Interview 101: 15 Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them (2024)

Posted: January, 15, 2020 | Categories: Interview 101 for Job Seekers

So, you applied for a job and finally got the call you had been waiting for; they love your resume and want you to come in for a job interview. Don’t be nervous, you have already made it past the hardest step in the hiring process! According to Glassdoor, only the top 2% of applicants even make it to the interview step. So congratulations! Now what?

You have an idea of what is going to happen but are unsure what interview questions will be asked & what will be expected of you. In a job interview, employers will look for your preparation, understanding, and ability to appropriately respond to a variety of questions. To help you prepare, we have collected 15 common interview questions and are going to give you the tools to answer them effectively.

1. Why do you want to work here?

Employers want to hire people who are not only passionate about the job, but also the company. The best way to come in prepared for this interview question is by doing some research before the job interview. Never respond to this with, “Because I want a job”. Identify what you admire about the company, their message, their culture, etc. and use that to help you decide why you want to work there. The hiring manager will not only be impressed by your preparation and research capability, but will also learn more about how your personality and goals align with the company’s.

Example Answer- “I really admire this company’s dedication to giving back to the community. I noticed on your website how involved your employees are and have always love philanthropy, so I think a non-profit with this much passion is a great fit for me.”

2. Why should we hire you?

When an interviewer asks you this interview question, they’re looking for you to convince them why they should hire you. When you answer this question, avoid comparing yourself to others and focus on selling yourself and your skills. Prepare by writing down a list of admirable skills and experience that you think make you a great hire, then choose your favorite and think of an example when this skill or experience often comes into play in your professional life. Drive it home by tying in your passion and excitement for the company or role.

Example Answer- “You should hire me because I make the company’s success a priority and always follow through. I am always willing to work on a project outside of my usual workload for the good of the company and have a proven record of completing both my normal workload and the additional project within a timely manner. I truly admire this company’s initiatives and would love the opportunity to contribute.”

3. What are your greatest strengths?

The interviewer will be looking for a precise answer about your strengths. Don’t just list some strengths you think the employer wants to hear. Instead, be specific about what you bring to the table and how it applies to the job. Then, provide an example if possible.

Example Answer- “I have always been great with communication and have found that clearly communicating projects or feedback is essential in a management role. My employees have always expressed their appreciation for my thorough instructions as well as the feedback I provide to help them grow.”

4. What are your greatest weaknesses?

When an employer asks you what your weaknesses are, they’re looking to assess your self-awareness and honesty. They will also be looking to identify any red flags that might help them determine whether you are fit for the job. To prepare for this interview question, identify a weakness of yours that does not directly affect your ability to complete the job, but exhibits that you can identify areas you lack. Give an example on how you are working to improve that weakness or surpass it.

Example Answer- “I sometimes have difficulty juggling multiple tasks, but I have found ways to keep myself organized. I keep a very detailed calendar that helps me prioritize tasks and stay on track.”

5. Tell me about a challenge or conflict you’ve faced at work and how you dealt with it.

This is what is considered a behavioral interview question. When an interviewer asks this question, they are looking for evidence or an idea as to how you deal with issues that might arise in the workplace. To prepare for this, you want to pick a conflict-resolution story from your recent past where your talents came into play and the problem was resolved.

Example Answer- While I was with my last company, I had a supervisor who was constantly in my face and always watching everything I did. I really didn’t understand why they didn’t trust me to complete my tasks as I had never fallen through on a project or a promise before. So I pulled them aside and spoke to them about the issue. My supervisor told me they were harder on me because they didn’t always know what I was working on or when I submitted the final document. Once I had an understanding of the issue, we were able to identify our gaps in communication and I began putting together weekly reports for them so they could see all the projects that were getting completed & we never had an issue again.”

6. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Employers are not just looking for someone to fill a position, they want someone with ambition whose goals align with the job which is why this interview question is typically asked. Think about the position you are applying for before the job interview and determine how it aligns with your own goals. If you don’t know what your goals are, take a minute and think about where you want to be in 5 years then walk through how this job can help you get there.

Example Answer- “In five years, I would like to have grown my stature in the sales department so that I am in a leadership role. I always felt that my strong leadership skills would bring me to manage a distinct team of individuals and this position will set me on that path.”

7. What are you looking for in a new position?

This question is the perfect opportunity for you to explain to the employer what you want out of the job. They are looking for a candidate who not only understands what the job entails, but also can see how the job will benefit them. Figure out what skills you want to learn or sharpen and how the position will help you with your long term goals. Then, talk about how the company and the position can help you reach those goals.

Example Answer- “I have been honing my communication skills for a few years now and I am looking for a position that will challenge those skills. I am excited to cold call potential clients and set goals for myself in this position to increase my efficiency. Being at a company where I can grow while working toward something that I care about is also important to me and the company’s goal to help small businesses reach new audiences is something that I am really enthusiastic about.”

