How To Answer The 5 most common interview questions

While every interview you attend will take its own unique direction, you can often predict the type of questions you’ll be asked. For that reason, it’s a great idea to prepare yourself beforehand by thinking about how to answer some common interview questions.

Thorough preparation is key to your success – so we’ve put together some sample job interview questions to help you formulate the best types of responses (though obviously, you’ll tailor your answers based on your own particular skills and experiences).

Here is our pick of five of the most common interview questions, some tips on how to answer them, and some suggested openers to help you in your interview campaign.


Q: What prompted you to apply for this job?

A: “I’m excited by the possibilities presented by your company. I’d like to be a part of its future success, and I want to help it to continue to grow by…”

“This role offers exactly the types of challenges and responsibilities I’m looking for and is ideally suited to my skills and experience…”

Interview answer tips:

    • Focus on emphasising the match between your skills and experience and the operations and culture of the company you’re applying to.
    • Be honest and upfront about your motivations, while explaining why you’re passionate about the role. These qualities will shine through in your answer and impress much more than simply trying to tell them what you think they want to hear.
    • Demonstrate your understanding of the company and show that you’ve researched your potential employer thoroughly, and have good reasons for wanting to work there.

Q: Why are you the best person for this job?

A: “This job is perfectly matched to my core competencies. I really feel like your company is the ideal fit for my interests, qualifications and passions…”

“My years of experience have given me the organisational / teamwork / sales / managerial skills to make me an invaluable employee for this company…”

Interview answer tips:

    • Referring to the specific requirements of the role, emphasise what you can offer to your potential employer, rather than what they can do for you.
    • Choose two of your most unique qualities that you think set you apart from other candidates and use them as compelling reasons to employ you.

Q: Why did you leave your previous role?

A: “I found myself a little ‘stuck’ and decided I needed new challenges that weren’t readily available in my previous role…”

“I’m interested in a job with greater responsibility, and feel that a role like this would better offer those kinds of opportunities…”

“I was laid off due to a company restructure…”

Interview answer tips:

    • Whatever your reasons for leaving your last job, resist the urge to bad-mouth your previous employer as it can appear unprofessional and disloyal.
    • Focus on the future, and ensure you sound positive and optimistic as you elaborate on your chosen career goals.

Q: What would you describe as your key strengths?

A: “I’m organised, efficient and take great pride in doing the best work possible, and exceeding expectations…”

“My previous employer often commented on my ability to motivate and manage my team members – and I was even commended on my abilities with an industry award…”

Interview answer tips:

    • There’s no point reeling off a list of strengths that aren’t relevant to the actual role in question. Think about the types of skills your potential employer is looking for (i.e. from the job ad) and then select from your list of strengths, to illustrate exactly how you’re the ideal candidate.
    • Elaborate on your named strengths and demonstrate how they’re useful in action by using real examples from your past experience. Make sure you highlight the actual benefits of each strength in ways that are relevant to the employer.

Q: What would you describe as your main weaknesses?

A: “I know that public speaking is the number one phobia for most people, and I’d say that’s the main area I’d like to work on, especially as I know it’s part of the job description for this role…”

“I’m very detail oriented and meticulous, which means that I can sometimes take a little longer to get a task done, but I’m working on getting the right balance between attending to the detail and being as efficient as possible…”

Interview answer tips:

    • It can be tricky, but presenting some of your more minor weaknesses – obviously not ones that will greatly impact your ability to do the job – is the best tactic for answering this question.
    • Alternatively, mention areas that you were once slightly weaker at, but which you’ve been working on improving (successfully).
    • You could also mention tasks you know are a part of the role you’re applying for, which you’d like some further training or support with – for example, a particular software program. If you can be honest and ask for help where you feel you need it, this demonstrates that you’re keen to continually learn and improve yourself.
    • With any weakness you mention, emphasise your awareness, willingness and efforts to improve.
    • If possible, try to avoid overly clichéd answers such as “I’m too much of a perfectionist” or “I work too hard”.