So, you have a job interview! Congratulations! Now is your chance to impress your prospective employer and prove your fit for the role you're applying for. Whether it's your very first interview or your first in a long while, this guide will prepare you for almost every possible question or scenario.
While we can't predict the questions they'll ask you, we can give you something that's almost just as good. This comprehensive list of common interview questions and sample answers is your best guide. It comes with advice and techniques on how to answer those questions .
Interviewers may say there's no right or wrong answer, but they're often looking for certain ways of answering. They want to see how you view yourself, how you present your skills and competencies, and how you handle problems and challenges.
Hiring managers want to know you better through your resume. They will look at your employment history, personal information, and professional credentials. But in the interview process, you will have an opportunity to dazzle them with insightful responses. And your answers must convey your confidence, depth, vision, and substance.
On the other hand, a job interview isn't only for filtering applicants on the employer's side. It's also a great opportunity for you to learn more about the company's open positions, work culture, and day-to-day operations. It allows both sides to exchange information and get a “feel” of one another.
Consider this list your definitive study guide for all your job interviews. It's designed to help you impress your interviewer and secure the position you're vying for.
Behavioural interview questions are also called situational interview questions. They help the interviewer gauge your skills in solving problems and making decisions. Your answers will help them understand how you deal with challenges at work. They will aid the employer in getting a sense of how you'll perform in their company if they hire you.
Common behavioural questions relate to communication, time management, teamwork, client-facing, and leadership skills.
Technical interview questions relate to jobs in the tech industry. It covers specialist roles in IT, engineering, and science. The questions help the employer determine if you have the hard skills necessary for the job. The questions may involve digital skills and software competency. Your answers will give the interviewer an idea of your technical expertise. They should show your ability to handle and solve technical problems.
Traditional questions let you give an overview of yourself. They cover aspects such as educational background, work experience, career path and goals, strengths and weaknesses, and special interests. Through this Q&A, you can establish a rapport with your interviewer and vice versa. These questions are applicable to all kinds of roles across various industries, so you'll often encounter them in the first part of the interview. By being prepared to answer these questions confidently and thoroughly, you can set the tone for the rest of the interview and make a great impression on your interviewer.
Some interviewers like to incorporate brain teaser questions in the interview. They even tailor them to the job you're vying for or the nature of the industry. These questions include riddles and puzzles that let you prove your logic and quick-thinking ability. They also show your out-of-the-box approaches. Slow down and understand the questions so you can answer them with confidence.
During the hiring process, it's not uncommon for job seekers to come across inappropriate questions unrelated to the role they are applying for. While there may not be specific laws in Malaysia that address workplace discrimination, Article 8 of the Federal Constitution protects citizens against discrimination based on various factors such as religion, race, descent, place of birth, and gender.
No jobseeker should face discrimination during the hiring process, especially regarding their marital status, family plans, or permanent disability. If you encounter any such questions during an interview, it's perfectly acceptable to politely decline to answer or ask about the relevance of the question to the role. However, if you repeatedly face discriminatory questions or practices, it may be worth re-evaluating your decision to apply for the position altogether.
Answering job interview questions can be intimidating for both first-time and experienced job seekers. The strategies below increase your chances of providing the best answers.
Behavioural or situational interview questions are best answered through the STAR method. It follows a simple format that allows you to tell a story about how you handled specific situations or challenges at work. Remembering and practising this formula will help you give clear, direct answers and create a good impression of your communication skills.
Share a clear scenario as an example.
Describe the duties and responsibilities you took on in that situation.
Mention and explain the steps you took to address the problem.
Highlight the outcomes of your actions or solutions.
A simplified variation of the STAR method, the Context, Action, Result (CAR) method combines “Situation” and “Task” into “Context”. It's also an effective way to answer behavioural interview questions, especially when you need to support your claims about any skill or competency.
Describe a situation demonstrating the skill, knowledge, or competency the interviewer asks about. Make sure it's relevant to the question!
Share the specific steps you took and explain why you thought they were the best and most effective for the situation.
Mention and emphasise the result of your actions. Provide specific details. Include statistics or feedback from your supervisor or manager.
It's important to focus on your strengths during the job application process. But you must also be ready to talk about your weaknesses and spin them into something positive or insightful.
According to organisational psychologist Nicole Lipkin in a Forbes article, “focusing solely on your strengths can potentially create an imbalance in your work performance.” She adds that your willingness to embrace your weaknesses in the interest of self-improvement is a strength and will be valuable to your personal and professional life.
