Top Ten Questions with Sample Answers

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Here are sample answers to the top ten interview questions plus answers to other common questions.

Do not try and learn them as a script, it will sound false but aim to get the gist of the answer and translate into your words.

Remember candidates who provide good answers to interview questions, have trained themselves to listen for the 'question within the question'. If you do this too then you will be effective in giving the interviewer the evidence they need to award you the top points in the interview.

When you book an Interview Coaching Session Julie Sanders or via The CV Centre (where you can request a session with Julie) will guide you through the Top Ten Sample Answers to the most Common Interview Questions. You will be shown how to thoroughly prepare for your interview.

Says Julie 'Tell Me About Yourself' or 'Talk me through your CV' is the most common first interview question. Do not leave it to chance- make sure you prepare your answer thoroughly in advance using the sample answer scripts below.'.

Other helpful pages include our page on Model Answers 

and our page on how to provide Behavioural Examples to support your answers 

1. Tell me about yourself?

This is the number one question, completely predictable and you must not only be able to answer it, but to use it to sell yourself from the outset.

The interviewer does not want to know ALL about you. Your job is to explain how your skills, experience, background, knowledge, qualifications & personality match their requirements.

Keep your information professional avoiding anything personal unless it directly relates to the job itself. Stay focused.


Something like this Sample Answer will work:

I am a …………………………..with extensive……………………………………. experience acquired in the ………………………….

I am currently…………………………. I trained/qualified in……………………………………. my career has been in ………………

My main skills are…………………………….. (don’t forget mention those that the job requires).

My background is…………………………………..

I enjoy ………………………………….(say something about your personality that also relates to the job –meeting people, analysing data, managing a team, taking charge)

I am looking to develop my career ……………………..(in this direction)…………. and your job is the ideal position for my next move.

More sample answers below:-

2. Why have you applied for this job?

The employer is wanting to make sure you know what the job involves, how you match it and what has prompted the move. Remember to be positive, reassuring and persuasive.

I’ve applied as it is an excellent match for my skills etc. It would be a fresh challenge and a chance to try something new.

I already have the skills you need (mention their top 2 or 3 requirements). I have experience of ……………………….. (eg some of the issues the company is facing), and I have the right personality to fit in.

It is exactly the sort of role I am targeting. I am confident I will be able to make a major contribution and would become a valuable member of your team.

Here is where you get to speak passionately about the job you are applying for. You need to to cite particular things about the job that motivates you. Let them know that you have investigated the job & company thoroughly and then clearly explain what it is that excites you most.


Pick an aspect of the role that is essential and show your outstanding skill in being able to deliver the task in an exceptional way.

More sample answers below:- 

3. Why do you want to work for us?

Logic behind the question: The interviewer is trying to work out what you want from the job and your motivation in applying.

The secret here is to be very positive about the new job and refer to the fact that this is exactly the right opportunity for your experience, skills and future career aims.

For example: ‘ I have been looking for a job in a successful organisation and this job seems to be exactly what I am looking for. It matches the skills, experience and knowledge I have and I know I could fit in and make a contribution to the team. It seems ideal’.

More sample answers below:- 

4. Why do you wish to leave your present job?

If we are honest most of us want to leave our present job due to some sort of dissatisfaction. It may be pay, your boss, your colleagues, lack of opportunities, the nature of the work, but most of don’t leave a job we love from choice.

But this is not the time to tell your interviewer about that.

Logic behind the question: The interviewer wants to hear about your motivation and whether you will make a good employee.

If your reasons for leaving are positive and the new job provides more challenge, an opportunity to develop, a chance to use your skills in a new direction or is a step up the career ladder then give those positive reasons.

If things haven’t been so straightforward or the new job isn’t offering these things find something positive to say.

For example: I have really enjoyed working in my present company and I have leaned a lot particularly about ----------------(add your words and make them relevant to the needs of the new job).

