Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you knew exactly what questions an interviewer would be asking you in your next job interview?
Although not always exact, here is a list of the most commonly asked interview questions, along with advice for answering them all.
Consider this list your interview question and answer study guide.
It is highly recommended to familiarise yourself with what you might be asked, and what possible employers are really looking for in your responses to show that you are the right person for the job.
These commonly asked questions cover the essentials interviewers want to know about every candidate: who you are, why you are suited for the job, and what you’re good at. You may not be asked these questions in exactly these words, but if you have a general idea of what is expected of you, you’ll be ready for just about anything the interviewer might ask you.
1. Tell Me About Yourself.
This question seems simple, but many people fail to prepare for it. An interviewer doesn't want to know about your personal self, they want to know why you are right for the job. Talk a little bit about your current role, and one or two accomplishments, then give some background about how you got there, and experience you have that’s relevant. Transition into why you want—and would be perfect for—this position.
2. How Did You Hear About This Position?
Another seemingly simple question. This is actually the perfect opportunity to stand out, and show your passion for, and connection to the company. For example, if you found out about the position through a friend or professional contact, mention that person, then share why you were so excited about the job. If you found the listing through a random job listing site, share what, specifically, caught your eye about the position.
3. Why Do You Want to Work at This Company?
You want to stand out, and not sound like every other candidate applying for this position! Do your research and talk about something that makes the company unique that really appeals to you; talk about how you’ve watched the company grow and evolve since you first heard of it; focus on the company's opportunities for future growth and how you can contribute to it; or talk about what’s gotten you excited from your interactions with employees so far. Make sure to be specific. If you don't know why you’d want to work at the company you’re interviewing with by the time you’re at this point, it might be because this position is not the right fit for you.
4. Why Do You Want This Job?
Companies want to employ people who are passionate about the job! Therefore, you should have a great answer about why you want the position. Identify a couple of key factors that make the position a great fit for you. Share why you love the company (e.g., “I’ve always been passionate about (?), and I think you’re doing great things, so I want to be a part of it”).
5. Why Should We Hire You?
This is the question for you to sell yourself and your skills to the interviewer. Your goal here is to give an answer that covers three things: that you can not only do the work, but also deliver great results; that you’ll really fit in with the team and culture; and that you’d be a better fit than any of the other candidates.
6. What Can You Bring to the Company?
Interviewers want to see that you understand what problems and challenges they’re facing as a company, or department, as well as how you’ll fit into the existing organisation. Read the job description carefully, do your research on the company, and make sure you pay attention in your interviews to understand any issues you’re being employed to solve. Connect your skills and experience to what the company needs, and share an example that shows how you’ve done similar work in the past.
7. What Are Your Greatest Strengths?
Here’s an opportunity to talk about something that makes you stand out, and a great fit for this position. Choose one or two specific qualities that are relevant to this position and illustrate them with examples.
8. What Do You Consider to Be Your Weaknesses?
What your interviewer is really trying to do with this question is to determine your self-awareness and honesty. Turn your weakness into a strength if possible, by telling your interviewer what you're doing to improve. Think of something that you struggle with, but that you’re working to improve. Maybe you’ve never been strong at public speaking, but you’ve recently volunteered to run meetings to help you get more comfortable when addressing a crowd.
Questions About Your Work History
The main objective of any job interview is to assess your track record at work: what you have accomplished, how you succeeded or failed (and how you dealt with it), and how you behaved in actual work environments. Use the STAR method where applicable!
9. What Is Your Greatest Professional Achievement?
Nothing says “hire me” better than a track record of achieving amazing results in past jobs! Describe the situation and the task that you were required to complete, to give the interviewer some background context, then describe what you did (the action) and what you achieved (the result).
10. Tell Me About a Challenge/Conflict You Faced, and what you did.
You probably don't want to talk about conflicts you’ve had at work during a job interview. But, if you’re asked directly, don’t pretend you’ve never had one. Be honest about a difficult situation you’ve faced. Stay calm and professional as you tell the story (and answer any follow-up questions), spend more time talking about the resolution than the conflict, and mention what you’d do differently next time to show “you’re open to learning from tough experiences.”
