The 10 Most Common Interview Questions and Answers

Have you ever encountered interview questions that made you break out in cold sweat? 

Or have you come across interview questions that you were unable to answer or left you tongue-tied or afraid of coming up with a wrong answer

During job interviews, you may be asked tough questions. The types of tough questions vary depending on your industry, but these are some common difficult questions employers frequently ask to get to know you better as a candidate.

Why Do Employers Ask Tough Interview Questions?

Employers ask difficult interview questions to seek out the most important and relevant information about you. For example, employers might ask you why you chose to apply for a job with their organization. While it is difficult to provide a summary of why you chose to work for them, it allows the employer to understand what your motivations are. It also shows how committed you will be to the organization, and how you can contribute to the organization should you join them.

In today’s competitive job market, impressing hiring managers with your skills and experiences is crucial. Your career path and previous roles provide valuable insights into your suitability for the position. Understanding the job description and aligning your experiences with its requirements is essential. Additionally, showcasing your ability to thrive in different work environments and adapt to various challenges is key.

During interviews, prepare for common job interview questions. Demonstrating that you are a good fit for the job and a team player is important too. Moreover, highlighting your relevant skills and cultural fit within the organization can set you apart from other candidates.

Citadel Search has been in the Executive Search and Recruitment industry since 2005. As such, we have curated all the most difficult interview questions that recruiters commonly ask and provided respective suggestions on how to answer each of them. Let us know your thoughts regarding these job interview questions and answers.


10 Most Commonly Asked Interview Questions

Question 1: Tell Me About Yourself

“Tell me about yourself” is a common opening question that employers tend to ask as a warm-up. We find this question often stumps, as candidates do not know where to begin and when to stop.

How to answer:

To stand out during the interview, take a different approach and share information about yourself relevant to the job, instead of reciting information that employers can easily find out from your resume. Ideally, give a brief and eloquent summary of yourself by keeping your answer to a maximum of one to two minutes.

Covering two crucial topics—your work history and your most recent and relevant career experience—is essential. Sharing relevant and relatable industry examples helps interviewers understand whether you have the requisite experience and fit the role.

For example, if you are currently in a Project Manager role and you wish to switch to a Project Manager role in another organisation, discuss what you have done in the previous organisation that is relevant to the current job. To relate your experience effectively, first understand the key expectations of the job. Emphasize that you possess the knowledge and understanding of the respective industry’s nuances to handle possible curveballs. Therefore, research the job description and the company thoroughly to avoid giving objectively wrong answers in front of your hiring managers.

However, if you are looking to switch back to a role that you had experience in, briefly share your last experience and focus more on the employment that is more relevant to the job you are applying for.

What works?

To add an interesting touch to your response, you can share a short story to describe your journey of how you got to where you are today, and how you arrived at this job interview you are sitting in right now by giving your hiring managers about the career paths along with the skills and experiences you have picked up in your previous roles.  

I find candidates who could make me sit up to listen to them is they have a compelling story about them, a personal side that is different, as an opening statement and before diving right into their professional side.  


Question 2: Why do You Want to Work for Us?

The answer that will guarantee your downfall at the job interview is “It seems like a nice place to work in” or “I like people”. These answers will show the employer that you clearly have not done your homework!

How to answer:

In an interview, demonstrating thorough preparation showcases your understanding of the organization’s needs. You might express your enthusiasm for the company’s current initiatives, noting how they align with your own interests. Being well-versed in the organization’s culture, goals, products, and challenges enables you to articulate why you’re a strong fit for the role. To research the company, explore their website, engage with employees, conduct online searches, and review their LinkedIn or social media profiles. When you prepare this thoroughly, you communicate to hiring managers that you’re not only qualified for the position but also a cultural fit for the company.

For instance, if the organization prioritizes Research and Development, you can emphasize your proficiency and passion for innovation, underscoring your awareness of the company’s encouragement of such activities.

One candidate once said to a client while applying for an ESG role, “I read about your company’s reviews and they all seemed to point at how genuinely the organization cares about Sustainability.” This made the interviewer smile.


