Top 20 Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
Got an interview coming up? Follow these questions and practice your answers to win your next opportunity.
1. Tell me about yourself
Give the employer an overview of who you are professionally. You should prepare about a one-minute answer that summarizes your career, what you are good at, and your most recent job. Keep personal life out of it.
2. What are your weaknesses?
This one of the most popular questions. Handle it by minimizing your weaknesses and emphasizing your strengths. No personal qualities, only professional traits: I am working on improving my public speaking and I recently joined Toastmasters. State the issue, and then say how you are turning it into a strength.
3. Why should I hire you?
Summarize your experiences and demonstrate how they can help the employer. The more you know about the company the easier it is to connect the two. “I have a record of successful projects which would make a big difference in your company. I’m confident I would be a great addition to your project team.”
4. What do you know about our company?
Interviewers want to see if you have a sense of how the company works. What makes the company different from its competition? How does it make money? What is it known for? If you do not seem like you have not done this basic research, your interviewer will wonder how interested you really are.
5. Why do you want to work here?
The interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you have given this some thought and are not just sending out resumes. This is your chance to prove why they should hire you. State your skills, be confident, and tell the employer why they want you. Match your skills to the job description.
6. Why would you excel at this job?
This is your chance to make a case for why you would shine in the job. If you do not know the answer, it is unlikely your interviewer will hire you. You should have a strong answer that states your skills and record of accomplishment. Both should relate to the needs of the employer.
7. What interests you about the job?
How does the role interest you? Only talk about the day-to-day work you would be doing, not the benefits, salary, or short commute. Interviewers want to hire people who like their work. You need to convince the employer that you will enjoy the job.
8. What are you goals?
It is best to talk about short-term and intermediate goals rather than locking yourself into the distant future. For example, “My immediate goal is to get a rewarding job in a growth-oriented company. My long-term goal will depend on where the company goes. I hope to eventually grow into a position of responsibility.”
9. Why are you leaving your last job?
If you are unemployed, state your reason for leaving in a positive way: “I managed to survive two rounds of downsizing, but the third round included me.”
If you are employed, focus on what you want in your next job: “After five years, I decided to look for a company that is team-focused.”
Do not discuss conflicts, complain, or badmouth employers. Say you are seeking new challenges. It is ok to discuss things like a recent or planned move or financial issues at your organization.
10. What would you do in your first 90 days in this position?
Reveal how you set goals and solve problems. The employer wants to know whether you are ambitious without being unrealistic. You should also acknowledge that you would need to take time to get to know procedures, the team, customers, or vendors.
11. Tell me about a time when …
Good interviewers will ask about times you had to exercise the skills required for the job. These may be situations when you had to take initiative, deal with a difficult customer or solve a problem for a client. Prepare for these questions so you are not struggling to think of real examples. Brainstorm two stories that you can use to answer these questions. The story should discuss the problem you faced, the response, and the outcome you achieved.
12. What is most important to you in a new position?
Interviewers want to understand your career goals and whether this job will fulfill them. After all, if you are looking for a job with customer contact, and this job is mostly solo work, it might not be the right fit for you. It is in your best interest to be candid and specific when you answer this so you land in a job that aligns with your goals.
13. When were you most satisfied in your job?
The interviewer wants to know what motivates you. Give an answer when you were excited, the interviewer will get an idea of your preferences. “I was very satisfied in my last job because I worked directly with the customers and their problems”
14. What can you do for us that other candidates cannot?
This is an assessment of your experiences, skills and traits. Summarize concisely: “I have a combination of strong technical skills, and the ability to work well with others. This allows me to use my knowledge with others in your team.”
15. Describe A Difficult Work Situation And What You Did To Overcome It…
This is similar to question 11. The interviewer wants to hear how you overcame the situation an how you solved it. This is a problem-solving question that tests your critical thinking skills. Have two stories ready to convince the employer that you have worked through a difficult situation successfully. Try to avoid co-worker related problems unless you had to fire someone.
16. What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?
It is time to pull out your old performance reviews and brag about yourself through someone else’s words: “My boss has told me that I am the best designer he has ever had. He knows he can rely on me, and he likes my sense of humor.”
17. What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment?
This may be part of an answer to the interview questions – tell me about yourself. If you do not include this part in your answer, the interviewer may ask about your greatest achievements. Do you have your Engineering license? Any unique difficulties you overcame.
18. Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?
For employers, it is vital to ensure the hiring of employees who have the potential for further personal growth. They are looking for those who understand their career goals and objectives. They want to observe whether the candidate is highly motivated toward the position. Does he/she seriously consider his job search and career objectives? Does he/she want to get a foot in the door or is he/she going to bring benefit to the company? They want their employees to be interested on the future of the company and remain loyal to it.
19. What salary are you seeking?
There are two ways to answer. Be honest and state your salary or give a range. Either can work to your advantage, but it is best to start your relationship with honesty. Once you have your offer, you know they want you. That is when you can negotiate. If you are completely unsure of the salary just ask “what do you typically pay for a person in my situation?”
20. What questions do you have for me?
At the end of every job interview, you will likely be asked if you have any questions. At this stage, ask open-ended questions about office culture and those that clarify the role. Ask about next steps in the hiring process and the employer’s timeline for getting back to you. Avoid questions about benefits and pay.
Use this list to practice and to handout to family and friends for mock interviews. Practice, practice, practice.