How do I answer personal interview questions

7 questions in the interview: This is how you score with the right answers

Are you wondering which questions are asked in the interview? That is good, but only helps you to a limited extent. Because it is above all good answers that matter. In our article we explain to you how you, as an applicant, can find convincing answers to the most diverse questions in the interview and give you concrete examples. You are guaranteed to impress your conversation partners.

7 examples of questions and answers in the job interview

According to the London School of Economics and Political Science, you can face seven different types of questions in an interview. In the following you will find out which these are and which strategies you can use to find convincing answers.

1. Questions about your professional competence

Example: "How did you solve a complex problem in your last job?"

Translation: Do you have something on your chest? How did you prove that before? Explanation: This type of question aims to find out whether you are technically suitable for the respective position. In principle, this is a different formulation of the question about your strengths and weaknesses. The recruiter wants using a concrete example to know how to solve complex problems from a technical point of view. If you are able to cite such an example from your last job in an interview, you prove on the one hand that you have relevant experience; on the other hand, your explained approach provides information about your methodology and your specialist knowledge.

Similar questions:

  • "Name a situation in which you worked well in a team."
  • "Tell me how you dealt with a difficult work situation."

Proper preparation: Read the job posting carefully and try to find out which relevant technical knowledge is that the position requires. On this basis, try to think about the extent to which you will meet these requirements and also look for specific examples that you can use to convey your specialist knowledge and experience. It is best to have a specific example for each skill.

You can find more tips that will help you here in our magazine article "Convincing in the job interview: 5 tricks for your success".



One technique that is used frequently and that the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recommends to applicants, for example, is the so-called "STAR method" from the USA. It aims to report on a sense of achievement that illustrates one's own strengths. "STAR" stands for the four key strategic components of technology:

  • S.ITUATION (“Situation”): Briefly describe the specific situation and context.
  • TASK ("task"): Explain the specific problem and its special features.
  • A.CTION: Explain how you solved the problem. Your answer should focus on this aspect.
  • R.ESULT ("Result"): Make it clear which result you were able to achieve and to what extent it met or exceeded the original goal.

Example answer: Company X brought me on board to set up business area A (task), which did not exist up to now (situation). With the launch of the new product B, the company's sales increased by x percent within three quarters of a year (earnings).


Example: "Why are you interested in the area [...]?"

Translation: Are you the right person for this job in the long run and are you actually interested in it?

Similar questions:

  • "What do you love about this job?"
  • "What are your goals in this position?"
  • "Why do you want to work for our company?"

Explanation: With these kinds of questions, recruiters and HR managers try to recognize how serious you as an applicant are with the job, what you value and whether you fit into the area of ​​responsibility. Because hiring someone who lacks the commitment and drive for the job at hand is every entrepreneur's nightmare.

According to the career blog Leadership IQ, there are five basic factors that motivate people in the job:

  • power
  • Makes
  • Connectedness
  • security
  • Challenge

It is important that you prepare yourself particularly well for this question. Because a bad answer can easily cost you your chance at the job.

Proper preparation: Think carefully about what really drives you. If you are not entirely sure, you can also take the Leadership IQ self-test to find out. But that doesn't necessarily have to be one of the driving forces mentioned above: Maybe something else is motivating you? It is important that you think carefully about what it is and, above all, why.

The following questions can help you discover what drives you:

  • What exactly are the highlights of your career so far for you? Why this one?
  • When did you look forward to your work most and why?
  • When was the last time you were proud of your work? What was it that particularly excited you?

No matter what your answer is: Always try to base your statement on a concrete example. Because this way you will not only be better remembered by the HR manager or recruiter, but your answer will be more convincing and easier to understand.

Our tip for you: In principle, we can only advise you to answer as honestly as possible. False answers may mean that you get a job offer even though you lack the necessary motivation for the job. This can quickly lead to dissatisfaction with the new job. That is why we recommend you: Be honest when it comes to what drives you and what you enjoy. Because in this way you are not only doing the company a favor, but above all yourself a favor.

Another tip: Particularly clever answers are those that allow you to make a connection to the job advertised and the skills required. For example, if you apply for a position as a key account manager and you are always enthusiastic about building successful business relationships, it is helpful to emphasize this. Try to take this into account in your preparation.

Example answer: “During my first job at company X, I got to know the area of ​​search engine optimization and was enthusiastic about the technical fundamentals of search engine optimization. In addition, you are on the digital pulse of the times and can constantly discover and test new and innovative tools and possibilities. "


Example: "How would your manager describe you?"

Translation: 1. How do you perceive yourself?

2. How do you deal with this question?

Similar questions:

  • "What are three positive things your former colleague would say about you?"
  • "Where do you want to be in five years?"
  • "Who are your role models?"

