Research the company or organisation 

Ensure you understand the business, their place in the market, the challenges they face, their main competitors, their unique selling points. Consider why they would make a great employer, have they won any awards, do they have a good reputation for career development and training, for example.

Why do you want to join our organisation?

What do you know about this company?

What are the current issues effecting this sector/industry/business? 

Click here for more advice on company research. Click here to read an excellent blog post on how to improve your commercial awareness.

Read the job description and persons specification carefully

You have already responded to this in your application/CV so the company/organisation already feel you could meet their requirements. The skills, experience, knowledge, attitudes they are asking for in the job description and person specification should form the basis of your interview.

Don’t forget to prepare for the basic questions. 

Why did you apply for this job? Why do you want this job?

What specific skills can you bring to the job role?

What are your strengths?

Tell me about yourself.

What do you expect to be doing in five years time?

What three words describe you?

What are your weaknesses?

This can be a difficult question. Your answer should not be something that is central or essential to the job you are applying for. You could talk about something that you have made some positive steps to improve upon and demonstrate how you worked towards developing this skill. Take a look at the clip below from Career Cake for further advice on this question. are an excellent resource for all aspects of career development including interview and CV advice.

Competency Based Interview Questions

Competency based interview questions are designed to find out how you have done something, how you approach different situations and what skills  you engage when dealing with new challenges? When answering competency based interview questions, the S.T.A.R acronym can be a useful guide.


Situation: briefly describe where you were, what the situation was and who   was involved

Task: briefly describe needed to be done.

Action: This is the most important part of your answer – how did you go about achieving the task, what did you do, what problems did you encounter, how did you overcome them, what skills did you use, what went well, what challenges did you face?

Result: What was the overall outcome, was it successful and why, would you have done anything differently, what did you learn from the situation?

You should try to prepare examples of situations in which you have used your skills. If you have not had much experience of work, don’t forget to use examples from university projects, part-time jobs and voluntary work, internships, work placements, clubs and societies, charity events, sporting activities etc.

Strengths Based Interview Questions

While Competency Based interviews focus on what you have done in the past as an indicator of how you may behave in the future, they can also be over-reliant on rehearsed answers and therefore not necessarily giving a clear indication of your real strengths.

Strengths based interview questions will be used to ascertain your true feelings about something by examining your responses: Body language, eye contact, enthusiasm – your natural reaction to something. Finding out what makes people buzz, the things they can lose themselves in, their energy and enthusiasm for different tasks is a good indication of whether they would be right for a certain role.

Example strengths based questions:

What are you good at?

When did you achieve something you were really proud of?

Are you a starter or a finisher?

What do you love to do in your spare time?

How do you feel about teamwork / customer service /

What activities do you not particularly enjoy and why?

How can I prepare for a strengths based interview? 

To some extent, you can’t prepare for a strengths based interview questions as they don’t rely on rehearsed answers. However, your level of self-awareness will certainly benefit you. Think about ‘you’ –  who you are, what you like, the things you are good at and find enjoyable as well as the things you are not so strong at or would like to improve (see the video above for more advice on talking about your weaknesses). Try to relax and consider that these kinds of questions are genuinely about whether you are right for the job role and company and vice versa, as opposed to being good at just answering interview questions.

For further information and advice about strengths based interviews, click here. 

Interview Questions 


Achievement of goals

What has been you greatest achievement?

Describe a goal you have set yourself and how you went about achieving it.

How have you approached overcoming obstacles?

What approach do you take to working towards your goals?

Persuasion, Negotiation and Decision Making

Can you give an example in which you had to make a decision?

Describe a situation in which you have been persuaded to change your mind.

Can you give an example of a time when you have had to persuade someone to do something differently?

Can give an example of how you have responded to advice that has been given to you?

How did you go about choosing your university/course?

Problem Solving

Can you give an example when you have dealt with a conflict between people.

Tell me about a time when you have had solved a complex problem.

What has been your biggest setback?


Can you give an example of how you work in a team?

Can you give an example of when you have dealt with a conflict within a team?

Describe and example of when you were a member of a team assigned to a project or task. What was your role in the team? Did the team accomplish its task? if so, why? If not, why not?


What type of leadership roles have you achieved through work/university?

Can you give an example of when you have had to motivate a group of colleagues/peers?

How would you motivate a group of colleagues that had never worked together before?

Describe a time when you had to train a new member of your work unit, what was your approach?


Can you give an example of how you have organised something and what methods you used?


To find out more about competency based interviews and the skills that employers are looking for click here


Curveball Questions

Curveball questions are designed to test your reactions, how you cope under pressure, quick-thinking your judgement, creativity and humour.


Are there enough hours in the day?

How many footballs can you fit in a lift?

How do you make a Tuna sandwich?

If you had £2,000, how would you double it in 24 hours?

How many basketballs would fit in this room?

If you were animal, what animal would you be? (if your were a tree/ colour/ biscuit/ superhero…)

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