Common Interview Questions + Answers

88 questions you should expect and how to answer them

Although every interview will be different, there are certain questions that are almost guaranteed to arise during every interview.

I’ve complied the 88 most common interview questions you can expect to hear, and shown exactly how you can answer them, to ensure you nail your next interview and land the job.

They are broken down into, motivation, suitability, competency, experience, personality, and brain teaser categories.





Motivation questions

Motivation-related interview questions can help employers get a better understanding of your work ethic, as well as whether you’re a driven and ambitious professional. All of which are important qualities in a new hire.

Plus, questions about what motivates you can also help them discover your larger career goals and aspirations, particularly in relation to their company. Some examples of common motivation interview questions include:


1. Why are you leaving your current job?

The key to answering this question is to speak highly of your current firm, discuss what you’ve achieved there and explain that they can’t offer you what you need in the stage of your career.

Never badmouth a current or previous employer in an interview; (even if they are terrible!) it’s extremely unprofessional and will often leave the interviewer with the impression that you could be difficult to work with.

Do say: “I’ve enjoyed my time with them and worked with some great people but they just can’t offer me enough progression within the field I want to specialise in”

Don’t say: “The boss is a slave driver and the pay’s rubbish”


2. Why do you want this job?

Businesses want to hire ambitious people who are enthusiastic about their brand; so this is what you need to convey when answering this question.

Firstly you need to make sure you’ve familiarised yourself with the job description and researched the company in order to answer this question with any substance.

Your answer should include some responsibilities from the job description along with reasons why you would enjoy them and more importantly why you would be good at them.

You should also show an interest in the type of work the firm does and stress that you want to progress within that industry.

You can also flatter them slightly by praising the firm’s reputation as somewhere that is a coveted place to work.

Do say: “I want this job because I really enjoy the sales element of the role which I’ve previously performed well in at past companies due to my outgoing and persistent nature. I’ve also heard great things about working here, especially the opportunities to progress and the challenging work available”

Don’t say: “I just need a job after being sacked from my last one”


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3. What one thing in particular attracted you to our company?

Employers are likely to ask you this question in order to gauge your level of interest in their company, as well as your understanding of the role.

When you answer the question, you need to show that you’ve done your research. It’s also important to be honest about what attracted you to the role, what it was in the job description or on their website that caught your eye. Be as specific as possible in your answer.

Do say: “One of the biggest factors that attracted me to your company was your emphasis and commitment to learning and development.”

Don’t say: “I saw you were offering a bigger salary and I wanted a pay rise.”


4. Are you currently pursuing any other job opportunities?

Some candidates think that they should avoid revealing details of other jobs they are applying for in an attempt to appear loyal to the interviewer’s firm – however that is the complete wrong approach to take with this question.

You should be transparent about your other opportunities for 2 reasons:

1) Somebody with lots of interviews elsewhere and interest form other companies is attractive to an employer because someone who is in demand is usually good.

2) Having more opportunities gives you more leverage to negotiate with when it comes to offer time. If an interviewer knows that you are about to interview with one of their competitors; then they may offer you a higher salary to try and tempt you away from the rival firm.

Do say: “Yes I’ve made quite a few applications for similar roles with a number of firms and I’ve got a first stage interview with Company X tomorrow afternoon”

Don’t say: “No it’s just your job at the moment”


5. How did you hear about this position?

By asking how you heard about the job, the company can find out if you’ve got any internal connections, if you were actively job hunting or if you specifically wanted to work for their company.

So be honest about how you found the vacancy, especially if you proactively follow them or look for roles within their company. This will show your passion for the company.

If you found the job as part of your general job search, be sure to explain what made you choose this opportunity over many others. The key is to show that you have a genuine interest in their position and company.

Do say: “A connection from university, who I believe is a valued client of yours, shared the vacancy on LinkedIn. I have been an admirer of your brand for some time so when I saw the vacancy I just knew I had to apply.”

Don’t say: “I found the vacancy on a job board.”


Interview tip 1


6. What are your salary requirements?

Although I would never suggest bringing up salary requirements in an interview without being prompted, it’s perfectly fine to discuss salary if the interviewer asks about it directly.

The key to answering this question is to research market rates beforehand and have a clear idea of the salary you can command – you will not impress anybody by providing a wild guess.

Looking through job websites and speaking to recruitment consultants should give you a rough idea of the salary you can achieve. It’s up to each individual to decide where they want to pitch their salary requirements but make sure you are realistic and stay within any pre-mentioned range.

Do say: “From doing a bit of research into my current value I’m looking to achieve around £30K which I believe is within the budget mentioned on the job advert

Don’t say: “I’m looking for a 250% increase on my current salary”


7. What motivates you?

This question can be quite tough to answer and often throws a lot of candidates off due to its open ended nature, but it actually gives a great opportunity to show how ambitious you are.

Ideally you should demonstrate how the role will tie in with your motivations and how you hope to grow in the role in order to achieve your long term goals.

If you are looking for a long term position then it’s best to go with motives that will make you appear stable and dependable like financial security, learning more about your industry, career progression etc.

Try to give a good expansive answer that looks like you’ve really thought it through

Do say: “At the moment I’m really motivated by a desire to learn more about online marketing because it’s an area I’m extremely keen to progress I really want to become an expert in the field. I also know that the financial rewards can be really good at senior levels so that’s another key motivation for me”

Don’t say: “Money, holidays and cars”


8. What would you look to accomplish in the first three months here?

This question gives you an opportunity to show the employer that you’re driven and goal-orientated. They can discover what challenges you’ve set for yourself beyond simply getting to know the team.

It’s a good idea to prepare for this question by thinking about what you want to accomplish in the first 30, 60 and 90 days in the new role.

This also gives you an opportunity to talk about any projects that you’re particularly excited to take on and proves your genuine interest in the role and company.

Do say: “As well as getting to know the team, I’d like to get to grips with the different departments and how they collaborate with the marketing team. I hope to use the first few weeks to get to grips with the company’s blog and social media. I would also like to generate a detailed content strategy and help the brand to get over 50,000 followers on both Instagram and TikTok.”

Don’t say: “I would like to get to know more about the team and settle into the new role.”



9. What challenges are you looking for in this position?

Employers are likely to ask you this question to learn more about what you’re seeking professionally and to make sure that the position they are offering has what you’re looking for.

To prepare for this question, think about your professional goals and consider what challenges you need to tackle to help you reach them.

You can also tell the employer what interests you specifically about their position and how it will contribute towards your wider career goals. So be honest and specific.

Do say: “I feel like I’ve achieved everything I can in my current role, so I’m looking for a new position that challenges me professionally, allowing me to put my skills to the test and reach new heights. In particular, I’m excited to take on some larger assignments with bigger budgets, proving that I am able to manage multiple projects at one time.”

Don’t say: “I would like to take on some new challenges and prove that I’m good at my job.”


10. What would an excellent performance look like in this role?

To answer this question, you need to think about how the employer defines success, so you can tailor your answers to reflect this.

For example, if you know the employer has key performance indicators or goals in mind, your answer should describe how you’ll help the team reach those goals. This shows that you measure excellence and success in the same way and share similar values.

