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Job interview: Questions and answers to help you prepare

Have you received positive feedback about your application for a fixed position or project, and have now been invited to an interview? If so, your task is now to make a good impression at the interview and reply to questions with confidence. This is also the case when you are applying for temporary or freelance work.

Regardless of the industry, the type of contract or the nature of the work, employers would like to get to know their candidates better and check their qualifications before any contracts are signed. At the same time, you can assess how quickly you can adapt to new processes or the existing team before your first day in your new job.

You can prepare for your interview with the aid of our questions and adapt your answers in such a way that they fit in with you and your CV.


Job interview: Typical questions for permanent work

One or more interviews are just as much a part of the application process for a permanent position as your CV and a possible cover letter. Your potential employer will get to know you better in the interview – and vice versa, of course.

The interview is an opportunity for you and your future employer to get to know each other. We will briefly explain what is then important. Important for you: there is no right or wrong here.

1. Could you please briefly introduce yourself?

You are very likely to be asked this question in any interview. It is primarily used to ease you into the interview, calm your nerves and find out a somewhat more information about you than is written in your CV. You don't need to go through your entire professional career when answering. But this question is a good opportunity to highlight some important points of your previous career or your education. In this way, you can make clear from the beginning which parts of your experience may also be relevant for this position.

2. Why did you apply for this particular job?

This supposedly simple question is deceptive. That is because this question tells them how closely you’ve studied the job description and the company. For this reason, read the job ad once again intensively prior to the interview, and think carefully about which parts you find particularly interesting, and why you are the right candidate for the job.

3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Even though this question may appear a little old fashioned, it's always good to be prepared for it. Regardless of whether or not this question is asked in the interview, it is worth thinking about what your strengths and weaknesses are. In this way you will remind yourself of your skills and pick up on any areas where you make improvements. When you answer this question in the interview, be as authentic as possible. The optimum situation would be if you could succeed in matching up your strengths and weaknesses with the requirements for the vacancy. For example, if you are a good communicator and teamwork is required, your characteristics are ideal for the position.

4. How do you deal with stressful or conflict situations?

Each person reacts differently to stressful and conflict situations. It may be that stress gives you additional motivation, and in conflict situations you take a direct approach and look for a quick solution. Take some time to think about this question and reflect on what you would do in appropriate situations. This question is particularly important in professions where stress is a part of everyday life. Recruiters want to know which strategies you will use and how you will react. It isn't just about stress at work. The way in which you deal with personal stress can also affect your work. Only people who have found a good way to deal with this can provide optimum work performance in spite of being under stress.

5. Why should we choose you in particular?

This question can make you sweat, can’t it? That's exactly what the point of the question is. The interviewers are testing you in a real stress situation. Remain calm and use the time to reiterate your qualifications and motivation for the position.

You will encounter these five questions in almost every job interview for a permanent position. Presumably, some other questions may pop up during the interview, such as:

  • What were your previous duties?

  • How do you react to criticism?

  • How do you deal with problems?

  • Why do you want to change jobs?

  • What is it that makes you different from the other applicants?

  • Are you prepared to travel?

  • How would your colleagues describe you?

  • What are your goals with regard to the job?

  • What skills do you have that others don't?

  • What are your hobbies?

  • Where do you see yourself in three, five or ten years?

  • How much would you like to earn?

Think about these questions in preparation for your interview. Don't be afraid to be self-critical, and evaluate how well you can present yourself. If you are unsure about the salary question, you can find valuable tips in our salary guide.

Job interview: Typical questions for freelance work

Even though interviews are common practice in the application process, they differ depending on the type of vacancy. Interviews for temporary employment are often not very long. The focus is far more on the skills that you will need in your everyday work. Interviewers want to be sure that you can quickly familiarise yourself with the work and bring your qualifications into play from day one.

In order to convince your interviewers of your abilities and dive straight into the project, prepare yourself for the following questions:

1. Why are you interested in this project?

The question about your interest is essential here. Because even if you are only being employed for a time-limited project, employers place value on knowing that you are not just in it for the money.

Explain your real interest in this project. Show that you can make optimum use of your qualifications in the project from projects which you have already completed or are currently ongoing.

2. How well do you adapt to new environments?

As a freelancer, you are continually faced with adopting new processes and communicating with a wide variety of people. You will probably have already developed your own strategy for dealing with this in the best possible way. Make it clear that you quickly pick up new skills, accurately analyse your surroundings or have thoroughly investigated the corporate culture in order to hit the ground running. If you can clarify this with an example, even better.

Typische Fragen im Vorstellungsgespräch für temporäre Anstellungen

3. How would you describe yourself cooperating with others?

As a freelancer, you have a special position within the company. Because although you are an important part of a project, you should not let yourself be dictated to with regard to your work on this project or in your cooperation with other team members. Nevertheless, interviewers will also evaluate your personality when they are deciding whether to hire you for a project. Even though you are only with the company for a short time, you can make a contribution to team morale and productivity. You should therefore show that you can cooperate well with a wide variety of personalities, and how you succeeded in doing this in the past.

4. What makes you especially qualified for this project?

Unlike permanent vacancies, it is more important for your skills and qualifications to be almost 100 percent suitable for the project. These should be brought these in promptly, efficiently and effectively. You should also verify this on the basis of examples from previous projects. What skills have you already used and successfully completed projects?

And if it’s about your qualifications, you probably won't be able to avoid having to answer some questions which are detailed and very technical. This is the only way to find out within a very short time whether you fulfil the requirements for the project and can work in accordance with the same principles. Think about it: You are being hired as an expert because either the knowledge or the capacity is currently unavailable within the company. This makes it all the more important to know your stuff and be able to put your skills to work immediately.

5. Why did you decide to apply for a temporary position?

There are various reasons for being freelance. Attempt to explain your decision for temporary employment in a way that is as plausible as possible. Would you like to use your expertise in as many different industries and projects as possible and expand your horizons?

Even if you are only employed for a specific project: Don't be too narrow-minded, and be open to other potential roles within the company. It may result in further opportunities for you.

 And last but not least: Do you have any questions?

At the end of an interview, you have told them a lot about yourself. And you have found out a lot about the company at the same time. Regardless of whether you are looking for a permanent position or a freelance one, one of the final questions is always: Do you have any questions? And answering “no” to this is definitely not the right answer. Because you will certainly not have found out everything during the previous 30 to 60 minutes. Use the opportunity to reiterate your interest in the position or the project. Ask how the company measures success, or what the team setup is. Or specifically ask why the position is vacant, how long it has been vacant for or how long they have been looking for project employees. You will find other questions which you can ask at a job interview here.

In principle, you can reverse the roles and put many of the questions which you have been asked to the company. Be open, stay interested and show them what you are made of and how the company can benefit from you. 


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