Preparing for a job interview? If so, you should practice answering typical interview questions.
If you interview frequently, these common job interview questions will grow quite familiar. During your interview preparation, think about possible answers that will pertain to the job you’re applying for, while highlighting your skills and experience. Also brush up on your interview skills, so you’re prepared to make the best impression.
The goal isn’t to memorize answers, but rather to get comfortable talking about these topics. This advance preparation will help you feel more confident and less on the spot during the interview.
Most Common Interview Questions and Examples of the Best Answers
Start with these questions you’ll most likely be asked at a job interview, plus the best answers. Then review other questions specifically related to the position, so you’re prepared to ace the interview.
1. Tell me about yourself. –
Asking about you is a way to break the ice at an interview and make you feel more comfortable. It’s also a way for the interviewer to determine if you’re a good fit for the job.
2. What were your responsibilities?
Know what’s on your resume, so you can discuss what you did at the other jobs you’ve held. When you’re describing your responsibilities, try to mention those that match the new job’s requirements.
Showing that you have done similar work will be an asset during the interview. Focus on the responsibilities that most closely align with the job for which you’re interviewing when you respond to the recruiter.
3. What did you like or dislike about your previous job? –
What you liked – and what you didn’t like – about your last job or the company you worked for is an indicator of how you might feel about this position if you were to be hired.
Be careful what you say when you’re interviewing for a similar job. If the roles are alike, you may want to keep what you didn’t like to yourself. It’s important to be positive and enthusiastic about the job for which you’re being considered.
4. What were your starting and final levels of compensation? –
Hiring managers will want to learn how much you earned to see if you’re a competitive candidate for the company from a salary perspective. Be honest when discussing how much you were paid because employers can ask about salary when checking your background.
However, also be aware that in some locations employers are prohibited from asking about your prior wages. Some employers have also implemented policies that restrict questions about salary from being asked.
5. What major challenges and problems did you face? How did you handle them?
With this question, the interviewer is trying to understand how you handle issues and problems. Can you figure out solutions and workarounds when there is a problem? How adept are you at problem-solving? Do you enjoy a challenge, or do you get nervous when there’s a glitch?
6. What is your greatest strength?
When answering questions about your strengths, focus on the abilities you have that are key to success in the job for which you’re interviewing. Don’t be too humble. It’s important to make the hiring manager aware of your qualifications.
7. What is your greatest weakness?
There are different ways to tackle questions about weaknesses. One is to turn a negative into a positive by sharing an example of how something you considered a weakness actually helped you on the job. The other is to speak about additional skills you now have because you worked on those that needed an upgrade.
8. How do you handle stress and pressure?
What you do when work gets stressful? Do you stay calm under pressure? Or do you have a difficult time in stressful situations? If you’re interviewing for a high-pressure position, the interviewer will want to know that you can deal with the stress.
9. Describe a difficult work situation or project and how you overcame it.
When you’re responding to questions about what you did on the job, be prepared to share an actual example of a challenging situation at work, what the issue was, and how you helped resolve it.
10. What was the biggest accomplishment (or failure) in this position?
What are you proudest of? Was there a time something didn’t work out, but you were able to learn from it? Let the hiring manager know what you achieved, again sharing examples from your most recent job.
11. How do you evaluate success? –
Your answer to this question will give the interviewer a sense of your work ethic, your career goals, and your life goals. Tailor your response to fit what you expect to achieve if you were to be hired by this employer.
12. Why are you leaving or have left your job? –
There are many different reasons for leaving a job. You could be moving on because you want more opportunities for growth, you may be looking for a salary increase, perhaps you’re relocating, or you have another reason you’re leaving your job. Be consistent in your answer when meeting with representatives of a prospective employer, because they may compare notes.
13. Why do you want this job?
Why did you apply for this position? What do you find most interesting about the job and the organization? With this question, the employer wants to know why you think this job is a match for your career objectives. Take the time to describe how your qualifications are a match for the job. The more you can show you’re qualified, the easier it will be to get hired.
14. Why should we hire you?
The best way to answer this question is to discuss what you can do for the company. What do you bring to the table? What skills and attributes do you have that will benefit the organization? What will you achieve if you were to be hired? This is an opportunity to sell yourself to the hiring manager.
15. What are your goals for the future?
When you respond to questions about your future goals, it’s a good idea to mesh your objectives with what the company might offer as a career path. At the least, make sure your goals involve staying with this company for more than a short-term basis.
16. What are your salary requirements? –
Questions about salary can be tricky, especially if you don’t know what the job pays. One approach to answering this question is to say you’re flexible, based upon the entire compensation package including benefits.
17. Who was your best boss and who was the worst? –
This question is designed to discover what type of leadership and management style works best for you. Be careful answering, and don’t be too negative. Even if you had a terrible boss, how you speak about them can leave the interviewer wondering how you will speak about other supervisors if you didn’t get along with them.
18. What are you passionate about?
What’s most important to you? What do you love doing? The answers to this question don’t have to be all about work. The company is looking to determine if you’re a well-rounded person, and what you enjoy doing outside of work can give them insight into the type of employee you’d be if you were hired.
19. Questions about your supervisors and co-workers.
Did you get along with your manager? Have you worked with difficult colleagues? How you interact with supervisors and co-workers will provide the interviewer with insight into your interpersonal and communication skills.
20. Do you have any questions for me? –
The last question at a job interview is usually one about what you want to know about the job and the company. Be ready with a list of questions to ask. You may seem disinterested if there isn’t anything you want to learn more about.
What Employers Shouldn’t Ask
Not all potential interview questions are fair game for hiring managers.
Before your next job interview, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with illegal job interview questions, such as, “How old are you?” or “Is English your first language?”
Be prepared for illegal and inappropriate interview questions, and you won’t be caught unawares during your conversation. Afterward, you can decide if you’d prefer not to work for an organization that asks these questions, or whether you’ll chalk their misstep up to carelessness.