You played the application game and finally after what seemed like month(or maybe it was months) of waiting, you’ve got an interview. But it’s been awhile, or maybe this I your first time around the block, and you have to ask yourself “What are the 20 most asked interview questions?” You know it pays to be prepared, and if you don’t have a response to these, then you might just be out of luck. That’s why we’ve got your back. Here’s what you need to know.
Tell me about yourself.
It’s more of a demand than a question, but still it can be hard to objectively talk about yourself. There are two primary goals with this question, to figure out what kind of person you are, and get an your perspective on your work experience.
Remember to keep your answer short, and don’t stray off topic. Only highlight elements of your life which point to work experience related to the job. You might be proud of your stamp collection, but unless you’re applying to approximate the value of stamps, the interviewer doesn’t care. At the same time, you don’t want to retell your work history verbatim to the papers they already have. Here’s a good time to highlight your experience that shows strengths, but doesn’t quite fit on a CV. Also, remember to be positive and relaxed, you want to make this impression count.
What are your greatest strengths?
Most people think the best way to answer this question is to spout out a huge list of positive traits the interviewer wants to hear, but that doesn’t work. Instead take this time to focus on 3 key strengths that are geared toward the job. And make sure to give example which highlight each one, though be careful not to ramble on.
What are your greatest weaknesses?
Out of the 20 most asked interview questions this one is the most difficult. Here’s the deal, saying you “Don’t have any.” isn’t going to cut it. Everybody has a weakness, and if you answer that way, the only thing it says is “I’m too proud of myself to admit any.” And nobody wants to work with a person like that. After that, people tend to gravitate toward answers which are strengths in disguise. But telling them you work too hard, doesn’t really bring out what they are looking for.
So here’s how you answer. You bring up a weakness, then tell ways you intend to resolve it. This shows that you are willing to improve yourself, while still being humble, and that is what they are looking for.
Because this is a particularly hard question I’m going to give an example. Don’t copy it, but you should say something like this “I sometimes have trouble keeping track of dates. Anything that is planned out more than two weeks in advance tends to rest in the back of my mind, so I might forget it. But I realize that problem, and have been fixing the issue by writing things down, then making a point to check my calendar every day.”
This shows a clear weakness(one that’s not a massive threat), and that you are working to resolve the issue.
What are your hobbies?
This question is not nearly as important as you think. It’s more of an attempt by the employer to get a feel for your personality, and what you would be like to work with.
You can still use this chance to show positive qualities in the spotlight. If you are part of a sports team, that shows you work well as a team member. If you regularly read to brush up on your field of work, that’s a good sign too. But remember not to lie. Even if all you have to say is baking, that’s still ok. Do steer clear of anything that is considered lazy or destructive behavior though.
Why should we choose you for the job?
This is trick question, and you don’t even realize it. Think about it from the interviewer’s perspective, they lined up a whole bunch of interviews, then ask this question in every one of them. So they are going to hear the same answers over and over again. What they are looking for is something different.
Now don’t get me wrong, they want to know why you’re the best, but they also want to hear what makes you stand out from the crowd. Reciting the exact qualities specified in the job listing is a boring and thoughtless answer. Talk about your other skills and qualities which can make you uniquely successful among every other person who applied.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This one comes up a lot. What the interviewer is looking for is that you have genuine and realistic ambitions. You don’t want to say something over top, because that makes you seem like your head is in the clouds. But at the same time you have to make sure that your goals sound like something worth achieving.
It’s important to note that even if it’s true you avoid talking about how much money you intend to make. This gives the impression that the only thing you care about is what you can get. And if you are trying to start your own business, you best keep that under wraps. You wouldn’t want to hire someone who is just going to quit in a few months, would you?
Why are you leaving your current position?
Don’t badmouth your company! Even if the only reason you are leaving is because your old boss is a pervert, don’t say that. It only serves to make you look difficult to work with. It also doesn’t show that you put value on professionalism.
Try to focus on the job they are offering. Talk about why you chose them as an employer, or what you think working with them would do to help you develop as an employee. These are much better answers.
Why do you want to work here?
This is the time where you show what how much you have researched the company. Talk about the company culture, the value that you want to help them give. You can talk about how this job lines up with your professional goals. Any of these are great suggestions.
But remember to keep you attention on what you can do for them, instead of what you can get. Whatever you do, don’t talk about the pay, even if it is quadruple what you’re currently making.
Do you prefer working by yourself or as part of a team?
This one is a bit tricky. They don’t want you to really say one or the other. The interviewer want to hear that you understand the value of both, and are comfortable working in either situation. However, you should still give a preference. If you don’t it comes off as indecisiveness.
What are your salary expectations?
First off, research what the company pays on Glassdoor.com. If they don’t have any information, then look at the rates for similar jobs in the area. A little research can give what you need to work with.
Once you have a general number, you want to set out a range you are comfortable with, but try to weight it with your experience level. If this is your first real career job, then you want to say something barely over the minimum of what others make. It gives you the chance to get a little more, without seeming unreasonable if they push you back. On the other hand if you are a seasoned vet then ask on the high end, they’ll probably negotiate a little lower. But employers try to do that anyway, so go high.
