Interview Questions 2021
Top 8 Interview Questions & How To Answer Them
Leigh Gillatt • Careers Advice
MOST COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS 2021
If you've been invited to interview, it means you've passed the first part of the screening process. Well Done! Your CV must have demonstrated that you have the ideal skillset and experience for the role.
The next stage is likely to be a face-to-face interview, and this is when it’s crucially important to plan and prepare for the interview to make sure you're successful.
Nothing is worse than looking back on the interview for the dream job you didn’t get and wishing you had been more prepared.
Although no two job interviews will follow the exact same format, there are some common interview questions that are very popular among employers and interviewers when screening potential candidates.
But wait... Wouldn’t it be fantastic to know the top interview questions and answers before you walk through that interview door?
By preparing confident answers to some of the more common interview questions, you can give yourself the edge over other potential candidates, and since these questions are so frequently asked, employers will expect you to be able to answer them easily and without reluctance.
However, you don't need to memorise an answer to each of the questions, but you should think about what you're going to say so you're not put on the spot, that way your responses will come across stronger if you’ve prepared in advance.
So, what are the Top 8 Job Interview Questions in 2021, and how should you answer them?
- Can You Tell Me A Little About Yourself?
- Why Do You Want To Work Here?
- Why Should I Employ You?
- What Are Your Strengths?
- Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?
- What Are Your Weaknesses?
- What Are Your Salary Expectations?
- Why Do You Want To Leave Your Current Job?
I hear what you’re saying, “How Do I Answer those Questions?”
Keep reading below as we guide you through how to answer each of the interview questions…
Not yet managed to secure an interview... it could be your CV check out our guide on how to write a CV or use the button below to use our easy to use online CV creator.
1. Can You Tell Me A Little About Yourself?
This is usually one of the first questions an employer will ask you, an important one, but at the same time it provides a great opportunity for you to be able to really sell yourself and make a great impression.
Employers usually use this one to learn about who you are as a person before delving into the ‘nitty gritty’ career type questions.
To tackle this question really spend time getting to know your CV inside out and then focus on delivering a two to three-minute summary of yourself, highlighting the key achievements in your employment history that you really want to make sure the interviewer knows about. Using these experiences and achievements, then relate them back to why they make you an ideal candidate for the position on offer.
“Tell Me About Yourself” - Example Answer
I've held various engineering jobs in Scunthorpe over last five years, primarily working in project management roles. I most recently worked as a senior Project Manager for a large automotive component company managing large product development projects and overseeing other project managers. And now I'm looking to expand my experience across different industries, particularly renewable energy, which is why I'm so interested in joining an organisation such as yours.
2. Why Do You Want To Work Here?
I can’t stress this enough when it comes to answering this interview question, but… “Do your research!”.
This questions provides you with the chance to discuss all you know about the job and the organisation, and why you are a good match for them. The interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you've given this some serious thought and not just turned up to the interview because it’s the only job out of the many you’ve applied for that you’ve actually managed to get to this stage of the process, so do your homework properly.
Think about it, employers want to hire people who are passionate about their jobs, so this is why you should have a great answer about your reasons for wanting the position.
“Why Do You Want To Work Here?” - Example Answer
Having studied the job description and responsibilities for this role, I really feel I have the skillset, and experience to carry out the job to a very high standard. I also feel the role will provide me with a new challenge; something which I have been looking for and wanting to get my teeth sunk into, for some time now.
Researching your organisation in detail, there seems to be a very positive approach to the work you carry out and I’ve particularly noticed the way you strive to deliver high levels of customer service. It’s certainly not common to see such high levels maintained these days, so the potential to work in a company that looks after its customers I find exciting as I enjoy seeing positive customer interaction, feedback and testimonials within my jobs.
3. Why Should I Employ You?
Are you the best candidate for the job? Despite this question seeming very intimidating if you’re on the receiving end of it, it actually represents an ideal opportunity to really sell yourself to the interviewer!
You should really try to craft an answer that’s confident, concise, and focused, covering three core factors.
- That you’re the only one that can do the tasks required of the job
- You’re capable of delivering great results
- How you are best suited to the role and the organisation
More than likely the job description will be your greatest asset when preparing an answer to this question, it’ll usually give you a good indication of what they’re looking for.
Make sure you address the particular skills the employer has stated they are looking for and where possible provide specific examples of what you have done so far in your career that can demonstrate your capability of performing well within the role.
“Why Should I Employ You?” - Example Answer
You should hire me because my skillset and experience is almost perfectly aligned with the requirements you asked for in the job description.
I have gained six years’ experience in the administrative business support industry, advancing from my initial role as a Returns Administrator with Greenwood trading to my current position there as an Office Manager. I’m well-versed in providing timely and effective business support to an organisation and its management, and I pride myself on my ability to quickly resolve problems so that efficiency within the organisation is maintained.