Question 3: Why Are You Leaving Your Present Job? /Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

It is important to have a response prepared so you are not caught off-guard by the question.

How to answer:

To answer this question effectively, it is best to be concise, to the point and be honest. Your answer should also reflect your current circumstances which  affects you personally

For example, certain push factors could be pushing you out of their current employer, while pull factors are pulling you towards the new employer. Push factors are the negative circumstances that make an employee want to leave the current employer, such as the lack of career progression, pay or benefits. Pull factors are the positive circumstances that make an employee want to join a new company, such as benefits, a higher pay or the good reputation of the company, work mode. It is best not to give a laundry list of push factors but be balanced and share also the pull factors to keep your response positive. For example, you can try to explain why the job is an ideal match and allows you to apply your skills, knowledge, and experience.

It is appropriate to share certain push factors for changing jobs, such as the need to take a sabbatical to learn, to take a mental break or to take care of a sick family member, etc. 

In situations where it is clear that you were terminated, it is advisable to adopt the “We agree to disagree” approach and keep your responses as positive as possible and move the conversation forward.

Some candidates go on rambling about the politics in the organisation that cause them to  resign or how the organisation had taken advantage of them, etc.  And we can feel their negative emotions even when it had happened a while back, etc. This opens a floodgate of negativity and detracts yourself. So stay succinct and concise in your answer. Choose one reason and ensure your answer will not distract yourself. 


Question 4: Why Should We Hire You?

The hiring manager wants to know whether you have all the required qualifications and evaluate if you are the right candidate for the job.

How to answer:

In your response, you should be prepared to explain why you are the best candidate that should be hired. You can start by talking about your ability, your experience, and your energy and relate it to what you can offer the organisation and what your value-add would be if they do hire you.

To prepare for this interview question, you need to understand the job description, pick out the qualities which apply to you and share examples of how you have used these skills in your relevant roles. You can focus on explaining how your experience will help you become the top performer in the role and contribute to the company.

Furthermore, candidates can effectively utilize the STAR method to showcase their problem-solving skills when responding to this question. By clearly articulating the Situation, Task, Action, and Result of a specific challenge they’ve encountered in their previous roles, candidates can provide concrete examples of their problem-solving abilities. This structured approach not only helps hiring managers understand the candidate’s thought process but also demonstrates their ability to analyze situations, develop strategic solutions, and achieve successful outcomes. Implementing the STAR format enables candidates to present their experiences in a concise and compelling manner, effectively highlighting their problem-solving prowess and suitability for the role.


Question 5: What Are Your Salary Expectations?

Interview questions about salary are always tricky to answer as it is a delicate topic. 

How to answer:

It is not encouraged for you to tie yourself to a precise figure to avoid selling yourself short or pricing yourself out of a job offer. You can do some research before the interview to be prepared to name a salary range based on your job title, experience, and skills.

However, if you are asked this difficult interview question during the initial screening interview, you can say that you will need to find out more about the position’s responsibilities before you can give a meaningful answer to that question.  Try to give a range in percentage increase.  However, if you are open to consider jobs that are smaller in job size, and you are aware that competition is tough, it is ok to share that you are open to consider moving at parity or even lesser. But state the range of how much lesser.  


Question 6: What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses?

A very typical but tough question that hiring managers tend to ask is about your weaknesses.

How to answer:

Frame your answers about the positive aspects of your skills and turn your weaknesses into something positive! The purpose of this question is for the hiring manager to find out if you are willing to take on challenges and learn new skills in this new role. Therefore, you should always be honest, positive and focus on showing your openness in improving yourself. For example, you can choose to share a weakness that would not be a deal-breaker and describe how you overcame it or made improvements.

However, there are some weaknesses you should avoid saying! One of them would be to avoid mentioning at interviews that “ I get easily bored in my job.” While honesty is important, revealing this particular weakness may raise concerns about your ability to remain engaged and committed to tasks or projects in the long term. Hiring managers seek candidates who demonstrate resilience, adaptability, and a willingness to tackle challenges head-on. 

