Top 50 Popular Job Interview Questions

Image by Theresa Chiechi © The Balance 2019 

There are many steps you can take to make sure your interview goes smoothly. One of the easiest ways to get ready for your next job interview is to familiarize yourself with the popular questions that are frequently asked in interviews and to practice your answers.

You can start by reviewing the top 50 popular interview questions asked by employers, as well as the sample answers for each question on the list. Click through to the Best Answers links to get tips on what information you should include in your response - as well as what details to leave out. You can expect to hear at least one - and likely more - of these questions during your next job interview.

Why Is Practicing Common Interview Questions Important?

There is no better way to build self-confidence before your interview than to practice answering the questions you are most likely to be asked. This will help ensure that you don’t become tongue-tied during the actual interview.

While framing your answers to common questions is a good start, you should also practice answering them aloud, ideally in a role-playing scenario where a friend or family member can act the part of your interviewer. This will enable you to focus on your body language (eye contact and posture) as you respond to questions.

Top 50 Popular Job Interview Questions

Here are the 50 most frequently-asked questions that are posed in interviews. Be prepared to go into some detail about your work history; you may also be asked behavioral or situational questions which require you to provide an anecdote about how you have handled a work challenge in the past or, alternatively, how you would approach a situation in the future.

Questions About Your Job Qualifications / Work History

What They Want to Know: Hiring managers will be interested in the actual professional experience that you can bring to the table. Be ready to elaborate upon the work history you described in your resume.

How to Respond: It’s important to do more than simply provide a bare-bones list of jobs you have held in the past. Instead, try to describe how, in your previous positions, you have honed the qualifications that the employer is seeking (the job announcement is your best guide to deciding what skills you should emphasize).

If you are an entry-level candidate with little related work experience, it’s a good idea to draw upon your educational / training history, part-time jobs, or internship experience to demonstrate that you have the required skillset.

1. What relevant experience do you have? - Best Answers

2. What did you like or dislike about your previous job? - Best Answers

3. What major challenges have you handled? - Best Answers

4. How did you fit in with the company culture? - Best Answers

5. What was your biggest accomplishment (failure) in this position? - Best Answers

6. What was most (least) rewarding about your job? - Best Answers

7. Why are you leaving your job? - Best Answers

8. Why did you resign? - Best Answers

9. Why did you quit your job? - Best Answers

10. Why were you fired? - Best Answers

Questions About Your Work Habits and Preferences

What They Want to Know: Interviewers are trying to predict which of their candidates will be most likely to adapt easily to their workplace, their current teams, and their way of doing things.

How to Respond: While you should be honest in your answers, try to research the company before your interview to learn how they do business. Is good teamwork critical to their productivity? Or do they expect their staff to work independently? Is overtime or occasional weekend work required? Ideally, your responses to these questions will show that your work habits dovetail well with their own practices, expectations, and requirements.

11. Describe your work style. - Best Answers

12. Do you take work home with you? - Best Answers

13. How would you describe the pace at which you work? - Best Answers

14. Is there a type of work environment you prefer? - Best Answers

15. What interests you about this job? - Best Answers

16. What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make? - Best Answers

17. Have you ever had difficulty working with a manager? - Best Answers

18. Have you gotten angry at work? What happened? - Best Answers

19. How would you handle it if your boss was wrong? - Best Answers

20. Are you overqualified for this job? - Best Answers

Questions About Teamwork and “People Skills”

What They Want to Know: You’ll be able to tell from the job announcement whether teamwork and good interpersonal skills are key to succeeding in the job you’re applying for. If so, plan on providing some examples of how you have either led or participated on teams in collaborative environments.

How To Respond: Using the STAR interview response technique to prepare answers to questions about teamwork will enable you to provide examples that will impress your interviewer: just describe a situation where you served on a team, the task you were assigned, the action you took, and the results of that action.

21. Do you prefer to work alone or on a team? - Best Answers

22. Give some examples of teamwork. - Best Answers

23. What do you expect from a supervisor? - Best Answers

24. Describe your best boss and your worst boss. - Best Answers

25. How do you handle stress and pressure? - Best Answers

26. If the people who know you were asked why you should be hired, what would they say? - Best Answers

27. What do you know about this company? - Best Answers

28. What can you contribute to this company? - Best Answers

29. What can you do for this company? - Best Answers

30. What problems have you encountered at work? - Best Answers

Questions About Your Personality and Self-Knowledge

What They Want to Know: Most employers hope to hire employees who not only have the professional skills to do the job, but also have personality traits and a level of self-awareness that will allow them to work well with their supervisors, peers, and / or clients. 

How To Respond: Take the “middle road” as you answer these questions: you don’t want to appear overly cocky or full of yourself, but neither do you want to be self-deprecating or “hide your light under a bushel.” The best tone to use is one of quiet confidence. If you are asked a “trick” question about your weaknesses or mistakes you have made in the past, own up to a minor failing but then explain how you learned to remediate the issue.

31. Describe yourself. - Best Answers

32. Are you the best person for this job? Why? - Best Answers

33. How do you measure success? - Best Answers

34. How would you describe yourself? - Best Answers

35. Why should we hire you? - Best Answers

36. Tell me about yourself. - Best Answers

37. What are you passionate about? - Best Answers

38. What have you learned from your mistakes? - Best Answers

39. What is your greatest strength? - Best Answers

40. What is your greatest weakness? - Best Answers

Questions About Your Career Trajectory

What They Want to Know: The hiring process can be expensive and time-consuming for employers, especially when interviewers have to take time away from their normal duties in order to talk to candidates. Thus, their goal is typically to hire someone who is likely to stick around and grow with their organization.

How To Respond: Before your interview, try to envision how, in an ideal case scenario, you would be able to enjoy longevity with the company you are applying to. What would you like to be doing in five years? Ten? Think about how best to align your career goals to the opportunities offered by the employer. Then, in your answer, “sell” your candidacy by enthusiastically postulating how you would be able to contribute to their operations and, steadily, assume positions of increasing responsibility.

41. Describe your career goals. - Best Answers

42. How long do you expect to work for this company? - Best Answers

43. How much do you expect to get paid? - Best Answers

44. Tell me why you want to work here. - Best Answers

45. What are you looking for in your next position? - Best Answers

46. What are your goals for the future? - Best Answers

47. What are your salary requirements? - Best Answers

48. What challenges are you looking for in your next job? - Best Answers

49. Why do you want this job? - Best Answers

50. What will you do if you don’t get a job offer? - Best Answers

Tips to Answer Popular Interview Questions

Here are a few more tips to help you make your best impression and rock your job interview.

Appearances count. An interview is more than just being asked questions by an interviewer and responding correctly. It’s your opportunity to make a great impression, and showcase what an asset you will be to the company. Make sure you dress for success and arrive prepared to get offered the job.

Know what they can’t ask. Be aware that there are questions you shouldn't be asked during a job interview as well, such as personal questions about age, race, family status, etc.

During an interview, the questions asked should all address only your ability to perform the job. You are not obliged to discuss or disclose anything else.

Know what you should ask. It’s important to have some questions to ask the interviewer prepared for when you are given the chance. Doing some research about the company and its policies and culture will ensure that your questions are relevant, and will show the hiring manager how interested you are in the position.

Take the time to say thank you. Be sure to follow up with a thank you note after your interview. By expressing your appreciation for the interviewer’s time and consideration in a timely manner (you should get an email out within 24 hours), you will reinforce the excellent impression you made during your interview.