Preparing for a job interview can be nerve-wracking. It’s important to know what questions typically come up during a job interview so you can set your mind at ease. Since most interviewers ask similar questions, you will be expected to answer these typical questions without hesitation and relatively easily.
You should take the time to prepare answers for common interview questions. Sit down and write the answers to these questions. Practice answering the question out loud to see if it makes sense. You do not need to memorize your answers to interview questions, though preparation will boost your confidence and help to stand out from the crowd. I’d suggest taking these notes with you to your interview. Whether they are bullet points or full answers, a little guidance can turn an awkward hesitation into an all-star response.
Top Job Interview Questions
The following questions are some of the most common questions asked during job interviews. Expect to answer one or more of these questions during each interview. Read the sample responses to help you start formulating your own answer to these ten common interview questions.
What is your greatest strength?
Interviewers ask this question to see if your strengths align with the job description and needs of the company. The best response will describe your skills and experiences that align with the job you are applying for. Prepare for this question by first comparing your skills to those listed in the job description. Then select the strongest skills and be prepared with an example of how you have applied each strength in the past. Doing this will show the interviewer that you know your strengths, are realistic about them, and that they are relevant to the job.
As a content marketer, my greatest strength is being versatile. With so many ways to share today, it is important to create content across various channels. That’s why I have learned the skills to create content for websites, video, audio, advertising, and more. Being versatile means I am skilled in many tools and can learn new tools quickly.
This is a common question asked by warehouse hiring managers. Search available warehouse jobs after you finish reviewing our common interview questions and answers.
What is your biggest weakness?
While this question asks about weakness, it is important to frame your response around positive aspects of your skills. Essentially, the employer wants to know if you are self-aware about your shortcomings and that they will not impact your performance. One way to answer this question is by discussing a weakness you have overcome or a skill you have improved. Another option is to highlight a skill that is not essential for the job.
In the past, I would tend to place all my focus on one thing and work on a project until completion. I enjoyed checking big items off my list. This can be helpful when I need to finish a specific project, but it can sidetrack other projects. I’ve learned to make schedules with smaller tasks and share progress across multiple projects. I have found working this way helps me be more creative and effective since it gives me breaks to step away and assess each project more often.
Tell me about yourself.
Often one of the first things you’ll be asked, the “Tell me about yourself” question is asked to get a feel for your personality. The interviewer wants to get to know you beyond your career pursuits and professional life. One approach for answering is sharing personal interests or hobbies from outside of work. Try constructing your response with where you are now, how you got there, and then touch how you envision your future. A great response will tie the position you are applying for to your goals.
For the last 3 years I have been a software developer for XYZ company. I began as a front end designer and worked my way into a full stack role. In my free time I volunteer at hackathons. It is rewarding to share my knowledge with the next generation of software developers. I use my mentorship skills to assist my team to work calmly and efficiently through problems and would continue to do so in a project management role with ABC Company.
What are your long term career goals?
This question is asked to find out if you plan to stay at the company or move on as soon as the next opportunity comes along. Your answer should restate how the position aligns with how you envision your future. Keep your answer centered on the position and the company.
In the short term, I aim to develop my marketing and communications skills in a role like this one. I know being a marketing manager will take time, but I want to develop into a position that lets me use my leadership and management skills to lead a marketing team. Being an effective communicator and a marketing “jack of all trades” means I can manage leadership roles on team projects, ultimately preparing me for a leadership position.
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Why do you want to work here?
You should prepare to answer this question in almost every interview. Avoid focusing on all the good things you will get from the job. Instead, show the interviewer what you know about the company. Research the company to get an understanding for their products and services as well as the culture and values. Tie your research into what makes you right for this role while mentioning what appeals to you about the company and position.
From what I have heard and read, this is a quickly growing company. You release products often, but keep a tight focus on customer satisfaction. I would enjoy putting my experience in product development and my determination to meet stakeholder needs to work for a fast growth company.
Why should we hire you?
