Interviews

Sample Job Interview Questions and Answers

Why do you want to work for this company? Why are you interested in this job?

The interviewer is trying to determine what you know and like about the company, whether you will be willing to make a commitment to the job, and if your skills match the job requirements. Your research will be a big help in formulating your answer to this question. Say as many positive things about the company as possible, show your interest in whatever products/services they sell, and explain why the position fits with your career goals.

Have you done this kind of work before?

The interviewer wants to know if you can learn to do the job in a reasonable time and how much training you will need. Never say “no” to this question. Instead, stress the experience you do have that will assist you in learning the new job quickly and efficiently. No two jobs are alike and you never do exactly the same work. In all jobs, new skills, rules and details have to be learned. Be sure to mention the following:

  • Your past work experience.
  • Your education and training related to the job.
  • Volunteer work that might relate to the job.
  • Any transferable skills, e.g. organizational skills, people skills.
  • Your ability to learn quickly and how quickly you learned that type of work in the past.

What kind of training or qualifications do you have?

The interviewer is trying to find out what school credentials you have. If you have no formal school qualifications but have a lot of experience, you might say:

I didn’t get formal school training for this job but I have (number) years of experience in the field. I’m willing to learn new skills or go to school to get further training if I am offered the job. I learn quickly and I like to keep upgrading my skills.

If you have just completed a training course but have little work experience, you might say:

I took a one year training program in (name of program) at (name of school) which is related to the job I’m applying for. I look forward to working in the field and putting into practice what I learned. I don’t have a lot of work experience in this area but I learn quickly. I know you will be happy with my work.

Tell me about yourself. Why should we hire you?

The interviewer is trying to find out about you, your job skills, and how well you express yourself. Do not dwell on personal issues. State your best qualifications for the job. Be specific and include examples to support your statements. Try to show that you meet the employer’s expectations. For example:

I am punctual, dependable and can be counted upon to finish what I start. I get a great deal of satisfaction from knowing that I have done something well and on time. For example, at my present job, I was given different work orders every day. It was my responsibility to finish the orders and make sure they all met quality and safety standards within a specific deadline. On occasion, I had to familiarize myself with the product and the production process. I was always able to learn quickly and carry out my job responsibilities. Our company was known for making excellent processed food products. In 1990, it received an award for being one of Canada’s top companies in the field. I feel I can use the same skills and hard work to do well on this job too.

What are your strengths?

The interviewer is trying to find out how self-confident you are. Try to give at least three positive personal characteristics with examples of how they would benefit the workplace. For example:

I am responsible, mature and committed to my work. I also like to learn new things and I learn quickly. This has cut down on the amount of training I have required in prior positions.

What are your weaknesses?

The interviewer is trying to get negative information about you. Always turn a weakness into a strength. Honestly describe a weakness, then describe factors that make up for it. For example:

I tend to get very involved with my work. This leads to a more thorough job in
the long run. I feel that it is really important to meet deadlines; satisfy the customer… I have to really make myself be patient, diplomatic and firm when I see this is not happening.

What do you do in your spare time?

Interviewers ask this question to see if your activities and hobbies might help the company, and to get an idea of what kind of person you are outside your work life. Describe any volunteer work you do, and any hobbies or interests that might relate to the job in some way. Stick to active hobbies, such as playing sports, carpentry, gardening, etc. Avoid mentioning inactive and non-creative activities such as watching television.

What do you think of working in a group?

The interviewer is trying to find out about your ability to get along with others. Focus on the following:

  • The advantages of working in a group. Explain how the various individuals in a group complement one another in carrying out certain tasks.
  • Give specific examples of your personal experience in a group.

How do you react to instruction and criticism?

The interviewer is trying to find out how you get along with supervisors and how you feel about authority. You might say:

I appreciate getting instructions and criticism when it is done fairly and constructively.

With the kind of work experience you have had, do you think this job would bore you?

The interviewer may think you are over-qualified and want this job only until something better comes along. Stress that no job is ever boring because you always learn new skills. Mention how you would benefit by working for the company and vice versa.

What would you do in this situation? (It could be a technical or hypothetical question)
OR
Give me an example of a problem you solved. What was the result?