Just be careful that you don’t overpromise, and always be realistic with your responses, especially when it comes to goal-setting and future performance.

Do say: “For me, an excellent performance would be using my experience with high-value clients to help bring new business to the company. I also believe it’s important to get a strong strategy in place so that this is not a short-term solution. That way, I can ensure this success continues long into the future.”

Don’t say: “I think an excellent performance would be exceeding all my sales targets within the first two months.”


11. What does career success mean to you?

For some, success is a fancy job title, money and a nice car. For others, it is good work-life balance and happiness in your work. While neither of these are necessarily right or wrong, it’s better to stick with the latter, rather than focusing solely on money and titles.

Your answer should explore what motivates you and what you hope to achieve in the future. That way, you can explain the role their company plays in your future success. So share some of your recent successes at work and what these meant to you.

Do say: “To me, career success is all about feeling fulfilled at work and proud of what I have achieved. It’s about being able to put my creativity skills to good use to produce great work to reach, and even exceed, my goals.”

Don’t say: “For me, career success is about getting a promotion and a bigger salary to match.”


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12. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

This is another question where the interviewer is looking to gauge your levels of ambition but is also looking for a degree of realism and knowledge of the industry.

Your answer should be ambitious but realistic to show that you’re driven but you have an understanding of the speed of career progression and a degree of modesty.

You should also look to tie the job vacancy into your answer to show how it will help you progress to where you want to be.

Do say: “In 5 years I’d quite like to be settled in to a mid-management level role and ideally have a small team working within the education sector. I really think this position would give me the opportunity to build up my  knowledge and client base to allow me to work towards this goal.”

Don’t say: “CEO of the company”


13. Would you be prepared to work evenings/weekends if a project/situation required it?

There are a couple of reasons that employers might ask about your availability to work evenings and weekends, or overtime in general if you already work during these times.

Firstly, they need to understand your availability, so always be honest. Secondly, they want to determine whether or not you’re prepared to be flexible if a project or situation calls for it.

Always be careful not to promise hours that you can’t deliver if you have other commitments. But also be sure to take this opportunity to showcase your flexibility and adaptability, and always be tactful and confident in your answer.

Do say: “I can be available for the occasional evening and weekend if a project requires. That being said, I am confident that my organisation and timekeeping skills will enable me to complete most projects within my contracted days and hours.”

Don’t say: “I only work my contracted hours as I am busy with my family and friends at the weekends.”


14. Are you willing to travel for work?

This question is very similar to question 13 above in that employers are hoping to find out if you can be flexible and if you’re available to travel.

You need to be completely honest. If you are not prepared to travel for work, you should never commit to this in the hopes that you won’t be asked.

At this early stage, it’s vital that the employer knows what to expect from you, and that you know what to expect from the role.

Do say: “I am happy to travel for work when it is required of me, providing I am given enough notice to manage my schedule. I look forward to having the opportunity to meet with colleagues/clients in person across the UK.”

Don’t say: “I’m a busy person so I won’t have time to travel.”


Interview tip 2


15. Do you have any other questions for us?

An interview is not a one-way street, it’s a conversation and you should have some questions prepared before you attend. That way, you can prove you’re proactive and genuinely interested in the role.

You should prepare your own questions beforehand, but you might also find that some questions come to you during the interview, so jot them down and come back to them.

Do say: “Yes, you mentioned earlier that you host regular team-building events to bring the teams closer together. Can you tell me a bit more about the types of activities you organise and how your existing employees have responded to these?”

Don’t say: “No, I don’t.”


Suitability questions

Through suitability questions, employers can ascertain what it is that makes you a good fit, not just for the role, but for the company as a whole.

They can also begin to understand what makes you better suited than other applicants, so these questions give you a chance to stand out from the competition. Some of the most popular suitability questions you should prepare for include:


16. Why should we hire you?

This is probably the most important question and one that will almost certainly be asked in every single interview you attend, so you need to have the answer ready for this one.

It’s important to focus the answer around what you can offer the employer – not what you want from them.

Essentially you need to explain how your skills and experience match the requirements on the job description and how that will ultimately benefit the organisation.

Prepare by making notes on the job description around how you meet the requirements and how you can benefit the company by being there.

Do say: “I have 5 years experience in accounts and excellent client relationship management skills, I am also very confident with all of your software packages so I feel I could perform well in the role and also look to pursue further opportunities with customers in order to grow sales”

Don’t say: “Because I need a job”



17. What can you offer us that someone else can’t?

This question offers you a great opportunity to highlight your most impressive skills and achievements, as well as what it is that makes you different from other candidates.

You need to outline what it is that makes you special, providing facts and figures wherever possible to illustrate your points. You should prepare some examples and key achievements before the interview so you can share these with the employer

Just be careful that your answers are confident but not arrogant.

Do say: “I can offer an innovative and unique design style. Having worked for multiple Fortune 500 companies, I have experience dealing with huge design projects and large budgets. But I have also worked as a freelancer, during which time I designed over 70 websites for exciting SMEs, so I have vast and varied experience in the industry.”

Don’t say: “I’ve got lots of design experience and I know four coding languages. I doubt there are many other candidates that can say the same.”


18. What are your strengths?

When being asked what your strengths are, you are presented with the opportunity to tell the employer what makes you great and what makes you a suitable candidate.

You can highlight several of your key strengths but it’s best to choose some of the skills listed in the job description. This will help to prove why you’re the best fit for the role.

Do say: “I am confident and persuasive and I make sure that I stay up to date on all the latest industry trends, that way I can better sell and upsell to prospects and customers. These core skills have enabled me to exceed my targets for the last six months by a minimum of 25%.”

Don’t say: “I’m good at making sales and exceeding my targets.”


19. What are your weaknesses?

This question is similar to the previous one as the interviewer really wants to know how you deal with your weaknesses as opposed to simply what they are.

It’s best to mention a fairly minor weakness and then demonstrate how you overcome it to ensure it doesn’t affect your work and also what are you doing to strengthen your skills in that area.

Do say: “My Excel skills could be stronger so I always get somebody to check my spreadsheets before sending them out to the whole company.  I’m currently doing some online training to improve my skills here”

Don’t say: “I’m no good with Excel, don’t expect any spreadsheets from me”


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20. What skills can you bring to this job?

This question gives you an opportunity to pinpoint exactly which skills you believe are most important for the role and how you will apply them.

Use the job description to guide you and make sure you have three to four key skills at the front of your mind that you can expand upon. Don’t just reel off a list, make sure you give context and examples of how you use these skills in real scenarios.

Do say: “I am very proud of my interpersonal skills, especially my ability to work closely with customers, to chat with them, offer advice and solve their problems. I have the ability to remain calm, empathetic and patient with customers at all times, even when they prove to be challenging.”

Don’t say: “I have good customer service skills and I am good at solving problems.”


21. What have you done over the past year to develop your skills?

Learning and development are so important, especially in today’s ever-evolving working world. So, the employer is trying to determine your willingness to grow and improve yourself.

To answer this question, give examples of recent courses or learning experiences you’ve undertaken. That can be anything from an online course to a podcast, YouTube video or reading a book.

