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Common job interview questions

Questions about the potential employer

What makes you interested in working for our company?

Take a good look at the website of the potential employer and make a list of your personal reasons for choosing this particular company.

How familiar are you with our product range and services?

Name one or two examples from the product range and be inquisitive. This is the right moment to ask some follow-up questions, e.g. "How did you manage to be the first company to launch this product or service?"

Did you take a look at our business figures? Do you know how our company has evolved?

You should at least take a superficial look at the facts and figures on the web.

Do you have questions for us?

When you did sufficient research on the company, you should have prepared a couple of questions (e.g. in relation to the specific position, how this position fits in with the rest of the company, upcoming tasks and projects, but also more general questions, e.g. regarding training opportunities or corporate activities). Questions about the canteen or the number of vacation days are less popular.

Questions regarding the eligibility for the position

What makes you a good candidate for this position?

Be thoroughly prepared for this question. Make a list of your unique selling propositions, i.e. the professional and personal expertise that makes you an ideal candidate for the tasks in question. Don't be hesitant, present your arguments directly and with self-confidence.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Concentrate on your strengths, but also mention one or two weaknesses. Describe strengths that relate to your professional activities. Name weaknesses with disguised positive traits.

What are your goals?

Mention personal as well as professional goals (these should not conflict with the desired position, e.g. "I plan to move to Australia in the near future").

Tell us the key facts of your resume

In contrast to your written resume, you should give these information in chronological order to help the interviewer follow your account. Don't be too elaborate. Collect feedback on your performance by asking questions such as "Am I being too detailed?" or "Am I being too superficial?" Concentrate on your last positions and describe skills, experiences and achievements that are relevant for the new position. Ask yourself which of your skills would be most valuable for the new employer and the new position.

What are your salary requirements?

Research comparable salaries and make reasonable demands. In the ideal case, get objective advice from your trusted personnel consultant.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Refer to the vacancy for which you are applying, or to goals that can be realistically achieved in this position.

Can you briefly describe your current life situation?

Emphasize the positive aspects of your life, e.g. a close circle of friends. Refer to your professional activities and the positive effects your private situation has on your career (e.g. single = enjoys travelling, married with children = interested in a long term cooperation).

Expectations for the new working environment

What are the three things that are most important to you in a job?

Put more emphasis on emotional and personal values, e.g. on team spirit, appreciation, clearly defined goals and visions, training opportunities etc., and less on material factors such as e.g. a good canteen, an appealing company car and salary.

What do you expect from a supervisor? What qualities are important to you?

E.g. that a team manager represents and stands up for his team, acknowledges and supports his co-workers, and puts the goals of the team first.

What do you expect from a co-worker? What qualities are important to you?

Loyalty, team spirit, commitment, entrepreneurial thinking, etc.

Questions about the motivation to change jobs

Why do you want to change jobs?

Take care to say positive things about your current and past employers and mainly give reasons for wanting to change jobs that refer to the great opportunities the new company (i.e. the interviewer's company) offers. As a general rule, be clear, factual, and precise when giving the reasons why you left a company, changed jobs or plan an upcoming change to avoid further questions.

Questions about personal values and philosophy of life

Which professional achievements are you particularly satisfied with?

Again, do not hesitate, be prepared and be honest. Ideally, you can list achievements that are relevant for the new position.

What does being successful mean to you?

For example: "Reaching my goals while remaining able to recognize and to redefine an unsuccessful career path."

Tell me about yourself

Focus on what qualifies you as a potential employee. Only briefly mention your private life, your social commitments or personal further education is much more interesting.

Do you keep up to date with specialized topics?

Mention specialist literature, blogs, portals, specialist magazines, communities, further education programs...

What annoys you about other people, and how do you deal with it?

Avoid personal phrases such as "I think it's rude when people don't greet me". Avoid embarrassing traits and political or socially critical issues. Note down one or two possible answers, like a lack of loyalty or intolerance. Think of reasons why this bothers you. Explain how you deal with it. Try to use moderating phrases such as "Sometimes I find it difficult to deal with..."

What do you do in your free time?

Think of what the HR representative might associate with your answers (e.g. skydiving = high risk, team sports = team spirit). If you are an active member of an association or another recognized institution, this makes a positive impression.

Questions about your personality as an employee

Recall a time when you were assigned a task outside of your job description. How did you handle the situation? What was the outcome?

Mention that you are willing to take on tasks outside your area of responsibility and that you are open to new experiences. As you are venturing into new territory, it might be advisable to consult with the respective team. The result should be positive, e.g. the successful completion of a project.

What’s the biggest misconception your coworkers have about you and why do they think that?

Give a real example from your work experience that should not be related to private characteristics, e.g. “Party animal” because you once drank too much at a company Christmas party. Better claim you were mistaken for an introvert because you held yourself back until you got to know your team.

Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. How did you handle interactions with that person?

Please speak positively about the difficult person, talk about the advantages of this challenge and what you learned from this encounter.

Give me an example of a time when you felt you led by example. What did you do and how did others react?

Choose real situations that truly stood out for you. This question is more about your social commitment, e.g. working overtime to help a colleague in a crisis situation…of course the reaction of the other parties should have been positive.

Recall a time when your manager was unavailable when a problem arose. How did you handle the situation? With whom did you consult?

In this case, you should consult with your team and solve the problem in the best interest of your absent supervisor.

What would motivate you to make a move from your current role?

Mention a few goals that cannot be achieved with your current employer, e.g. international projects, innovative solutions / digitization, the next step in your career, personnel responsibility etc.

Describe a time when you felt stressed or overwhelmed. How did you handle it?

Think about stressful situations that might occur in the workplace and how to successfully deal with them, e.g. lots of employees being out sick with the flu. Naturally this caused a lot of stress, but then you developed strategies, set priorities, and worked on solutions …

How do you determine what amount of time is reasonable for a task?

This is where your professional experience and your clients’ expectations come into play. You could also mention methods and tools for estimating time.