With this question, you want to show the interviewer that you are the best candidate for the job. Do you have all the required qualifications? Employees are hired to solve a specific problem. You must convince the hiring manager that you are the best person to solve the problem. Think of your response as a sales pitch. It should be concise and focused on what you have to offer and why you should get the job.
You should hire me because my 4 years of experience in catering and 3 years of event planning make me the perfect candidate to be the event manager for your 3 venues. I have worked my way through the same roles of the people I will be managing, yet have the professional experience to provide upscale clients with world-class service. My skills and those listed on the job description are nearly perfectly aligned.
Many warehouse jobs are hiring entry level workers without a resume and without prior experience. Some warehouse jobs have a starting salary of over $19.00 / hour.
Why are you looking for a new job?
This question can get sticky if you did not prepare for it. The interviewer is trying to understand why you are looking for a new position. You’ll want to explain why this company specifically interests you, while being careful not to speak negatively about your current or former employer. Do not focus on the past. Instead, use your answer as an opportunity to discuss why this job is the perfect position for you. A good answer makes the interviewer confident that the new role and your professional goals align. Of course, if there is a simple answer such as moving locations for a family member or corporate restructuring eliminating your position, then just tell them so.
I'm looking for a bigger challenge and to grow my career. I have enjoyed my time at ABC Company, but am interested in expanding my career to the XYZ industry. Listening to podcasts about XYZ industry made me realize it is time to take the next step. I think I would benefit from your manager training programs. Though with my current management skills, I can certainly hit the ground running as a project lead for your company.
What are your salary expectations?
This question gets right to the point. The interviewer simply wants to know how much you expect to earn in the role. You don’t want to oversell or undersell yourself. Overselling could eliminate you from the running. Underselling yourself could lead to a low-ball offer. Answer this question with a range and stay open to negotiation. Stay away from talking about your previous salary. The employer does not need to know that information. If they do ask, you can tell them you will accept an offer within the fair market value for that role in that city. Use a reliable salary calculator like Glassdoor.com.
My salary expectations are flexible. I’d first like to learn more about the specific duties of this position. Based on reliable salary calculators like Salary.com, I understand salaries ranged from $A to $B in this region for positions similar to this one. With my experience, skills, and certifications, I would expect to receive something in the range of $C to $D.
How do you handle stress and pressure?
Work is stressful for everyone at one time or another. When you are asked, “How do you handle pressure?” in an interview, be ready to give a thoughtful answer. You do not want to tell the interviewer that you never get stressed. Rather, show you understand how pressure affects you and describe how you manage it. For some, stress can be a motivator, but for others it negatively impacts performance. Make sure your answer does not raise any red flags. For example, you would not want to say client meetings stress you out if the job requires them frequently.
I think being aware of difficult situations and how they impact other people is very important. When stress arises at work, I often take on the role of the motivator. A positive, yet candid attitude is a powerful tool that I put to work helping others respond to stress positively. I’ve found that positivity can have a snowball effect, and get everyone working toward a common goal.
Describe a difficult situation or project you have encountered and how you overcame it.
While similar to the question about your response to stress, this question aims to learn about your response to tough decisions. It is meant to be a predictor of what you’ll do in the future based on how you behaved in the past. The employer might also be looking for what type of decisions you consider difficult. Your answer should show that you have a level head and put thought behind your decisions. Be prepared to provide an example.
A difficult decision I often make as a sales manager is deciding whole to promote when there are multiple strong team members. I always think carefully about what is best for the business and my employees. I have promoted a younger employee because of their technological skills and opportunity for growth. Someone with a weaker sales record was promoted because they were great at managing. Ultimately, an objective look at building a solid team is required and I do not let emotions get in the way of these decisions.
Job Interview Preparation Tips and Todo’s
Interview preparation is crucial to landing a new job opportunity. The more you research the company and practice your interview responses, the more likely you will ace your interview. Being comfortable speaking about the company and its brand will show during your interview.
