Does your CV pass the 10-second test?

Classic Interview Questions and Answers

Can you describe your ideal employer to me?

Alternative and related questions:

Which of your employers was the best?

The meaning behind the question:

By identifying what you perceive as the perfect employer, the interviewer can assess how closely their organisation fits this profile – and hence how well you are likely to fit in with their organisation. It’s a clever question and sets a trap that a weaker candidate is likely to walk straight into. If they don’t fit your definition of the ideal employer then why would they want to hire you?

Your answer:

It doesn’t really matter what your idea of an ideal employer is. What matters is that your description should match the organisation to which you are now applying. Of course, if there’s a big difference between your prospective employer and your conception of the ideal employer then you should perhaps be asking yourself whether this is really going to be the right job for you.

The easiest way to tackle this question is to first identify what it is that you like best about your prospective employer – and then build your description of your ‘ideal’ employer around this.

If you’ve already prepared an answer to, “Why do you want to work for this organisation?” (which I covered in the previous chapter) then you can recycle some of the ideas you had for this.


My ideal employer would be a large yet growing company with a strong reputation within its sector, a company which offers plenty of scope for progression within the hierarchy. While my preference is for a larger organisation, I want to work for a company which nevertheless has a dynamic and progressive approach. Your organisation certainly more than meets those requirements.

Word of warning:

It would be inappropriate to openly state that you feel their organisation to be the ‘perfect’ employer. You will inevitably come across as phoney!

The Interview Question & Answer Book

The Interview Question and Answer Book

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More classic interview questions and answers


How would you describe yourself? / How would your boss/colleagues/team/family/friends describe you?

In what ways are you a team player?

Do you work well on your own initiative?

What techniques do you use to get things done?

What motivates you?

Are you proactive?

Are you creative?

Are you a risk-taker?

How do you handle pressure and stress?

Can you tell me about a time when you have failed to achieve a goal?

What's the worst mistake you've made at work and how did you deal with it?

How would you handle the following situation?

Can you tell me about a major project you have successfully completed?

Can you tell me about a major problem at work that you've had to deal with?

We have a problem with x. How would you resolve that?

What do you do when you disagree with your line manager?

How would you describe yourself as a manager?

Can you give me an example of when you have successfully coached a member of your team?

What is your customer service philosophy?

How did you get your last job?

What does your current job involve on a day-to-day basis?

What contribution do you make to the department in which you work?

What changes have you made to your current job role since you started?

What have you learned in your last job?

Can you tell me about your last appraisal?

How would you describe your current boss?

Why did you leave that job?

Which of your jobs was the best?

Why is there a gap in your resume/CV?

What do you know about us as an organisation?

What do you know about our products/services?

What do you think are our organisation's greatest strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?

What do you know about the vacancy for which you are applying?

How do your skills and experience match the job description/person specification?

What appeals to you most about this vacancy?

Why have you chosen this line of work?

Are there any other organisations to which you are applying?

How does this job compare to others for which you are applying?

Can you describe your ideal employer to me?

What sort of person would you most like to work for?

In what ways is your degree relevant to the work you are now doing?

What have you learned and how have you developed over the last year/five years?

What sports are you/have you been involved in?

Do you know what the current headline news is?

How quickly can you adapt to a new work environment?

Would it be a problem if we asked you to work overtime/evenings/weekends?

What is your current salary package?

What salary package are you expecting for this role?

When would you be available to start?

Do you mind if we contact your current employer for a reference?