How To Answer The Most Common Interview Questions
Are you ready to ace your upcoming job interview? One of the most important parts of interview preparation is being ready to respond effectively to the questions that employers typically ask.
Since these interview questions are so common, hiring managers will expect you to be able to answer them smoothly and without hesitation.
You don’t need to memorize your answers, but you should think about what you’re going to say so you’re not put on the spot.
Your responses will be stronger if you know what to expect during the interview and have a sense of what you want to focus on. Knowing that you are prepared will boost your confidence and help you minimize interview stress and feel more at ease.
Here are the top 10 interview questions employers are likely to ask, plus 100+ more common job interview questions, example responses, tips for giving the best answer, and advice on how to ace the interview.
Why Was There A Gap In Your Employment
Maybe you were taking care of children or aging parents, dealing with health issues, or traveling the world. Maybe it just took you a long time to land the right job. Whatever the reason, you should be prepared to discuss the gap on your resume. Seriously, practice saying your answer out loud. The key is to be honest, though that doesnt mean you have to share more details than youre comfortable with. If there are skills or qualities you honed or gained in your time away from the workforcewhether through volunteer work, running a home, or responding to a personal crisisyou can also talk about how those would help you excel in this role.
What Do You Like To Do Outside Of Work
Interviewers will sometimes ask about your hobbies or interests outside of work in order to get to know you a little betterto find out what youre passionate about and devote time to during your off-hours. Its another chance to let your personality shine. Be honest, but keep it professional and be mindful of answers that might make it sound like youre going to spend all your time focusing on something other than the job youre applying for.
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Why It’s Important To Prepare Questions To Ask In A Job Interview
Interviewees should always ask questions during an interview.
It shows the interviewer that you are engaged and deeply interested in the opportunity. It also gives you the chance to gauge your interest in this position and employer. Interviews aren’t just for employers to decide if they want to hire you. They’re also for you to decide whether the employer fits your needs.
Try to prepare around 10-15 questions that interest you. But keep in mind that sometimes there will only be time for a few questions make sure you prioritize correctly.
Asking thoughtful questions informed by what you already know about the position and employer shows you’ve done your research.
Consult our page on interview tips for more inspiration.
Do You Prefer Working Independently Or On A Team
Your answer should be informed by the research youve done on the company culture and the job in question. Nevertheless, you should expect that most work environments will have some team aspect.
Many positions require you to work collaboratively with other people on a daily basis, while some roles require you to work on your own. When you answer this question, highlight the best traits of your personality and how they fit the job requirements. It could also be in your interest to answer this question by highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of both situations.
Example: I enjoy a blend of the two. I like having a team to strategize with, get diverse opinions from, and reach out to for feedback. But I am also comfortable taking on assignments that require me to work independently. I find I do some of my best work when I can focus alone in a quiet space, but I really value collaborating with my teammates to come up with the best ideas.
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Why Did You Decide To Leave Your Previous/current Job
When asking this question, the interviewer wants to learn:
- Did you have a good reason for leaving your last job? The HR manager doesnt want someone that just jumps ship the moment things go bad.
Oh, well, the company started bleeding cash and was on its way to bankruptcy.
I felt like it was time – I got to a point where everything I was doing felt monotonous. I learned as much as I could at this position while delivering amazing results. It was, however, time to switch to something new.
- Did you leave on good terms? Meaning, did you go through the offboarding process, instructing your coworkers on how to take up your responsibilities? Or did you just say Adios and stopped showing up at work?
Things started to get really boring, and the boss man was kind of mean. I totally deserve better, so I just ghosted them and now Im looking for a new company. Hi!
I didnt feel like the companys values coincide with mine. The management was too controlling and micromanaging. I prefer to have some control over my work, and being able to contribute by going above and beyond my requirements.
Of course, I went through the off-boarding properly. Meaning, gave a timely resignation notice, and transferred all the essential company knowledge to my replacement.
- Did you leave voluntarily, or were you fired?
I got fired for missing work for a week without an excuse.
