Types of questions

Much like in written applications, employers look for the answer to three questions in the interview:

  1. Can you do the job?
  2. Do you want to do the job?
  3. Do you fit into the organisation's culture?

At interview, you'll be asked more specific questions than these main three. Knowing the types of questions you can expect and how to answer them can help you ace your interview.

General questions

A number of questions are general in nature and trying to expose your motivation, interest, self-awareness and career aspirations. Examples include:

  • Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
  • What do you bring to this position?
  • Why do you think you are the ideal candidate for this position?
  • Why did you apply for this position? / What attracted you to this position?
  • What do you think the position entails?
  • What do you think about [current affair affecting the industry]?
  • Have you applied with other organisations?
  • How did you decide to study law?
  • What is your greatest strength/weakness?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
  • Can you tell me about your greatest achievement?
  • What do you know about / think about [technical or specialist knowledge or skill]?
  • If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
  • If you could be anyone for a day, who would you be and what would you do?
  • Why do you think you would be successful in this position?
  • Which subjects did you most enjoy at University and why?
  • What influenced you to enrol in your degree?
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  • What have been your main successes/achievements so far?
  • What are your future career plans?
  • What do you hope to achieve in your time within Organisation X?
  • Describe yourself as an employee?
  • You seem to be interested in .............? Tell us about this.
  • What attributes are you using to evaluate the organisation you hope to work for?

Competency-based & behavioural questions

Competency-based or behaviourally-based questions aim to find out about your past behaviours to predict future performance, i.e. if you have shown particular behaviours (e.g. skills) in the past, you're likely to be able to show these behaviours (e.g. use these skills) in the future, i.e. in the position on offer.

Because employers are interested in your past behaviour, questions will often come in the form of: "Can you tell me/us about a time when...". With this start to the question, the employer is specifically and explicitly asking about past behaviour.

Examples of competency-based and behavioural questions include:

  • Can you tell us about a time when you worked in an effective team?
  • Tell us about your experience working with people.
  • How do you handle conflict?
  • Can you tell us about a time when you used your initiative to suggest a practical solution?
  • This position requires strong interpersonal skills - could you tell us about a particularly challenging situation that required your interpersonal skills?
  • Describe a time when you worked in a successful team. What made the team successful?
  • Give an example of a time when you had to resolve a conflict.
  • Tell us about a significant problem you have you encountered and how you dealt with it?
  • Describe an experience you have had working in a team?
  • Tell us about a time when you have had to adapt to change.
  • How would you persuade someone to accept a new idea?
  • Describe a time when you had employed effective verbal communication skills to communicate information to an audience.
  • Describe a time when you have needed to convince someone of your point of view. How did you go about this? What would you do differently if you had the experience again?
  • Describe a project you have worked on that involved a high level of analysis
  • Describe a time when you developed a unique solution to a problem
  • How do you go about making a particularly difficult decision?
  • Describe the accomplishment you are most proud of.
  • Describe a time when you had competing deadlines to meet. What steps did you take?
  • Tell us about a time when you failed to complete a project on time. What went wrong and what would you do differently?
  • Describe a time when you have had to adapt quickly to substantially changed circumstances
  • Can you tell us about your work ethic?
  • Tell me about a time when you felt you had to make an unpopular decision based on your beliefs and values.
  • Describe a situation in which you went against your core values to accomplish something. What did you learn?
  • Honest, Trustworthy and demonstrates Integrity
  • Describe a time when you told the truth when it would have been easier not to
  • Tell me about a time when you didn't admit to a mistake. What did you learn?

Hypothetical questions

Hypothetical questions may also be asked. These types of questions may look at a range of things, including: your ability to analyse a problem, think quickly and provide practical solutions to problems; your ability to adjust to changing circumstances; or your ethics. The question may also be designed to assess your knowledge of the industry or organisation.

    Examples of hypothetical questions include

    • Imagine the deadline for the report you are working on has been brought forward and will now clash with a deadline for another piece of work. How would you deal with this situation?