Top 20 Questions You Can Expect During Your First Job Interview, How to Answer Them Properly.


Madeleine Horton

“For those who do not know what port they’re sailing to, no wind is favourable.” – Seneca

Embarking on the journey of landing your first job is an exciting venture, filled with possibilities and challenges.

As you step into the world of entry-level positions, the job interview becomes a crucial gateway to kickstarting your career. At Art of Employment, we recognize the significance of this pivotal moment and have crafted a guide tailored to those venturing into roles such as customer service, supermarket cashier, or food counter attendant for example.

Join us as we delve into the top 20 questions you can expect during your first job interview, equipped with practical answers, explanations & real world answers to help you shine in the hiring process.

Ourselves, Your self’s, And the interviewer know that you are seeking employment for the money / income. Unfortunately this type of answer will not suffice. The game is the game, you either play it or you don’t.

20 common interview questions along with their expected answers and an explanation to the answer.

*Pro tip, Write down the question on a piece of paper, then use the Answer, Explanation, and Candidate response as a framework to influence your own answers. Read the Questions & answers back to yourself daily until you remember them with ease to help you remember for the big day.

Don’t forget to do some Google-fu on the business either as you answer or before you begin to gain as much knowledge of the business as you can.

*For context, We used a first time job seeker interviewing for their first job with no previous employment history as the example. The answers & questions are universal for any type of first job.

