The Best Answers to Common

Answers To Common interview questions

Man on the fieldAce your interview with these model answers to common interview questions. Photograph: Alamy

Some interview questions come up time and time again so what's the best way to answer them? Take a look at our list of the 10 most common interview questions and what our experts advise.

1. Tell me about yourself

Interviewers love this question as they think it's an easy ice-breaker, but for the interviewee it can be a nightmare, says Sarah Archer, founder of CareerTree. "Remember they are not looking for your life story – you need to choose four or five key things about yourself that are relevant to the role. This could include specific skills, qualifications, years of experience, or passion for your area of expertise. Practice answering succinctly to create a fantastic opening answer."

It's also important to keep your answer under two minutes, advises Katherine Burik, founder of The Interview Doctor. It can be good to pick something you are particularly proud of to demonstrate your expertise in the job for which you are interviewing. But just give an overview – they will ask if they want more details. "Practice out loud until the words flow off your tongue and you'll make a great presentation."

2. Why are you interested in working for [company name]?

Resist the temptation to say "I want a job" – even if it's true, says Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management. "The employer is gauging whether you will take this job if offered and, if so, whether you are likely to stay for any length of time. If you appear ambivalent, they will be reticent about hiring you."

Empty assurances such as "this seems a nice place to work" are unlikely to be enough to reassure them, says Mills. "So do your homework beforehand. Find out things about their products, services, expansion plans, and working culture that appeal to you and which also show you in a good light for the role. For example: 'You've run some great innovative campaigns and I would love to be part of that creative thinking'. Deliver this confidently with good eye contact and energy."

3. Why should we hire you?

Always be ready to answer this question in three parts, advises interview coach Jon Gregory. "First, make it clear that you believe you meet all of the role requirements. Second, back each of these skills up by identifying one or more relevant examples of how you've demonstrated that skill."

Finally, says Gregory, demonstrate you're someone who is proactive and has identified problems or opportunities in the past and then personally took the decisions and actions which led to a successful result.

"By showing you made things happen, you're portraying yourself as a self-starter with a high level of initiative. Few candidates do that well, so you can make the job yours with a great answer."

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