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If you’re preparing for an interview, it helps to know what the most common interview questions and answers are. Although no two job interviews are exactly alike, we’ve accumulated a list of the most frequently asked interview questions.
For ease of reading, we’ve divided this list by category of question. Some people will find certain categories easier to answer than others, and that’s completely natural. Just practice and study the ones that you find particularly challenging.
The 10 Most Common Interview Questions and Answers
#1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?
This question is usually asked as an icebreaker, but it also doubles as a comprehension test. Your answer will tell the interviewer a lot about what you understand about context.
Your interviewer does not want your life history. They don’t want to know where you lived when you were a child or what you enjoy doing in your free time. They want to know about your job skills, history and why you think you’re a good fit for this position.
The correct answer to this question is an elevator pitch, or a carefully crafted 30 second statement about yourself and your objectives. It is very important to have an elevator pitch written and practiced in advance so that you can say it quickly.
For example, I have a prepared elevator pitch when people ask me about Low Income Relief. I can easily recite, “Low Income Relief is a free information service that connects low income Americans with benefits, programs and resources in their local communities. We serve millions of people per year with information about how to get better jobs, go back to school, get free home repair grants, pay off debts, save money on bills and more.”
#2. How did you hear about this position?
Your answer, obviously, depends on how you heard about the job. If you were referred by someone who works at the company, this is an excellent opportunity to name-drop that connection. If you found it on the company website, you can state that you’re a longtime fan of the business and found out about it because you were interested in working for them directly.
Even if you found the job listing through a simple Google search, be prepared to explain what caught your attention and why you want this specific job.
#3. What do you know about our company?
My husband loves to talk about the time I drove him to a job interview, pushed him out of the car and forgot to tell him what the company was, what they did or what job he was interviewing for. He had to use context clues on the building’s signage to figure out what was even happening.
In my defense, this was when he was freshly out of the Army and I was applying for hundreds of jobs every day. I would submit his cover letter, resume and application for him. It was a great strategy… until I forgot which company was what.
Anyway, be smarter than we were. Know what the company is, what they do and how they do it. Know their mission statement and goals. The more you know about the company, the better.
Most of the common interview questions and answers are designed to test more than just your knowledge of the subject matter. Therefore, your objective should not be to simply recite their website’s about page or corporate structure. Take this opportunity to make it personal and explain how you relate to that purpose, mission statement or product. Draw connections between your personal goals and experiences and the company’s.
#4. Why do you want this job?
This may seem like one of the most obvious interview questions and answers, but it’s not. They assume you need employment and want money, so don’t say that. This is your opportunity to prove that you’re passionate about the job and the work you will be doing.
Now that I run LowIncomeRelief.com, I have some experience in hiring people. This is one question I always hated during interviews… but now it’s one of my favorite questions to ask. To be successful at this particular work, you have to be passionate about the cause. I won’t hire someone who isn’t enthusiastic about helping alleviate poverty.
This interview question is entirely designed to evoke that passion and evaluate how interested you really are in the position. Make sure your answer showcases your interest.
#5. What are your greatest professional strengths?
Only you will know exactly what your greatest professional strengths are. However, it is important that your answer is accurate, relevant and specific.
Accuracy is critical. If your answer doesn’t line up with your resume or what previous employers are saying about you, the interviewer will quickly recognize that you are not being honest.
Relevant is also important. You may be a fantastic cookie decorator but that’s not going to help you land a nursing job. You need to make sure that the skills you are discussing are relevant to the position you’re trying to obtain.
The more specific you can be, the better you’ll stand out. A lot of people will talk about their “people skills” or their “sales skills.” Whenever possible, quantify your skills with numbers. Did your previous job have a customer retention or satisfaction score? How much product did you sell last quarter? Whenever possible, use numbers that provide solid, irrefutable evidence of your value.
#6. What is your greatest weakness?
This question is one of the absolute most common interview questions and answers – and it’s a trap. It’s a test of your humility, integrity and common sense.
If you say you don’t have any weaknesses, you’ll be judged a liar and may lose your chance at the position. However, if you openly confess to some serious professional deficiencies, you may also lose your chances.
It’s important to have a well-planned, balanced answer that is both humble and honest. Whenever possible, showcase something that you are working to improve. If you can demonstrate coordinated efforts to improve that skill, it will be counted in your favor.
#7. Why should we hire you?
This is your opportunity to sell yourself and your skills. When you answer this question, you need to make the case that you can do the work better than anyone else, produce great results and fit in with the company culture. Convince them that you’re a better hire than anyone else.
If you don’t believe that you are the best candidate, they won’t believe it either. You absolutely must make a convincing, compelling argument here.
#8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
If you don’t have a prepared answer to this question, it immediately signals to the interviewer that you (1) don’t have a plan, (2) don’t engage in goal-setting and (3) don’t have much ambition.
Don’t do that.
If you don’t actually have a five year plan, think about the potential for advancement in the job you’re applying for. Could you see yourself in a management role within five years? Go with that.
#9. What are your salary requirements?
It’s naturally to want more money but if you ask for too much, you may not be considered for the job. This is one of those interview questions and answers that cause the most stress during job interviews!
Fortunately, the Internet makes this easy. You can research fair compensation ranges on sites like Glassdoor. Choose a number in the range that corresponds with your experience, education and skill level. Mention this number in the interview but signal that you’re flexible.
If you are looking for a position that you don’t exactly qualify for, or if you have other factors working against you, it may be worth offering to work for slightly less. Remember, you can always modify these suggested interview questions and answers to best fit your individual situation.
#10. Do you have any questions for us?
Interviews usually cover a lot of information. If you’re asked this question, you may have a hard time thinking of something on the spot. Even if you’ve already endured a ton of common interview questions and answers, you’ll stand out if you have unique questions to ask at the end.
Some of my favorite questions to ask are listed below. Don’t overwhelm the interviewer by asking all of them. Just one or two should be adequate.
- What’s your favorite aspect of working here?
- What opportunities for advancement will be available to me?
- What can you tell me about the company’s plans for growth/expansion?
- Have successful employees in this position progressed to better positions?
- What do you consider the most important metrics of success for the first 30, 60 and 90 days on the job?
- What’s different about working here, compared to anywhere else you’ve worked before?
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
- Is there anything else I can provide that would be helpful?