Tell Me About Your Weaknesses
While its advisable to ensure your strengths align with the job description, we advise discussing a weakness that will not stop you from doing the job youve applied for.
The key to answering this question well is to show that you are self-aware enough and honest enough to admit your shortcomings, but also to demonstrate your interest and ability to work on yourself.
For example, When I get really busy and stressed, I tend to get disorganised and my workspace becomes messy. The problem with this is its easy to lose track of the little details or misplace things. To combat this, Ive taken a course on productivity and organisation, and Ive learned that when I start to feel that stress coming on, I need to take a step back and dedicate a little bit of time at the end of every day to gather thoughts and tidy my desk. I also keep a work diary and to-do list so I dont lose track of the big picture.
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Questions About You And Your Goals
Another crucial aspect of an interview? Getting to know a candidate. Thats why youll likely encounter questions about how you work, what youre looking for , and what your goals are. Its a good sign if your interviewers want to make sure youll be a good fitor addto the team. Use it as an opportunity!
How Does The Company Work Together To Meet Deadlines 4 How Is A Typical Week Structured
Knowing how a team works to meet important goals together is a key learning point for any prospective member of staff. Using the information from your interviewers answer will provide a glimpse of how pressure is handled, what the consensus is for workload and that all-important work/life balance. If you do not feel satisfied with the answers, this can help you reach a decision following on from the interview.
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What Are Your Biggest Strengths
I’m not sure why interviewers ask this question your resume and experience should make your strengths readily apparent.
Even so, if you’re asked, provide a sharp, on-point answer. Be clear and precise. If you’re a great problem solver, don’t just say that: Provide a few examples, pertinent to the opening, that prove you’re a great problem solver. If you’re an emotionally intelligent leader, don’t just say that: Provide a few examples that prove you know how to answer the unasked question.
In short, don’t just claim to have certain attributes — prove you have those attributes.
Questions To Ask About The Job
Question 1: Can you elaborate on the day-to-day responsibilities this job entails?
This is a good question to ask the hiring manager. The answer will be important for you to take into consideration as you determine whether or not this job is the right fit for you.
Question 2: What are the characteristics of someone who would succeed in this role?
Ask this question to the hiring manager or others on the interview panel who you might work with if you accept the job. Their answers will quickly give you an idea of the qualities they hope to see in the person they hire.
Question 3: Whats the most important thing I could do to help within the first 90 days of employment?
With this question, youre showcasing your desire and ability to contribute from day one. Its a good one to ask of the hiring manager.
Question 4: What are some of the challenges youve seen people in this role or on this team encounter?
During your interviews, you want to get a clear-eyed view of what this job is like why its hard and rewarding at the same time. Getting your interviewers perspectives on potential hurdles will give you a holistic picture.
Question 5: If I were in this job, how would my performance be measured?
Question 6: What does the career path for someone in this role look like?
Another one for the hiring manager. This question can signal your interest in growing at this company.
More questions to ask your interviewer about the job:
9. What would my first week at work look like?
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What Resources Will I Have Access To In The Company
Asking what software or technology you will be provided within the job can be a useful way for you to reiterate your key skills. If they mention a programme for the role that you havent used, but you have relevant experience with something similar, this can be a talking point to reiterate your passion and drive.
How To Identify Great Interview Responses
Clarity, evidence and relevance are all key to answering interview questions, says James OReilly, Talent Acquisition Manager at Xero.
Candidates need to provide articulate answers through well-structured sentences, and the answers need to be relevant to their previous experiences and to the role or business they are applying for.
I like candidates who answer using the STAR approach, Maligaspe says. That stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result.
- Situation/Task: Is the candidate giving you a real-life example or just their opinion?
- Action: Has the candidate clearly explained the action they took? Look for the I not the we in an answer. You want to be sure they did it, not someone else, says Beck.
- Result: How did the situation end up? Its ok if it didnt work out, as long as they can say what they learned from it.
If someone can articulate how theyve defined a situation and can explain what the issues have been, the actions they took or would take, and then the result, theyve got a good, clear way of thinking through problems, says Beck. And that goes a long way in a job interview.
