Do you have an interview coming up? Yes, you do. Every time you meet someone new, you are in an interview. Each time you are catching up with the long-lost family or friends, you are in an interview. If you’re in an interview for a new work-related position, however, you may be anxious and nervous about making the right impression and a strong impression. One way to relax and feel more confident is by thoroughly preparing for your interview. There’s no better place to prepare than knowing how to answer the most common interview questions. I’ve named these interview questions, “the frequent 15.”
1. Can you tell me about yourself?
It’s not uncommon for interviewers to start with this question. However, some interviewers won’t phrase this as a question. Instead, it’s more of a conversational invitation, such as “Tell me about yourself.”
In either case, this seems like it should be straightforward and simple enough to answer easily and quickly. Unfortunately, if you’re not prepared, you may end up sharing your entire personal and professional history. The interviewer doesn’t want a lengthy response. They’re actually looking for a more concise response where you highlight two or three of your accomplishments or experiences. The interviewer wants to know what makes you unique, and why you’re right for the job.
Example: “I am a graphic designer with five years of experience. I’m looking forward to continuing a role where I can lead and coordinate a team, while also expanding on my current skill set. I also want to continue learning, growing, and contributing to a renowned organization that aligns with my values.”
2. How did you find out about the position?
This question may appear harmless. But, what the interviewer is really looking for is if you’ve actually taken the time to research their company, the position and if you have a genuine reason for applying. Because this is usually the case, don’t be afraid to compliment them by mentioning something specific about their company, or stats. This could be a product, their mission statement, or their reputation for how well they treat employees.
Example: “Your company was recommended to me by a previous coworker who has only said good things about your company’s culture.” Or, “I saw the position posted on LinkedIn and it interested me personally and professionally.”
3. What do you know about our company?
Just to be sure that you didn’t simply read and memorize their “About” page, most interviewers will ask this question to make sure that you really care about their mission and understand their goals. However, they may also be checking that you do have basic knowledge of the company. This includes knowing what they sell and when they were founded. You’ll want to know who the CEO is, how many employees they have and what they’re best known for.
While this question will require a little more research so that you’re well-prepared, you also don’t want to exaggerate or over-do the compliments.
Example: “You’ve been an important part of the community since 1991, but you’re also keeping up with the latest trends in order to better serve the changing needs of your customers. This also seems like an organization where I can grow both personally and professionally.”
4. Why did you apply for this position?
Again, this question helps the interviewer gauge whether or not you’re passionate about the position. It also lets them know that you understand the role and its responsibilities and why you’d be the ideal candidate.
Just remember to not sound desperate by saying something on the lines of, “Well, I was just laid-off and need a job.”
Example: “I’ve heard from colleagues about how great the work environment is here. When I saw this job posting, it seemed to match my skills. For example, I saw on the job description that you need a social media manager. This is the same position I previously held for five years. While I do consider myself an expert, I’m hoping to find a position where I can continue to use and enhance my skills.”
5. What are your strengths?
Definitely, expect to be asked this question during your interview. The reason? It clues the interviewer that you’re competent and confident to handle the position, while also showing them that your strengths are going to be valuable to the position.
When answering this question, focus on what’s true and not what they want to hear and how it’s relevant to the position. Also, don’t forget to provide specific examples.
Example: “I’m proud of my strong customer service skills and the ability to quickly resolve difficult situations. With over six of years of experience in customer service, I’ve learned to effectively understand and solve any customer issues. I also have strong communication skills, which I believe have helped me work well with customers and also collaborate with colleagues and executives.”
6. What are your weaknesses?
If you’ve been asked the question above, then expect to be this question as well.
While it may seem awkward to share your weaknesses, the interviewer is asking this question to determine your honesty and self-awareness. They’re looking to see you want to continually improve to become a better employee and person.
If you don’t want to fall into a trap, start by explaining a weakness and the steps that you took to improve the situation.
Example: “There are times when I have difficulty saying ‘no’ to others. As a result, I end up getting overwhelmed by my workload. In fact, early on in my career, I took on so many projects that I’d spent my evenings and weekends working. It was extremely stressful. Eventually, I realized that this was counterproductive and I started using workload management tools, establishing boundaries, and setting realistic expectations.”
7. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Interviewers love asking this questions for several reasons.