Research the company. Before your interview and even as you are applying for the job, try to learn as much as you can about the company, its mission, and position. Use resources like LinkedIn, the company career page, and social media to find information and news about the company. Use your research when formulating your answers to questions like “Why do you want to work here?” or “Why should I hire you?”
Use your connections. Tap into any connections you have to the company. Current employees that you know are best, but even if you graduated from the same school, you might be able to lean on that connection. A university career center is a great resource, but you can also quickly make a connection on LinkedIn to learn about the role. Try to get insight to the interview process, or if you have a close connection, ask for a referral!
Align your skills to the job description. Take out a piece of paper or open up your favorite text editor. Copy and paste the skills and responsibilities from the job description. Now take the time to align your skills, experience, and education to the list. This will help you when answering almost any behavioral interview question. Bonus points for having an example of a time you used each skill.
Practice behavioral interview questions with the C.A.R.L. technique. A lot of the common interview questions are or lead into behavioral interview questions. These questions aim to find out how you respond to different scenarios. The best way to answer them is with the C.A.R.L. technique. The C.A.R. technique is executed by providing Context (where you were and what your role was), Action (what did you do), and Result (what was the outcome). Then, for questions with a potentially negative connotation, add in L for Learning. Explain how you grew and learned from the experience described.
Write down responses, practice out loud. If it is not yet clear, practicing your answers to common interview questions is your key to success. It is highly suggested to write down notes for each of the questions listed above and then to practice saying them out loud with a friend or family member. You’ll notice patterns in your answers and hone in on your best responses. Your answers will be short and sweet, but powerful.
Use examples. Showing the interviewer how you have used a skill in the past is far more valuable than just saying it. If you can draw on an anecdote from your professional experience, they’ll have more confidence in your ability.
Prepare questions for the interviewer. Before going into an interview, you should have a set of questions you want to find out about. Some will naturally be answered during the interview. At the end of the interview you should have questions for the interviewer. If you don’t, they may think you are not that interested in the position. It can be good to think of some questions from the interview that you want to highlight before walking out the door.
Know what the interviewer should not ask. Some interviewers will cross boundaries that they should not. Be sure you are prepared to respond appropriately to questions about age, race, and religion among others. Federal and state laws prohibit employers from asking certain questions that are not related to the job they are hiring for.You can simply say you would prefer not to discuss that topic and that your response will not impact the work you perform.
How to Make a Good Impression
Making a solid first impression is extremely important in the interview process. It is human nature to start judging right away. Hiring managers are no exception. They will often know within a few minutes if you are a good candidate.
Give a firm handshake. You might not think this matters, but a weak handshake or a handshake that is much too firm is a huge turnoff. Start your first in person impression off with a smile and firm handshake.
Dress to impress. Right off the bat, the interviewer is assessing your outfit. For almost any interview, it is suggested to wear a suit or equivalent for women. You can learn about the rules for business formal dress online. A good rule of thumb is to try dressing a little nicer than you expect the interviewer to dress. Better yet, do not hesitate to ask the person who scheduled your interview.
Arrive early. Always plan to show up to your interview about 10 minutes early. This will give you some time in case it is hard to find parking or navigate the office building. You’ll also get some time to relax your nerves. You do not want to keep an interviewer waiting or your chances of getting the job go way down.
Positivity is contagious. Finally, keep a positive attitude from start to finish. When asked a tough question, try forming your response about a positive outcome or your motivation for new opportunities. Focus on maintaining eye contact and using your interviewer’s name when speaking to them. Do not speak negatively about your past employer. Hiring managers will take that as a sign that you lack professionalism and might do the same to this company in the future.
Follow up effectively. After your interview, the best way to leave a lasting impression is with a thank you note to each of the interviewers. Get advice on writing a thank you note online. Additionally, make a great first impression by responding to communication from the company quickly and concisely. Remember that every interaction - both digitally and in-person - is an opportunity to shine through the crowd.