Explanation: Pure technical competence is no longer enough to be successful in the job. In some jobs, certain personality traits are even indispensable. For example, could you imagine a successful key account manager who is not communicative? In addition, some companies also attach great importance to the fact that the personality of their employees matches the corporate culture (“cultural fit”).

HR managers therefore try to find out how you are as a person with questions about your personality. In doing so, they do not neglect how you answer the questions, i.e. what priorities you are placing. What you reveal here gives them a lot of information about what is important to you and what determines your self-perception.

Proper preparation: The bad news first: This question is tricky to answer and requires very good preparation. The good news: Here you have the opportunity to stand out from the rest of the applicants and to convince them personally! If you answer this question wisely, you can collect many important points from your interlocutors. So what is the right preparation?

It is important that you approach the whole thing strategically and check which properties could be valuable or important in the advertised position. Then you should consider which of these characteristics you have and why they are relevant for the position.

Our tip for you: Also, try to connect with the company. It can be very helpful to find out more on the company's website in advance and to check specifically where you see overlaps. But think carefully about which of them is relevant for you and try to be as honest as possible. If you find that you have little connection with the company and their profile, it may not be the best choice for you.

Example answer: “My supervisor would definitely appreciate my commitment to professional tasks. Regardless of whether an important presentation is due, an important customer has to be visited or the preparations for an urgent project start. My boss knows that I have his back and that he can fully rely on me. "

Danger: There are also a number of questions that shouldn't be asked in an interview. This concerns very personal issues such as family planning, religious views or sexual orientation. In such a case, you should consider looking for another job offer.

Example: "What are your strengths?"

translation: What are your personal priorities? What are you really enthusiastic about and are you honest about your answer?

Similar questions:

  • "On a scale from 1 to 10, how do you rate your organizational strength?"
  • "What others appreciate most in you?"
  • "When are you asked for advice?"

Explanation: With these types of questions, your interviewee will check what your Revealing body language or articulation about your statement. How enthusiastic do you sound when you talk about your strengths? How open is your posture? Are you trying to distract from a lack? Do you get tangled up multiple times? Often, HR professionals specialize in recognizing what your body is signaling. With these questions, it is therefore important that what you say corresponds to your body signals.

Proper preparation: Even with this type of question, it is essential that you know exactly the requirements for the advertised position. The best thing to think about which properties are being searched for and which of them you actually bring with you. When giving your specific answer, the best thing to do is to make sure that you answer the question clearly and precisely, because that way you appear more convincing. Only then should you explain your answer in more detail.

Example answer: “Entrepreneurial thinking is one of my strengths. For example, in my previous occupations I have always looked outside the box of my own job and seen the big picture. For example, in my last company, I saved the company a lot of time by introducing a system for the automated generation of reports, which it could then use for more profitable activities. Because until then the customer reports were always created manually. "

Our tip for you: In our expert interview “The Power of Body Language”, career coaches Monika Matschnig and Jessica Wahl explain to you how your body communicates non-verbally in the interview and how HR managers interpret these signals.

Or would you like to train your body language specifically with one of our coaching sessions? Then you have come to the right place at the AVANTGARDE Experts Academy: for example, use the training "Who speaks to the body, has to say less - the power of body language".

Example: "How do you determine the ideal production volume for manufacturer XY? "

Translation: What determines your approach and how differently and efficiently do you proceed?

Similar questions:

  • "How can the company to be taken over be assessed?"
  • "Is the market attractive for product XY?"
  • "How can you increase the profits of company XY?"

Explanation: In case studies, companies test your professional competence in a conversation based on a question or a problem that is supposed to challenge you. Such questions are standard, especially for consultant job advertisements. Here you should be able to To develop questions and a Discussion with your counterpart to lead to the case study mentioned. This part of a job interview or assessment center is assessed on the basis of your ideas, your approach and your professional knowledge.

Proper preparation: This clearly depends on analytical skills and knowledge. Often the person questioning you has already worked on this or a similar topic and can therefore rate your answers in terms of consistency and meaningfulness. In order to prepare yourself appropriately, you should know the industry focus of the company and you should know about current difficulties and challenges in the industry well-founded information. You should then apply this knowledge in conversation and develop sensible solutions.

Our tip for you: Before you rush to come up with a solution, you should take enough time to do that Understand the problem and its context. If you make serious technical mistakes, this can quickly become your undoing. Therefore, you should make sure that you have all the information you need. If you find that you need more information, you should Ask questions. Because they not only help you to better understand the question or problem, but also signal to the person you are talking to that you are approaching the problem in a differentiated and careful manner.

Example: “There are disagreements on the team between you and a colleague. What would you do?"

Translation: How do you react to problems and stress? Are you confident even in difficult situations and do you behave correctly?

Similar questions:

  • “Was there a situation in your old work in which you were unable to meet a deadline? What have you done?"
  • "Describe a situation in which you were dissatisfied with your own work: What could you have done better?"
  • "Explain how you talk to dissatisfied customers."