Make sure to explain how you’ve developed your knowledge or gained new skills as a result and how this will have a direct impact on your ability to do the job.

Do say: “I wanted to boost my understanding of the key SEO principles in order to drive more traffic to my personal blog so I took an online course. I now know how to apply these key principles to the company content strategy to drive traffic and help boost sales.”

Don’t say: “I recently took an online course about SEO.”


22. How much training do you think you’ll need for this role?

Be careful with this question because a wrong answer might suggest that you aren’t qualified for the role.

Sure, you might need a little bit of guidance and training when you start but you need to prove that you’ve got a strong foundation and many of the skills needed to succeed. It’s also a good idea to express your willingness to keep learning and growing within the role.

Do say: “I appreciate I will need some guidance when I start to help me settle in, but I’m confident that I have a strong understanding of the industry and what it takes to be successful in this role. Learning and development will always be important and something I strive for and I hope to be afforded lots of opportunities to keep learning in this role.”

Don’t say: “I’ll need all the basic training to help me settle into the role.”


Interview tip 2


23. What skills would you like to learn in this role?

When discussing what skills you’d like to gain or strengthen in the future, it’s important to be specific and show enthusiasm for your continued development.

This will prove to the employer that you’re eager to keep learning and take on new challenges, and that you’ve thought about your future goals. Just be careful not to suggest basic skills that you should already possess.

Do say: “I’m interested in developing my data analysis skills as I think these will help me to make more informed decisions about future campaigns and advertising strategies. I also want to spend more time fine-tuning my social media skills, particularly newer platforms like TikTok and Threads.”

Don’t say: “I would like to work on my data analysis and social media skills.”


24. What’s the worst mistake you’ve ever made?

Everybody makes mistakes; it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

But how you handle your mistakes is what can really set you apart from other candidates.

When answering this question you need to pick a fairly minor work related mistake and describe exactly how you acted to rectify it and what you have consequently learnt from it.

Do say: “In a previous job I once forgot to email some event confirmation details to a big client which resulted in the client missing the event – something they were quite upset about. So afterwards I pestered my boss for extra budget to take them to a private event and also made sure we did more to automate our event confirmation from then. Afterwards the client were really happy about the extra effort I had made to rectify the mistake and our new processes ensured that it didn’t happen again”

Don’t say: “I lost £100k of company funds which haven’t been recovered to this day”


25. Are there any elements of your current/previous job that you dislike?

It’s quite natural that you will dislike certain elements of previous jobs – but employers really want to know more about how you deal with those dislikes to maintain good performance in the role.

Ideally you should pick a fairly common and minor dislike to demonstrate how you work around it and make sure it doesn’t have a negative effect on you or the business.

Do say: “In my previous sales role I wasn’t hugely keen on keeping weekly sales records but I just made sure that I recorded everything in note form and spent just 20 minutes every day updating the database. Most of my colleagues spent an hour at the end of each week doing it, but that felt like too much in one sitting for me so I broke it up over the week to make it easier”

Don’t say: “I don’t really like administration so I usually just avoid doing it”



26. What are your workplace pet peeves?

When it comes to discussing workplace pet peeves, it’s best to keep this answer short and sweet. Otherwise, you could come across as an overly negative person and one not suited to the team.

Don’t come across as insincere by saying you have no pet peeves but it’s best to try and put a positive spin on this question and move on.

Do say: “I don’t really have any specific pet peeves, but if I had to choose something, perhaps not being given timely feedback on projects. I think feedback is so important for my development and it helps me to get a better understanding of what I’ve done well and what I can improve on next time.”

Don’t say: “I don’t like it when my manager doesn’t acknowledge my work or when my co-workers talk about me behind my back.”


27. How would your current boss describe you?

This is a fairly open ended question that can be tricky to answer, but the key point to remember is that employers generally hire staff to help them in the running of their business.

So when answering the question you need to describe yourself as somebody who is so helpful that you are quite literally critical to the running of the business.

Do say: “I think my manager would describe me as somebody who can re relied up on to constantly achieve the results he needs in the team. Also he would probably say that I pro-actively reach out to relieve him from some of his service and admin responsibilities to allow him to focus more on business development when he needs to.”

Don’t say: “As a nice person”


28. What would your co-workers say about you?

This can be another open-ended question but gives you a chance to explain what makes you a team player and a key member of the workforce.

This is a good opportunity for you to showcase how you’ll fit in with the company culture, so focus on the positive traits you have and the nice things colleagues have said about you in the past.

Do say: “I am very fortunate to work with a great team and I think my co-workers would say I am approachable, helpful and a happy presence in the workplace as I’m always smiling.”

Don’t say: “They would say I’m helpful.”


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Competency questions

Competency-based interview questions are used to find out how you’ve behaved in past roles and how you’ve managed certain tasks or situations. This can act as an indicator of how you are likely to perform in future.

Often, these questions will set out scenarios and they are best answered using the STAR techniques (situation, task, action, result). Some common suitability interview questions might include:


29. Give me an example of a task you found challenging

Interviewers do not ask this to literally find out which tasks you find challenging.

The real motive behind the question is to find out how you deal with challenging situations.

The idea here is to give an example of a challenge you’ve faced in work previously and show what actions you took to meet the challenge and turn it into a positive situation.

Do say: “In my previous role I was faced with a disruptive team who were unmotivated and not very customer focused which was damaging our sales figures.  I introduced new customer service incentives and gave a series of one-to-one training sessions which saw a huge improvement in team morale and sales”

Don’t say: “I had a really bad team once”


30. Describe a time when you were asked to do something that you’d never done before

This question gives you the chance to show off your initiative and problem-solving abilities. Be sure to use the STAR method to set out the situation and what you were tasked with.

You should then give details of what you did and how this led to a positive result for you and the company.

Do say: “When I was a teaching assistant the teacher was called away on an emergency and I was asked to continue the lesson in her absence. I had not conducted a lesson myself before but I quickly familiarised myself with her plan and the activities she had chosen, and both me and the children had a great time.”

Don’t say: “I can’t think of any examples as I usually have a colleague there to help me.”


Interview tip 4


31. Describe a time when you’ve dealt with a difficult customer/client

This is a fairly typical question for candidates applying to customer facing roles and one you will need to answer well in order to show your abilities in turning negative situations around and keeping your customers happy.

Ideally you should explain a time when a customer was irate or behaving rudely towards you (ideally the root of the problem should have been caused by someone other than yourself to avoid looking incompetent).

Then describe how you reassured the customer and rectified the situation by delivering a good service or product sale etc.

Do say: “I once had a client who was really upset by price rises implemented to his account that were outside of my control. I empathised a lot with him and took the time to meet with him to see if there was anything that I could do to rectify the situation. After meeting with him, it actually transpired that he needed a lot more of our services and I was able to upgrade his service at a discounted rate which meant more revenue for the company and a much happier customer who ended up saving a lot more money”

Don’t say: “Once I messed up a customer’s order and he shouted at me so I apologised and said somebody else would call him back”


32. Tell me about a time when your communication skills improved a situation

Communication skills are important in every job role, whether that’s spoken or written and employers want to know you can communicate effectively.

