14 Commonly Asked Job Interview Questions & How to Answer Them
September 29th, 2016 Written by: Molly Masterson
Interviews are nerve-racking. In fact, 92% of U.S. adults report being nervous about job interviews, according to a study by Everest College and Harris Interactive. But the good news is you can prepare yourself by reviewing some of the most common job interview questions and practicing your answers. And we can help you do just that.
Below are 14 of those commonly asked interview questions and tips for successfully answering them.
1. Tell me about yourself.
This question is typically the opening ice-breaker. Highlight your past accomplishments, strengths and previous job experience, while also mapping them to some of the specific qualifications in the job description.
Be professional in all your answers, but also show some personality. Beyond your experience and skills, interviewers also want to determine if you’re a good fit for the company’s culture.
2. What do you know about our company?
Don’t just focus on company facts. Do some research to discover what sets the company apart from their competitors, any recent news coverage, and customer and employee reviews. Then use that information to show them you’re interested, engaged and understand what the company is all about.
3. Why do you want to work for our company?
Interviewers want to know what’s driving your interest in the position. Are you interested in gaining experience, pursuing new opportunities or just collecting a paycheck? Use your company knowledge to talk about aspects of the company or position that really appeal to you such as employee training programs or green business practices. In addition, connect those aspects to your experience, skills and strengths, as well as your personal interests.
Your response could sound something like this:
“Your employee training program is one thing that really interests me, because it shows that you’re committed to the development and success of your employees. It also fits well with my work ethic. I’m always up for learning new things, and I believe I’m a really fast learner.”
4. Why are you interested in making a job change? (or Why did you leave your last job?)
Honesty is always the best policy here, but avoid making any disparaging remarks about your former employer. Some great responses could be:
- “I want an opportunity where I could learn new things and grow my career.”
- “I’m looking for something more challenging where I could perfect and develop new skills.”
- “A few months ago I read an article about the investments you’ve made in the local community, and when I saw this job opening, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with such a caring company.”
5. What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Once again, connect your strengths to the skills and qualifications outlined in the job description. When it comes to weaknesses, look for ways to turn them into strengths. For example, if you believe that your lack of experience is a weakness, be honest about it, but also describe how another strength (such as being a fast learner) will help you overcome that weakness.
6. Tell me about a time when you made a mistake, and share the steps you took to remedy it.
Interviewers want to understand how you handle personal failure and move forward to overcome it, as well as your problem solving process. Choose a time when you were able to successfully correct a mistake using many of the skills you’ll need to perform the job you’re interviewing for.
7. Tell me about a conflict or challenge you faced at work, and how you overcame it.
At some point, we’ve all had to work through uncomfortable and challenging situations in the workplace. Share a story about a time when you were able to successfully solve a disagreement with a co-worker or overcome a challenge such as taking on a new role. Be specific about the steps you took and highlight what you learned from the experience.
8. How well do you work under pressure?
Regardless of the job, there will come a time when you’re faced with a high-pressure situation. Tell interviewers about a time when you’ve faced a tight deadline or a major change that required you to remain poised and productive.
9. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Use this question to showcase your aspirations for career growth, while also reinforcing that you’re ready to give your all to the job at hand. Consider outlining a growth strategy that begins with the role you’re interviewing for and leads to other positions within the company.
10. How would you rate your attendance at your previous positions?
Interviewers want to make sure you’re reliable. Be honest about whether you’ve had attendance issues in the past, but don’t get defensive. If you can, talk about a proactive approach to scheduling planned absences, or describe any overtime you’ve put in to make sure things got done.
11. What is your ideal work environment?
This is another question that helps interviewers determine whether you’re a good fit for both the company culture and the job requirements. Be honest about how you work best. After all, you want to make sure it’s a good fit for you, too.
Give details on the management style you prefer and the type of environment that can help you be the most productive. Tie in specific responsibilities listed in the job description (such as working in teams or in a fast paced environment) to show you’re the right candidate.
12. Why should we hire you?
This is your opportunity to really make yourself stand out from the other candidates. Use your company knowledge and the job description to detail how your skills, experience and personality are the perfect match. Be specific and unique.
13. What is your desired salary range?
Many job seekers are unprepared for this question, or feel uncomfortable answering it for fear of going too high or too low. Research the job you’re going for to learn what the going market salary rate is. Websites like Glassdoor, Payscale and SalaryExpert are good places to start.
14. What questions do you have for us?
This question not only gives you the opportunity to learn more about the position and the company, but also the ability to promote your skills and desire to become a part of the team.
Compile a few questions while doing your company research.
Some questions you may want to ask, as well as some potential follow up responses, are:
What would a typical day look like for me?
Response: I’ve been exposed to both structured and unstructured work environments, so I feel like I can easily adapt to this kind of work day.
How many people would be on my team?
Response: I’ve been a part of both small and large teams, so this seems like something that is right up my alley.
What projects or initiatives is the company hoping to accomplish in the next five years?
Response: I’ve worked on similar projects and initiatives, and would love to be part of the team responsible for putting it all together.
What does your timeline for hiring someone look like?
Response: That sounds great. I’m available to start in two weeks.
Interviews are nerve-racking, but preparing thoughtful answers to these commonly asked questions will calm your nerves, boost your confidence and show interviewers you’re serious about wanting to become part of their team.