What kind of questions will I be asked at a job interview?

October 27, 2014

The interview is usually the most stressful part of the job-hunting process, but it needn't be. Knowing the kinds of questions you'll be asked and practicing the answers beforehand will help you breeze through them. Here's more advice to help you ace the interview.

What kind of questions will I be asked at a job interview?

Preparation for an interview is key because employers want insight into your knowledge and experience. They also want to evaluate your professional skills, communication style and personality.

  • When answering questions be honest about your objectives, goals, and any gaps in your career – and practice, practice, practice beforehand!

How to respond to common job interview questions

Be prepared for any curveballs they may throw at you.

Why are you looking for a new job and why did you leave your last job?

The recruiter wants to know what you dislike about your current job.

  • You need to use these questions to draw upon what you really need (e.g., new challenges, more leadership or autonomy, a well-established company or regular hours).
  • You need to “sell” yourself without condescending or demeaning your colleagues or employer.

Example of a tweaked reply:
"My employer was using backward technology and antiquated practices" to "I want to be a part of a dynamic team that values innovative methods and effective problem solving techniques."

  • This is the moment to talk about what interests you the most about the company and career opportunity.

Why are you our ideal candidate?

This is an opportunity to demonstrate what you know about the company and how it fits in with your professional goals.

  • This is when you need to pull out all the stops and play up your skills to successfully fulfill the functions of the job you’re interviewing for.
  • If you're very organized, for example, mention the new filing system you implemented that reduced research time by 30 per cent.

What is your greatest weakness or biggest failure?

The most dreaded of all interview questions!

  • You can turn weaknesses into strengths if you can demonstrate how you’ve improved on this aspect.
  • Discuss your engagement to improvement and use examples if you can.
  • As for the biggest failure, be brief and focus on how you’ve changed, what you would do differently, and what you have learned from the experience.

Questions you can (and should) ask the interviewer

Never leave an interview without asking the recruiter a few questions. Usually there's time set aside during the interview for questions. If not, don’t hesitate to ask them politely.

  • Clarify anything that has not been stated about the position.
  • Ask for information about the company and its culture. You have the right to know if the company has a high rate of employee retention, or if there is a high rate of turnover (beware).
  • Do not hesitate to ask how long your potential employer has been in business.
  • Ask about the range of the pay scale.
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