The interviewer may describe a specific situation or problem, to see your reaction and your ability to function under pressure, and to analyze and solve problems. Take the necessary time to answer the question carefully. Ask for further details or explanation if needed. Keep the following problem-solving steps in mind:

  • Collect information.
  • Analyze the situation.
  • Classify it by order of importance.
  • Get expert advice or opinion on the subject.
  • Reach a decision.
  • Communicate the decision.
  • Implement the decision.

Why did you choose this line of work?

The interviewer is trying to find out about your commitment to your career choice. In other words do you do it because you love the work, or just take any job you can get for the money. If you did this work for many years and stopped due to a layoff, you might say:

I have done this work for (number) of years. I like my work. The only reason I left my last workplace was because I was laid off.

What did you think of your last employer?

The interviewer is looking for clues to any problems that may arise again with a new employer. Never say anything negative about a previous employer, even if your experience was a negative one. You might say:

I liked my employer. He or she treated me fairly and respected my work. I appreciate my previous employer having given me the opportunity to acquire a lot of skills and experience in (name area of work/skill).

How well do you work under pressure or tight deadlines?

This question indicates that the job you’re applying for will involve working under pressure. Give examples of volunteer and paid work that involved pressure and deadlines. You could mention that we are always faced with pressure and deadlines in our lives and you do not mind the stress. Stressful situations are a learning and challenging experience. You might mention the following:

  • How you handled large rush orders at your last workplace.
  • How you prepared for exams and homework assignments while working full-time and attending school part-time.
  • How you managed a crisis situation. (For example: a car accident.)

Why did you leave your last job?

The interviewer is trying to determine whether you had difficulties with your previous employer that might arise again. Never give negative reasons for leaving a job. For example:

  • I decided to go back to school to further my education or skills.
  • I left my job because I was laid off.
  • I left my job because I needed a career change.

How often were you absent from work in your last job? Have you ever had any serious illness or injuries? Do you have any health problems?

The interviewer is trying to find out if you have any health issues which will cause you to take a lot of sick days. You do not have to go into your health history for the interviewer. If you have health problems that do not interfere with your work performance, do not give the interviewer details about them. If you had a previous health problem that interfered with your work in the past, but is no longer a problem, do not volunteer this information. It no longer affects your work, therefore the employer does not have to know.

If you have a health problem that will affect your work performance, explain your situation briefly and stress the positive points. It will be helpful to have a positive reference letter from your previous employer. This letter should explain the type of duties you did and stress that you are a steady worker who is responsible, hard working and punctual.

Are you bondable?

This question indicates that the job involves working with money or valuable merchandise. Very likely the employer’s insurance company requires that only bondable people be hired as a condition of their insurance policy. As long as you do not have a criminal record, and you have not previously been denied a bond, you should answer “yes” to this question.

Caution: If you answer yes when you are not legally bondable it is very likely that the employer will discover this.

Have you ever been fired from or quit a job?

The interviewer is looking for clues to any problems you have had in previous jobs and if you may have the same problems in a new job. Try to:

  • Avoid saying anything negative about yourself or your previous employer. If you had problems, explain them without being negative.
  • Be careful not to use the word “fired” or “quit”. Instead use words such as: “I changed jobs”, “I was laid off”, or “I needed a more challenging job”.
  • If you were fired and are not on good terms with your previous employer, explain the reason why you were fired. Stress that you learned something from the situation.

Why haven’t you worked recently?

The interviewer is looking for clues to serious problems or job difficulties that could carry over to a new job. You might say:

  • Since I was laid off from my previous employer, I have been actively looking for a job. However, as you know, there are many people looking for work and applying for the same jobs. I have always worked steadily but I haven’t been able to find a job in the present job market.
  • After I got laid off from my previous employer, I decided to go back to school to upgrade my skills so I can get a better, more secure job.

What are your long-term goals or career plans?

The interviewer may want to know if you are ambitious, plan ahead, or if you set goals for yourself. The interviewer may also want to know what expectations you have of the company. You might say:

  • I hope to become very good at my job and perhaps take some schooling to become more skilled in my field of work.
  • I intend to learn (name of area or skill) very well so that I can be promoted to a higher position in (name skill or department).