- They want to make sure that you’re a good long-term investment.
- It lets them know that the position aligns with your goals.
- That you’ve seriously thought about your professional future.
- It lets them know that you’re ambitious, motivated, and hard-working.
The most important thing to keep in mind when responding to this question is you focus on a work-related goal. Don’t say something generic like, “I see myself in the same position with your company in five years.”
Example: “Currently, my goal is to find a position at a company where I can grow and take on new challenges. Eventually, I would want to assume more management responsibilities, be a part of product strategy, and work for an organization where I have an opportunity to build a career.”
8. Why are you looking to leave your current company?
Want to know why interviewers commonly ask this question? Because it can signal some red flags. If you complain about your boss, colleagues, or compensation then the interviewer may believe that eventually, you’ll have something negative to say about them or that the position is beneath.
While these are legitimate reasons, a more appropriate response would be that you’re looking for a new career or learning opportunities. That the position that’s open provides more career advancements or aligns with your skills and goals. Or, that you’ve recently moved or you’ve been looking for a job that allows you to spend more time with your family, and this job will provide what you need.
Example: “Honestly, I wasn’t looking for a new job until I saw this posting. It seemed like it was a better match for my skills and experience, which I feel are not being utilized at my present company.”
9. What motivates you?
This may appear like a straightforward question. But, it’s one that frequently trips-up some people during an interview.
There is no one correct way to answer this question since everyone has different things that keep them motivated, inspired, and energized. What the interviewer is looking for is that you’re a good fit with the company culture. It also gives them a little insight into what kind of employee you’ll be.
Example: “What motivates me the most is making customers happy and believing that I’ve made a difference in their lives.”
10. Can you tell me about a challenge or conflict that you’ve faced at work, and how you dealt with it?
This question is used to assess your problem-solving skills and how well you can work under pressure. Just remember to tell a story instead of just throwing out a bunch of facts and figures since they’re more memorable. Also, be sure to outline the steps you took to resolve the specific challenge or conflict positively. This was the situation, what the task was. Then explain the action you took, and what happened.
Example: “A furious customer called threatening to never do business with us again. I immediately asked what the problem was and she explained that a product she ordered arrived damaged. I apologized for the inconvenience, took down her details, and promised to contact her as soon as I discussed the matter with my superior. Within an hour I contacted the customer and promised to send out a new product and a discount on a future purchase. She not only remained a customer, but she also left reviews online praising our customer service.”
11. Why should we hire you?
Interviewers ask this question because they’re giving you one more important chance to let them know why you’re the absolute best candidate for the position.
Example: “I not only have the skills and experience that you’re looking for, but I’m also passionate about this industry. I want to do whatever I can to help make and keep your company a leader in its field.”
12. What are your salary expectations?
You’ll be asked this question to make sure that your expectations align with what’s been budgeted for the position. Also, if your answer is lower or higher than the market value, then this indicates that you don’t know what you’re worth. So, make sure that you do your homework and know the average compensation range. Sites like Glassdoor and Payscale can help you out with this evaluation before you go in for your interview.
Example: “My salary expectation is between $XX, XXX and $XX, XXX since this is the average salary for a candidate with my experience in this location. However, I am flexible and willing to negotiate.”
13. What are you most passionate about?
Similar to the question about what motivates you, interviewers use this question to better understand what drives you and what you care about most. It’s also another way to see if you’ll fit in with the company.
Example: “I love surfing. It’s a great way for me to relax and unplug. However, sitting on a board waiting for a wave also gives me a chance to clear my head and reflect on the bigger picture. I’ve actually had some of my best ideas while floating around in the ocean.”
14. How do people describe you?
This is yet another chance for you to differentiate yourself from the other candidates. Be honest, as they will likely contact your references. Focus on the skills and traits that you’ve already discussed, such as your work ethic and ability to meet deadlines.
Example: “During my last performance review, my supervisor described me as a reliable and self-motivated individual who always can be counted on to meet deadlines.”
15. Do you have any questions for us?
No matter how well the whole conversation went, If you say you don’t have any questions, or worse, have some pointless or inappropriate inquiry, you can end up with a not pleasant impression.
To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, be ready to blow your interviewers away with these well-timed and well-executed power questions to ask in an interview.