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  5. Interview questions and answers

Interview questions and answers

Obviously the questions you might be asked is going to vary massively from place to place. Here are some examples that TSR members have provided. Feel free to add more examples or the sort of answers you'd give if it is not already down (and feel free to leave your name)!

What are your strengths? 
This should really be an easy question, and it's a common one. If you're particularly modest, think up some answers in advance. Think of things like:

  • Hard working
  • Good analytical ability
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Good problem solver
  • etc.

What are your weaknesses? 
Again, this shouldn't be too hard.

  • I usually say I have trouble delegating, as I prefer to complete work to my own high standard. But I have learnt that trusting someone to do a good job frees up my time and allows me to concentrate on my core job role. - anonymous

Why are you leaving your current employer? 
If you've been employed before, try to make this sound positive.

  • You're looking for more of a challenge
  • Your current role is too restricting or doesn't give you enough responsibility.
  • etc

Tell me about a time you used leadership/initiative/good judgement. 
What happened? What was the outcome? Questions about leadership can be academic or otherwise. Consider any roles you might have had in clubs or societies. Maybe you organised events for your university sports team, or you were head boy/girl at school/college and made some good decisions

Tell me about a time when you made the wrong decision. 
This is something that might be very difficult to answer. Whatever you choose to talk about, important to remember is to say what the outcome was and state what you learned from this experience. Don't say that you were fired! 

Why do you think you'd be good at this role? 
Here you could pick up on where you left off with "what are your strengths", i.e. relating all your skills and attributes to the responsibilities you would undertake in the role. If you're a clear and confident speaker, for example, and your job will involve answering lots of telephones, then this is the sort of thing you'd need to mention.

What can you bring to this organisation?

  • Dedication
  • Initiative
  • Innovation
  • Motivation
  • Enthusiam
  • etc

Do you feel you can work well unsupervised/in a team/both? 
Mention some incidents where you had to work in a team, perhaps a drama performance, or a sporting event where you had to come together with your teammates.

  • For me, for unsupervised I would probably talk about writing my university dissertation and not really having any contact hours with my tutor for guidance; while for team work I'd mention when I was in year 11 and as part of a group we had to make a scale model of the small estate where our school was located for a local anniversary. - JR

How do you cope under pressure? 
Provide some examples of occasions where you were under pressure and you succeeded.

Explain how you went about acquiring (a) new skill(s) 
This could be through study, training or experience. It all depends on the type of person you are and the type of skills you have.

Give me three words to describe yourself. 
This is a tough thing to be asked; try to be positive, but don't be afraid of throwing in one slightly less positive one. . Obviously if you want to through out three similar positives, then go for it. It's your prerogative.


  • Motivated, cooperative, cautious.
  • Enthusiastic, committed, decisive.
  • etc

What's your biggest weakness? 
Be honest when asked a question like this.

  • I typically state something along the lines of "overly dogmatic". - anonymous
  • Hehehe, for me it'd probably be that I don't like to admit when I've made a mistake  - JR

Do you play cards? [this might be asked in a trading interview] 
Either "yes, I play cards" or "no, I do not play cards".

What do we really get if we employ you? 
This is similar to "what can you bring to this organisation?"

Why haven't you had a FO internship? 
Already had experience/opportunity didn't present itself. (Maybe a good idea would be to get an internship position.)

Describe a failure. 
The video here, (while hilarious) is actually pretty useful. 

What Questions Might You Ask?

Here are just a few examples that should get you thinking:

What are you looking for in the ideal candidate for this position? 
Translates to: Do I fit the bill for the kind of person they are looking for? Maybe you'd know whether you are up to the job better than they.

How many people at my level (college graduate/university graduate etc) are you looking to hire this round? 
Translates to: What sort of chance do I have of getting this job? At least knowing it is a highly competitive position will make it less disappointing if you hear nothing back.

Describe the culture of your company in and around the office. 
Translates to: Is this the sort of company I want to work for, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week? If you're a very laid back person, a very strict work place might not be for you (and vice versa).

What kind of work would I be doing? 
Translates to: Is this what I want to be doing? You don't want to accept a job where you don't really know the sort of things you'll be doing, especially if you find that your daily tasks are too easy.

What do you offer to your clients and employees that other companies do not? 
Translates to: Why should I work here? It would be nice to know the little perks and bonuses you might be entitled to, to help you make up your mind about whether you'd want to work there.

What does your company value? 
Translates to: Do your values align with mine? If you are working for a company that values the same things as you (for example, greener technology, pro bono work) then you may enjoy working for a place like that better.

What training and development will I be exposed to?

Translates to: How will I be trained and assessed? If you're starting at a low level, you'd much rather know that you're going to be mentored and assisted until you are qualified than simply being thrown in at the deep end.

Also See

Anything else that should be added to the list? Let us know in the comments. 

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