delve into your interests, giving a better idea of whether or not you’ll fit in with the existing team dynamic.

What motivates you?

Referencing motivators that are applicable to the position you’re interviewing for is a good way to answer this. Think meeting deadlines, honing new skills, collaboration with colleagues, and more.

How do you handle workplace conflict?

This is not an opportunity to open up a can of worms regarding previous working relationships! If you need to reference an example to prove your point, keep your focus on how the situation was diffused, rather than the cause of the conflict.

Questions to Prepare for Your Next Big Interview - International Achievers Group

The questions that assess your suitability for the job

Why do you want to work here?

This question gives you the floor to show off what you know about the company and why you’re a good fit for the role. Use it to sell your greatest attributes and to convince the interviewer you’re a shoo-in for the job.

What experience can you bring to this role?

Call on your responsibilities from previous roles that are relevant for the job you are hoping to get. Use this past experience to give yourself an edge over other candidates.

What makes you a good fit for this role?

Ask yourself, ‘what can I bring to the table to excel within this position?’. Once you have listed the main qualities and skills you can apply to do the best job possible, reference these during the interview to explain how you can benefit the company by becoming part of the team.

What are your goals for the future?

When answering this question, make your goals relevant to the company, rather than indicate that your goals lie elsewhere. Don’t express that you would simply use this role as a launch pad for bigger and better things. Form your response in such a way that it suggests you see a future with this company.

The ‘bottom line’ questions

What are your salary expectations?

Don’t undervalue yourself. Instead, do your research on average salaries for your profession based on years of experience. You could delay your response by admitting that you’re flexible and will be willing to negotiate if/when the time comes. If you do want to offer a ballpark, specify a salary range rather than an exact figure.

When would you be available to start work?

This is another question very dependent on your personal situation. You may want to show your eagerness by committing to a start at the earliest possible time, or if you have other potential opportunities in the pipeline, you might want to give yourself some wiggle room so you can make an informed decision.

The question that allows you to make a lasting impression

Do you have any questions?

The answer to this is always ‘yes’! Use your response to make an impactful final impression, by asking questions based on the company’s past projects that interested you, or by finding out what skills and qualities they feel are most important in their team members. You could also use the opportunity to find out practical information, such as when you will hear from them regarding a potential call back.

At International Achievers Group, we know that people are what make great companies and we’re the best when it comes to matching people and building teams. We work with some of the best talent in the world and we understand that finding the right fit is essential. We’ll spend time getting to know you, not just your CV and qualifications but everything else too. If there are any areas that you need guidance on pre-interview, then we can work with you. Contact us today for further information.