What motivates you?
There may be no right answers here, but there sure are wrong ones. Employers don’t want to hear that you are going to start your own business, or that you just want to keep the lights on. Keep things upbeat and optimistic, aim for a higher purpose in life, but be prepared to answer why that’s important to you.
There is one exception to this rule. Sales jobs are paid by commission, so if that’s what you are applying for then you can feel free to say that you are in it for the money. In that situation, they want you to be chomping at the bit, and ready to rake in the cash.
Tell me about an achievement you’re proud of.
Make sure you have an answer for this one. It’s a very popular question for employers, so put some thought into it, and be ready to answer it promptly. As to what they are looking for, they want to hear something work related, and furthermore something related to their field of work. It can be something from your personal life, but if it is it better still be focused the company’s values.
Keep in mind they only asked for one, so keep it to that, but do go into greater detail. Explain what happened, what the challenges were, how you rose to the occasion and conquered. And try to keep things on the light side. You want to come off as enthusiastic.
What do you know about this company?
This one takes more time than any other question, because you have to do it for every company that you apply for, even if they don’t ask the question. You want to show that you know what the company does, how it does it, what their values are, what the company culture is like, how the company is performing in compared to their competition, and where the company came from.
If you can’t answer this question, then it only shows that you aren’t really interested in the job. So make sure you get this one right.
Tell me about a challenging situation and how did you overcome it?
Interviewers are looking to see that you can handle yourself under pressure. Make sure the answer is work related, emphasize what you did to fix the problem.
You also have the opportunity to spin this to show that you are a team-player or leader, depending on how you solved the issue. It’s also good to showcase your integrity here, so make sure that you don’t bash your old coworkers when explaining how the problem came up.
What experience can you bring to this job from your old one?
This question aims to bring out how your previous work experience will be a benefit to the new position. It can be either easy or hard depending on circumstances. If for example, you are applying to a similar job, then it’s pretty simple and straightforward. However, if you are switching career tracks this can be tricky. Add what experience you have that you really do think would help the company out, but don’t try to force it. Welding skills won’t help you as a banker. If it doesn’t help, then it doesn’t help.
But that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Plenty of skills transfer over, talk about teamwork, crushing deadlines, or customer service, all of these thing are useful.
What would your coworkers say are your best qualities?
You have to be careful here. If you exaggerate it will come off as unbelievable and arrogant, but if it isn’t a clear answer then you run the risk of seeming like you never bothered to talk to them. Which is bad news, because they want someone who will integrate with their team.
If you can, then the best preparation is to actually ask your coworkers this question before the interview. If you know what they actually said, then it takes all the guess-work out. Make a point to back up each one with real examples of your work.
Now if you don’t feel comfortable talking with your old group, then you’ll want to think about anything they said regarding your work in the past. If they ever praised you or complimented your strategies work those together to get a believable answer.
What do you consider to be your biggest failure?
Don’t be a downer here. They really aren’t looking at what crushed your hopes and dreams, they want to know about a mistake that you made, but more importantly, how you grew in the aftermath to make sure that it would never happen again.
Make sure to be positive about the experience, and paint it as a learning tool that helped you get where you are today. You also want to make sure that you come off as accountable, so don’t throw the blame. This “Your” biggest failure after all.
What makes a good manager?
This is a complicated question. The answer heavily depends on what position you are seeking. If it’s a management position you need to exemplify what you would do as a leader to effectively manage your team. If it’s not, then you want your answers to appeal to what the hiring manager desires in an employee.
Either way, a few good things you can say are managers who value time, give constructive feedback, provide support for their team, and help employees to progress in their careers.
How do you deal with pressure at work?
You want to show how you exactly what steps you take to keep things together when the heat is on. If you tune out distractions and lock down on a task, then let them know. This is a good opportunity to give an example of a difficult situation and what you did to resolve it.
Take time to really think this one through before it catches you in an interview. If you don’t have an answer they may think that you crack under pressure, which isn’t an admirable trait in an employee.
What is this gap in your work history?
If you have a gap in your work history, then be ready because it’s coming up. Nobody wants to hire someone who is lazy, and doing nothing for a while is an indicator of that. So this questions is more of an inevitability if you meet the conditions.
The key here is to paint the reason why in a positive light. Don’t make it seem like it was you darkest days, even if they were. Try to use the experience you got over the gap as a means of stating how it helped your personal growth. If you can do that, you can make it look like an asset.
The most important thing to remember here though, is not to lie. If you really did have a gap in your work experience, lying about it can be easily brought to light. Many employers actually do contact your references, which means they will most likely find the truth quickly. And even if you do get the job, they may fire you for being dishonest should it come to that down the road.
Here are some tips to do better for the rest of the interview:
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into getting ready for an interview. But if you put in the time and effort to really prepare yourself these 20 most asked interview questions, then you’ll you just might find yourself with a great new job.