Typical questions in a job interview:
How to provide experienced responses

You have overcome the first hurdle of the application in style! Now you need to build on the good impression your application documents made in a job interview. The same thing applies here as well: good preparation is half the battle. If typical questions seem a bit old-fashioned in a job interview, then HR managers want to get to know you intensely in a short period of time. They want to find out whether you impress in a face-to-face situation and whether you really are a good fit for the company culture and the requirements profile of the advertised position.

Therefore, HR managers rely on typical questions for which you can prepare yourself in advance. We will explain how to do this and how to provide polished responses to popular questions in a job interview.

Job interviews: 7 typical questions you should expect to be asked.

The good news is that you can prepare for the questions and answers before the interview. We will tell you the typical questions together with the right answers. Be sure to let your personality shine while proving your abilities and skills.

  1. Could you please briefly introduce yourself?
  2. Why did you apply for this particular job?
  3. Are you willing to develop further?
  4. Why are you the right person for this job?
  5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  6. Do you have previous experience in the required area, and how can you make use of this in our company?
  7. How do you deal with stressful or conflict situations?
  8. Where do you think you will be in five years?

Could you please briefly introduce yourself?

The door-opener amongst the questions. It's an easy way to start a conversation. But take care not to go into too much detail when presenting yourself. Briefly mention your previous career, provide some more detail about key positions and explain why this previous position was such a good fit for your ambitions.

You should therefore use this answer to bridge certain topics, try—as you have already done in your cover letter—to link your competence and passion and to underline your motivation for this job in a plausible way. Beware, however, of telling personal stories with this typical question in a job interview. Focus on your professional motivation because this will definitely go down better than an amusing anecdote from your college days.

Why did you apply for this particular job?

This is where the questions get down to business. However, if you prepared comprehensively for a job interview, you will be able to provide experienced replies to this typical question. You know the company’s key figures, its latest developments and can plausibly show why you are personally impressed by the company philosophy. 
Again, use this question to highlight common ground between you and/or your experience and skills and the company. After all, common ground unites people and is always a good foundation for successful collaboration.

Are you willing to develop further?

A very popular and typical question in a job interview. This is about presenting your personal motivation and inner drive about personal growth. The following applies to companies in particular: standing still is going backwards. 
That’s exactly why employers are looking for talents who are eager to learn, don’t want to rest on what they have learned so far but are always interested in further training and acquiring new skills and competencies. That's because newly acquired skills will not only advance you, the applicant, but also your new employer.

Why are you the right person for this job?

This question is also about whether you have thoroughly researched your potential new employer, their products and company values. In job interviews, HR managers try to use questions to find out whether your motivation for application really matches the reasons stated in your application and whether you present a consistent picture.

Even if you feel like you keep repeating yourself in your answers, stay professional, relaxed and list the same arguments as those you already gave to a similar question. If you manage to not repeat word for word but in other words what your motivation for application is, it will not only leave a good impression with HR managers but you are also showing composure and eloquence.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This typical question in a job interview about weaknesses and strengths is popular with HR managers, but often feared by applicants. Why? Generally, people rather not talk about their own weaknesses, and in terms of strengths they risk praising themselves too much.

Here, too, good preparation is the key to success. Limit yourself to three or four strengths, substantiating them with real-life examples from your career.

Even more unpopular than talking about one’s own strengths is disclosing one’s own shortcomings. But we advise you to remain totally open and authentic. Standardised answers such as “I’m too much of a perfectionist” or “I have a tendency to be overly tidy” tend to elicit a weary smile on the faces of your interviewers because they have heard this answer a million times before. Be honest and show that you can handle your own weaknesses constructively in a job interview. Tell them your deficits, that you identified them and are working to resolve them. Explain how you are tackling these shortcomings. This makes you not only very honest but also demonstrates your problem-solving skills.

Do you have previous experience in the required area, and how can you make use of this in our company?

This job interview question is used by recruiters to find out how you want to approach your future responsibility in the company. Even if you don’t exactly know yet what your tasks will be like in detail, you should find out as much as you can about your area of responsibility and explain your working methods. Try to plausibly describe how you approach a task.

Explain the challenges you were confronted with at your previous employer and how you managed to resolve them in a positive way. Bridge topics with your preferred next employer, look forward optimistically and explain the contribution you will make for the company’s success in the near future.

How do you deal with stressful or conflict situations?

The question about unpleasant stressful situations is stressful in itself. The reason why HR managers ask it is because they want to break through your reserve a little and get you to tell them something you didn’t actually want to say.

Even with this rather typical job interview question, try to relax when answering it and describe your experienced approach. Say that there have been stressful moments at each of your previous employers, and that they were simply part of the job. Describe, for example, how you were able to minimise time pressure in projects by dividing a task into several smaller tasks which you could then delegate to other colleagues. Likewise, you can explain how prioritising tasks also helped you. This answer also shows your competence in accepting and analysing problems and resolving them in a focused manner.

Where do you think you will be in five years?

No job interview would be complete without this old chestnut. Therefore, HR managers will be sure to ask you questions about your future in a job interview. They will use this question to try and pry your future career plans out of you, whether you are striving for a specialist or a managerial career.

Our tip: don’t name specific goals but show flexibility and focus on common ground with your potential employer.

Say that while your personal development is important to you, you would always keep an eye on your employer’s economic development. It may be more expedient to continue to focus on the team’s progress rather than on your own career. This way you may be showing personal ambitions but also loyalty and the drive to implement anything imaginable for the company’s success. You may even be able to touch on the current economic situation and address forthcoming challenges for the company, showing foresight and empathy.

Further questions in a job interview

Apart from these seven typical questions and answers there are, of course, many others that HR managers and future bosses like asking in a job interview.

Motivation:

  • Why are you looking for a new job?

  • What does your dream workplace look like?

  • Why do you want to change jobs?

  • How would you like to evolve professionally?

Character:

  • How would you describe your working attitude?

  • What are your strongest characteristics?

  • Which workplace was your favourite and why?

  • What are the core characteristics of a good executive?

  • What information do you need to choose us?

Specialist questions:

  • Which tools/methods are you familiar with?

  • How do you keep your expertise up-to-date?

  • Which conferences have you visited lately?

Salary/benefits:

  • What are your financial aspirations?

  • How many leave days would you like to have?

  • What benefits are you expecting?

Are you looking for a new professional challenge? Would like to apply your recently acquired know-how directly? Then use our talent pool and send us your CV—we will definitely find a new company for you, too.

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