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Job interview: the best answers to the 3 most important questions

A job interview is always an exciting undertaking: every company is different, every interview is different and every recruiter asks different questions - at least think so. At first glance, that may well be true. At second glance, however, your potential new employer would like to find out the answers to exactly three questions in every interview. If you prepare yourself perfectly for this, you can certainly convince and the acceptance of your dream job is within your grasp. So what are they, the three essential questions of every job interview - and what should you answer them?

Question 1: Who are you?

The main purpose of an interview is of course that the employer and the applicant get to know each other. The question that every HR manager is keenly interested in is: “Who are you actually”? It is also often presented in the following or similar form:

  • Tell us something about you!
  • Introduce yourself to us briefly!
  • How would you describe yourself in three sentences / with three terms?
  • Tell us your strengths and weaknesses!

Prick up your ears and pay close attention to your keyword when the HR manager wants to find out something about you as a person, directly or indirectly. Of course, your exact answer also depends on the precise formulation of the question. For example, how to access the Classic with the strengths and weaknesses respond, see the article

Reading tip: "Job interview: name strengths and weaknesses"

Nevertheless, you can and should roughly prepare yourself in advance for the question “Who are you?” So that you can answer it inside out, confidently and without hesitation or stuttering. The best thing to do is to take one Pen and a sheet of paper and proceed as follows:

  • List your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Ask friends, family, and acquaintances to describe you in three short sentences or terms. What are your most outstanding characteristics?
  • Take the job posting (if available) and add the terms from the “Desired Qualifications / Qualifications” section to your list.
  • Now check which of your strengths correspond to these terms.
  • Then cross out all terms from your list that are either irrelevant or even disadvantageous for the position.
  • You are welcome to use your "plea" in your application letter as a guide. Here, too, you have usually already answered the question “Who are you?”.
  • So, in the interview, add the information that the HR manager has already been able to gather from your submitted documents.
  • Above all, tell him or her specific characteristics that are relevant to the position and that define you as a personality.
  • Be sure to back up all of your claims with credible evidence.


“I'm Max Mustermann, 32 years old, studied mechanical engineering and a real team player - not only in my soccer team. In my previous job, my extrovert nature and structured way of working were often praised. However, since I am a determined person and want to develop professionally, but I lacked the prospects at my previous employer, I am now looking for new challenges. About your job advertisement I was immediately impressed by the fact that I would also be dealing with international customers and going on business trips. I have a weakness for foreign languages ​​and, in addition to English, I also speak Spanish and Italian, as you have probably already seen in my application. In addition, I like to travel in my life and have already been to four different continents. My goal is to fill the seven at some point. "

Question 2: Why do you want to work for this company?

The second important questionwhich every employer is keenly interested in and which is therefore guaranteed to appear sooner or later in all job interviews:

  • Why do you want to work for us right now?
  • What made you decide to apply?
  • Why did you apply?
  • Why would you prefer to work for us than for the competition?
  • Why do you see your professional future in our company?

Something like that, the recruiter will ask you for your motives for submitting the application documents. Of course, he is well aware that you have probably also applied to other (competing) companies. However, he obviously wants to make sure that this position would be your first choice. After all, motivation is the be-all and end-all and every experienced HR manager knows that a high level of motivation can easily make up for a deficiency such as a lack of professional experience or qualifications - according to the motto “Whoever wants, can!”. If, on the other hand, there is no motivation or identification with the job and the company from the start, the applicant's loyalty, productivity, willingness to learn, etc. will also be limited. It is important for you to understand what the HR manager is getting at with such a question. Because now you also know what you should answer:

  • Make sure you understand why you want to work for the company.
  • Convincingly demonstrate to the HR manager that and why you think you are a perfect fit for the employer.
  • Appear confident and motivated.
  • Never (!) Blaspheme the competition, but emphasize the advantages of this company from your individual point of view.
  • Let the HR manager notice that you have found out about the company in advance. For example, quote the company's guiding principle or passages from the job advertisement.


“I have always enjoyed traveling a lot since I was a child. I was immediately thrilled that you mentioned the possibility of business trips and stays abroad in the job advertisement. As I come from the region, the reputation of your company has already preceded it and I've only heard positive things so far. So I found out more and was able to identify directly with your guiding values ​​of trust, progress and togetherness. After all, at that time I decided to study engineering in order to further develop the technology and thereby make the world better and easier for everyone. The togetherness is also very important to me because I believe that progress is only possible through teamwork. In my previous job I was a team leader and I cannot imagine working “alone” in front of me in the individual office now or in the future. I'm too extroverted and social person for that. I therefore think that I fit the advertised position perfectly and that you have unique professional prospects for the future. "

Question 3: What makes you “special”?

Last but not least, the HR manager usually wants to know exactly why he should hire you. Even if you have hopefully already made a very good impression, there are certainly other applicants with good arguments for their hiring. It is therefore important that you shine with originality on this third question: Explain to the employer what added value you would bring to the company and why he has virtually no choice but to hire you. The question is often like this or something like that:

  • Why should we hire you?
  • What added value do you bring for the company?
  • What do you have that the other applicants don't?
  • In one sentence: why should we choose you?
  • What problem would you solve for our company?

“Problem” is the key word that ultimately matters. Ask yourself what problem the employer might have so that he is posting this position right now and looking for a candidate like you. Does he want technological progress? A socially competent manager? A specialist for in-house PR, due to a recent damage to your image? Help with employer branding because of the impending shortage of skilled workers? If you can use the job advertisement and your research to identify and solve one to three main problems of your potential new employer (!), He will hardly be able to hire you yet. So don't give him any other choice!

You can find more infographics at Statista

Even if you don't hit the bull's eye with your arguments, your approach is at least proving problem-solving skills and thus the most important soft skill for 52 percent of European employers. So if you know what answer the HR manager expects to the question about your "added value" for the company, you can convince with your individual problem solution and close the bag.


“I have seen that, in terms of marketing, you have come a long way with your homepage and career page, but you still lack a professional social media presence for successful employer branding. The postings on Facebook are still too irregular and there is no concrete branding strategy. I therefore recommend that you implement a cross-media employer branding strategy via the homepage, career page, Facebook, Twitter, Xing and your own company blog - similar to the project that I already implemented for Mustermann AG in 2012. As a result, we were able to register an average of 20 percent more applicants for job advertisements and a 12 percent lower employee turnover. "

If you consciously pay attention to it from now on, you will notice that in the end every job interview is only about clarifying these three essential questions. If you have prepared yourself well and have the perfect answer ready, the HR manager has little choice but to promise you the dream job. We wish you every success and keep our fingers crossed!

As a HR manager or from an employee's point of view, do you have any further tips on the subject for our readers? Which answers should the applicant give to these three questions - and which not? We appreciate your opinions and advice in the comments!

Photo credit: George Rudy / Shutterstock.com


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