8. What is a time you disagreed with a decision that was made at work and how did you handle it?

While the interviewer will know and understand that everyone can disagree with the boss, they want to know that you can do so in a productive and professional way that aligns with the company’s communication style. For this interview question, you want to think about a time when you disagreed with your boss but were able to come to a solution. Avoid stories about unresolved issues or times when you were forced to admit you were wrong.

Example Answer- In my last position, my boss asked me to deny assistance for a difficult client. I disagreed with this solution because I felt the client had completely reasonable concerns with the way we handled their account, so I came up with a solution for the client and brought it to my boss. I promised that if my solution did not solve the client’s problem, I would deny further assistance. My boss accepted and I was able to help the client.”

9. How would your peers describe you?

The important thing to remember when answering this interview question is to be honest. The employer wants to learn more about the skills and behaviors that might not have been discussed in other parts of the job interview. To prepare for this question, ask your current or past employer, colleagues, and friends how they would describe you and try to pinpoint a common trait about yourself that your peers admire.

Example Answer- “I have been told by many colleagues in the past that I am very kind and honest. People tend to come to me for advice on how to handle problematic situations. I think people come to me because I can tell them the hard truth about a situation in a considerate and productive way.”

10. How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?

Everyone has to deal with stressful situations, but the important thing is that you do not let them take you down. Employers ask this interview question to see if you can meet stressful situations head-on. Think about stress-reduction tactics that you use when you are in a high pressure situation. What things do you do or say that help you calm your nerves and get through the problem in a timely manner? Share an example of a stressful situation you were in and how you were able to overcome it.

Example Answer- “Last holiday season, our company’s power went out during one of our biggest sales. Since our company is in e-commerce, having electricity and access to a working computer is crucial. To calm myself and get through the situation, I took a pen and paper and made a to-do list of all the things I needed to do as soon as the power came back. I set the list aside, knowing there was nothing I could do for it yet, then made a list of all the things I could do without the power on and started to work on those. Making a list helped me work through the problem without panicking.”

11. What do you consider to be your biggest professional achievement?

What better way to prove to the hiring manager why they should hire you than to talk about actual results you’ve obtained in the past? For this interview question, you want to tell a story about what you consider to be your best professional achievement. Make a list of your achievements and think about which one had the most positive impact on the company you were with. Then, give a short and precise answer.

Example Answer- “My proudest moment was when I set the highest sales record my company had ever seen. In one month, I sold more units per hour than the company’s top sales representatives and increased overall sales in my region by 20%.”

12. What kind of work environment are you looking for in your next company?

For this interview question, be honest and thorough about the environment and work culture you are looking for. This question is as much for you as it is for the interviewer. Do you prefer and high-stakes & fast-paced work environment or do you prefer a steady, calm environment? Let the interviewer know. You don’t want to end up at a company that does not have a culture that allows for your highest level of productivity and satisfaction.

Example Answer- “I have been working for a startup for the last few years and come to realize that I am not cut out for the high-pressure work hard/play hard environment. In my next company, I am looking for a steady work flow and quiet environment of a well-established company such as yours.”

13. What is your leadership style?

Effective leadership is important to any organization, so employers are going to want to see what kind of leader you would be if put in a leadership role, now or down the road. Strong leaders can have a variety of characteristics from strong communication, positivity, active listening, reliability etc. So think about your best skills and how those can be put into use in a leadership role. If you have already been in a position of leadership, use an example of how you were able to successfully lead a team to answer this interview question.

Example Answer- “While I have not been in an official position of leadership, my effective feedback has made me a reliable source of advice for many of my colleagues in the past. If placed in a leadership position, I would continue to communicate effectively and provide reliable advice for my team.”

14. What can we expect from you in your first three months?

Employers are not going to expect you to have a completely detailed plan of everything you want to do your first three months. However, when they are asking this interview question, they are looking to find out how prepared you are for the position. Think about what information you need and what parts of the company you have to familiarize yourself with. Then, talk about a few areas you could make substantial improvements.

Example Answer- “I would love to sit down with the head of each department and find out what systems or products need to be updated and start working on a purchasing budget for Q3 that will help every department get only the most essential items necessary to improve their efficiency.”

15. Do you have any questions?

So, you’ve been through the whole interview. The hiring manager has asked you every difficult job interview question in the book and they have given you the floor. This is going to be your moment to really find out whether this position and the company is the right fit for you. Take the time to ask any questions that came up during the interview as well as questions about the company or the position that might affect you. The following are some example questions to ask in an interview.

Questions to ask the Interviewer-

  • Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?
  • What is your favorite part about working for this company?
  • What can you tell me about your plans for my position going into the future?”
  • What are the next steps in the interview process?

Interview questions can be intimidating. However, if you know what kind of questions your interviewer might ask and have done your research, your interview should be a breeze. When you provide your answers, think about how your answer will show the hiring manager why you are the perfect fit for the position and always give detailed and precise answers. Have an idea of what you expect out of the position and the company and do not be afraid to express your aspirations.

Interview 101: 15 Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them (1)

By JWilliams Staffing

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Interview 101: 15 Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them (2024)
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