Explanation: This questioning technique comes from the USA and helps recruiters and personnel managers to determine how resilient you are. In addition, your answer gives them information about what characterizes your thinking and acting and how well thought you interact with technical problems, but also with customers, colleagues or business partners. You cannot memorize the answers to these questions.

Proper preparation: With these types of questions there is one well thought out answer indispensable. A structured answer provides your counterpart with the proof that you are not just shooting at it, but are worrying, not acting rashly and making decisions carefully.

Example answer: “I would seek an open conversation with my colleague. I would first address the problem factually and also try to understand the person's point of view. I am a friend of resolving a difficult situation in a one-on-one conversation instead of letting it escalate. If that doesn't work, I would seek advice from a third person who can bring a neutral point of view into the discussion. This procedure has proven itself in the past. "

Our tip for you: J.T. O’Donnell is a well-known personnel consultant and managing director of the agency “Work It Daily” in the US. In an article for business magazine Inc., she recommends applicants the following formula to convincingly answer behavioral questions:

Experience + learning effect = growth

What is meant by that?

  • Experience: Give a concrete example from your previous professional experience that is similar to the example of the personnel question. Briefly explain the context.
  • Learning effect: Summarize the valuable skills you were able to acquire in this particular situation.
  • Growth: Make it clear how you apply these competencies in today's situations and to what extent this is advantageous for a company.

So that you do not lose the attention of your conversation partner, it is important that your answer is structured linearly. This means: Don't digress and explain what you mean - logically and consistently.

Example: How do you explain the color yellow to a blind person?

Alternative questions:

  • "How many latte macchiato are drunk in Hamburg every day?"
  • "How many Smarties fit in an Opel Corsa?"

Translation: How do you react to this absurd question?

Explanation: Stress questions are used in particular in consulting and business professions. The principle: the HR manager provides one Question that can hardly be answered. Companies such as Amazon, Zalando, Google, Adidas and Lufthansa are known for confronting job applicants with such questions. Why? Because with these kinds of questions it is not the correct answer that matters, but the one The way you approach your answer.

Proper preparation: Stress questions in the interview should test how resilient, creative and quick-witted you are. Therefore, specific preparation is only possible to a limited extent for such questions.

Example answer: “If I had to explain the color yellow to a blind person, I would tell him the following: Imagine you are strolling through a fragrant meadow full of flowers on a warm spring day. Or you have made yourself comfortable on the windowsill and the sun shines through the window and warms your back. It feels like a bright yellow to me. "

Our tip for you: The good thing is: Stress questions are usually so difficult or unusual that the HR manager doesn't even expect you to be able to answer immediately. If that is the case, of course, that's a nice plus. Basically, HR managers tend to expect you to go inside for a moment and think about an approach in this stressful situation. This means: You don't have to present definitive solutions here! Depending on the question, you should rather look for a promising approach from which you can develop thoughts and build an idea. The most important thing: Concentrate on the task at this moment and do not let yourself be irritated by serious expressions or the specific application situation. The decisive factor here is the way, not the destination!

Important help for good answers

If you are concerned about what makes good answers during the interview, MIT recommends the following:

  • Don't spoil your skills. Because if you present yourself to your potential employer as a real expert, you also have to expect technical questions at an expert level.
  • Dare to think out loud. Sometimes you only find the right answer in conversation. In such cases, it is often instructive for recruiters to understand and assess the way you think.
  • Get involved with your counterpart. If critical questions arise about what you have described, you should show that you are able to cooperate and question yourself. This works either by accepting what has been said or by giving a well-founded reason why you see it differently. It is always important that you respond to the question and take it seriously.
  • Ask meaningful questions. This way you convey that you are not answering too quickly and that you need further information for a meaningful answer.
  • Do expectation management. It can be helpful to make it clear at the outset that you do not have a lot of experience in an area, for example if you are applying as a career changer. Because then the expectations regarding technical questions are lower and you do not “disappoint” your counterpart.

Find the right answers to common interview questions that are right for you

In order to have the right answers to common interview questions ready, it is not only a question of thorough research, examples and knowledge of facts. Above all, it is important that you know what you want and where your focus is. If you notice that your ideas match those of the job description and ideally also with the corporate culture, this is a good basis for an interview.

Credit: Cover picture: © gettyimages / dusanpetkovic, picture 1: © gettyimages / izusek, picture 2: © gettyimages / vesmil, picture 3: © gettyimages / Ivelin Radkov.

If, on the other hand, you notice that the job offer may not be right for you, your skills and wishes, we recommend you take a look at our job exchange: Here you will find numerous job offers from a wide variety of companies and industries from all over Germany. We would also be happy to support you in a personal conversation with the preparation for a job interview or with your speculative application!