Job interview questions are easily the hardest part of job hunting. Since the time of Leonardo da Vinci, people have needed a resume and to interview for work. That doesn’t mean job interviews get any easier! Here we break down the most common job interview questions and how to answer them.
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS TO BREAK THE ICE
While you may be nervous, the hiring manager is also looking to ease into the interview. Here are some of the most common opening interview questions:
Tell Me About Yourself
Your interviewer will usually ask you a question about yourself to break the ice. Start by giving them an quick overview of what you currently do, and then provide the highlights or biggest successes from that experience. Keep it professional and short. For a more in-depth breakdown, we have an easy 3 step method for explaining yourself quickly.
Walk Me Through Your Resume
While it’s not quite a question, it is the common alternative to “tell me about yourself”. Used early in the conversation, it’s a way for hiring managers to see if you’re a good fit. To prove that you are, be sure to mention your qualifications, last position, your transferable skills, and recent successes. Check out our more in-depth dive into this question: Best Way to Answer “Walk Me Through Your Resume”
What Do You Know About Our Company?
Even if you’re a longtime fan of the company or even a customer, you need to do some research before your interview. That includes the company’s values or mission statement, any new product launches or accomplishments, and their social media. It’s important that you answer this questions with the clarity of someone who really does want this position. Answering this question without that research can make it sound like you’re not interested – or enthusiastic – about this new position. That’s the exact opposite of what you want to do! We also have examples of a good answer here:
Why Do You Want To Work Here?
Interviewers ask you this question to see if you’ve done your research on the company and the position. You can answer with the qualities you possess that make you a great fit, or brainstorm what about the role is a great fit for your experience and personality, or what part of the company culture really makes you want to be a part of the team.
For instance, if the company is known for contributing or helping reduce college debt, that could be something that a recent graduate would probably have an opinion. If you admire how the company sources it’s product or the differences the company has made socially in the area, this would be the time to show your passion for the same cause that the company culture encourages.
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR OPINION
What Is Your Greatest Strength?
This is a great chance to talk about your technical skills and your soft skills! The easiest way to do that is to start with your soft skills and then tie that back to the role you’re applying for. Pick a real strength you have, and try to use numbers to show how you changed work for the better.
An example: “I’d say that I communicate well under pressure. When I was asked to cover the incoming phone calls, I was able to cover them 100% of the time and also decrease the number of incoming wrong numbers by 25%, leading to more time for more time face-to-face with incoming customers.”
Read more here: Answer the Interview Question “What Is Your Greatest Strength?”
What is Your Greatest Weakness?
“I work too hard!” isn’t genuine and isn’t going to get you the job. It’s understandable that people want to give the best impression in a job interview, but this comes across as incredibly fake. Instead of just listing all your faults, spin it into a great story about you overcoming a weakness. If you were always late to work, explain how you then took it upon yourself to set multiple alarms so now you’re the first one in the door. If you accepted every single work project given to you and you became overwhelmed with work, discuss how you then learned to use the work management tools to set better expectations for your progress. It’s not about being fake or complaining; this is about you rising from the ashes as a success story.
How Would You Describe Yourself?
The hiring manager is really asking is “do you have the qualities and characteristics we’re looking for in this role?”, so your answer needs to include those characteristics in a professional manner. For instance: “I would say that as a forklift night shift manager, I’m vigilant about meeting production goals without compromising the safety of the crew. I like to be thorough and documenting all incidents during shifts, so the daytime crew can quickly and easily see what has been happening. My team received a 99% safety rating against the company’s total, which has been at 95% for the past four years.”
Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years?
This question is not really about you predicting the future, even though it feels like it. The hiring manager is trying to figure out what your long term goals are and if you’d be a good long-term fit for the company. Do you want what they can offer you? Not every career has a clear-cut career path, with some of them just being mastering the vocation. If you’re following a clear cut career path, then you need to tell them. If you’re not sure what you want to do in the next five years, it’s important that you let them know that you’re still interested in the industry and that you aren’t leaving anytime soon.
How Do You Deal With Stressful Situations?
Don’t pretend you don’t get stressed out! Everyone does, and you’ll get farther if you admit that you’re not immune. The key point in answering this question is not only admitting that you get stressed out, but then you have a way of coping that involves communicating with other people! Sometimes people don’t communicate with the rest of the team, and that’s a problem when they get burned out. Avoid that by letting the hiring manager know that you do talk to people when you’re stressed out. After all, you’re not the only one involved!