11. Tell Me About a Time You Demonstrated Leadership Skills.
Speak about a time when you were in charge of a project, took the initiative to propose an alternate process, or helped motivate your team to get something done. Then use the STAR method to tell your interviewer a story. Be clear about why you’re telling this particular story and connect all the dots for the interviewer.
12. Tell Me About a Time You Made a Mistake.
Be honest, without placing blame on other people, then explain what you learned from your mistake, and what actions you took to ensure it doesn't happen again. Employers are looking for people who are self-aware, can take feedback, and care about doing better. Talk about what you learned. It’s OK to make mistakes, everyone does, but it’s important to show that you grew from the experience.
13. Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job?
This is a difficult one, but one you can be sure you’ll be asked. Definitely keep things positive! Talk about this in a way that shows that you’re eager to take on new opportunities and that the role you’re interviewing for is a better fit for you. Don't say anything negative about colleagues, managers or working conditions!
14. Why Was There a Gap in Your Employment?
Maybe you were studying, taking care of children or ageing parents, dealing with health issues, or traveling the world. Maybe it just took you a long time to find, and get the right job. You should be prepared to discuss the gap (or gaps) on your resume. Be honest! You don't have to share more details than you’re comfortable with. If you gained any skills in your time away(whether through volunteer work, running a home, or responding to a personal crisis) you can also talk about how those would help you excel in this role.
15. How Do You Deal With Pressure or Stressful Situations?
Talk about your go-to strategies for dealing with stress, and how you communicate and otherwise proactively try to mitigate pressure.
16. What Motivates You?
Think about what has excited you in previous positions and determine what made your eyes light up when you read this job description. Pick one thing, make sure it’s relevant to the position and company you’re interviewing for. If you’re honest, your enthusiasm will be real.
17. Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?
Be honest and specific about your future goals, but consider this: An interviewer wants to know a) if you've set realistic expectations for your career, b) if you have ambition, and c) if the position aligns with your goals and growth. Your best bet is to think realistically about where this position could take you and answer along those lines. It’s OK to say that you’re not quite sure what the future holds, but that you see this experience playing an important role in helping you make that decision.
18. What Are Your Salary Expectations?
Do your research on what similar positions pay. Be sure to take your experience, education, skills, and personal needs into account! If you're not sure try these: *Give a salary range
*Flip the question: Try something like “That's a great question, it would be helpful if you could share what the range is for this role.”
*Delay answering: Tell your interviewer that you’d like to learn more about the role or the rest of the remuneration package before discussing pay.
19. When Can You Start?
Your goal here should be to set realistic expectations that will work for both you and the company. What that sounds like will depend on your specific situation. If you’re ready to start immediately, or if you’re unemployed, you could offer to start within the week. But, if you need to give notice to your current employer, don’t be afraid to say so; people will understand and respect that you plan to wrap things up right. It’s also legitimate to want to take a break between jobs, though you might want to say you have “previously scheduled commitments to attend to” and try to be flexible if they really need someone to start a bit sooner.
20. Are You Willing to Relocate?
While this may sound like a simple yes/no question, it’s often a little bit more complicated than that. The simplest scenario is one where you’re totally open to moving and would be willing to do so for this opportunity. But if the answer is no, or at least not right now, you can reiterate your enthusiasm for the role, briefly explain why you can’t move at this time, and offer an alternative, like working remotely or out of a local office. Sometimes it’s not as clear-cut, and that’s OK. You can say you prefer to stay where you are for xyz reasons, but would be willing to consider relocating for the right opportunity.
21. Do You Have Any Questions for Us?
This question is an opportunity to find out whether a job is the right fit from your perspective. What do you want to know about the position? The company? The department? The team? You’ll cover a lot of this in the actual interview, so have a few less-common questions ready to go. Especially questions targeted to the interviewer (“What's your favourite part about working here?”) or the company’s growth (“What can you tell me about your new products or plans for growth?”) If you’re interviewing for a remote role, there are some specific questions you might want to ask related to that.
Now that you know what to expect in an interview, find someone to practice with!