Preparing for questions at the interview

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17 Jun 2011

Interviewers ask different types of questions to assess different things during an interview. Werksmans Human Resources Practitioner, Olivia Timothy, provides guidance on the kinds of questions you should prepare for.


Interviewers ask different types of questions to assess different things during an interview:

  1. traditional questions establish a person’s career aspirations, personality traits, strengths and weaknesses
  2. competency-based questions provide insight into a person’s ability to carry out specific tasks
  3. legal questions help the interviewer assess a candidates’ legal knowledge

Traditional Questions

  • Why did you choose your particular career path/field?
  • Where do you see yourself in the next four years?
  • Talk about your short term goals.
  • Show the employer you have ambition and determination.
  • In what type of environment do you thrive?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Strengths: select the attributes that you think will get you the job.
  • Weaknesses: select an example of what positive steps you took to address your weaknesses.

Competency Based Questions

  • Give an example of when you had to work on an important deadline and how you managed your time to meet the deadline.
  • Describe an occasion when you had difficulties working with a team including details of the problems and how they were caused?
  • Describe a situation when someone in authority complained about your performance in a task and what you did to rectify the situation?

Legal Questions

  • You are not expected to be a legal expert at this stage of your career.
  • Listen to the questions carefully before answering.
  • If you do not understand the question, ask the interviewer to “rephrase” the question.
  • If you want to use an example to explain your answer, do so.
  • Always attempt to answer the question. However, if you did not study a specific subject at university and are asked a question on this area of law, explain this to the interviewer.
(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)