4. What Are Your Strengths?
This is one of the questions that employers almost always ask to determine how well you are qualified for the position. When you are asked about your greatest strengths, it's important to not only discuss your skills that qualify you for that specific job but to be honest about them also, don’t just state things that you think the employer wants to hear; it’ll catch up with you later on should you be successful in getting the job.
Above all try to say something different that makes you stand out from the other candidates. Try give a relatable example of why you are better than the others and try to make yourself real!
“What Are Your Strengths?” - Example Answer
As an SEO specialist, my greatest strength is my love of data analysis. I enjoy researching the search engine trends so that our website remains competitive against the competition in obtaining organic traffic and ultimately sales.
Not only do I do this by reading the latest industry new and journals, I also convinced my employer to fund my participation in bi-annual SEO conferences, such as BrightonSEO. This has allowed me to build a network of peer resources, many of whom are leaders in the field, that I can call upon for strategies when new search engine algorithm changes arise.
5. Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?
If asked this question, be honest and specific about your future goals, but have in the back of your mind an employer is wanting to know if:
- You've set yourself realistic expectations for your career
- You have a thirst for ambition
- The position on offer aligns with that of your goals and ambitions.
Don’t tell them you plan to have moved on from their company, either internally or externally.
Loyalty is very important to the vast majority of employers. Remember, they have to spend time, money and resources training you up in the role, so they will want to see a return from their investment.
Good ideas to get you started are:
- I'd like to be leading a small team.
- I want to be taking the lead on major projects.
- I hope to be known as the go-to person for my specialism (whatever that may be)
“Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?" - Example Answer
I’m someone who likes job stability. My goal is to find a job that I can hold long term with a local company, becoming a valued employee as I gradually advance to positions of increasing authority and responsibility. I’m extremely interested in the Industrial cleaning operations supervisor job here in Scunthorpe because of the managerial experience it offers. My long-term goal is to eventually become a contracts manager after I’ve proven my competence out in the field.
6. What Are Your Weaknesses?
The best approach here is to pick a trait that you have already made positive steps to address.
For example, if your IT skills are not currently at the level they need to be in this digitally driven age we’re now in, state this as a weakness before letting the employer know about how you’ve been working to overcome this weakness. Whether that be things such as attending training courses or time spent outside of work you’ve used to improve your IT skills.
Whatever you do, don’t just reply to the question saying you don’t have any weaknesses. This clearly indicates to the employer that you’re not self-aware or honest about yourself, and possibly lack the drive for continuous self-improvement.
“What Are Your Weaknesses?" - Example Answer
I would say one weakness that I’ve been working on is that sometimes I get slightly irritated when people don’t carry out their work to a standard that I would deem acceptable.
Because of the high standards I set myself, I expect others to have them too, and due to peoples differing abilities and work ethics, this simply isn’t always the case. Although it irritates me, I have learned to just focus on my own job and do it to a consistently high standard.
But as a means to improving on my weakness, I have recently been trying to turn it into something positive by helping other people within the working environment to improve. So if they’re struggling, or not performing to the required standard, I will always offer to help them where I can, so that they can also improve.
7. What Are Your Salary Expectations?
While you should never mention salary unless asked or prompted, it's important to understand the value of someone with your current skills.
The #1 rule of answering this question is doing your research on what you should be paid by using sites like our job category pages, such as Sales jobs, or industry sites such as Indeed, and Glassdoor.
You’ll more than likely come up with a range of salaries based on the salary research you conduct. Our advice is to shoot for the higher values within the range in accordance with the skills and experience you have.
However, try to remain as flexible as possible and indicate that you are willing to negotiate for the right opportunity.
Using these methods indicates to the employer that you know your skills are valuable, but that you want the job and are willing to negotiate.
“What Are Your Salary Expectations?" - Example Answer
Looking online and using reliable sources such as Indeed, the average salary for a HGV Class 1 Driver in Scunthorpe is around £26,000 per year. I brought home £24,750 last year. While I would definitely welcome a salary over the £25,000 mark, particularly given the costs of relocating, I’m open to negotiation if a lower salary was accompanied by additional holiday time.
8. Why Do You Want To Leave Your Current Job?
This can often be a tough question to answer, but 9 times out of 10, you’ll probably be asked it.
Keep It Positive!
The interviewer wants to know why you want to work for their company, that you show an eagerness for new challenges. When asked about why you are moving on from your current position, stick with the facts, be direct and focus your answer on the future possibilities that it offers you; the fact that it’s a better fit to your ambitions and goals than our previous role – You’ve nothing to gain by basing your answer on being negative about your current employer.
“Why Do You Want To Leave Your Current Job?" - Example Answer
I’d really love to be part of product development from beginning to end, and I know I’d have that opportunity here.
"And if you were let go due to redundancy, which has been a real issue in recent years? Just keep it as simple as possible,"
Unfortunately, I was let go due to company redundancies.
"...is an absolutely fine answer."
HOW TO ANSWER COMPETENCY-BASED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Competency-based interview questions draw on real-life scenarios to find out more about your knowledge, skill set and workplace behaviour.
