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Classic Interview Questions and Answers

Do you work well on your own initiative?

Alternative and related questions:

Are you able to manage your own workload?

The meaning behind the question:

Given the choice between someone who can be left to get on with a job and someone who needs constant supervision, who would you hire?

Employees who work well on their own initiative are highly prized.

With this question, the interviewer is purely seeking evidence that you are such an employee.

Your answer:

Of course you work well on your own initiative. But how can you prove that to the interviewer? This is a ‘closed’ question but it certainly requires more than a one word answer. It’s a great chance for you to roll out a pre-prepared example which ticks all the interviewer’s boxes and shows you in a positive light.

If the interviewer is asking you this question, the chances are that in the role you’re applying for you will be expected to be able to work on your own initiative. If you’ve carefully studied the job description you should be able to identify under what circumstances this will be required. Choosing an example from a past (or present) job which closely matches these circumstances is naturally going to have a much stronger impact.


I enjoy working with others but I’m equally able to work on my own initiative. I’m not afraid to ask for guidance if necessary but I’m quick to learn and, once I’ve understood what’s required of me, I am more than capable of getting on with the job under my own steam. In my current role I work as part of a close-knit team but that’s not to say that there aren’t certain tasks and projects I have to handle on my own. For example, I have sole responsibility for reconciling credits and debits on our bank statements to our sales and purchase ledgers. It’s not a task that can be shared with anyone; it’s not a two-man job. I set aside one day a week to concentrate on this – because it does require a lot of concentration – reconciling entries which match and taking steps to resolve any discrepancies.

Word of warning:

Even if you do prefer to work on your own, it’s best not to mention this. You don’t want to risk being labelled ‘not a team player’. This question doesn’t ask whether you prefer to work on your own; it simply asks how capable you are of doing so.

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 organization?

What do you know about our products/services?

What do you think are our organization'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 organizations 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?