Top 10 interview questions & answers

Learning what types of questions you could be asked during an interview could dramatically improve your interview success rate. Imagine sitting an exam at school or university having been given the questions in advance – you would pass the exam every time!

Employers often use the same types of interview questions when interviewing candidates. By learning what questions to expect and preparing answers in advance you could dramatically improve your interview success rate.

Interview Question 1: Tell me about yourself

This is a fantastic interview question and a great opportunity for you to make an immediate impact by outlining why you are perfect for the job – it is definitely NOT an opportunity for you to tell your entire life story. Do not be fooled if the interviewer comes across in a relaxed and informal manner – what the interviewer is really looking for is a quick summary of your academic history, professional qualifications, work experience and any other skills or experiences that you have that are relevant to the job.

Example Answer: I completed my  school education in X gaining credits in X, Y and Z. I then pursued higher education gaining a degree in X from X. Following completion of my degree I gained employment at a large firm of chartered accountants, working my way up from the role of Accounts Assistant to that of Senior Accountant. During this period I gained vital qualifications, skills and experience in X, Y and Z and became a respected member of the organisation. In addition, I also became active in a number of professional organisations and societies relevant to this role.

Interview Question 2: What do you know about our organisation?

This is a classic interview question and gives you the opportunity to get an advantage over other candidates who have failed to research the organisation. The interviewer is not looking for you to provide an in-depth analysis of the company directors, their families and any pets that they may have. What the interviewer does want is for you to demonstrate that you understand what the organisation does, what its aims are and what sort of culture the organisation has. Once you have done this you can go on and outline how you meet the requirements of the organisation.

Example Answer: X is one of the largest organisations in its sector (other organisations in this sector include X, Y and Z). Its mission is to X and its aims are to X, Y and Z. It is unique in its sector as it is the {largest / most profitable / newest / fastest growing / oldest / most diverse etc etc}. It is known in Zambia for having the best and brightest employees which is one of the reasons I chose to apply for this role.

Interview Question 3: If you were given the job what would you do?

Surprisingly, this is a question that candidates often forget to prepare an answer to in advance! For example, if you are applying for the role of Marketing Manager – the interviewer may ask you about how you would prepare the marketing budget and/or marketing plan. Similarly, if you are applying for the role of Delivery Driver you may well be asked about how you would perform this job.  Examine the job advertisement for clues at to what the organisation is looking for in this role and think about what you would do if given the job. Remember to add in some of your achievements in previous jobs while thinking how these examples could apply to this job.

Example Answer:  In my previous employment I gained significant experience of preparing and delivering successful marketing plans. A successful marketing plan starts by defining a set of clear marketing objectives and answering the question what is the ultimate goal of this marketing initiative? Once this has been agreed I would….

Interview Question 4: Are you a team player?

Most organisations are looking for a team player, someone who will work well with other people within the organisation. The secret to a good answer to this question is to provide a relevant example (or examples) of when you have successfully worked as part of a team.  Think about how individuals can work together and use their skills, experience and personalities to deliver results. Remember also the need to use the pronouns “we” and “I” correctly. If you just say “we did this…” it will not reflect your role. If you just say “I did this…” it will not reflect the role of other members of the team. Try to get the right mix in your answer.

Example Answer: I have worked and lead teams throughout my academic and working life. I recently managed a project during which I worked with accounting, marketing and sales professionals to successfully launch a new product. By carefully identifying the skills required, defining who would undertake which task and working together as a team we were able to launch the product on time and to budget. The product went on to achieve outstanding results including…

Interview Questions 5: Tell us your greatest weakness?

Remember that an employer is interested in weaknesses to do with work and not other aspects of your life. If you answer that your biggest weakness is eating too many chocolate bars then you have misunderstood this question! What the interviewer wants to find out is whether you are intelligent enough to have thought about areas for personal development and crucially what steps you have taken to rectify this area.

Example Answer: When working in an accountancy firm and studying towards my professional qualification I found it difficult to allocate my time – there just didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. I therefore looked for ways I could organise my time more efficiently. I found that by producing a study plan and scheduling my time I was able to get more done. The result has been that I have improved my efficiency at work and improved my grades…

Interview Questions 6: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

This is where you want to let the employer know that you want to be with them and in the sector for years to come, even if you don’t. Emphasise that you want to grow with the business and that the goals of the organisation match your own. You may also be prompted to outline any plans or strategies you may have the organisation during this period.

Example Answer:  I am looking to join an organisation where I can develop professionally and contribute to the long term success of the organisation. Over the next 5 years I will take steps to…

Interview Questions 7: Why do you want to leave your current job?

This is another question that can cause problems. The key thing to remember is that this is an opportunity for you to outline why you want to join this organisation – not an opportunity for you to bad mouth your current organisation. Try to focus on positive comments rather than negative ones.

Example Answer: I want to join an exciting, leading organisation…

Interview Question 8: If I asked your friends or colleagues to describe you, what would they say?

This question is asked to determine how you are perceived by others . Try to keep the description as professional and as factual as possible and avoid saying anything that might be unsuitable for the role. It is probably not a good idea to say that your friends think you are highly disorganized and unreliable and unable to hold down a permanent job.

Example Answer: My colleagues and friends would describe me as determined and hard working. In my current organisation I am known as a reliable, intelligent individual who is excellent at planning budgets, working with others and delivering results…

Interview Question 9: What level of salary are you seeking?

An interview can be going really well until the subject of money is raised. If you suggest a figure that is too low you could risk selling yourself short and showing that you do not understand the employment market for this type of role. If you give a figure that is too high you risk coming across as greedy and arrogant to the employer. The best thing you can do is to research what type of salary you might expect prior to the interview. You could also try deflecting the question back on to the interviewer so that you can get a better indication as to what they may want to pay.

Example Answer: Could I ask what you would usually pay somebody with my level of skills and experience?

Interview Question 10: Have you got any questions?

This is your final opportunity to persuade the interviewer that you are the right candidate for the job. Now is not the time to ask questions about holidays, pay or pensions – all these things can be asked later when you get an offer of employment. Now is the time to ask about any reservations that the interviewer may have about your suitability for the role. You will then give yourself one last chance to persuade the interviewer that you are the right candidate for the job.

Example Answer: Thank you. I think we have covered everything. Before we finish the interview I would like to take the opportunity to ask if you have any reservations about my suitability for this role?


Preparing answers in advance to these questions will increase your chances of interview success and will help you to feel more confident and less nervous about the interview process. During the interview you do not have to remember the answers word for word – just try to remember the outline of your answers together with a few examples that show your skills and achievements.

Further Information

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