To answer competency based interview questions, the STAR interview technique is widely recommended across recruitment and HR communities to really showcase your skills and highlight your ability to resolve tricky situations in the work place — and because most interviewers are trained in its use, you should definitely add it to your skills too.
The STAR Structure:
Depending on the question, you need to detail an example of a situation (being concise but informative), and present the problem or challenge that you were faced with as a result.
Describe what you were tasked with doing as a result of the situation and problem that arose.
This is where you describe what you did to achieve the end goal, highlighting the skills and personal attributes that help you overcome the issue. Be sure to give only relevant details, and focus on explaining what you did, rather than what your team did.
Explain the (positive) outcome, focusing on what you accomplished and any lessons learned. You need to show that you took a specific action to achieve a specific objective, and didn't just "fluke" it.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU CAN'T ANSWER AN INTERVIEW QUESTION?
4 Quick Tips
No matter how well you prepare, it will almost certainly happen to you.
Somewhere during the course of your job interview, your potential future employer asks you a question that you can’t answer. This situation can be quite a distressing experience, even for the most seasoned of job seekers.
Sometimes you actually do know the answer, but for some reason, it remains lodged at the back of your mind and you can’t seem to call it forward!
Our 4 quick tips for what to do when you can’t answer an interview question are:
Let’s dive into each of these tips in more detail…
1. Remain Calm
It’s easy to freak out in this situation, but it’s important that you retain your composure. You may feel dreadful and want to panic, but you must at least give the appearance to your interviewer that you are unfazed.
Sometimes, interviewers will put an unanswerable question to candidates to see how they handle pressure. It might seem cruel, but it does happen and it’s important that you’re prepared for it just in case.
Remember, you were a strong enough candidate to make it this far to the interview. Ignore that voice in your head which says you’re going to fail because you don’t know the answer to a question. Stay calm.
2. Turn The Tables
Did you know that in a conversation, the person who asks the questions is the one who holds the power?
This isn’t the goal of the interviewer, of course - simply to make you feel small and make them feel big. It’s just a simple fact of social interaction.
However, this dynamic does provide you with a way out when you encounter a question you can’t answer. Simply answer their question with a question!
For instance, you could ask: “Can I have a think about that and get back to you?” Then take a note of it and move the conversation onto another question. Volunteer the question at the end once you’ve had more time to process it.
Alternatively, you could send your answer to the interviewer in an email afterwards. This can be a useful tactic to make your application stand out from your competitors’ in the interviewer’s mind as they weigh up the different candidates.
3. Be Up Front About It
This is just one question among many others, so try and keep this in perspective. It might actually be that the interviewer wants to gauge your honesty by posing a difficult / impossible question.
In other words, will you try to make up an answer to a question you don’t know the answer to? Or will you admit that this is an area where you need to refine your knowledge?
Regardless, try to keep the conversation moving and try to steer it towards a related area that you’re more familiar with.
For instance, if you’re going for a marketing manager job, and you’re asked about your thoughts on the latest Google AMP developments, you could say:
”I confess I’m not too familiar with AMP. However, I do know that Google is constantly updating its search engine algorithm. This is why my experience to date has involved adapting my employers’ websites so they can maintain and improve their rankings…”
4. Tell Them How You Would Find The Answer
Even if you don't know what the answer is, you can tell the interviewer the steps you would take in order to find a solution to the problem / question.
Interviewers ask you hard questions because they want to see what your thought process is. Sometimes, the thought process may be more important than the actual answer.
They want to see that you can take initiative and have an idea of what resources you would use or methods you would employ to come up with a solution on your own, instead of needing someone to hold your hand through problems.
While you're trying to find the solution, you can admit to not knowing certain parts; this way, you come off as being honest, and the interviewer will know you are not trying to fake it.
Showing a little honesty shows vulnerability and transparency. It also makes you more likeable.
Following these 4 quick tips should help in any difficult interview question situation, giving you a good chance of remaining as a strong candidate in our interviewer's mind.
Not been able to the interview stage yet? It could be your CV letting you down, read our definitive guide to writing a CV
Questions An Interviewer Should Never Ask You.
Questions You Should Never Be Asked.
- Marital status and children.
- Place of birth and ethnicity. - If you're a foreign national you will have to provide proof that you're allowed to work in the UK, but that's it. Your employer isn't entitled to find out exactly where you born.
- Sexual orientation and religion.
- Disability and illness. - The interviewer can ask you about big gaps in your CV which might have been caused by illness, but they're certainly not allowed to pry into any disability you may have, if you chose to disclose this to them, then that is at your own free will.
WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK THE INTERVIEWER IN AN INTERVIEW?
An interview is, and always should be, a 2-way conversation, and should certainly not feel like you’re being interrogated. Your potential employer is asking you questions to learn about you and your skills.
Your interview to this point has gone well. You've answered all the recruiter's questions confidently and the session is coming to a close. One of the final things you'll be asked will be,
"Do you have any questions for me?"