How to answer questions in applications and interviews
Don’t know how to answer questions on application forms?
Not sure what to answer when an interviewer asks you a question?
Find help here!
Employers want to know:
Are you the right person for the job? And, can you do the job?
Therefore all your answers should be telling them that you are the right person for the job and that you can do the job.
You tell employers this by stating your:
- strengths/personal qualities
- relevant experience (this includes specific real-life examples of what you do)
- qualifications or training
Most application and interview questions will be looking for the same basic answers. There are two main ways application forms ask for information:
- Additional Information section which may say something like, “Provide any additional information in support of your application” and leave a large blank box for you to fill in!
- Specific questions with blank boxes below for you to complete.
Tip 1: The answers you use in application forms can also be used to answer questions in interviews!
Tip 2: Using the helps below can give you a good guide for what to put in the “Provide Additional Information” sections as well!
Tip 3: Check what you have written for spelling and grammar and, better still, get someone else to check it as well!
Have a look at these questions and ideas for answers:
Question: What are your main strengths? (Sometimes they say personal qualities or skills)
It can be quite hard to think of these, so ask yourself these questions:
- What good things would my previous employer have said about me?
- What do my friends and family think I am good at?
This should give you some ideas to start with.
Question: What experience do you have?
- Think of your work life, education and training
- Now think of a typical day doing that job or training
- Write your work activities down in the application
Many employers now ask questions about real life situations. These are known as Competency Questions.
Some example questions include:
- Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer and how you resolved it.
- Provide an example of when you gave great customer service.
- Describe a situation where you had to work flexibly in order to meet your employer’s requirements.
- Please give an example of when you had to work as part of a team in order to achieve an outcome and what part you played in the success of the team.
- Give an example of when you had to work to a strict deadline and how you ensured you achieved it.
How to answer them:
E for Event: Describe what the event was. Be brief for this one!
A for Action: Then say what action you took (say ‘I’ not ‘we’). This should be the longest section.
R for Result: Then say what the successful result was.
For more help use Examples of competency questions and answers. This will give you some more ideas for your answers!
Hints and tips for answering competency questions
- Think about what you do at work, in volunteering, training or hobbies.
- Think about the people you work with and what help you give them.
- Use the same examples when they ask you these questions in interviews!
- Keep copies of all the answers and examples so you can use them again.
All the best!
Want to speak to a Careers Adviser for more help? Contact us