Want to get ahead of the game by knowing which graduate interview questions you’ll be asked? We’ve listed 61 questions to prepare you for any interview!
Graduate programs or positions are highly competitive. Afterall, what graduate wouldn’t want to secure a great development role to kick-start their career before university has even finished?!
If you’ve made it past the initial screening, congratulations! The next phase of the recruitment process is usually a video interview, assessment centre or an interview panel.
The key to acing your graduate interview or assessment centre is preparation, research and more preparation. I’m going to reveal the most common graduate interview questions to help you get ready for THE interview 😊
This post is about graduate interview questions
Types of graduate interview questions
Graduate interview questions can be assigned to 6 main categories:
- General questions about you
- General questions about the job
- Your career goals or motivators
- Specific core or transferable skills or knowledge
- Specific technical or job-related skills or knowledge
- Abstract or creative
These categories may appear very broad, but all interview questions have two common threads: to help the interviewer determine if the candidate is a good fit for the job (and the organisation), and for the interviewee to demonstrate their suitability for the job.
General interview questions about you
Interview questions about you, the candidate, include questions about your behaviour, self-awareness, approach and attitude towards work.
These questions enable the interviewer to:
- ‘break the ice’
- start to get to know you
- begin to gauge some of your transferable skills, and
- understand if you’re a good cultural fit for the organisation.
Often, interview questions about you can be the most difficult ones to answer when put on the spot. They require a certain level of self-awareness and a very considered response.
All responses should be crafted to share and demonstrate your unique set of skills, knowledge qualifications, experience and traits with the interviewer.
Here are 11 general interview questions about you to familiarise yourself with:
- Tell me about yourself
- What are your 3 key strengths?
- Name one of your areas for development (or weaknesses)
- How would your previous employer rate you as an employee?
- If we contacted your referees, what would they say about you?
- What unique skills do you bring to this organisation?
- Why are you looking to leave your current role?
- What is your greatest professional achievement?
- What is your great professional mistake?
- How do you handle criticism?
- Give us your elevator pitch
General interview questions about the job
General interview questions about the job cover your knowledge of the vacant role (or organisation) you are applying for.
Interview questions about the job or organisation gauges you, the candidate’s, interest and motivation.
If you research the organisation and prepare for these questions, you’ll give yourself a HUGE advantage over other candidates. Answering these questions well is guaranteed to impress the interviewer!
Conversely, not preparing for these questions may give the interviewer you are disinterested in the role and your application is half-hearted.
Here are 8 interview questions about the job or organisation to familiarise yourself with:
- Why did you apply for this job?
- Why do you want to work for this organisation?
- What do you know about this role or organisation?
- Why do you think you are a good candidate for this job?
- What do you think it takes to be successful in this role?
- How would you improve this role or organisation?
- Who are the leadership team in this organisation?
- Who are our competitors?
Goal orientated interview questions
Employers want to know if they invest time, effort and money into recruiting and training you, their investment will pay dividends.
Goal orientated interview questions allow the interviewer to gauge the likelihood of the longevity of employment at their organisation, your motivation, whether you’re a good cultural fit for the organisation and suitable for development into leadership positions in the future.
It’s important the response you provide the interviewer aligns with the the organiation’s mission or goals.
Here are 5 top goal orientated interview questions you can familiarise yourself with:
- Where do you see yourself in 5/10/20 years time?
- What are your short/medium/long term goals?
- Can you see yourself working for this organisation in the long term?
- What are your career goals?
- What motivates you?
Interview questions about core or transferable skills
All interviewers will ask you about your core or transferable skills at some point in the interview or assessment centre. Which skills will depend on the type of job you’re applying for.
The terms core or transferable skills covers a very broad range of skills. To narrow down the list of possible questions to be asked at your graduate interview, review the job advertisement and identify all skills listed in the ‘Ideal Candidate’ section.
Core or transferable skills are usually assessed using behavioural-based questions. They will sound like:
‘Can you tell me about a time when you’ve….?’
‘How have you demonstrated….?’
‘Can you describe a situation or time where you’ve…..?’
‘Have you ever had to deal with….How did you manage this?’
Here is a list of 28 important transferable skills which may be addressed at your next interview:
- Communication (written and verbal)
- Develop and maintain productive working relationships
- Use of IT systems and software (commonly Microsoft Office) – digital literacy
- Ability to learn quickly
- Working in a team environment or autonomously
- Time management
- Change management
- Project management/work scheduling
- Conflict resolution
- Customer service/client relationship management
- Staff/resource management
- Problem solving
- Work under pressure or to tight deadlines
- Managing difficult situations
- Managing difficult clients/customers
- Take initiative
- Willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty
- Making good decisions efficiently
- Creative or innovative
- Making difficult decisions
- Influencing decision making
- Analytical or critical thinking
Interview questions about technical skills
Even though formal qualifications are essential criteria when applying for graduate programs or positions, an interviewer may wish to assess your skills in relation to the technical requirements of the job.
Technical skills will vary widely depending on the industry and occupation, so it’s best to equip yourself for several different scenarios.
Technical skills can be assessed using behavioural-based questions (like core or transferable skills) or using other methods. Below are 6 methods to be aware of:
- IT and digital literacy assessment in a computer lab, usually different technology
- Assessments using gaming techniques
- Case studies which include a common problem in the industry
- Project management problems to solve
- Psychometric assessments
- Written assessments including traditional questions like multiple choice, short answer and essay.
Abstract or creative interview questions
Sometimes graduate interview questions can take an unusual turn!
Interviewers may ask candidates some unexpected, abstract questions to see how they react. Generally, this is to observe how you think, problem solve, communicate and maintain composure in stressful situations.
How you respond to these questions can really put you ahead (or behind) the pack.
The best approach to abstract or creative interview questions is to take them seriously! Answer them just as you would like any other interview questions. Even if the question is completely absurd, do your best to maintain your composure and just go with it!
Always remember to respond an abstract or creative interview question in a way that demonstrates a skill of yours. Even if it means you provide an abstract answer, do so in a clear, concise and articulate way to demonstrate your awesome communication skills!
Here are 3 examples of abstract or creative interview questions:
- If all your staff suddenly turned into dolphins, what would you do?
- If you could be any type of bird, what would you be and why?
- If you were suddenly forced to live undersea, how would you complete your work?
No, I’m not joking! These are actual job interview questions I’ve come across!
Success at graduate interviews or assessment centres can depend on research and preparation.
Anticipating, preparing and rehearsing responses to right interview questions will give you a HUGE competitive edge over other candidates.
Interview questions are intended to help the interviewer determine if the candidate is a good fit for the job (and the organisation), and for the interviewee to demonstrate their suitability for the job.
If you format all answered with this in mind, you will give yourself the best chance at success!
You might also be interested in The top 5 interview questions you need to prepare for | interview questions australia
This post was about graduate interview questions
Hi there, I'm Danielle Ward
Your go-to career development and human resource practitioner, guiding your career towards true north.
Latest posts by Danielle Ward (see all)
- Beginners guide to selection criteria: Read this before you apply for a public service job! - 17 January 2022
- What is CPD? 5 basic facts you need to know about continuing professional development - 12 January 2022
- Nail your next job interview by preparing for these 27 second interview questions! - 9 January 2022