Remember that you shouldn't exaggerate your strengths or lie about your weaknesses. Also, recall the job description; the interviewer wants to know if you have the skills, experience, and mindset the role requires.
When discussing your strengths, your answers should show why you're the best person for the role. Tell them how you can meet the demands of the job and help the company achieve their goals. Relate this to your skills and strengths.
When asked about your weaknesses, be as honest as possible. Mention your areas of improvement but also express your willingness to learn from your mistakes and acquire new skills. Refrain from citing weaknesses that compromise your fit for the role.
Every company, team, or workplace has its own culture. While employers can upskill employees, there's not much they can do if employees don't fit the company culture.
Hiring managers want to know if your temperament, personality, style, and attitude align with the company. Some of the questions you will be asked are related to your core values, motivations, and the work environment you thrive in. Alternatively, more forward-looking employers will also want to know what you can add – or improve – to the current company culture.
There are some standard questions that are often asked in job interviews. Prepare well for these questions so you can give clear, concise answers that will establish a strong overview of you as well as your experience and expertise.
Despite being common, these questions may be challenging to answer. Also, your answers may change as you move further into your career. The guide below will give you an idea on how to answer them honestly and confidently.
Whenever you're asked to tell about yourself in a professional setting, you don't have to give too many personal details about yourself. While the interviewer wants to get an idea about your personality, the question is more about your professionalism and competence.
According to communication trainer and coach Ashira Prossack, your answer to this question should sell yourself to the hiring manager rather than tell your life story. She noted in a Forbes article that the best way for you to do this is to tell the interviewer what the company will gain by hiring you.
Start by introducing yourself with basic personal information such as your name or nickname, where you're currently based, and where you graduated. Avoid sharing personal information irrelevant to the job application or one that may lead to any form of discrimination. You can also mention a hobby or interest if it's related to the job you're interviewing for. Then, follow up with some skills and previous work experience, especially those relevant to the role you're applying for. Briefly explain how they make you an excellent fit for the position.
Hello, thank you for inviting me to this interview. My name is ____, but you can call me [nickname]. I'm currently based in [city]. I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in _____ from [School/University]. Previously, I worked as a [Previous role] in [Previous company], where I did mostly [tasks/duties/responsibilities]. I believe that all of the knowledge and skills I gained from my work experience make me a great fit for your [Job title] position.
Hi, my name is ______ and I'm ____ years old. I'm a mother of two, currently looking for work. I applied to your [Job title] opening because I think it is related to my interests and previous work experience.
This is one of the most nerve-racking questions in a job interview. The interviewer wants to see your determination to take on the role and your confidence in your skills and other strengths.
To answer this question, begin by discussing your unique qualifications and strengths. Mention specific examples of how they enabled you to succeed in similar roles. Explain how your experience, skills, and core values align with the company's goals and mission.
Based on the training, knowledge, and experiences I've gathered throughout my career, I think I am well-equipped with the right skills and competencies for your [Job title] role. All these qualifications have enabled me to do well at my previous employment, and I'm excited to see how I can use what I know to bring your department/company closer to your goals. I have noticed that my core values of _____ are also aligned with your work culture and mission, so I'm excited to be part of your organisation.
I hope you'll hire me because I'm good at what I do. I work fast, and I can do a lot of different tasks. Also, I really need this job.
While it can be hard to talk about weaknesses, the same goes for strengths! You want to find the fine line between humility and candour with pride, showing modesty but not shying away from sharing your unique qualities. The interviewer wants to know your awareness of your key skills and character and how you can use them in a professional setting.
Reflect on your strengths, and think about how they fit in this role when selecting your top strength. You'll have better chances of impressing the interviewer when you mention a skill or strength related to the position or give specific examples of how you demonstrated or used this strength in your last job. To reinforce it, briefly explain how this strength will benefit the role you're applying for.
My greatest strength has always been my comprehensive skill set in full-stack web development. My extensive experience in the front-end and back-end of web development allows me to take full control of how a website operates in its entirety. I am confident that this expertise will be especially useful for your company's web development needs and projects.
I know how to code in different programming languages, and I have been doing so for years.
Telling an interviewer about your greatest weakness shouldn't disqualify you from the role you're applying for. It shouldn't plant a seed of doubt in your capacity to perform the job responsibilities. Still, it's important to answer this question as honestly as possible. Whether it's a technical or a soft skill, express your willingness to improve in this area. Another good approach is highlighting something you've learned that helped you grow and overcome your weakness.
