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When it comes to the interview process, preparation makes the difference between a lackluster and a rock-star interview. The best way to prepare is to anticipate and practice common job interview questions and answers. While you can’t know the questions ahead of time, you can ready your responses for the most frequently asked interview questions.
To help you get started, we pulled together 15 common interview questions and sample answers. Keep in mind, we don’t recommend memorizing a canned response for every question. But practicing your answers ahead of time will help you present yourself well and prove you’re the perfect fit for the job.
What are the most common interview questions and answers?
Here are 15 of the most common (but still tough) job interview questions, along with tips on how to answer them and sample answers for guidance as you prepare.
1. “Tell me about yourself”
This question is the most common interview question in the world, yet many people are unprepared for it. This question is your chance to hit them with that perfect pitch about why you’re perfect for the job. While you can add in a few personal tidbits to show off your personality, you want to keep it mostly professional. Start off by giving an overview of your current position. Then give a couple of career or educational highlights.
Example: “As a recent college graduate, I find that traveling has really shaped who I am as a person. Through traveling, I learned how to grow my Instagram following, improved my photography skills, and connected with people in new ways. Traveling is how I found my interest in passion in social media. In less than a year, I grew my following from 100 to 100,000 followers with stunning photography and creative content. I’m excited to step into a role where I can create the same kind of results. ”
2. “How did you hear about the position?”
Interviewers are asking this to see if you’ve done your research on the company. They don’t want to seem like just one of many companies you’ve applied to. If someone recommended you, drop their name and explain why you wanted to apply. If you found them online through their website or a job board, tell them what specifically drew you to the role and organization.
Example: “I was looking on LinkedIn for job postings for software engineers. After reading over the job description and checking out the company website, I thought this job would be a perfect match for both of us. I was really impressed with the job growth potential within the company and the cultural values of innovation and transparency you talk about on your website.”
3. “Why do you want to work here?”
This is another question to test whether or not you’ve researched the company. Prepare for your interview by learning about their products/services, mission, culture, values, and history. When you answer, mention specific details and why it appeals to you.
Example: “The company’s mission is to use sustainable practices that won’t have a negative impact on the environment. To me, being environmentally-conscious is really important, so being a part of a team that believes in that mission is something that I really value.”
4. “Why are you leaving your current job?”
This is a tough interview question, but one you will almost certainly be asked. Chances are that you aren’t leaving your current job if you were entirely happy, but stay focused on the positives and why you’re eager to take on a new opportunity.
Example: “My current role has been an invaluable learning experience, and it’s really helped me hone in on what my true passions and interests are. With all of this knowledge, I feel like I’m ready to step into a leadership position where I can manage a team and help build big-picture strategies that generate results.”
5. “What are your greatest strengths?”
This is your chance to toot your own horn by highlighting your technical and soft skills. Make sure whatever you say is accurate, relevant, and specific to the role for which you’re applying.
Example: “I’ve always excelled at time management. As a content writer, I’m commonly balancing multiple pieces of content at one time. I have to be able to finish content quickly; then I must be able to switch to a new piece of content. That also shows how adaptable I am at a moment’s notice.”
6. “What is your greatest weakness?”
Interviewers ask this question to gauge your self-awareness. It can be uncomfortable to speak about your weaknesses, so end on a positive note by describing what measures you’ve taken to improve.
Also, be strategic about what weakness you choose. While you want to be honest, you also don’t want to say you’re weak in an area that’s a core competency of the job. If the job is all about strong organization skills, don’t say you’re super messy. If it’s a writing job, don’t say you’re terrible at grammar.
Instead, choose a weakness that’s authentic but also unrelated to the job. If you’re applying for a remote writing job, for instance, it’s probably fine to talk about how you struggle with public speaking in front of large audiences, since that probably won’t be a part of your role.
Example: “I’ve always found it difficult to speak in front of a large group of people. A couple of years ago, I started practicing by speaking in front of two people, then three, then five, then ten people. While I still get butterflies, I’ve certainly improved a lot over the years and gotten more comfortable with public speaking.”
7. “What is your salary range expectation?”
This question is asked to make sure your expectations are in line with the amount budgeted for this role. It can be very tricky for you, though. Say too much and they might not consider you at all. Say too little and you risk being low-balled with your offer. Make sure you research the average salary range in your city for that position title.
You don’t have to play all your cards right away, either. Often, it can be a good idea to let the employer name a range first so you have an idea of what’s reasonable.
Example: “Based on my experience level and market research I’ve done on average compensation for this role, I’m looking for $50,000 annually. I feel that my value and expertise support my expectations.”
Or: “I’d love to first hear what you’re thinking for a salary range for this position. I’m sure we can agree on a number that works for both of us.’