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Are You Planning On Having Children
Questions about your family status, gender , nationality , religion, or age are illegalbut they still get asked . Of course, not always with ill intentthe interviewer might just be trying to make conversation and might not realize these are off-limitsbut you should definitely tie any questions about your personal life back to the job at hand. For this question, think: You know, Im not quite there yet. But I am very interested in the career paths at your company. Can you tell me more about that?
Tell Me About A Time You Failed
This question is very similar to the one about making a mistake, and you should approach your answer in much the same way. Make sure you pick a real, actual failure you can speak honestly about. Start by making it clear to the interviewer how you define failure. For instance: As a manager, I consider it a failure whenever Im caught by surprise. I strive to know whats going on with my team and their work. Then situate your story in relation to that definition and explain what happened. Finally, dont forget to share what you learned. Its OK to faileveryone does sometimesbut its important to show that you took something from the experience.
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What Did You Like Most About Your Last Position
Knowing what you enjoyed about your last position can offer employers insight to your motivations, personality and whether you will enjoy the position available. To answer this question, focus on positives, speak to work rather than people, explain how it prepared you for this new position and reasons why moving to this role is the right choice.
Example answer:It was a great entry-level position at a start-up agency. Not only was I learning more about marketing, but management was also very transparent, teaching us a great deal about owning a business. It was a very collaborative atmosphere, and the team and I worked together on almost every project. Everyone’s weak point was countered by another’s strong point. I learned more working there than I ever did in college, and I’m excited to apply these skills to a new position.
What Are The Three Traits Your Top Performers Have In Common
Great candidates also want to be great employees. They know every organization is different — and so are the key qualities of top performers in those organizations. Maybe your top performers work longer hours. Maybe creativity is more important than methodology. Maybe constantly landing new customers in new markets is more important than building long-term customer relationships. Maybe the key is a willingness to spend the same amount of time educating an entry-level customer as helping an enthusiast who wants high-end equipment.
Great candidates want to know, because 1) they want to know if they will fit in, and 2) if they do fit in, they want to know how they can be a top performer.
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Where Do You Get Your Tech News
There are tons of places to get industry news and some more reputable than others. There’s no wrong or right answer to this question, but it does give you a window into the operating system, so to speak, of the candidate.
Are they plugged into the pulse or still reading stuffy, antiquated opinions in Bloomberg or AdWeek?
What Were Your Responsibilities
What They Want to Know: 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.
As a special ed teacher, Ive worked with grades K-6 at a large inner-city school, partnering with parents and other teachers to design IEPs and support the inclusion of students with disabilities in regular classrooms.
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Why Were You Fired
Of course, they may ask the follow-up question: Why were you let go? If you lost your job due to layoffs, you can simply say, The company and unfortunately my was eliminated. But what if you were fired for performance reasons? Your best bet is to be honest . But it doesnt have to be a deal breaker. Frame it as a learning experience: Share how youve grown and how you approach your job and life now as a result. And if you can portray your growth as an advantage for this next job, even better.
What Does Customer Service Mean To You
If youre applying for a public-facing role, an employer may ask this question to determine what aspects of customer service are most important to you. . A good answer will align with the companys values, which you can glean through researching their customer service policy, understanding their products and clientele and reflecting on your own experiences as a customer. Your answer can either come from the perspective of a customer or a customer service provider.
Example answer:In my experience, good customer service involves taking responsibility when something goes wrong and doing what you can to make it right. For example, on a recent flight, I had pre-ordered my meal only to discover they didnt stock enough of my dish. Instead of simply stating the facts, the flight attendant apologized sincerely and offered me a free drink or premium snack. To me, this apology went a long way in smoothing things over. The freebie was a bonus that made me feel valued as a customer and choose the same airline for my next flight.
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What Major Challenges And Problems Did You Face How Did You Handle Them
What They Want to Know: 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?
When I was first hired as store manager, our turnover rate was 75% and we were chronically understaffed. I implemented performance incentive programs that reduced attrition by 63% and significantly improved our talent pipeline by focusing on internal training and promotion.
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