What will an interviewer ask you?

Elise’s sample Q&A could help put you at ease

Written by Elise Goitia


Sweat beads your brow and clammy hands shake with the fearful anticipation of answering the person opposite you incorrectly. How can you tell them what your strengths are? Does this person want you to have specific strengths? How in the world are you supposed to know what you could do to improve a company when you haven’t started working there yet?

This is not an interrogation. This is a job interview.

With the chance to interview for a job comes the expectation of establishing your future role as an employee, and how you will perform in that role. While talking to an employer might be nerve-wracking, it’s an incredible opportunity to sell yourself as a person that a company needs. You have the ability to say what your CV cannot. Show the interviewer that you are a person capable of whatever task they put you to. Preparing yourself for questions that are asked during an interview will only further your chances of scoring a job. 

Here are a few common interview questions to help you prepare, and responses that I think would be good. 

Why did you apply for this position? What about this company interests you?

This is to figure out how well you know the company you applied to. Employers often want to know if you’ve put effort into researching their company and if you specifically chose it based on what you think you can offer as an employee.

Possible answer: “I applied for this position because I find what this company does is crucial to its industry. Your past accomplishments, such as the Billaby project, have impacted the way fruit preserves are stored and transported in a hugely environmentally-friendly way. I’m interested in this position because I think I can add to what you have accomplished and aid in moving this company forward. This company’s approach toward preserve production in an innovative environmentally-aware way is fascinating, and I would love to be a part of it.” 

How are you a team player? What are some team projects you’ve worked on in the past, and what were your contributions to those projects?

Positive interaction with coworkers and the ability to work well in a group is important. Employers want to know how well you can perform with other people, and if that outcome will further or deter the company. A job is rarely based completely in solidarity. It’s very possible you will work with your colleagues on projects.

Possible answer: “I look forward to working with others as I see it as an opportunity to get input from my coworkers on a work-related basis. I feel like team projects are a great way to learn from the people around you and work toward a shared, common goal. In the past, I’ve worked on the implementation of what we called ‘Green Lights’ in our electric products. My team and I changed the filament in our lightbulbs from un-recyclable tin to an environmentally safe metal. One of my colleagues and I proposed the idea originally and gathered a team after I researched and developed the possible filament elements.” 

Share with me an idea or improvement you’ve implemented that made a difference.

Unlike the team player question, this refers to what you can do as an individual. Take advantage of this question to share something about yourself that separates you from other candidates. How can you show that you are innovative?

Possible answer: “A year ago, I proposed the the regulation of non-recyclable materials that were being incorrectly disposed of, harming the area around our factories. These materials, such as spare products, unusable materials, and general waste were being randomly dispersed without any way to break down naturally. I developed a system that would safely dispose of these materials with minimal waste and damage to the environment. After pursuing it through the higher-ups of my company for three months, my proposal went through. Currently, we have stopped over one million spare waste products from harming the environment.” 

Describe the toughest challenge you’ve had to overcome.

Consider an obstacle that you’ve encountered in the past. If it was a difficult coworker, think about the way you handled that situation. You might have once made a decision that made you unpopular and had to stick by it for the good of the company. Perhaps it had to with the work itself, but you found a way through it.

Possible answer: “When a new CFO was hired, he was very well liked by the company and every employee he met. He was fantastically humorous and eloquent. He also had proposed higher paycheques and almost double the annual leave entitlements of workers. However, his calculations and his financial capabilities soon showed that he was unfit for the position, making rash decisions that looked great on paper but were in fact harming the company and the security of its employees. Despite these actions, he had persuaded everyone that what he was doing was right and was only helping the company by making it run more efficiently. With my position, I interacted with the CEO quite regularly, and while I knew our CEO had to meet with the CFO to discuss his decisions, she didn’t have the time to double check his every move and proposal. While I knew everyone liked the new hire, I met with our CEO, showing her my research on how he was harming the company. She recognised his insufficiency and fired him. Many of my colleagues were upset about this decision and knew I was the reason he’d been fired, which made coming to work very difficult for a long time. However, eventually they recognised his faults and moved on.” 

Where do you hope to be in five years?

Employers usually present this question under the subliminal curiosity as to whether you are or are not committed to this company. The ability to commit to something and planning to grow from that experience will show whether you might be a valuable, stable asset to the company in the future.

Possible answer: “I hope to have made this company more efficient in its production rate by implementing systems that will cut down work load but increase how much product we release to public consumption. I believe there are ways we can not only further your company being one of the most environmentally forward corporations in the industry, but also improve the working conditions of the workers without sacrificing capital income. I hope to have made a noticeable positive impact on this company through hard work and innovation, as well as passion for this job. I hope to have eventually secured a higher position, such as a top management employee or an executive consultant.”

Do you have any questions for us?

Often, employers will enquire as to whether you as the interviewee have any questions regarding procedures, regulations, or processes within the company. This is a great opportunity to show the employer you want to get to know the company better, so don’t hold back. Especially in this case, it’s better to ask questions than to remain silent.

Possible question: “What do you hope your company will accomplish in future years through the work of your employees?”

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

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