Sample job interview questions
To prepare for your interview, you’ll need to practise your responses to a range of interview questions. However, don’t memorise your answers ‒ you want to sound natural and unrehearsed. The aim is to be able to respond thoughtfully to the different types of questions you’ll be asked.
The selection criteria and position description will give you an idea of what interview questions to expect. Most employers create questions that test your ability to meet the selection criteria.
Often an interview starts with an ice-breaker question to help develop a rapport between the interviewer and interviewee:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why have you applied for this role?
The interviewer may ask you to expand on information in your resume.
- It says on your resume that you have experience in X. Tell us some more about that.
- Your resume says you studied X. How will that help you in this role?
- Tell me about your university studies. Why did you decide to study X?
- I see that you have studied X. How has your university experience prepared you for this job?
Organisational awareness questions
You could be asked questions about your knowledge of the organisation.
- Why do you want to work for us?
- What do you know about our organisation?
- Why does this industry/job/company interest you?
Career motivation questions
Career motivation questions check that your career goals match the job you’re applying for.
- Why did you choose this career?
- What would you like to be doing in five years?
- How do you stay knowledgeable about the industry?
- Why did you leave your last position?
Self-awareness questions assess your awareness of your personal qualities, skills or areas that need further development:
- Do you think you are an (innovative/determined/enthusiastic/considerate) person? Why do you think so?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
When answering the weaknesses question:
- choose a weakness that you’ve corrected or learned to manage – you need to be able to describe your strategy for overcoming the weakness
- don’t choose a weakness that suggests you are unsuitable for the position.
An employer may be interested in your technical knowledge and skills and ask related questions:
- What legal issues will you need to be aware of in this role?
- How have you used XYZ system at university or in employment?
- What are some of the professional boundaries that you might need to negotiate?
- What standards do you need to be aware of in this role? How do you keep your knowledge of those standards up to date?
Hypothetical questions or scenarios
Hypothetical questions evaluate your problem solving skills:
- How would you deal with an irate co-worker? What do you think the result would be?
- How would you deal with an angry customer on the phone? Why would you take this approach?
- How would you approach a task that you had never done before?
Behavioural questions are the most popular type of interview question. Interviewers expect you to respond with specific examples from your experiences. Employers use these questions because they believe past behaviour is a good indication of future behaviour.
The behaviours employers are looking for are usually based around employability skills such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, initiative, etc. These questions often start with a phrase such as, ‘Tell me about a time when you ...’, ‘Describe a situation when you’.
An employer might ask: ‘Can you tell me about a time when you used your initiative to improve something in the workplace?’
In the Student Futures online employability platform, the skill statements associated with each of the nine employability skills are examples of behavioural questions. They provide you with a readily available bank of over 65 questions to use for practice.
To answer a behavioural question, use the STAR approach. This stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. It is a way of structuring your answer to show what you have learned from your experiences.
More examples of behavioural questions
- Describe a recent work or study-related problem. Tell me about the action you took to solve the problem. What was the outcome?
- Tell me about a situation in which you have had to adjust quickly to changes in organisational priorities. How did this change affect you?
- Describe how you documented your last project. How did you structure it? What was your involvement specifically? What was the outcome?
- Can you describe a situation where you had to obtain co-operation from a person or group? What did you do to achieve this? What was the result?
- Describe a team project you have been involved in. Who were the team members? What role did you take? What were the results?
- Tell me about a time when you have had the opportunity to lead others.
- Tell me about a time when you weren't pleased with your performance. What did you do about it?