Looking to land your dream job? Learn how to answer these key questions first!

There's a certain finesse to acing an interview. While your CV may be on point, knowing about the main questions recruiters ask is vital. Getting to grips with the most common ones will allow you to practise ahead of time and perfect your interview style. You don't want to stumble and mumble your way through it. Luckily, we've got you covered. In this guide, we will take a look at core recruiter questions and how to answer each of them. 

1. Can you tell me about yourself?

You've walked into the room, shaken hands and sat down. One of the first questions recruiters ask is “tell me about yourself.” Take a deep breath and don't panic. It's time to give them your elevator pitch. Touch upon your experiences, Unique Selling Point (USP), any key accomplishments and why you're the perfect fit for the role at hand. 

Example answer: 

“I'm currently a Sales Executive at William Decks, where I handle more than 20 client accounts. I previously worked with a national retailer in the selling department, a role that involved travelling for work and initial lead management. I have a proven track record of successful sales and customer retention. I am currently looking to expand my selling career with a larger, international business, such as this one.”

2. Why do you want this job?

Next up, the recruiter may ask you why you want this job. You took the time to apply and turn up to the interview, but why are you bothering? Showcase your existing knowledge about the company and then touch upon a couple of key reasons you fit the role criteria. 

Example answer:

“I've been following Hill Street's journey on social media in recent years and I've always been struck by the honest communication style of the brand. As a social media manager, I want to work with companies that value their customer base as you clearly do. Since I already have experience working across platforms and building strong followings, I believe I can take the foundations you have built to new levels.”

3. What are your greatest strengths?

It's time to toot your own horn. When it comes to questions recruiters ask, you can't overlook this one. The hiring manager will want to know what it is that you bring to the table. Avoid opting for generic traits and consider what it is that makes you unique.

Example answer: 

“One of my greatest strengths is clear communication. As a Sales Manager, I'm often the middle person between the company and our clients. I am well-attuned to understanding clients' needs and recommending services or packages that suit them. In addition, my intrapersonal skills allow me to create a rapport with new clients and get them on board.”

4. When have you failed and how did you cope?

Ready for a curveball? Here's perhaps one of the most intimidating recruiter interview questions. When the hiring manager asks you about your failings, it might get your back up. However, keep in mind that they're trying to figure out how you handle problems. Spin your answer to make yourself the hero of the story - the ultimate problem-solver. 

Example answer: 

“As a teacher, I have failed if a student slips through the cracks. One recent example came up during exam period when I noticed a student was disengaged with their revision. Frustrated - as this particular student has so much potential - I pulled them aside and gave them a warning. However, I later found out that the student was having problems at home, and needed extra support. Upon learning this, I worked with them to overcome the issue. It taught me not to take challenges at surface level.”

5. What's your ideal next role?

Hiring managers want to see that you have a clear future vision. What is it that you want and/or expect from this role? Highlight your knowledge of the position but also add in some details about where you see it leading you. It's all about showing ambition here. 

Example answer: 

“I'm looking for a role where I can grow and expand my skill-set. I'm drawn to this Account Manager position as it will allow me to work with an array of international clients and across departments. I am also interested in your career development scheme as I would love to work my way up to a leadership position in the coming years too.”

6. Why are you leaving your current role?

You need to keep things positive when this question pops up. While you may be tempted to dish the dirt on your former employer, doing so is a real mistake. The hiring manager wants to see that you are loyal, but also that you want to drive your career forward now. 

Example answer: 

“I've worked for Smith and Co for more than eight years and, in that time, I've gained both responsibilities and promotions. I've learned so much about the world of finance in that company. However, I don't believe I can continue to develop there as there are no more progression opportunities. I am, therefore, looking for a role in a larger company.”

7. What are your salary expectations?

More than a third of Brits feel uncomfortable talking about money or finances. However, when a recruiter asks you about your salary expectations, you need to have prepared an answer in advance. Before you go for the role, you should take a look at the average salary online to give you a heads up. Give a salary range that suits you. 

Example answer: 

I'm looking for between £22,000 and £25,000 for this role, in line with the national average for SEO writers. I would be interested to learn what your budget is.”

8. How do you prioritise your work?

The modern working world is fast-paced, so recruiters want to see that you can keep up. One of the questions recruiters ask is how you prioritise your work. When answering, you should walk the hiring manager through the processes and systems that you use. Don't be afraid to call out specific systems - doing so shows that you are familiar with technology

Example answer: 

“My current company uses Asana to manage our workflow, which I have found to be hugely helpful. We tag priority work and set deadlines using the system so we're always on schedule. But - as we all know - unexpected tasks do crop up. For that reason, I allocate 30 minutes each day to ad-hoc work, allowing me to get important jobs done first.”