However after ------------- years I have learned all I can and its time to take my experience elsewhere.

That’s why saw your job advertised which seems perfect for me because-------------

More sample answers below:- 

5. What are your strengths?

With questions related to your strengths, remember they are only interested in the skills, qualities you posses that are relevant to the role. Focus on discussing your main strengths, list three or four areas of competence.

For example, your ability to take the initiative, be a problem solver, team player as well as possessing strong leadership abilities. You are likely to be asked follow up questions with examples so be prepared!


The employer is interested in hearing about your strengths as they relate to the job. In your preparation prior to the interview, look at the job description and take note of what behaviours and characteristics are important for the job. When you are asked this question at interview talk about the strengths and qualities you possess that are a good match to the position you are applying for.

More sample answers below:- 

6 What is your greatest weakness?

An interview favourite and is sure to crop up in some form, again you will need to have done some prior thinking on this. The reality is we all have development areas so saying you don’t have any or coming back with a comment like ‘I have a big weakness for red wine’ will not impress the interviewer!


A safe way to answer this question is to focus on minor weaknesses that are unrelated to the job you are applying for. Make sure you always end with a positive, say this is an area you are actively working on! Even better if you can name a training course or mentoring that you received to improve your skills in that area.

For example " I sometimes take things too seriously. I have a habit of getting too involved and taking things too personally. This sometimes causes stress and anxiety, so I recently attended a stress management course, this has really helped me gain a sense of perspective and my work has improved as a result. I always try and improve any area of weakness and appreciate feedback if is it constructive.’

More sample answers below:- 

7. What have been your greatest achievements and why?

Interviewer Logic: The employer is looking for self - motivated employees. Previous promotions and achievements show that you are serious about your career and have a track record of success.

An interview is not the time to be shy or lacking in self confidence. You will need to have prepared this question in advance. You must know your strengths and be able to talk about the areas of work where you outperformed the goals set for you. Make sure to talk about those achievements that will add value to the job you are being interviewed for.


Remember to talk about your achievements in terms of results; interviewers are interested in what you actually did, so the more you can ground your answers in hard facts and figures the more they will be able to see the potential you have to deliver the same kinds of results in their company.

More sample answers below:- 

8. What has been your greatest challenge(s)?

Interviewer logic: The interviewer is seeking information on two fronts: First they want to see what you perceive as a challenge and second they want to find out how you deal with challenging situations.

Answer: Be prepared to talk about a big challenge that you solved, describe how you overcame the challenge and what the positive result was for the company. If you can pick a good work example that is probably best but if you have one from your personal life that is both interesting and shows you have the skills required you can use that as an alternative.


You will score extra points with the interviewer if you can demonstrate that challenges don't faze you because you view them as an opportunity to grow and develop your skills. Back this up with some examples to further impress the interviewer.

More sample answers below:- 

9. Why should we appoint you rather than another candidate?

Sometimes this question comes in an alternative form such as, What would your boss / colleagues say about you? The idea is they are wanting to a more objective view of yourself but the question gives the opportunity to emphasise what you believe is your USP (unique selling point).

Under no circumstances put the other candidates down. Be courteous and respectful whilst making a case for yourself.

Sample answer: I cannot assess the other candidates but I would wish to emphasise my willingness to do the job, my skills, my experience, my knowledge and in particular the fact that --------------(add what you believe to be the top 3 reasons why you are most suitable.

Remember to match your abilities exactly to the needs of the job and remind the interviewer of what your most important assets are.

More sample answers below:- 

10. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

The reality is nobody can predict with 100% certainty were they will be in five years time, so it is best not to get caught up in the time frame of the question. Explain that you have researched the company thoroughly and you are keen to work with them because of the growth opportunities the company offers.


Never give the impression you want to win the lottery and retire. Unless you are going for a temporary fixed term contract (in which case you would say you are happy with the length of tenure), indicate that as far as you can tell you would be more than happy to stay with the new company.

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