Communicating the technical nature of web development to non-technical clients has always been a major challenge for me. I sometimes have a hard time explaining why we need a certain app or software without resorting to tech jargon. A few of my clients have given me suggestions on how I can make tech language and concepts easier for them to grasp. I have been using these suggestions to learn how to make communication more inclusive among my clients. My goal now is to make them understand my process, whether they're tech-savvy or not.
I only know one or two coding languages at the moment, but I think I can still take on the role of a Senior UX Developer in your company.
In this question, the interviewer wants to know about your problem-solving skills. They want to understand how you respond to challenges. This will help them gauge your resourcefulness, critical thinking ability, and out-of-the-box approaches.
Begin your answer by describing a challenge you had in the past. Explain what you did to overcome that challenge. Relate how you solved the problem. Highlight your skills and resilience. Discuss the outcome and key learnings from that experience.
There was an instance where I had to attend a client meeting on behalf of my project manager, who called in sick that day. As I was the main software developer for the project, I was the next best person to present the project. I had to put together a quick demo and add it to the existing presentation deck. I pulled it off, and the clients were impressed! I asked for a follow-up meeting with our project manager in case they had more questions. It was a great experience, and it allowed me to polish my presentation skills.
Our project manager called in sick on the day of a client meeting, so I had to ask them if we could reschedule.
A well-rounded employee can work efficiently both independently and as part of a team. You will often collaborate with your fellow team members to complete a project or solve a problem. The interviewer wants to know how well you work with others and contribute to a team.
Start by describing what your team was like and what project or task you needed to work on together. Make sure to highlight your contribution and why it was instrumental to the team's success. Discuss any challenges or conflicts you faced and how you overcame them.
As part of the digital marketing team, I was the lead content producer and was in charge of all the written content for campaigns. I always ensured that the texts aligned with the visuals created by the design team, so I consulted them before finalising my write-ups. This approach helped make our campaigns strong and cohesive.
I'm in charge of the texts for all our digital marketing campaigns, so I mostly work with the prompts and client briefs given to our team.
Even if you're not applying for a managerial position, the interviewer wants to gauge your capacity for taking on a bigger role in the future. They want to know if you've taken any initiative to lead a project and what the outcome was like.
To answer this question, describe the situation and the details of your role as a leader. Highlight your leadership qualities and skills and how you were able to use them. Share the outcomes you reached and how your leadership benefited the team.
I was given the opportunity to lead a digital marketing campaign after I expressed interest in the client and the product they wanted us to handle. As I knew the subject by heart, I understood the product's strengths and the client's goals. I bounced some ideas to the team and asked them for their input, which we combined into a solid campaign. The project was a success and we won another pitch for them afterwards.
I haven't had the chance to take the lead in any project since my previous roles involved mostly support tasks and minor projects.
It can be daunting to think about where you will be in your career in five years or so. A lot can change in a year alone. Yet most hiring managers still ask this question for two main reasons. They want to know if you intend to stay in the position (or in the company) for a long time and if your long-term career goals match that of the company. Every hiring manager wants to keep talented employees around, so they only want to hire people who will stay in the job for a while.
While it's hard to predict where you will be in your career or job that far ahead, you can mention your goals and aspirations. But be sure to explain how the position you're applying for aligns with those goals. Highlight how you plan to contribute to the company's success with those goals. By all means, don't joke about sitting across the table or joining a competitor. Avoid mentioning detailed schemes about promotions, or dreams to become famous, own a business, or return to school.
Since I'm really interested in growing my career in your organisation, I see myself gaining valuable digital marketing skills and experience. These would allow me to take on bigger projects and potentially manage a team within the company in five years. I find it exciting to be part of the company's growth while keeping track of my progress.
I see myself putting up my own digital marketing company in five years or so, and being a key player in the local marketing scene.
Questions about your salary requirements or expectations can feel awkward. Should you make it higher or lower than your salary in your current job? What if you're a first-time jobseeker? You may feel the need to give an exact figure. But if you go too low, you may end up getting less than what companies are usually willing to pay for the role. If you go too high, they may simply have no budget for you. To make things even more daunting or complicated, your base pay also often serves as the basis for future benefits such as raises and bonuses.
The best approach is to research the average salary for similar positions in your area. You can use JobStreet's Explore Salaries tool for this. Consider your experience, skills, and qualifications when coming up with a ballpark figure. During the interview, give them a reasonable salary range and say that you're willing to negotiate your compensation package.