This question gives you the chance to not only highlight your communication skills but also to go into more detail about how you’ve used these in the past.

Do say: “During a recent project, we were working across several different regional offices and lots of key information and tasks were getting missed or lost in translation. To avoid too much confusion or emailing back and forth, I implemented a weekly conference call to discuss everything in detail.”

Don’t say: “I’m really good at writing detailed emails.”


33. Tell me about a time when you showed integrity and professionalism

Integrity and professionalism are important traits in the workplace and employers want to see that you can be sincere, honest and stay professional at all times.

This is your chance to show that you not only possess these traits, but to give some context and prove how they’ve benefited the company in the past. Be sure to go into detail and avoid giving vague answers.

Do say: “My boss was showering me with praise for a project my team had completed, so I made sure he knew exactly what tasks each member of the team had completed and the impact this had on the overall outcome. I wanted everyone to be given the recognition they deserved as I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Don’t say: “I once caught a coworker lying about money and reported them.”



34. How do you handle difficult colleagues?

Most jobs will involve you working closely with one or more people, so it’s understandable that employers will want to know how you interact with others.

In an ideal world, everybody in a team would get along but sometimes colleagues can display disruptive behaviour that threatens the completion of tasks, so it’s important you can show how you deal with them in order to get the job done.

Your answer should ideally be example based and explain how the colleague’s actions were having a negative impact on the job at hand, and how you acted diplomatically to alter the person’s behaviour and get the team back on track.

Do say: “I was working on a project last year and one the team members was constantly interrupting progress meetings with questions and comments that most people found irrelevant and were causing the meeting to run over time. I had a quiet word with the person outside of the meeting and changed the format of the meeting so that questions could only be asked at the end. This helped us get through the meetings more efficiently”

Don’t say: “I confront them instantly”


35. How do you maintain good working relationships with your colleagues?

Employers want to know how well you work as part of the team and if you’ll fit into the existing company culture.

So answer by giving them an example of how you build and maintain strong relationships with your colleagues. Give as much detail as possible that shows you align with the company’s values and that you are a friendly, positive person to have in the workplace.

Do say: “I always take the time to listen to my colleagues, whether they want to talk about work or their private lives. I believe good communication and friendship are so important for a happy, productive team. It also helps to build trust and common ground.”

Don’t say: “I’m always nice to them.”


36. Do you ever disagree with your line manager?

A potential employer will be keen to know how you are likely to interact with them and this question should hopefully allow you to shed some light in that area.

Many people wrongly assume that an employer is looking for somebody who will agree with everything they say; but they would actually prefer somebody who can bring fresh opinions to the team and push back to management when needed.

So your answer should really try to highlight that on occasions where you do disagree with your line manager; that you handle it with tact, reason and diplomacy in order to reach a solution that benefits your organisation.

Do say: “Sometimes I don’t agree with some of the supply chain processes that our team manager puts in place for us to follow, as they can sometimes take up too much of the junior staff’s time in admin duties. I will usually bring the points up in our 1-to-1 meetings by suggesting some more effective processes we can use and talking through them together, rather than just directly criticising her ideas in front of other staff members”

Don’t say: “I never disagree with my manager”


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37. Describe a time when you’ve had to make a difficult decision

Your decision making process is crucial to your success in the workplace and sometimes your decisions can have a big impact on your employers, colleagues and clients.

So you need to show that you can think on your feet and have a methodical thought process when making big decisions.

Ideally the result of your decision should provide a positive outcome for your employer to show that your decision making is effective.

Do say: “In my current job I was faced with a situation where a very important client wanted a refund for some project work that had gone wrong due to some errors by the delivery team. Providing a refund would have meant quite a big loss of revenue for the firm but not providing a refund could mean a very upset client and potential lack of future business from them. So after much discussion with my director and team members I decided not to refund the work but to provide the next project free of charge. This did cost the firm initially but it allowed us to salvage our reputation with the client and secure further work from them in the long run.

Don’t say: “A made a decision to hire staff once”


38. Explain a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project

This question gives you the opportunity to prove you’re dedicated and passionate about your work.

Be sure to prepare at least one example of a time when you have exceeded expectations and gone out of your way for a project, colleague or manager. For example, this could be staying late, taking on extra work or finding an innovative solution to a problem.

Do say: “I was sent over a design brief from a valued client with a very tight deadline. Despite being on the clock and facing a number of small setbacks, I was able to deliver a day early and the client was so thrilled they gave us a bonus.”

Don’t say: “I took on some of my colleague’s work to help them reach their deadline.”


39. Can you share a time you had to make a tough decision? What was the outcome?

When answering this question, remember to answer both parts of the question. Not only should you outline a time you were faced with a tough decision, but you have to share what you did to solve this and how this benefited you and/or the business.

Carefully explain your decision-making process and let your problem-solving skills shine through.

Do say: “A potential client approached us with a very lucrative and exciting project but they wanted it turned around in a very short space of time. We had to decide whether to cut corners to deliver the project on time or tell them it wasn’t possible and risk losing the client. We told them that we did not want to rush and compromise the quality of our work, so we came to a compromise and put in a few extra shifts to turn it around quicker than usual.”

Don’t say: “We had to choose between working overtime or losing a big client and lots of money.”


Interview tip 5


40. Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership

Leadership is an important transferable skill and one that lots of employers appreciate in a skilled candidate.

As you provide an example of how you’ve used your leadership skills in the past, you should take the opportunity to highlight other related skills like communication, flexibility and decision-making.

Do say: “When I was working as a retail assistant I was asked to step in as shift manager on several occasions when my boss was away. I was tasked with overseeing the team of at least 10 employees on the shop floor, helping to serve customers, tackle issues and make sure everyone had their allotted breaks.”

Don’t say: “I led a team of five on a project.”


41. Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of

You may have several key accomplishments from your personal and professional life, but as you’re being asked to identify one, it’s best to choose an achievement that is relevant to your chosen role or field.

It’s also important that your chosen accomplishment highlights skills that are important to the employer and shows your values and career goals.

Quantify your accomplishments where possible to really impress the employer.

Do say: “As a personal trainer, I think I am most proud of the collection of workout videos I produced for YouTube that help busy women workout from home, for free. I know that time and money can be a huge factor for busy women, especially those with kids, so these are just short 10-15 minute workouts they can do at home. So far these videos have been viewed over 100,000 times in total.”

Don’t say: “I have too many great accomplishments to choose from, but maybe my YouTube channel.”


42. How do you turn a negative situation into a positive one?

This question presents you with an opportunity to highlight lots of key workplace skills like patience, adaptability, critical thinking and problem-solving.

This is a broader question so you don’t have to give one specific example if you don’t want to, though if an example springs to mind, it can help to build context. Either way, make sure you explain how you put these skills to good use and how you learn from these experiences.

Do say: “If I find myself in a negative situation, such as a setback on a project or a disagreement with a client, I take a step back to assess what’s going on. I remain calm, and communicative throughout and use my problem-solving skills to reach an amicable solution that we can all learn from.”

