Find out how to answer job interview questions. 

What kind of questions will be asked

There are a range of interview question categories: general, competency-based, technical and strengths-based.

General questions

These tend to be open, for example:

  • tell me about yourself
  • what are your strengths?
  • why do you want to work for this organisation?

They test your motivation for the role and organisation. 

Competency-based questions

These refer to specific competencies important to the job role and organisation, for example creativity, teamwork, leadership, analytical skills.

These will be in the job specification, job advert or on the organisation’s website. They test your skills and experiences, asking for examples of when you’ve demonstrated the competency, to find out how you could potentially perform in the role.

Strength-based questions

These test your energy and enthusiasm by asking you to give examples of what you’re good at and enjoy doing. Not easy to prepare for but take time to reflect on your strengths before an interview. 

Examples include:

  • what are you good at?
  • what do you learn quickly?
  • describe a successful day that you’ve had
  • tell me about an accomplishment you’re proud of.

Technical questions

These test your specific technical knowledge about aspects of the job for example, software needed or key laboratory processes. 

Case study interviews

Case study interviews test how you process information, solve problems and react to certain situations. They also show your ability to work in a team. You'll be given a business problem, asked to analyse the information, brainstorm a solution and feedback. Find out more about case study interviews.

Prepare and practice online with Big Interview

Big Interview provides a comprehensive training course and interview practice tool. If you are a recent Sussex graduate, login to Big Interview via CareerHub or email if you need to access your graduate CareerHub account.

Sign up to Big Interview

How to answer questions effectively

Using the STAR model will help give your answers a structure and enable you to give calm, clear and concise responses. STAR is particularly useful for answering competency-based questions.

The STAR system can be used as follows: 

  • situation – what was the occasion/setting?
  • task – what did you need to do?
  • action – what did you do?
  • result – describe the action that you took, what was the result? 



Assessed presentation of a group project to academic staff and peers at University. The student presenting for our group was ill on the day and unable to attend.


To present the project as planned to gain maximum results: a distinction.


I’m a strong presenter and wanted to ensure that we gained a good grade for the project, so I volunteered to do the presentation. As a group we agreed that we needed time to go over the presentation and plan delivery. I explained the situation to the course convener, who agreed to reschedule our timeslot to the end of the day and for us to use a room to plan our new delivery. This ensured that the whole group had confidence in my presentation.


I successfully used problem-solving skills to restructure the afternoon and present the talk. Feedback was positive and we achieved our goal of a distinction for this work.

Find out how to answer some of the some of the most common interview questions via job search website, Indeed. 

See more from How to prepare for a job interview