Read more here: “How Do You Deal With Stressful Situations?”
How Do You Prioritize Your Time?
The key points to hit with this question is priorities, adaptability, and work-life balance. The hiring manager doesn’t want to hire you and then find you burned out and quitting. If you can express how you list your priorities, how you’ve been able to pivot to a new project in the past, and how you keep that work-life balance going, you’ll ace this question.
Read more here: “How Do You Prioritize Your Time?”
What Kind of Work Environment Do You Prefer?
While social media can reveal a lot about a company, it won’t always show you what kind of work environment you’ll be in. This can be crucial information, so be sure to find out early on in the interviewing process. If you’re an introvert and it’s an open office, you may find yourself dying for some quiet time. Don’t be tempted to avoid red flags just because you need a job, because that will only be a problem later down the road. Clearly communicating what you need in order to work can make a world of difference, and you’d be amazed how accommodating some workplaces can be.
How Would You Feel About Reporting To a Person Younger Than You?
Careers don’t have a straight line anymore, so this question has started coming up more often. If you’ve ever changed careers or taken time off before returning, be prepared. This question implies that they hire based on merit, which is crucial for employees. Addressing how different generations can each bring something to the table and therefore reach more customers can have you acing this question.
Why Should We Hire You?
Two steps are crucial here to answering this one correctly: 1) Identify the source of their pain, either why the position is necessary and 2) how you can solve it. You can use the job description to choose which pain point, and then use a story from your past experiences to show how you have solved something similar. We break down what that looks like and how to make it sound natural here:
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR WORK
Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job?
Potential employers can learn a lot about you with this one question, so it’s important to have your answer ready. We advise that you make sure to prepare a thoughtful answer that doesn’t say anything negative about your current employer. Particularly in smaller industries, it’s difficult to get back in if you burn any bridges. Instead, focus on what a new position could do for you in the future, such as teach you new things, expand your role, and use your ambition for the good of the team.
Why Were You Let Go?
If you’ve ever been fired or let go from a position, you know that it feels horrible. Explaining what happened while in a job interview doesn’t make it feel any better. The key points here are to take responsibility for any part you played in that, keep it brief, and don’t blame the employer (even if you could). Any bashing, blaming, or complaining about your last employer comes across as a red flag to your potential employer. It implies that you will cause a problem with this new employer, be let go, and talk about them the same way.
Read more about how to explain what happened here: “Why Were You Let Go?”
Why Is There a Gap in Your Resume?
Whether it was due to the coronavirus, or taking care of family members, or whatever it was that you did, it’s important to address a gap on your resume. Even if you write on your resume what you were doing, it will still likely come up in the interview. Be honest and explain briefly what you’ve been up to.
BEHAVIORAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
This type of question is asking you for exact examples of your past work. The purpose is to objectively measure past behavior as a predictor of future results.
Tell Me About a Time You Disagreed With Your Boss
This one can feel like a trap, because no one wants to discuss confrontation in a job interview. The crucial part is that you tell about a time that you had an issue but also resolved it. When giving your answer, use a real situation, explain what your responsibility was, what the issue was, and how you resolved it. We break down how to keep your answer professional and how to show your problem solving skills.
Tell Me About a Time You Failed
This question gives you an opportunity to show off your soft skills and self awareness. Use a real failure, explain what happened quickly, take responsibility for your part in the failure, and show what you learned.
Sell Me This Pen
This question is designed for you to show off your sales skills in real time. Don’t describe the pen! First find the “customer’s” pain points, what they’re in the market for, and how you can solve their problem. We break it down into manageable steps here:
INTERVIEW QUESTION TO WRAP UP
Do You Have Any Questions For Us?
YES! You always have questions! Of course you do, so be sure to ask when you get a chance! From “what does a typical day look like?” to “what are the performance expectations?” or “what are common career paths at this company?”, there are lots of options of what to ask! Check out our very long list of options and see which one is your top priority:
By now, you should feel pretty good about your answers to any interview questions! Be sure to research the company ahead of time, dress appropriately, and show up a little bit early. After you’ve shown how well prepared you are and answered any interview questions clearly, be sure to also send a thank you email: How to Write a Thank You Email After the Interview (With Templates)
If you’re looking for work, check out our latest job openings here.