The ten most common questions in job interviews - Questions you should be well prepared for

There are a number of typical questions for an interview. In order to master the interview successfully, we recommend to inform yourself in detail about the company in advance and to prepare yourself for the interview. The most popular questions, tips for good preparation and answers can be found in this blog post.

The job interview is the first personal contact between you as an applicant and your potential new employer. It is not only your chance to convince the recruiter of you. The company will also use the time to check whether you fit into the value structure and the team. Even if a job interview is not an everyday situation, keep calm! With a little preparation, you will also overcome this hurdle on the way to your dream job.


1. The open question: Tell me about yourself!

This is usually one of the first questions in a job interview. The recruiter wants to create a relaxed atmosphere and see how you react to open questions. A good and compact self-presentation is important here. Therefore prepare yourself for the interview. This will help you avoid long private stories and excessive thoughts away from the topic.


2. Why did you decide to follow this career?

It is important to relate the choice of career to personal interests and skills and to justify it. Show that you developed interest in this job early on and that it wasn't a spontaneos decision. Newcomers should emphasize that they want to do this job for the long term. Professionals should use their experience to show that the career choice was right for them.


3. Why do you want to work in our company?

This is a preferred question in the job interview. This is where it is checked if the applicant has informed himself/herself about the company in advance. Therefore, make yourself familiar with the company, its business model and policies, products and services. The company's own website, image brochures and press releases are particularly helpful in this context. In the interview, you should make clear that you identify with the company and are interested in a long-term cooperation. At the same time, make connections with your personality and your own skills. For example, if the company focuses on sustainability, you should also be able to identify with this topic.

This question is often asked in different ways. Examples would be: "Why do you think our company is the right employer for you" or "Why are we as a company interesting for you?


Looks matter especially in job interviews

Looks matter, especially in job interviews  


4. Why are you precisely the right candidate for our company?

This question fits into the category "stress issues". In order not to get bogged down here, you not only need to know about your own skills, but also be well informed about the job and the company in question. Convince the company with conclusive arguments and a relaxed, friendly manner of yourself and your professional qualifications. At this point of the interview it is recommended to mention and explain special skills (IT, foreign language skills), experiences and aspects from your CV. Mention competences that are relevant for the job in question. At this point, the HR manager is not interested in what benefits you can get from the position, but how the company can benefit from your contribution.


5. What are your personal strengths and weaknesses?

A completely exaggerated selfesteem is out of place here. Instead, we recommend a healthy sense of self-confidence. While listing your strengths, it is important to substantiate them with examples from everyday situations, private commitment or previous professional experience. The same applies to naming your weaknesses. What is important. Be honest and self-reflective. In addition, you should choose weaknesses that can be interpreted as strengths and that can be eliminated with the help of suitable further training measures.


6. What are your salary expectations?

In most cases, you will be asked to submit a salary expectation in your application. You can then be sure that the HR manager will come back to this in a personal interview. You should be able to justify your salary expectations on the basis of your qualifications and skills. HR managers want to know whether the company can afford to hire you as a new employee. Because every employee costs money. Show yourself cooperative and willing to negotiate. The advantage is that you have the opportunity to arrange a salary increase at the end of your probationary period, for example.

Inform yourself in advance about salaries customary in the industry. Also take account of the region in which the company is located and whether it is a small company or a large corporation where collective agreements are common.


7. Have you applied to any other companies?

Every HR manager is aware that you have not only sent one application. Nevertheless, your interviewer would like to find out whether the application was targeted and whether there is an honest interest in the job. If you have other outstanding applications, tell your interviewer about them. However, they should not be completely contradictory job positions. The information about other open application processes also signals to the HR manager that he or she should make a quick decision if they want to hire you.


The right preparation for an interview enhances your chances of getting the job

The right preparation for an interview enhances your chances of getting the job © fotolia


8. What are the reasons why you want to leave your current employer?

This question is specifically asked to test your endurance. Give up quickly as soon as problems arise and rather look for a new job. Or do you simply want to face new professional challenges. In this case, you should also specifically address individual task points from the job advertisement. But: don't make your "old" employer look bad in the interview. This question is not to be understood as an invitation to blaspheme.


9. Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?

This question is part of the standard repertoire of personnel managers in job interviews and often causes uncertainty among applicants, especially among young professionals. Nowadays, few people have a medium or long-term plan. In professional life, the path is the goal. But what is the answer to this question? Human resources managers want to know whether they have a clear view of their future and whether it is worthwhile hiring you as a new employee. Name clear goals and show your counterpart that you have considered the perspectives that the company has to offer in the medium term. The HR managers want to know whether your own plans are in line with the company's expectations. However, unrealistic or high-flying career ideas should be avoided. Equally unsuitable are not very concrete ideas that indicate a lack of motivation and commitment. The point here is to find mediocrity. A strategically wise answer would be that you want to develop personally and professionally, want to take on more responsibility. To actively participate in cross-departmental projects and, if necessary, to deepen the international aspect of your current job.


10. Do you have any questions for us?

This question usually marks the end of the interview and only allows one possible answer: Yes! Questions show commitment and motivation, but questions regarding working hours or holidays should be avoided. This would suggest that the interest is only in holidays and vacation days. You should also avoid questions whose answers have already been clarified during the conversation. Only ask questions that are appropriate for your applicant situation, that arouse your interest and fit the job, such as

  • Is the position for which I am applying newly created?

  • How do you imagine my typical working day?

  • What responsibilities will I have in this position?

  • What are the career opportunities in your company?

  • What training opportunities does your company offer?


Strange questions and stumbling blocks in conversation

There are also HR professionals who will ask bizarre questions in the interview. For example "How do you name all prime numbers up to n as quickly as possible" or "How many pieces of jewellery are buried on the beach in Nice? The reasons for this are different. On the one hand, HR managers want to check how you react to such questions or want to find out whether you are easily rattled.

Questions about family planning and children do not really need to be answered truthfully. However, you can lose some sympathy points here if you make it clear to your counterpart that these questions are rather in the grey-zone. Try to find a balance here. Career starters can convey that both are important to them, but that family planning still has time. Just turn the tables. If the company offers flexible working hours, family and work can be easily reconciled. This is one of the reasons why you applied. In five years, you might make use of it. So you have a plan for the future, you want to make a long-term career in the company and you have also obtained comprehensive information.

A good preparation for the interview is essential. Nevertheless, you should abandon the idea that you can learn all the answers by heart. Make notes on the individual questions. That way you will be well prepared for the interview. We wish you every success at your next job interview.


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