9. Do you prefer working in groups or alone?

Here's one of the trickiest recruiter questions. When the interviewer asks you this one, they are trying to figure out whether you are a team player. However, you also need to show that you are an independent worker. Frankly, it's a difficult tightrope to walk. 

Example answer: 

“Within my current role, I work with a team of five others and we take a multi-pronged approach. While the majority of my work is solo, I have to continually communicate with my team members via Slack and face-to-face. I love collaborating with them and sharing ideas on a daily basis. However, I prioritise quiet time when I can work on my projects.”

10. How would your current boss describe you?

While you may want to paint an elaborate picture of yourself as an ideal employee, you have to be realistic. The hiring manager wants to hear an honest account of you as a professional. Draw upon the things that your boss has said to you in appraisals.

Example answer: 

“During my most recent appraisal, my manager said that I was an excellent problem solver. She actually highlighted an instance where I'd had technical issues in the morning and - while waiting for the IT team - had reorganised my hard filing system. She praised me on this and said that I was a dedicated and hard-working team member.” 

11. What motivates you?

Motivation equals productivity. When an interviewer asks you this question, they want you to show that you are passionate and dedicated to the position. Talk about why you're excited to join their company and the aspects of it that will motivate you to work hard. 

Example answer: 

“Learning new things is a major driving force for me. In my previous role, I took advantage of an in-house training scheme to learn new communication skills. I am attracted to the role at Harper Inc as it will allow me to expand my existing skill-set and to work with bigger clients than before. I don't want to sit still in a role - I have to keep moving and growing!”

12. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Next up, we've got a classic recruiter question. Chances are, if you've ever attended an interview, you've come across this one. Now is the time to show the interviewer that you have ambitions and can see yourself going far. Don't be shy. Share your future vision. 

Example answer: 

“I would like to hold a leadership position in a company like this one. Since starting my career six years ago, I've gained new responsibilities at every turn and now oversee two staff members. I believe that I have what it takes to inspire people and would relish the chance to move up the career ladder and into a management role.”

13. What do you think our company could do better?

As one of the hardest questions recruiters ask, this one may stump you. The interviewer wants to know that you have researched the company and that you have the ability to spot any gaps that need filling. Avoid insulting the hiring manager by tearing the business apart. Instead, pick out some minor changes that you can easily implement if you're hired. 

Example answer: 

“The company already has a robust social media following on Instagram. But - since these platforms change so rapidly - I think you could make a bigger impact by using TikTok. In my previous role, I was in charge of the group's account and gained 50,000 followers. I would welcome the opportunity to do the same within this new role.”

14. Do you consider yourself successful?

You might not feel comfortable bragging about yourself but that is what this question demands. When an interviewer throws it your way, make sure you say yes. You should then elaborate on why you are successful and give examples. You may also choose to include a nod to how you can expand upon your successes in the years to come. 

Example answer: 

“Yes! Having worked in content marketing for eight years and headed up more than 30 successful campaigns, I consider myself a success. While I know I have a lot to learn still, I am proud of my achievements and how far I have come. One of my biggest achievements was managing a campaign for Bill's Bikes that increased their sales by 60%. In the future, I would hope to work with your team and gain more skills in this sector.”

15. Do you have any questions?

Before you walk out of the door, you need to ask some questions of your own. Recruiters want you to show an interest in the role. You can do this by asking some interesting questions about the position, your duties, and where you can expand in the future. 

Example questions: 

What can you tell me about employee training schemes?

What is your favourite part of working at this company?

How does the team collaborate?

How do you handle conflict within the workplace?

Do you allow remote work or hybrid work?

The takeaway 

Before you go to an interview, you absolutely need to prepare. Going over some of the main questions recruiters ask will give you a fighting chance. While you don't want to over-rehearse these answers, having an idea of what you want to say is key. That way, you won't be taken aback by any of the recruiter questions that come your way.

Ready to land your next interview? The first step is creating a CV that wows hiring managers. Don't leave things to chance. Set yourself apart from the crowd with an expertly-written and keyword-optimised CV from TopCV. Investing in the application process could help you to land more interviews than ever before and get hired sooner rather than later.

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