Tips for answering interview questions

How to answer questions and present yourself well in an interview.

Employers will start assessing you the minute you walk in the door, so your presentation and attitude are very important. You should show you:

  • can add value to a company
  • appreciate being interviewed
  • want to work for the company
  • are willing to improve your skills
  • have something to offer the company, such as a willingness to work, pride in the work you do and a spirit of co-operation.

General tips for answering questions

Most interviews have a lead-in time of introductions and settling in, questions from the interviewer/panel, and then a chance for the interviewee to ask questions.

  • Speak clearly and vary the tone to show you are interested and enthusiastic.
  • Give yourself time to think about each question. Pause before answering so that you can think about the best response, and make sure you're giving them the information they need.
  • Listen to questions carefully and let the interviewer lead the conversation. If you do not understand a question, ask for it to be explained or repeated.
  • Be diplomatic and discreet, particularly about previous employers or co-workers. Don't badmouth anybody.
  • Speak from experience - give examples that can demonstrate what knowledge and skills you have, and what you have learned in the past.
  • Be positive about the skills you have and what you have done. Don't give the employer a chance to downgrade your abilities by saying things such as "I only have..." or "I don't have direct experience in that area". Instead, tell the employer what you do have or can offer.
Types of questions What to cover in your response
Can you tell us about yourself?
  • Give a brief summary about the study or work you have done which relates to the role you are interviewing for.
  • Talk about about personal and professional goals.
  • Talk about some of the things you like to do in your free time.
Why do you want to work for this organisation? Use your research about the job and the company here.
What made you apply for this particular job? Talk about your interest for the job and organisation.
What makes you the right sort of person to work for this company? Give examples of the skills and experience which make you right for the job.
Have you done this kind of work before? Discuss the skills and experience you have that will transfer to the job you are applying for.
How will you fit into our business? How will we benefit from taking you on? Use your research about the job and the company here.

Behavioral/situational questions

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

How do you deal with conflict?

Tell me about a time when...

  • you experienced failure
  • you resolved a problem
  • you achieved a goal
  • you took a leadership role within a group.
  • Stress your good points and turn your weaknesses in to a positive, such as ‘I'd really like to learn more about computers.'
  • Be able to describe a specific task or situation, what you did, and what the result was.

Updated 27 Oct 2015