Guide: Seven tough job-interview questions (and how you should answer)

You can’t predict what job-interview questions you will be asked. Still, there are some that come up again and again. Being prepared to answer them will help you come off more confident and land the job.

By: Tine Santesson

It was her dream job, and, on paper, she was super qualified for it. But, during the interview when she was asked “what are your weaknesses?”, her mind went blank. She had no idea what to say. After a few ums, she managed to put an answer together, but she left the interview with a bad feeling. She didn’t get the job.

After the interview, Lone Rank, a chief advisor with Karriere og Erhverv, Djøf’s career-counselling office, sat down to talk with the woman. She was crestfallen, and she was kicking herself for not preparing herself to be able to answer a question she knew there was a good chance she would be asked.

In her work, Rank meets a lot of people for whom the thought of an impending job interview is unsettling.

“It happens to recent grads and people who have been working for most of their lives,” she says. “Even people who have a reputation for being big names in their field struggle. Being prepared pays off. A potential employer expects it, and it helps the interviewee relax.”

Practise your answers — out loud

It’s impossible to predict what an interviewer is going to ask. But there are a few questions that come up again and again that would do well to prepare for.

“Practise your answers,” she says “And don’t just repeat them to yourself in your head. You need to have practised saying them out loud. Use your mobile to record your answers, or have someone you know or us here at Djøf listen to you. Don’t stop until you’ve got your answers down pat.”

Rank gave us her list of the seven classic interview questions, as well as an explanation of why employers ask them and how you should answer.

Of course, not everyone will think they are all equally daunting, and, when it comes to answering, Rank underscores that there is no single correct answer.

And, in the event that you get a question that comes from way out of the blue, her advice is to take your time.

“If you need it, stall a little by saying something like ‘that’s a really good and important question.’ Use as much time as you need to think about how you should answer. In this case, taking some time to come up with a well thought-out answer is good. It shows you don’t just blurt out the first thing that comes into your head.”


Seven classic job-interview questions (and their answers)


#1 Can you give us an example of a conflict you’ve been involved in?

Why it’s being asked:

It gives the employer an idea of what you consider to be a conflict, how you deal with conflict and what role you play when one arises.

Sample answer:

“I normally pick my fights very carefully, but I recently got into a conflict with a co-worker who didn’t finish something on time, and it became my responsibility to sort it out. I didn’t say anything right when it happened, but the next day I sat down with the person to talk about how we could work together to avoid something like that happening again. We both felt it was a relief to talk about it and sort it out.”


#2 What’s an example of a mistake you’ve made in your current position?

Why it’s being asked:

The employer wants to find out how much you reflect over the mistakes you make, and how willing you are to own up to them. And whether you ask for help if you need it.

Sample answer:

“Not long ago, I wasn’t paying attention and sent some sensitive information about our clients to someone who shouldn’t have seen it. Fortunately, one of my co-workers noticed I had done something wrong, and we were able to prevent the problem from getting worse. I learned my lesson, and this is something I will be more careful about in the future.”


#3 Why do you want to leave your current job?

Why it’s being asked:

An employer wants to know whether you are applying for a job because you are interested in it, or because there is a problem with your current job.

Sample answer:

“I used to work as a project manager, but now I’m a specialist on a project and I would like to get back into a management role and the diverse range of assignments that comes with project management.”


#4 What are your weaknesses?

Why it’s being asked:

To find out how well you know yourself and how you make up for your weaknesses.

Sample answer:

“I find it hard if there is too much focus on day-to-day assignments. I’m better at thinking more broadly. But, that said, it’s important for me that my assignments are well done, and that helps me stay focused.”


#5 You’ve left a lot of jobs after just a short period of time. Why’s that?

Why it’s being asked:

If an employer can see from your CV that you’ve left a lot of your jobs after just a short time, they’ll want to know why. Did you get fired because you were underqualified or didn’t fit in, or did you do something illegal?

Sample answer:

“Some of those were projects that I used to improve my skills in certain areas, such as on-line platforms. And the most recent one was a job I lost during the pandemic when the firm went bankrupt.”


#6 “Tell me about a time when you received criticism. How did you make improvements based on that criticism?”

Why it’s being asked:

To find out how well you take criticism.

Sample answer:

“I got criticised for a recent project that went pear-shaped. I knew that I was partly to blame, and I’ve learned from the situation. It’s never nice to receive criticism, but I’m receptive to constructive criticism.”


#7 What causes you to be stressed out at work? And how do you react when it happens?

Why it’s being asked:

To find out how you manage stressful situations.

Sample answer:

“I like to have a lot of time to complete my assignments, so short deadlines aren’t my cup of tea. But, when I have a short deadline, I work faster and concentrate less on the details and quality. My preference is clearly thorough analysis though.

This article was originally published in Danish in Djøfbladet 

Skriv kommentar

Din mail-adresse vil ikke blive vist offentligt
Dette spørgsmål forhindrer spam i kommentarfeltet. Spam-robotter kan nemlig ikke regne, så de kan stoppes med let matematik.