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 expect to hear at least one - and likely more - of these questions during your next job interview.
- Make sure you practice answering questions before the interview
- Be prepared to answer questions about your work experience, work habits, and career trajectory
- Send a thank you note after the 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.
Ideally, you should also practice answering them aloud with friend or family member who can act as the interviewer. This will allow you to focus on your body language as you respond to questions.
Types of Interview Questions
In your interview, you should 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
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.
1. What relevant experience do you have?
2. What did you like or dislike about your previous job?
3. What major challenges have you handled?
4. How did you fit in with the company culture?
5. What was your biggest accomplishment (failure) in this position?
6. What was most (least) rewarding about your job?
7. Why are you leaving your job?
8. Why did you resign?
9. Why did you quit your job?
10. Why were you fired?
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.
Questions About Your Work Habits and Preferences
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.
11. Describe your work style.
12. Do you take work home with you?
13. How would you describe the pace at which you work?
14. Is there a type of work environment you prefer?
15. What interests you about this job?
16. What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make?
17. Have you ever had difficulty working with a manager?
18. Have you gotten angry at work? What happened?
19. How would you handle it if your boss was wrong?
20. Are you overqualified for this job?
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.
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.
Questions About Teamwork and “People Skills”
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.
21. Do you prefer to work alone or on a team?
22. Give some examples of teamwork.
23. What do you expect from a supervisor?
24. Describe your best boss and your worst boss.
25. How do you handle stress and pressure?
26. If the people who know you were asked why you should be hired, what would they say?
27. What do you know about this company?
28. What can you contribute to this company?
29. What can you do for this company?
30. What problems have you encountered at work?
How To Respond
Use the STAR interview response technique to prepare answers to questions about teamwork 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.
Questions About Your Personality and Self-Knowledge
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.
31. Describe yourself.
32. Are you the best person for this job? Why?
33. How do you measure success?
34. How would you describe yourself?
35. Why should we hire you?
36. Tell me about yourself.
37. What are you passionate about?
38. What have you learned from your mistakes?
39. What is your greatest strength?
40. What is your greatest weakness?
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, including your age, race, or family situation.
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.
Questions About Your Career Trajectory
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.
41. Describe your career goals.
42. How long do you expect to work for this company?
43. How much do you expect to get paid?
44. Tell me why you want to work here.
45. What are you looking for in your next position?
46. What are your goals for the future?
47. What are your salary requirements?
48. What challenges are you looking for in your next job?
49. Why do you want this job?
50. What will you do if you don’t get a job offer?
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Nail an Interview?
You'll want to practice answering common interview questions with a friend, arrive at the interview on time or early, have questions prepared for the interviewer in advance, and send a thank you note after the interview.
What To Say at the Beginning of an Interview?
Start with a friendly, professional greeting like "It's nice to meet you!" You can also thank the interviewer for meeting with you.
Want to read more content like this? Sign up for The Balance’s newsletter for daily insights, analysis, and financial tips, all delivered straight to your inbox every morning!