Common job interview questions
The typical opening questions
Tell me a little about yourself
Describe yourself in your own words and add background information that is missing in your cover letter or CV. Explain why you chose a certain education path, stay abroad or previous job.
Take this question as an opportunity to prove to your interviewer that you are an ideal match for this position. To achieve this, you should have investigated in advance what exactly the company is looking for and which skills are required.
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.
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).
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?
Give specific examples. Put your strengths into context. Are the strengths you mentioned required for the open position?
What are your weaknesses?
This question is less about your weaknesses as such, but about how authentic and honest you are about facing them. Weaknesses have potential for improvements. This is an opportunity to demonstrate that you are working on them.
Please never claim that your weakness is “perfectionism” - this implies that you are unable to see the bigger picture and get too hung up on details, both characteristics that are undesirable to future employers. Your employer has to recognize that you are capable of self evaluation, because self evaluation is a prerequisite for personal improvement. Describe your true weaknesses and do not make up any “fake” weaknesses. Be honest!
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").
When did you have the impression of being particularly effective?
What are you driven by in your professional activities?
When answering these questions in particular, pay attention to the cultural values and leadership principles of the company, which you can usually find in the information on the company's homepage. Your answers will be compared with these values by your counterpart, the goal is that they are largely consistent. After all, each employee is seen as a representative of the company's philosophy.
What for questions
You determine the purpose of your actions and thus also the participation in shaping the future (of you and the company). That is why modern companies are increasingly asking "what for questions”.
Why questions look more into the past.
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.
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.
Special advice for video interviews
What makes video interviews exceptional is that you cannot use your 7th sense. If you are in the same room as your interviewers, it is easy for you to pick up on moods and the so-called 'aura'. This aspect is missing in video interviews. This is why you should pay particular attention to the tone of voice, facial expressions and gestures - not just of your interviewers, but also of yourself. Ask yourself regularly 'How is my interviewer feeling right now? How can I change or support this?'
Make sure you are in a calm, distraction-free environment with good LAN or WLAN. Check in advance whether the program, camera, microphone and sound work well.
Choose a neutral background, e.g. a white wall, to make sure that your interviewers are not distracted or influenced. Wear business casual clothes.
Otherwise, act as you always do: be polite, friendly and cooperative. You could also video conference with somebody else ahead of the job interview to get feedback on how you appear on camera.
Make sure to look into the camera most of the time! If the camera is mounted above the monitor, you automatically look at your interviewers.