Based on the current industry standards and my experience, skills, and qualifications so far, my expected salary range for this position is ____. However, I'm also willing to negotiate any compensation package you may have in mind for me.
My previous salary was _____, so I'm expecting to receive the same salary in your company for this role.
Many job seekers go to interviews with the expectation that all they have to do is answer questions. So, when interviewers ask this question, job seekers get nervous and say, "No questions for now." But this is the perfect opportunity to find out more about the role and the company and satisfy your curiosity about other details or information they left out in the job listing. Don't miss out!
Ask about the company culture and values. Enquire about growth opportunities within the department and the company. You can also think about the interviewer's previous questions and if you need to clarify anything related to them. Make the interview more engaging and ask about the interviewer's experience with the company.
I have no questions since you covered everything I wanted to know. But I'll let you know if I have any, if I get hired for the position.
You'll likely encounter other difficult questions besides the common interview questions mentioned above. These may be related to your previous employment, periods of unemployment, or your lack of qualifications.
If you've already been working for several years, most employers would overlook short gaps of a few months in your employment history. However, if there are several gaps or long periods of unemployment, they may ask you about it.
When this happens, it's best to be upfront about it, especially if you have legitimate reasons for those employment gaps. Don't make lame excuses on the spot, as it will arouse suspicion or create an impression that you are irresponsible, unreliable, and can't be trusted.
Everyone wants to land better jobs and explore more rewarding career opportunities. But if your resume lists different companies within a short period of time, it might send the wrong message to your prospects. They might view you as a job-hopper -- you take on a role then realise it's not for you, so you look for a new job and the cycle goes on.
However, given the big changes that the world has seen in the last five years, many career experts have noticed that Malaysian employees don't job-hop for random reasons. For example, Malaysian Business Associations (FMBA), MTUC acting president Mohd Effendy Abdul Ghani cited job satisfaction as a major cause for job-hopping, stressing “unprofessional management, discrimination, low wages, internal politics, and lack of leave opportunities” as some of the reasons why employees leave.
Whether you left your previous companies to pursue career growth or as a response to job dissatisfaction, there's a way for you to explain job-hopping in a more positive light. The trick is to be honest to the interviewer and lead them to the pros you gained instead.
If you are asked why you left a job, you can tell them the truth in a tactful and professional way. Maybe you're looking for new challenges, or you want to explore other opportunities and industries that offer a more solid career advancement. You can also say that your personality, interests, or values no longer align with the company, but avoid bad mouthing your previous employers. Instead, focus on how you deem it exciting to find a company that you are better suited to.
Ensure your resume is optimised to showcase your skills and achievements instead of your recent roles. Highlight the skills, lessons, and values you learned while switching jobs and how they can also be beneficial to the company.
If your answer about your greatest weakness involves the lack of skills crucial to the role you're applying for, expect the interviewer to prod deeper. You may be asked why you chose to apply given your limited qualifications. Or, you may have to explain how you would address your lacking skills.
As with the greatest weakness question, answer this as truthfully as you can but also express openness to fill the gap in your skill set. Mention any plans or current efforts to upskill or reskill, as well as your willingness to undergo extra training hours from the company, if necessary.
For example, instead of saying that you're hoping to gain digital marketing skills once you get hired, you can express your intent to learn these crucial skills on your own.
“While I am currently lacking digital marketing skills, I am also working on getting up to date training and certification from short courses. I am confident that these will complement any training that I should undergo once I join the company.”
Showing up prepared for a job interview gives you the best chance to make a winning impression on your interviewer. It gives you the opportunity to convince your prospective employer that you're the right person for the job. It can also give you an edge over other candidates.
By practising your answers to these questions, you'll be sure to feel calm and confident in the interview. When you reflect on these questions and draft your answers, you'll know how to highlight your abilities. And you'll learn how to downplay your weaknesses. Make your skills and strengths shine throughout the interview. Explain how they'll be valuable to the company. Show your communication skills through clear and concise responses. Always answer with honesty and confidence, and you'll be acing the interview before you know it!
Get ready to ace your job interviews when you #SEEKBetter jobs today, starting with creating or updating your JobStreet profile! Download the JobStreet app for iOS or Android to search for jobs, send applications, and track updates on the go. Lastly, check out the Career Advice page as well for more tips on job searching, self-improvement, and career advancement!