How To Answer 32 Of The Most Common Interview Questions

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Interviews are a great source of anxiety. Not knowing what a hiring manager will ask does not mean you can’t pre-empt the type of questions. Here are the most asked questions during interviews:

1. Tell me/us a little about yourself

This question is a very simple, yet complex one that many people fail at. Most give their employment or personal history, which is wrong. You are selling yourself; give the interviewer a convincing reason why you are the right person for the job. Give two or three accomplishments that you feel makes you the right candidate. Finish off with why that experience makes you ideal.

2. How did you learn about the position?

If you found out about the position from a friend, say so, and drop the name of the person. If you found out about the position through a particular event or article, let the interviewer know and mention the reason for your interest in the particular position.

3. How much do you know about our company?

The interviewer knows any person can go to the company’s website and read about the company. What the interviewer needs to know is whether you relate to their core mission and whether you care enough about it.

4. Why do you want this job?

Every company wants to hire a team that is passionate about their work. Look at the job description of the position, and identify with those factors.

5. Tell me/us why we should hire you?

This is a question that almost always gets asked. It is a great opportunity for you to launch a pitch and sell your skills. Make sure you cover three things: that you are capable of doing the job, that you deliver excellent results, and that you will blend in with the team.

6. What are your greatest career strengths?

This type of question requires you to be accurate and list your strengths. Do not lie and say what you think the interviewer wants to hear. Again, choose strengths that are related to the position you are applying for.

7. What are your weaknesses?

This is a question the interviewer uses to measure your sense of honesty. Your answer displays your level of self -awareness. Be honest, but do not sell yourself short! Don’t say you are poor at making deadlines - that will be a bad move! Give an example of a weakness you possess, say, in public speaking and say what measures you are taking to overcome it.

8. What is your greatest accomplishment in your career?

Having a great track record will always get you the job. Do not be afraid to list the things you have accomplished. Use the S-T-A-R method to pitch your accomplishments: Specific situation, task, action, and result. This gives the interviewer a background view of the situation, e.g. when I was a Manager at XYZ; it was my job to do XYZ. Spend more time explaining this (action) and the achievements (results) that you got.

9. Tell me/us about a conflict you encountered at your workplace and how you dealt with it

This question gets geared towards gauging how well you respond to conflict. Everyone can manage to seem nice and pleasant in an interview room. It is when they get the job that your true character shows. How will you deal with that colleague you do not get along with? Use the S-T-A-R method to explain what happened, and how you resolved that issue.

10. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

This is where you bring out the big guns. Usually people will respond with cliched answers that will preventing them from standing out from the rest of the crowd, somthing along the lines of 'oh here, of course'. 

Perhaps try this instead:  
"I see myself in a stragic role in a company like this. Hopefully in the five year period I've helped diversify the product, which has resulted in the longterm growth for the company. I also hope that in these five years I've helped expand this company internationally."

This is just an example of course, but you will blow the interviewers away if you adopt this structure. Rather than answering in a polite, cliched, and awkward way, you're actually making it about what you can do for them. And companies will love that. 

11. In your opinion, what is your dream job?

This question is to find out whether the position fits into your long-term career plans. Tell the hiring manager about your ambitions and your ultimate career goal.

12. What other companies have you applied to?

A company might want to gauge your seriousness in the industry. They might also want to see how big the competition for your skills is. Indicate that you are exploring other options in the same industry.

13. Why are you leaving your current company?

Don’t be negative. It sends a red flag. State that you are looking for better challenges and new opportunities you feel are on offer in the position you’re applying for.

14. Why were you fired from your last job?

Don’t lie about this. They are bound to find out at some point. Be honest and explain how you have grown since then. Talk about the lessons you have learned from that experience.

15. What are you looking for in this new position?

This is a no-brainer. Mention the same things the position is offering!

16. What is your ideal work environment?

Give the same type of work environment they are offering. You want to fit in; it’s not the time to start stating unrealistic expectations.

17. What is your leadership/management style?

Demonstrate you are a strong but very flexible type of manager. Tell the interviewer how you will demonstrate your strength and flexibility. Give examples from your former experiences. You could give an example of how your team grew from 3 to 10, or how you mentored a struggling salesperson to be the top in the company.

18. Tell me/us about a time you exhibited leadership

Choose an example that demonstrates your project management skills, for instance. How you spearheaded a successful project from start to finish. Show how you were a leader through it all.

19. Tell me/us about a time you disagreed with a decision made at work

Talk about an incident where you disagreed with a decision made, and the result was positive because of the actions you took. It could have been a difference made on the outcome, or it ended up creating a better working relationship.

20. How would your boss and colleagues describe you?

As said before, be honest. Your boss and colleagues may be getting a call if you get the job. Mention strengths you haven’t mentioned like a strong work ethic. Talk about your dedication and willingness to help on projects other than your own.

21. Why was there a gap in your employment history?

If you have been unemployed, explain what you have been up to. It could be volunteer projects or a sabbatical.

22. Explain why you changed careers

Make it seem relevant to this role. Explain why you have made the decisions you have in the past, and how the experiences are better for your career.

23. How do you handle stress or pressure?

Your answer will prove how well you work under pressure. Prove that you can meet any situation head-on, and with a positive attitude.

24. What would you do in the first 30, 60, or 90 days if employed for this role?

Explain what you would need to get familiar with the company, and how it works. Mark the areas you think your contribution would be meaningful and make an immediate impact.

25. What is your salary expectation?

Research how much you are worth first. There are sites such as Payscale and Glassdoor that will give you a clue. According to your experience and skills, set it to the maximum on your scale...but make it clear you are flexible.

26. What do you like to do away from work?

Be truthful about your hobbies, but don’t go overboard with it. Keep it simple.

27. If you were an animal, which one would you see yourself as?

These random questions are to gauge how fast you think on your feet. There is no right or wrong way to answer.

28. How many tennis balls would fit into a limousine?

These might get asked in quantitative jobs. It checks your analytical skills and whether you can think logically. Ask for a pen and paper if need be!

29. Do you plan to have children?

If the company asks you this, then you probably don't want to work for them. 

30. What do you think we should change, or do differently?

This is a ploy to see how well you have researched on the company. It also shows whether you are a critical thinker, and what you have to offer the company. The better ideas you have, the more likely you will clinch the job!

31. How do you handle success?

This question is asked to gauge how good a team player you are and if you stay humble. The best way to answer a question of this nature is to give specific examples of your success and give references to your success. Give credit to your teammates. It’s a sign of a good team player.

32. Ask me/us any questions you might have

Ask more questions on the position, the company and the team you will be working with if you get the job. This is the only chance you get to figure out how fitting the job is for you.

This is some of the usual stuff that gets asked. Prepare an answer for almost every question, and you’ll ace your next interview - and possibly earn yourself a new job. Best of luck for your next interview!

Can you think of any other common questions you have been asked in previous interviews? Let us know in the comment section below!

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