Don’t say: “I’m just a really positive person so I tell everyone to calm down until we find an answer.”



43 .Describe a time when you’ve had to bring others around to your way of thinking

This is quite a broad question but it allows you to showcase a whole host of skills related to persuasion.

Show how you can identify the needs of others and communicate your ideas clearly and concisely to help them see your point of view. You can mention your ability to stay calm, negotiate and build meaningful relationships.

Do say: “In my last developer role, the marketing team would often come to us with some great ideas, but unfortunately, too often they were out of our budget or logistically impossible. When they were adamant that they knew what they wanted, I would have to explain the dev process in layman’s terms and offer them an alternative that was possible. Sometimes it took a few meetings but ultimately, they would always come round to my way of thinking.”

Don’t say: “I’m really good at arguing my point and I won’t take no for an answer.”


44. Can you share an example of a time when you set a challenging goal for yourself?

Employers want to know about your career goals and motivation, but also the process you use to set and achieve your own goals.

So this gives you the chance to show off your critical thinking skills, as well as your timekeeping and ambition. Aim to choose a goal that is closely related to the role or industry.

Do say: “I started in my last company as a customer service rep. I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do but I loved all the work coming out of the marketing department and decided that was where I wanted to be. So I set a goal of joining that team within the year. I took online courses, listened to podcasts and did all I could to bolster my marketing skills before approaching HR. The marketing manager was so impressed, they created a new role just for me.”

Don’t say: “I don’t often set goals for myself, I let my manager do that for me.”


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Experience questions

Employers will ask you questions about your experience to build a better understanding of your past roles, responsibilities and achievements. This allows them (and you) to expand on the experience section of your CV.

That way, they can build a fuller picture of your background and skill set, to understand what makes you a good fit for the role. Some typical experience questions could include:



45. Can you go into more detail about your CV?

It can be tricky knowing what to say when asked to expand on your CV but it’s best to focus on your most recent or relevant experience and go into more detail about this, giving the employer more context about your work history.

You might even want to ask them if there was anything else specifically that they would like you to expand on.

Do say: “I am currently working as a junior copywriter but I am ready to take the next step in my career so I am looking for a more senior position. I have not only been developing my writing skills, but I have also been working on SEO, outreach and producing content calendars. Was there anything else specifically about this role that you’d like to know more about?”

Don’t say: “I’ve covered everything in my CV.”


46. Can you give more details of your educational background?

Employers want to learn more about how your education has prepared you for this specific role. So don’t just repeat what they already know from your CV.

Go into more detail about what you learned during your studies and how this has strengthened your skills. Be sure to give details about any relevant modules or projects you completed and any awards or certifications you achieved.

Do say: “I studied Criminology with Law at Teesside University and in my final year I had to produce a research proposal and written dissertation. Inspired by recent events like Brexit and GDPR, I chose to focus my project on structural changes in business ethics in EU law. This project has strengthened my knowledge of the legal landscape and helps me to advise businesses on changing rules and regulations.”

Don’t say: “I studied Law and graduated with a 2:1 from Teesside University.”


Interview tip 6


47. Can you explain this gap/short-role in your CV?

Two things that are quite hard to hide in your CV (without lying) are gaps and short roles.

Employers don’t like them because they can sometimes indicate that candidates have been fired from a role or have taken a lot of time out of work.

So where possible, try to avoid gaps by adding details of what you were doing between the roles (maybe you went travelling or completed a personal project) and if you have a very short role (a few weeks etc.) that doesn’t add any value to the CV, then maybe consider omitting it when writing your CV.

However if you can’t avoid this question then try to come up with a good positive explanation that makes you look proactive and competent like the below.

Do say: “The reason I was only in that role for 2 months is because it was a short contract role to provide cover during a busy period. The firm knew that I would still be looking for a more permanent role so it wasn’t a shock to them when I moved to the next company.”


Do say: “During that gap I was actually travelling through America which is something I’ve always wanted to do”

Don’t say: “I was just looking for work for during that 11 month gap”


Don’t say: “I was let go after 2 weeks in the role for bad performance”


48. How does your prior experience prepare you for this job?

It’s time to discuss your previous experience in relation to the role you’ve applied. This allows the employer to see if you’re a good match and it gives you a chance to discuss your skills in more detail.

So be sure to highlight a couple of the most important skills, explain how you’ve used these in the past and how you think this will help you in the new role.

Do say: “My current role in tech support means I have to deal with a large number of customers every day. Some are frustrated with technical issues so I have to empathise and clearly explain how they can solve the problem. This takes patience and strong communication, two key skills I know you’re looking for in this position.”

Don’t say: “I’m really good at my current job so I know I’ll be good at this one too.”


49. Do you think you’re qualified for this position?

The employer is essentially asking if you think you’re a qualified candidate and a good fit for the role, so you need to explain why believe you are.

To do this, go into detail about the exact experiences, qualifications and projects you believe make you the best possible candidate. Choose those that have been included in the job description wherever possible, and of course, always be honest.

Do say: “I believe my degree has equipped me with a strong knowledge of the industry and all the core principles of project management. But I have also completed several online courses since graduating to keep my skills sharp, for example, I recently earned my APM Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ).”

Don’t say: “ Yes, I studied project management at university.”



50. Do you think your experience matches the needs of the role?

This question is similar to number 49 but gives you the chance to focus specifically on how your past experience makes you a suitable candidate for the role.

Choose one job or experience in particular and set out how some of the key responsibilities have equipped you with the skills you need to succeed in this new position.

Do say: “Yes, I believe that my time as an HR assistant has equipped me with the skills I need for this role. I was tasked with reviewing CVs, greeting candidates before interviews and helping to onboard new hires. All of which will help me in this new role as a recruiter.”

Don’t say: “Yes it does.”


51. Do you have experience in leading a team or project?

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve led a project, a team or both, just be sure to give a detailed example of your past leadership experience.

Make sure that you highlight important skills along the way like teamwork, confidence, delegation and timekeeping.

Do say: “When I was volunteering for a charity event, I was tasked with managing a team of 10 volunteers. I had to communicate the different responsibilities and delegate these tasks to each member of the team to get the event set up and running smoothly. I was also there to help with any issues that arose.”

Don’t say: “Sometimes I have to help out with the team when my manager is away.”


52. Have you ever worked with high net worth clients?

If you’re going to be working with customers or clients who have a high net worth or who spend a great deal of money with the company, employers want to know you’ve got what it takes.

So make sure to give detailed and specific examples, providing figures to back this up.

If you’ve not worked with high-net clients before, you might wish to highlight the skills and experience you do have that prove you’ve got the skills and ability to do so.

Do say: “I have four years of experience working with high net worth clients, mostly those worth between £1 million and £5 million. In that time, I helped them to define their financial goals and offered personalised investment advice.”

Don’t say: “No I haven’t.”


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53. Do you have experience working with [Microsoft Office]?

The employer might choose to hone in on one particular tool or skill that they believe to be very important for the role, and they want to get a better idea of your experience in this area.

So make sure to give detailed and specific examples of how you’ve used these tools or skills in the past. Outline any key achievements in this area where possible.

