Give the right answers to crucial questions in the job interview

You have submitted your job application and have been invited to a personal interview. Your goal in the interview is to show that you are the best choice for the position.

  • Every detail matters in a job interview, because your interviewer notices absolutely everything: what you say as well as how you present yourself. You shouldn't underestimate the latter aspect.
  • The personal impression of the job applicant is one of the decisive factors in hiring.
  • Careful preparation for the job interview is an indispensable key to success. The following critical questions are good touchstones for your personal strategy. They always appear in interviews because personnel managers can use them to explore the decisive aspects of the applicant's personal profile. Here we tell you how to give the right answers to these questions.

1. Tell me a bit about yourself

This question is not only a standard ice-breaker in conversations – it also provides an opportunity for a wide range of replies. However, in an interview situation it is advisable to intentionally limit the range of topics in advance. This means that you should concentrate on your personal characteristics that especially emphasise your suitability for the advertised position. Also emphasise your interest in the new position in the company.

2. Tell me about your current position

Most personnel managers use this question to specifically look for a direct relationship between your current activities and the position they wish to fill. This gives you an opportunity to show your capabilities in the right light and emphasise how you can use them in the new position. Briefly describe the specific duties and responsibilities of your current position: whom you report to, how many employees you supervise, how your duties fit into the company processes, and what contribution you make to the success of the company. Take care not to be too general or superficial in your answer. Calmly tell your interviewer in some detail about the challenges you face every day in your position and how your successful handling of them makes you suitable for the new position.

3. What are your weaknesses?

This question can quickly turn any interview into a disaster and lead to an unsuccessful application. We all know that it is not easy to admit our personal weaknesses to friends, and it is even more difficult to admit them to someone you have just met for the first time. This means that a job interview is not a forum for self-accusation. Consequently, never talk about any projects you have started in your present job that cannot be completed due to all sorts of internal reasons. Instead, answer the question honestly and reply to the interviewer in succinct but convincing terms. An example: "I must admit that time management was not exactly my strongest point in the past. But now I use a very effective planning system that eliminates all these problems."

4. Why should we choose you?

Don't get trapped by this seemingly easy question, for example by answering with the simple but naive reply: "Because I'm the best person for the job." Instead, you should steer the course of the conversation toward a factual presentation of your specific qualifications and describe the contributions you could make in the new position that would lead to the success of the company. Naturally, you should not omit references to actual knowledge and experience that make you appear especially suitable for the advertised position.

5. What were the most difficult problems up to now in your present position, and how did you solve them?

The personnel manager's objective with this question is to find out what you consider to be a challenge and how you deal with difficult situations. As this is a decidedly important aspect, you should prepare your answer with great care. The best approach is to present two or three specific examples of how you successfully eliminated problems in your professional career up to now. It is also important that the cases you describe are relevant to the new position.

6. What are your salary expectations?

In fact, the salary discussion should only start after you have a comprehensive view of the demands of the new position and the financial scope of the employer. However, this question is sometimes posed in the initial getting-acquainted interview. Consequently, you should have a realistic idea of your market value. This estimate forms the basis for salary decisions in most companies.


Naturally, the six critical questions listed here do not cover all the topics that can arise in a job interview. However, they are part of the standard repertoire of experienced personnel managers. If you practice giving the right answers to these questions and – above all – decide in advance what you don't want to say, you have taken the first step towards a successful job interview, and so towards a new job.