Instead, consider discussing weaknesses that are more relevant to the role and can be framed in a positive light. For instance, you might mention a skill or area where you have less experience but are actively working to improve. By acknowledging areas for growth and demonstrating a proactive approach to addressing them, you convey your dedication to personal and professional development.

Furthermore, avoid weaknesses that are essential to the job or directly conflict with the organization’s values or expectations. Instead, focus on weaknesses that are minor or can be mitigated through training, mentorship, or self-improvement efforts. This shows that you’re self-aware and committed to continuously improving your abilities, which are qualities that hiring managers value in potential candidates.

Why this question?

This question also reveals how self-aware you are.  So brilliant answers could be:

“In my last 10 years, I had worked so very hard I paid a huge price for it.  Then came a rude awakening when my health took a beating and I had developed a bad cough that did not go away for 4 months.  I had to be honest to myself as I was putting in 12 – 15 hours a day at work and sometimes burning weekends as well.  

What I learnt was that it was not sustainable anymore.  I  took a review and that decided it was time for me to learn to reprioritise my life and now I become more self-aware and still put in the relevant hours but spend time in a conscious way on a need basis.  My bosses are still very happy with my quality of work and my family is now also supportive of me now when I am required to work late.” 


Question 7: What Do You Know About Our Organisation?

If hiring managers ask you this question, they want to know if you have done your research on the organization. 

How to answer:

You should be well-prepared and be able to discuss the organization’s products and services, image, goals, people, history, problems, and positioning. However, do keep in mind that you should not answer the question in such a way that you appear to know everything about the organisation. It is best to demonstrate that you have taken the time to do the research and are still willing to learn more.


Question 8: What Do You Look For In a Job?

This is an important question because one of the top considerations for which candidate to hire is whether the candidate shares similar values and motivations as the company. If what you share does not match the job that you are interviewing for, it is less likely that the hiring manager will consider hiring you.

How to answer:

Focus on making your answer relevant to the opportunities at this organisation, not personal security. The hiring manager wants to see if your goals, skills, and interests align with the company and if you’re looking to grow with them.

To prepare for challenging interview questions, research the organisation thoroughly and understand the potential career progression paths. Articulate how you envision fitting into the company culture and highlight how your past experiences have prepared you to excel here. Demonstrate your understanding of the company’s values and show how your skills and accomplishments align with their objectives to convey your readiness to contribute meaningfully and grow with the organisation.


Question 9: What Can You Do for Us That Someone Else Can’t?

For this question, you have every right to be a bit egotistical and share with the hiring manager your greatest achievements. This is a question hiring managers use to gauge your confidence, so be prepared to present yourself as a qualified candidate who can bring something unique to the table.

How to answer:

You should talk about your proudest achievements records of getting things done and mention the specific details from your resume or your list of career accomplishments. Be sure to mention that your achievements and skills will make you a valuable employee to the organisation. You can also elaborate on your ability to set priorities, identify problems and how you can use your experience and energy to solve them.


Question 10: Are There Any Questions You Would Like to Ask?

How to answer:

Surprisingly, the most common answer to this question is “No”. This answer leads to a missed opportunity to find out more about the organisation. Instead, ask questions that are related to the job, the organisation and the industry. If you are having an interview with the hiring manager, it will be wise to ask questions about the job, the desired qualities of the candidate they are looking for and the challenges of the role you are applying for. For example, you can concentrate on questions about the job’s responsibilities and how you can be a good fit for the position if you get the job offer.

As an interview is also a two-way process, this question is also an opportunity for you to find out as much as possible about the organisation you are applying for. The questions you asked will allow you to find out if this is a good place for you to work before you say yes to the job offer.


Final Words

We hope this article serves as a handy guide for you on how to answer interview questions. All the best for your upcoming job interviews!

As one of the top Executive Search and Recruitment agencies in Singapore, Citadel Search provides you with the best advice as we identify the most difficult interview questions and derive a strategy to answer these questions.

If you would like further advice and guidance on how to prepare and ace your upcoming interviewcontact us now to let us know how we can help you.

Scroll to top