If you don’t have much experience in this area, don’t panic. Instead, discuss closely related skills or experience and highlight your ability to learn.

Do say: “I am proficient in all aspects of Microsoft Office and I have been using Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook on a weekly basis for the last six years. These tools have really helped me in my role as a data analyst, allowing me to gather, analyse and present data in a way that makes it accessible to the whole team.”

Don’t say: “No I haven’t used Microsoft before, I have a Mac.”


54. What were your main responsibilities at [Company Name] and what did you learn from these?

To answer this question, choose a handful of examples of your key responsibilities from your past role. Make sure these are the most impressive and relevant tasks that you took on and give examples of what you achieved whilst in the role.

Be sure to highlight the most important skills you used and those you gained, and explain to the employer why you think this will make you a good fit for this new position.

Do say: “My main responsibilities were conducting routine maintenance on all site equipment, as well as repairing any broken or damaged tools. I would liaise with the management team to minimise downtime on important tools and machinery and I believe it is my attention to detail and strong communication that will make me an ideal leader for your team.”

Don’t say: “I had to report and fix machines when they broke.”


55. You have a lot of experience using [Squarespace], how will this help you in your new role?

If the employer is highlighting a key skill, industry or tool that you have proven experience with, they want to know more about the specifics and how this will help you if you join their team.

So make sure to explain how this will support you in the new role, highlighting the key skills or achievements you gained from this experience.

Do say: “I have used Squarespace to help build over 50 customer websites. I know that lots of the skills I have learned through Squarespace can also be applied to other web builders like Wix and Shopify. This will make it easier for me to adjust to using new platforms and start building websites right away.”

Don’t say: “It will probably make me good at using similar tools.”


Interview tip 7


56. Describe a time you experienced failure in your previous job and how you handled it

This is another question that is not designed to trip you up but rather to see how you manage problems and continue to learn.

When describing a time you’ve experienced failure, make sure that you choose an honest example and that you don’t dwell on the failure for too long. Instead, focus on how you solved the problem.

You might also wish to define what failure is to you and then discuss what you learned from the experience.

Do say: “As a digital marketing executive, we were set new KPIs that were fairly aggressive. I was tasked with growing our subscriber list by 25% by the end of Q2, but I fell 5% short of my target. So over the next quarter, I focused all my energy on getting up to date with the latest consumer trends and industry tactics and by the end of the year, subscribers were up by 34%.”

Don’t say: “I never fail, I’m too good at what I do.”


57. Demonstrate a time when you’ve had to stay organised

Organisation is another important workplace skill, so you need to give a detailed example of how you’ve put your organisation skills to good use.

You can also take this opportunity to highlight other related skills like prioritising tasks, delegation, communication and managing deadlines.

Do say: “As a secretary, I was managing the diaries of three senior members of staff which required me to be extremely organised. I introduced an online calendar for each of them which allowed me to easily share the details of meetings, interviews and other events they had to attend, as well as helping me to better manage their diaries.”

Don’t say: “When I was a secretary I had to manage three diaries which meant I had to be organised.”


58. Have you ever had a disagreement with an employer?

If you’ve ever had a disagreement or faced a bad experience with a boss or employer, it’s important that you’re honest about your experience and that you don’t sit there bad-mouthing them.

Instead, describe the situation in a neutral way as much as possible and focus on the positive outcome. What did you learn from the experience and how did this help you to grow?

Do say: “When I was working as a kitchen assistant I made recommendations to the manager about products that customers frequently asked for or requested. The employer did not want to stray from the traditional menu as she personally did not like lots of the products suggested. In order to ensure that customers still had the best experience I made sure to recommend similar or equally as delicious products in place of those they suggested.”

Don’t say: “As a kitchen assistant my boss was rude and wouldn’t listen to me and eventually I quit.”



59. Describe a time you’ve had to have a difficult conversation with someone. How did you approach this?

Having an awkward or difficult conversation needs to be handled carefully, so take this opportunity to show off your interpersonal and communication skills.

Whatever the context of your conversation, give a detailed and honest example, describing how you used confidence, empathy or other key skills to defuse the situation.

Do say: “In my first managerial role I had to speak with one of the new hires who was not meeting expectations and was on course to fail her probation. I carefully explained what the company expected of her and some small changes she could make to improve. We agreed to extend her probation period and she took the feedback on board, eventually passing.”

Don’t say: “I try to avoid difficult conversations because I worry I’ll hurt someone’s feelings.”


Personality questions

As well as finding out if you’re the best person for the job, the employer also wants to discover if you are a good fit for the company culture as well.

To do this, they will ask questions about your personality. This helps them get to know you on both a personal and professional level and decide whether you’ll fit nicely into the existing workforce. Some of the top personality questions you might be faced with include:


60. Tell me about yourself

A seemingly simple question but the answer actually requires quite a lot of thought and structure.

Try to keep your answer mainly work focused, discuss your background and then a bit about your career aspirations in a manner that ties in with vacancy in question.

You can include a bit about your life outside of work if you like but keep it brief.

Do say: “I studied law at university, became especially interested in corporate law and joined Company Z where I worked for a senior lawyer carrying out legal support work which I’ve enjoyed quite a lot. I’ve built up a lot of experience in the field so I really want to start taking on my own clients but there just isn’t any opportunity to do so at Company Z so I ‘m looking for a role where I can grow and take on more responsibility.”

Don’t say: “I’m a bit of a character”


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61. What was the last book you read for fun?

When faced with this question, think back to the last book you genuinely read for pleasure and provide the title and a brief overview of the book. Try to link this back to your work experience or skills if possible, but if not, just let your personality shine through.

Do say: “The last book I read was ‘The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman’. It’s about a group of pensioners who solve murders from their care home but Osman uses humour and vivid descriptions throughout to make you feel like you’re right there in the room. I think his style of writing has really influenced my own.”

Don’t say: “I don’t read for fun.”


62. What is your dream job?

This question isn’t designed to catch you out, but rather give you a chance to discuss your values, what you’re passionate about and mention some key skills.

You can give an exact job title if one comes to mind or you can be more generic, simply discussing the general duties and responsibilities that your dream role would afford you.

While it doesn’t have to be the exact role you’re applying for, make sure it is related to your chosen industry in some way.

Do say: “My dream job allows me to keep caring for patients, whilst also working my way up the ladder to more a senior position. This will allow me to implement larger, more positive changes across the care industry as a whole to better serve those who need our help.”

Don’t say: “The CEO of a big company.”


63. What gets you up in the morning?

This question is designed to find out what motivates you and what you are passionate about.

It gives you a chance to talk about what inspires and interests you, as well as your career goals. Make sure your response is positive (even if you’re not really a morning person) and that it is related to your role or industry in some way.

Do say: “I see every day as an opportunity to learn something new, so at the moment I am using my mornings to learn a little bit of Spanish before work. I am a naturally curious person and as a journalist, I love language. I think this is what is inspiring me to get up each day and learn another one.”

Don’t say: “My alarm clock and copious amounts of coffee.”


Interview tip 8


64. Describe your character in under 30 words

When you are asked to describe your character in just a few words, you need to use them wisely.