  1. Tell me about yourself.
    • Expected Answer: Begin with a brief introduction, highlighting any relevant educational experience or extracurricular activities.
    • Explanation: Keep it concise, focusing on aspects that showcase your enthusiasm and eagerness to contribute to the workplace.
    • Real-world Example: “I recently completed my high school education, where I actively participated in student council events. Eager to apply my communication skills and friendly demeanour in a dynamic work environment.”
  2. Why do you want this job?
    • Expected Answer: Express your interest in gaining valuable work experience and highlight any specific aspects of the job that appeal to you.
    • Explanation: Emphasize your eagerness to learn and contribute to the team, even if you have limited work experience.
    • Real-world Example: “I’m excited about the opportunity to learn and grow in a team-oriented setting. Your company’s commitment to excellent customer service aligns with my goal to develop strong interpersonal skills.”
  3. What are your strengths?
    • Expected Answer: Focus on personal qualities and soft skills that are applicable to entry-level positions, such as adaptability and reliability.
    • Explanation: Highlight traits that make you a valuable team member, even if you haven’t had extensive work experience.
    • Real-world Example: “I am reliable and adaptable, qualities I developed through balancing school responsibilities and volunteering at local events. I believe these traits will contribute positively to the team.”
  4. What is your greatest weakness?
    • Expected Answer: Acknowledge a minor weakness and emphasize your willingness to learn and improve.
    • Explanation: Choose a weakness that is not crucial for the role and demonstrate a proactive approach to self-improvement.
    • Real-world Example: “I’m still working on perfecting my time-management skills. However, I’ve been using apps and techniques to organize my tasks better and ensure I meet deadlines.”
  5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    • Expected Answer: Express a desire for growth within the company or gaining skills relevant to the industry.
    • Explanation: Showcase your ambition and commitment to long-term success, even if your goals are still evolving.
    • Real-world Example: “In five years, I see myself taking on more responsibilities within this company, possibly in a leadership role. I’m eager to learn and contribute to the team’s success.”
  6. Why should we hire you?
    • Expected Answer: Highlight your positive attributes such as a strong work ethic, eagerness to learn, and a friendly demeanor.
    • Explanation: Emphasize your suitability for the role and your eagerness to contribute positively to the workplace.
    • Real-world Example: “I bring a strong work ethic, a positive attitude, and a quick-learning ability. I am eager to contribute my enthusiasm and energy to create a positive atmosphere within the team.”
  7. Describe a challenge you’ve overcome.
    • Expected Answer: Share a relevant personal or academic challenge and detail the steps you took to overcome it.
    • Explanation: Illustrate your resilience and problem-solving skills, even if you haven’t faced significant work-related challenges.
    • Real-world Example: “Balancing school and part-time responsibilities was challenging, but I learned to manage my time effectively by creating a schedule and seeking guidance from mentors.”
  8. How do you handle stress and pressure?
    • Expected Answer: Express your ability to stay calm under pressure and mention practical strategies like deep breathing or taking short breaks.
    • Explanation: Showcase your composure and resilience, essential qualities for roles in a fast-paced environment.
    • Real-world Example: “I stay calm by taking a moment to collect my thoughts and prioritize tasks. This helps me approach high-pressure situations with a clear mind and focus on solutions.”
  9. What motivates you?
    • Expected Answer: Share your enthusiasm for learning new things and contributing to a team.
    • Explanation: Emphasize your eagerness to grow and contribute, aligning your motivations with the responsibilities of the job.
    • Real-world Example: “I’m motivated by the opportunity to learn and work collaboratively with a team. Achieving goals together and creating a positive environment drive my commitment to success.”
  10. Can you work well in a team?
    • Expected Answer: Provide examples of group activities or projects that demonstrate your ability to collaborate.
    • Explanation: Emphasize any teamwork experiences, even from school projects or extracurricular activities.
    • Real-world Example: “I’ve collaborated on school projects and group activities, demonstrating my ability to work effectively in a team. I believe my communication skills contribute positively to group dynamics.”
  11. Tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership.
    • Expected Answer: Share an example from school or a community activity where you took initiative or guided others.
    • Explanation: Showcase your leadership potential, even if you haven’t held formal leadership roles.
    • Real-world Example: “During a volunteer event, I took charge of coordinating tasks and motivating the team. We successfully achieved our goals, and I learned the importance of effective leadership.”
  12. How do you prioritize your work?
    • Expected Answer: Discuss basic organizational strategies such as making to-do lists or using simple project management techniques.
    • Explanation: Showcase your willingness to stay organized and meet deadlines, even if you’re new to the workforce.
    • Real-world Example: “I prioritize my tasks by creating a daily to-do list and focusing on urgent deadlines. This helps me stay organized and ensure that I complete tasks efficiently.”
  13. What are your salary expectations?
    • Expected Answer: Express a willingness to negotiate and mention that you’re looking for fair compensation based on industry standards.
    • Explanation: Demonstrate flexibility and a realistic understanding of entry-level salary expectations.
    • Real-world Example: “I’m open to discussion and eager to learn about the company’s compensation structure. I’m seeking a fair and competitive salary within the industry standards for someone in my position.”
  14. Why did you choose your major/field of study?
    • Expected Answer: Discuss any relevant coursework or skills gained during your education that align with the job.
    • Explanation: Emphasize how your educational background equips you with relevant skills for the position.
    • Real-world Example: “I focused on subjects like communication and business during my studies, which I believe have equipped me with the interpersonal and organizational skills required for this role.”
  15. Describe a time when you had to learn a new skill quickly.
    • Expected Answer: Share an example of adapting to a new task or situation and how you quickly acquired the necessary skills.
    • Explanation: Illustrate your adaptability and eagerness to learn on the job.
    • Real-world Example: “During a volunteer project, I had to quickly learn how to use a new software tool. I watched tutorials, sought guidance, and successfully incorporated the tool into our project workflow.”
  16. What do you know about our company?
    • Expected Answer: Showcase basic knowledge of the company’s products, services, or values gained through research.
    • Explanation: Demonstrate your interest and initiative in learning about the company, even if you have limited prior knowledge.
    • Real-world Example: “I’ve researched your company and understand that you prioritize customer satisfaction and offer a range of quality products/services. I’m excited about the opportunity to contribute to such a reputable organization.”
  17. How do you handle constructive criticism?
    • Expected Answer: Express openness to feedback and mention how you use it as an opportunity for growth.
    • Explanation: Showcase your positive attitude and willingness to improve, even if you haven’t received professional feedback before.
    • Real-world Example: “I view constructive criticism as a chance to grow. In a group project, a peer provided feedback on my approach, and I used it to adjust my strategy, leading to a more successful outcome.”
  18. What interests you about our industry?
    • Expected Answer: Express genuine curiosity about the industry and mention any positive aspects that attract you.
    • Explanation: Convey enthusiasm and eagerness to contribute to the industry, aligning your interests with the job.
    • Real-world Example: “I’m intrigued by the fast-paced nature of the retail/food industry. The constant interactions with diverse customers and the opportunity to contribute to a positive customer experience are aspects that genuinely interest me.”
  19. Do you have any questions for us?
    • Expected Answer: Ask questions about the company culture, team dynamics, or opportunities for growth within the company.
    • Explanation: Demonstrate your interest in the company and eagerness to understand more about the workplace.
    • Real-world Example: “Can you share more about the team I’ll be working with and the training opportunities available for someone in this role? I’m eager to contribute and grow within the company.”
  20. How do you stay updated on industry trends?
    • Expected Answer: Mention any basic strategies, such as following industry news online or staying informed through relevant sources.
    • Explanation: Showcase your awareness and initiative to stay informed, even if you’re new to the industry.
    • Real-world Example: “I stay updated by reading industry blogs, following relevant social media accounts, and participating in online forums. This helps me stay informed about new trends and developments in the field.”

Navigating your first job interview can be both exciting and challenging, especially as you embark on the journey into entry-level work positions. By familiarizing yourself with the top 20 questions and crafting thoughtful responses tailored to your experiences, you’re well-equipped to make a lasting impression. Remember, each question is an opportunity to showcase your unique qualities and enthusiasm for starting your career.

Your potential employers understand that you may not have extensive work experience, but they are keen to discover your passion, adaptability, and willingness to contribute to a team.

And before you take that bold step, consider checking out Art of Employment – your dedicated partner in the journey toward career success. We offer professional CV writing services, CV analysis, and Reference solutions to ensure that your application stands out in the competitive job market.