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Sample Questions

010 Interview Skills

Interview Skills | STAR Technique | Sample Questions

You may come across these questions (or questions like them) in application forms or interviews - we’ve included some suggested ways to answer these questions to help you form your own. Always answer questions honestly.

Can you tell us about a time when something went wrong, and how you dealt with it?

In this Competency Question, use the STAR technique to show the employer skills or strengths they are looking for within the role or company, such as problem-solving, responsibility, resilience, organisation or even how you can acknowledge and learn from mistakes. Remember to think carefully about each part of these questions, as outlined in the Application Form section of this guide. In an interview, you can clarify the question with the interviewer to ensure you have understood it fully before answering.

Learn more about Competency Questions here.

Watch this video to find out more about types of interview questions.

Sample answer

Moving to the university campus was my first time living away from home, and I found out I was terrible at budgeting without my parents around. I ignored the issue out of fear and quickly found myself going into debt.

I knew I had to get back on track, and so set a meeting with the bank to persuade them to give me a large overdraft until I could get out of debt.

Before the meeting, I found several part-time job openings and sought help from the university’s Careers & Employability team on tailored applications for those roles. I also drew up a detailed budget-plan, and brought details of both these actions with me to the bank.

My jobseeking efforts landed me a role with a local retailer a day before the meeting. Being able to show the bank adviser all the work I had done resulted in them granting me a larger overdraft than I was going to request. I followed my budget strictly and after excelling in my retail role, was out of debt by the end of the year - I’ve learned how to budget better, and to deal with problems as they arise rather than putting them off out of fear.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

In this Strength Question, the employer is looking for motivations, personality, work ethic and other qualities around your motivations here, in order to see how you will fit into their team.

Sample Answer:

My education has shown me so many interesting things in the world, and I always feel motivated to learn more. I get out of bed to discover new things and find joy in broadening my knowledge in this field. Coffee helps too!

A new steampunk themed café is opening up in the centre of Lincoln and has outsourced to us for its marketing activity. What issues will we face?

In Case-Study Questions like this one, the employer is not looking for a correct answer as much as they are hoping to hear the process you go through to get to whatever answer you do give. Ensuring you have done your research prior to the interview should make you more prepared for this kind of question. Use what you have learned in your university course to help you as well, ask for pen and paper if you’d like to write or draw something out like a SWOT analysis or mathematical calculation. These questions are also common in assessment centres.

Sample Answer:

Knowing what I do about Lincoln, the first consideration is that it targets a niche interest in a city with a small population. It has an opportunity in that we will be able to centre some marketing around the popular steampunk festival in August, but will need to find another strong customer motivator throughout the rest of the year. We will need to consider threats in competition from...

Why do you want to work for us?

Common questions like this Organisational Question are your chance to show your research and knowledge. Use stories to capture the employer’s interest, but remember to be honest and genuine. Sometimes being completely honest can be what truly sets you apart from other candidates.

Sample Answer:

Honestly, I didn’t at first. When I started my jobsearch, I was very specifically looking for a role I’ve wanted to have since I was a kid and I didn’t mind what company it was attached to. I researched every employer I applied to though, and I was stopped in my tracks when I started looking into this company’s community outreach; specifically with your current project. It made me really think about the impact my work could have on people, and since then this has been the interview I’ve most hoped to have. I want to work with a company who is community minded and wants to make a difference like this one.

Do you have any questions for us?

Most employers will ask you this in an interview- it’s a chance for you to show your knowledge, but also a time for you to assess if this employer is really one you want to work for (though this may not be the time to ask about salary or benefits). Make sure you prepare some questions before the interview so you don’t get stuck here - don’t leave without asking a question or two to show your interest in the role.

Sample Answer:

It seems like the culture here is fun and relaxed and I would like to learn more about that. Your recruitment Facebook page posted last month about a day your team had at a theme park - what other activities or events does this company do in terms of company culture?

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Interview Skills | STAR Technique | Sample Questions


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