So in this case, go straight to the traits and qualities you possess that you know the employer is looking for. This will help them to see that you’re a good fit for the role and the company.

Try to get as close to the number provided as well, in this case 30, to show you’ve really thought about your answer.

Do say: “I am a hard-working, organised chef. I love being part of a kitchen team and I am passionate about trying out new recipes, especially Caribbean and Asian cuisine.”

Don’t say: “I am hard-working and a nice person so I don’t think I need to say any more than that.”


65. What are you passionate about?

This question gives you an opportunity to show the employer what an interesting person you are. So make sure you’re being genuine and engaging.

It’s a good idea to try and relate your passion to your career and the job in some way if possible. But just make sure that you talk about topics you’re actually passionate and knowledgeable about so you have plenty to say.

Do say: “I am passionate about my patients and I understand we are very fortunate to have our health care system so I want to be a part of that and be able to make a genuine difference in the lives of others. As well as nursing I often organise or take part in charity events to raise money for several important healthcare charities.”

Don’t say: “I’m passionate about reading so I do it every evening.”


66. What types of activities or hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?

In order to help the employer get a better understanding of who you are, you need to be honest about your hobbies and interests. It’s a good idea to highlight those that are most relevant or helpful to the job role whenever possible.

If your hobbies aren’t related to your job, choose to highlight transferable skills from those hobbies.

For example, if you’re an accountant who also loves photography, discuss how this has strengthened important, relevant skills as we’ve done in the example below.

Do say: “I am an amateur photographer in my spare time and I often explore new places at the weekend, taking photos of nature and beautiful landscapes. This has really helped me to hone my attention to detail and creativity.”

Don’t say: “I like watching TV and hanging out with my friends.”



67. What attracted you to the this profession?

This is an opportunity for you to show that you’re passionate and give more context about who you are and how this led to your chosen career path and industry.

Be honest and tell a story, making sure to highlight some of your key characteristics and what it is that inspires you to pursue this position.

Do say: “I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. When I was struggling at school, there was one teacher who always made extra time for me and helped me with my homework. I’ll never forget the impact she had on me as a child and I want to do the same, to make a difference in the lives of young people.”

Don’t say: “I really liked my teacher at school and it seemed like a good profession.”


68. What do you like the most about working in this industry?

It’s important to show a sincere interest in your industry and your role within it. This will help the employer determine if you’re genuinely passionate about the position.

So as you prepare to answer this question, be sure to have at least one strong reason why you like your industry and prepare some examples to illustrate this.

Do say: “One of the things I enjoy the most is the fast-paced nature of the industry. I thrive under the pressure of a busy kitchen and I love nothing more than compliments from happy customers. I also love experimenting with different cuisines and techniques to come up with exciting new items for the menu.”

Don’t say: “I enjoy working in a busy kitchen.”


69. What do you like the least about working in this industry?

As this question focuses on the negative parts of your industry, it’s best to keep your answer short and sweet. It’s also a good idea to turn it around and highlight something that’s challenging you at the moment, but that could be fixed by landing this new role.

Do say: “At the moment some of the customers coming into the salon on a regular basis have become a little difficult, but this is not specific to the industry and I believe a fresh start, with a fresh clientele is the solution.”

Don’t say: “I’m fed up with rude customers.”


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70. What is your favourite website?

This might feel like a strange question but as you explain which website is your favourite, you can incorporate positive character traits into your answer, showcasing who you are and what makes you great.

For example, YouTube might be your top site as you use it to watch tutorials and keep expanding your knowledge.

Just be sure to choose a site that is relatively professional, informative and fun, even better if it’s closely related to your industry.

Do say: “I spend most of my time on keeping up to date with the latest trends in the housing market, specifically in my local area. As well as the news section, I enjoy their blog which shares loads of tips and insights for professionals in the real estate industry.”

Don’t say: “I spend most of my time on Facebook”


71. What kind of working environment do you like best?

By asking this question, employers are trying to determine your working style and whether your preferences and personality will align with their company culture.

Make sure you give an explanation as to why you prefer to work that way, always putting a positive spin on it.

Do say: “I prefer to work in the office as part of a close-knit team. I believe this helps us to encourage and support one another. This is also the reason I like businesses that encourage teams to meet regularly and share ideas, to be creative and have open discussions.”

Don’t say: “I hate being alone so prefer to work with a team.”


72. Do you have any role models in life?

When revealing your role models, this might be someone famous, a big name in your industry, an employer or someone you know.

Just make sure that you give an authentic answer and that you explain what it is about them that you admire and how this feeds into your own ambition and goals. Give examples of what you’ve learned from them and how this makes you good at your job.

Do say: “My role model is a dear friend of my parents and someone that I grew up with. She has worked in the marketing industry for over 20 years now and is a powerhouse in her field. She is always telling me about the exciting campaigns she’s run for huge brands and I am forever in awe. She has been a mentor to me and I feel that a lot of my creativity, confidence and resilience is because of her influence.”

Don’t say: “I don’t really have a role model, but maybe my mum because she supports me.”


Interview tip 8


73. Tell me something about you that isn’t on your job application

Your CV can’t possibly contain every detail about you, so if you’re asked to expand on your application, you need to choose one or two key points to discuss.

Make sure these are impressive and showcase desirable skills or characteristics in some way. For example, you could expand on additional awards, achievements, hobbies or interests.

Do say: “I left this off my application as the role focuses on content creation and graphic design and I wanted to make sure I had the space to highlight all of those skills, but I have also taught myself how to code. I am self-taught in CSS, Python and JavaScript. I used these skills when I was building my blog.”

Don’t say: “The application includes everything you need to know about me.”


74. How do you respond to criticism?

Managing staff can often be a difficult task for employers so your answer to this question should show that you are easy to work with and that you take negative feedback on board.

Preferably your answer should demonstrate the fact that you not only do you handle criticism well, but you use it to improve yourself and build your skill set.

Do say: “I try to avoid criticism where possible but I listen whenever I receive it and make sure I improve in those areas to avoid receiving the same criticism again”

Don’t say: “I am never criticised”


75. How do you handle pressure at work?

The employer wants to understand how you cope under pressure so it’s important to give an honest example of a time when you’ve been under stress and how you dealt with it.

Your example should be detailed, highlighting relevant skills as much as possible. It can be a personal example if you have a strong story, though it’s better if you can relate this back to work in some way.

Do say: “I find that I thrive under pressure because it encourages me to be decisive and take action right away. A few months ago I was given just a couple of hours’ notice that a big client would be stopping by the office and asked to create a presentation for their arrival. I took a deep breath, made some notes and was able to produce a detailed and engaging presentation that my boss was very pleased with.”

Don’t say: “I try to be prepared so I can avoid high-pressure situations.”



Brain teaser questions

Since it became known that big organisations like Google ask quirky brain teasers like ‘why are manhole covers round?’ in their interviews, these questions have become more commonplace in the process.

While it might seem odd in a professional setting, the employer doesn’t actually want to know why they are round or how you’d fight a bear, they just want to see how you respond to the question and how you arrive at your answer.