8. “What is your dream job?”
This is one of those unique interview questions that can be tough to answer. The interviewer is trying to determine if the position is in line with your career goals. Discuss either the job you’re applying for or one that would be a natural promotion. For instance, if you’re applying to be a social media manager, maybe your dream job is to work your way to director of marketing.
Example: “My dream job would be a video producer for a large multimedia company. While I love editing videos, I’d also love to lead the content creation, choose production elements, and oversee the whole process. That’s why I’m so excited about your company. I think there is a lot of potential for me to grow into a role similar to that.”
9. “What other companies are you interviewing with?”
Companies ask this question to see whether you’re interviewing with competitors or in other industries. The best approach is to be general and mention that you are exploring similar roles in that industry.
Example: “I’m applying for several digital marketing roles at agencies that focus primarily on local SEO and social media awareness.”
10. “Why should we hire you?”
This question can be super intimidating, but this is your time to shine! Craft a response that proves you’re a great fit for the position, ready to perform the tasks and deliver great results.
Focus especially on what value you could bring to the company, as the hiring manager is looking for someone who can drive their organization forward and help them achieve their mission.
Example: “The job description mentioned that you’re looking for a Photoshop wizard. Not only do I have over five years of experience in Photoshop, I can also do video editing as well. I think your organization could benefit from introducing video tutorials, and I’d love to spearhead that initiative.”
11. “What are your goals for the future?”
The interviewer can learn a lot from your answer to this interview question. They can gauge your ambition, determine whether or not you’ll stay with the company long-term, and evaluate whether the job is in line with your goals. So pick a realistic, work-related goal that shows you’ve put thought into this answer. Then, throw in how this role is going to help you achieve that goal.
Example: “My goal is to find a job that I can hold long term and move up to a leadership position. I think I can be a more successful leader by earning more responsibility. I’m interested in the Digital Marketing Specialist role because it will teach me invaluable skills, as well as provide a pathway for growth. I’d love to one day be the Team Lead and eventually Director of Digital.”
12. “Tell me about a challenge you’ve faced and how you handled it.”
The interviewer wants to determine how you handle stress and respond to conflict. Come prepared with an example and focus on how you professionally handled the situation and turned it into a learning experience. Make sure you keep it work-related and don’t forget to share the outcome.
Example: “At my last job, two people called out sick, and we had a tight deadline on a project that was due that day. I called the team together and delegated tasks to everyone based on their strengths and areas of knowledge. Since I helped keep everyone on task throughout the day, we were able to finish the project on time. I proved to myself and to others that I can be a leader who brings out the best in a team.”
13. “What makes you unique?”
This can be a tricky question because the interview trying to determine what makes you stand out from other applicants. Since you don’t know who else applied, it can be hard to nail down what makes you special. Consider what the employer may find valuable and look into your background and experiences. You don’t need to be one-of-a-kind; you just need to be the right fit for the job.
Example: “What makes me unique is my ability to bring people together. At my last job, there was a time when deadlines were tight, stress was high, and morale was low. I got together with my manager and helped plan a little surprise event that really boosted morale and got people excited about their work again. Even clients noticed the boost in energy.”
14. “What are you passionate about?”
This question helps employers learn what motivates you, what your strengths are, and what interests you. Choose something that you’re truly passionate about and explain why you have that passion. Then give examples of how you’ve advanced this passion and relate it back to the job for which you’re interviewing.
Example: “I love animals so much that I volunteer every week at the humane society. I started out just feeding the animals and cleaning cages, but as I got more involved with the staff there, I slowly added to my responsibilities. At my last job, I introduced my boss to the society and we eventually established a corporate sponsorship.”
15. “Do you have any questions?”
By the time you get to the end of the interview, you may be feeling exhausted, but this is your chance to find out what you need to know about this role. What do you still need to know about the position? Do you have questions about their culture? Use this time to ask the interviewer about their experiences. Not only will it leave a lasting impression on them, but it will also help you decide if this company is right for you.
Head to this guide for 13 unique questions that will impress your interviewer.
Example: “What do you love about working here?” “How would you describe the company’s culture?” “What are the short term and long term goals for this position?”
Preparing for common job interview questions and answers
An interview isn’t just about answering questions; it’s also about letting your personality and experience shine. You’re there to make a great impression and demonstrate that you’ll be an asset to their company. Take the time to practice your answers so they sound natural but thoughtful, and prepare a strategy on how you’re going to showcase your unique skills and experiences.
You can also prepare for the interview by knowing illegal questions that you shouldn’t be asked during an interview and learning these secrets to getting rid of pre-interview nerves.