Really it’s about your problem-solving, creativity and strategic thinking, these questions might include:


76. If you were an animal… which animal would you be?

Although this is quite an unusual question, it is quite well known amongst hiring managers so it could crop up.

The actual animal you decide upon isn’t really relevant – the question is just designed to throw you off track a bit and make you think on your feet.

So pick any animal and describe why its qualities match yours in a way that relates to the job you are applying for in a well-structured manner.

Do say: “I would be a shark because I’m good at hunting down opportunities and surviving in tough environments”

Don’t say: “I would be a squirrel because I quite like squirrels”


77. How would you describe sandwiches to someone who has never seen one?

This question gives you a chance to show off some of your key transferable skills, including creativity, critical thinking and communication. Make sure to be as detailed as possible in your answer, and remember, there is no right answer so try to have fun with it.

Do say: “In order to help them understand what a sandwich was, I would break the idea down into the different components. I would explain that you take bread, butter and the fillings, giving details about how these go together to create a sandwich. I would also explain how and when they are typically eaten, as well as some of the most popular fillings so they get a complete picture.”

Don’t say: “I would just make them a sandwich so they can see it.”


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78. How would you test a calculator?

This is a pretty ambiguous question and though it might feel like there is a right or wrong answer, the employer is actually just looking to see how you think on your feet and put your creativity to good use.

Don’t rush your answer as this could lead you to look confused or stumble over your words. You might even wish to make a few notes to help you gather your thoughts.

Do say: “I would input a sum that I already know the answer to and check if the calculator generates the correct answer. I would do this several times to make sure it wasn’t an anomaly.”

Don’t say: “I would turn it off and on again.”


79. How many petrol stations are there in the UK?

Of course, the employer doesn’t expect you to know how many petrol stations there are in the UK, but they expect you to use reasoning and strategic thinking to make an educated guess.

So, think about the facts you do have at your disposal and show the recruiter how you came to your answer. This helps to highlight your problem-solving abilities.

Do say: “Well, let’s assume there are roughly 65 million people in the UK and 50% of those have a car. That’s roughly 32.5 million cars needing petrol, and the average petrol station can fill up 6 cars at a time. So 32.5 million divided by 6 equals roughly 5 million. So let’s say around 5 million across the UK.

Don’t say: “Umm, random guess, maybe 1 million.”


80. How would you describe the colour yellow to a blind person?

This question really tests your creativity and your ability to think on your feet. It also suggests that you must show empathy and use strong communication skills to get your point across, which are important skills in the workplace.

Do say: “I would consider the emotions I feel when I see the colour yellow and think about physical sounds or experiences that a blind person could relate this to. Then I would use these emotions and experiences to help them get a better understanding of the colour yellow.”

Don’t say: “I would tell them yellow is like the sun.”


Interview tip 9


81. If you woke up and had 2,000 unread emails and could only answer 300 of them, how would you choose which ones to answer?

Hopefully, this won’t actually happen to you, but it is a feasible situation in today’s working world. Asking this quirky question allows the employer to get a better understanding of how you tackle problems, work under pressure and prioritise your workload.

You need to talk them through your thought process and the actions you would take to solve this.

Do say: “I would take a moment to assess what’s most important in my job at that moment and look for subject lines and senders that are most pressing. I would answer those first. I would also look for any e-mails that had been flagged or marked as urgent and tackle those too.”

Don’t say: “I would just open the first 300 emails I see.”


82. How would you weigh someone’s head while it is still attached to their body?

This question presents you with an opportunity to showcase your strategic thinking and mathematical abilities. The employer is most interested in how you’ll solve the problem, so make sure to talk them through each stage in detail.

Do say: “Assuming that the human head is mostly water like much of the human body I would use the water displacement method. This means lowering the person’s head into a large bucket of water and collecting any water that spills out. I would then weigh this. So let’s say for example 5.6 litres spill out, I would estimate their head to weigh around 5.6kg.”

Don’t say: “I would get them to lie down and put their head on a scale.”


83. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you want with you?

This question might seem quite straightforward but don’t simply reel off a list of three items. The employer wants to see critical thinking skills, so make sure to explain why would take each item and how it would help you survive.

Do say: “I would want a Swiss Army knife so I had tools and I could cut food or make shelter. I would also like a fishing net so I could catch food and matches so I could start a fire for cooking, boiling water and warmth.”

Don’t say: “A bottle of water, a mobile phone and a boat.”



84. How would you arrange six books on a shelf with limited space?

This question has lots of possible approaches, so the correct solution is not important. Instead, make sure to reveal your creative problem-solving, critical thinking and logic. It’s all about seeing how you react to unexpected questions like these, so be confident in your answer.

Do say: “I would take a look at the shelf in question to determine if there was an obvious, logical approach first. If it looked to be more complicated, I would arrange the books in order of size and work out how these would best fit around one another. I would continue to try different approaches until I found the best solution that displayed but protected the books.”

Don’t say: “I would just stack them all on top of each other and poke the small ones in the gaps.”


85. How do you know if the light inside the fridge is on or off?

This is another brain teaser that has several possible solutions, but the employer wants to understand how your brain works and how you would tackle this challenge. Be creative in your answer and showcase as many relevant skills as you can.

Do say: “I think there are two ways to tackle this, I would either keep the door closed for a while and when I open it, carefully touch the bulb to see if it’s warm. That, or put my phone on record and pop it in the fridge for a moment and review the footage after.”

Don’t say: “My fridge light turns off automatically when it’s shut so I would assume it was off.”


86. How many pennies, if placed on top of each other, would it take to reach the top of Big Ben?

It’s extremely unlikely that the employer knows the answer to this, they are simply looking to test your critical thinking and mathematical skills. So make sure to be as accurate as you can and take them through your process. You might want to make notes for this one.

Do say: “Assuming a penny is around 2cm in length and Big Ben is around 100 metres tall, that’s equivalent to 10,000 cm. So if I divide 10,000 by 2, I estimate it would be around 5,000 pennies to reach the top.”

Don’t say: “I’m not sure how tall Big Ben is so I’ll guess 10,000 pennies.”


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87. Explain the internet to someone coming out of a 30-year coma

This is similar to question 80 and gives you a chance to really show off your creativity and communication skills. There is no right way to answer, it’s all about your approach so make sure to be as detailed in your response as possible.

Do say: “Well, if they had been in a coma for 30 years we have to assume that the internet was invented before they fell into the coma as it was created in the early eighties. So I would start by uncovering how much they knew about the internet back then and explain to them that it is now a global network that connects billions of networks and devices around the world.”

Don’t say: “I would just show them a website.”


88. Kelly’s mother has four daughters. The first three are named April, May and June. What is the fourth daughter called?

This type of brain teaser has a correct answer, so the employer is testing your ability to listen very carefully to what they are saying and to provide a logical answer. Don’t rush these questions, even if you think the answer is straightforward and talk them through your thought process.

Do say: “Well, if it’s Kelly’s mother that has the four daughters, April, May and June, then the fourth daughter is Kelly as it is her mother we are talking about.”

Don’t say: “July.”


See also: Unique interview questions to ask interviewer