4 Common Job Interview Questions You Should Be Ready to Answer

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If we break it down, job interviews are simply professional meetings where an employer gets to know a group of candidates through a series of behavioral, personal, and technical questions designed to determine who’s the best match for the position that needs filling. Through the content of the candidates’ answers and their attitude, body language, and overall presentation, the hiring manager makes a quick judgment of whether these hopefuls are a good fit for the company. A job interview is also the candidate’s chance to assess their compatibility and get an idea of the workplace culture, but let’s be real here: You, as the candidate, will be the one answering most of the questions. 

Even if you have thought of some questions to ask the interviewer—and you definitely should since that demonstrates interest, engagement, and enthusiasm—you’re the one in the hot seat, the one with something to prove, which is why you should have a few answers prepared. That way, even if you’re not asked the exact same questions you rehearsed, you’ll already have a clear idea of what you want to say about yourself and how you want to express it. 

Naturally, you can’t know exactly what questions you’ll be fielding in your interview, but rehearsing your answers in advance is still incredibly valuable. Most job interviews will feature the same general sort of questions, so if you learn to recognize what a given one is asking, you’ll be able to modify your prepared answers to fit the context. You don’t want to rehearse to the point where you sound as if you’re reading from a script, but knowing what you want to say will allow you to navigate the interview with far greater ease. 

You need confidence to ace your job interview, and preparation is key to feeling confident. You’ll radiate self-assurance throughout the meeting, answering questions professionally and eloquently. That will work in your favor since employers are drawn to candidates who exhibit confidence in themselves and their abilities. 

When you know your material (in this case, yourself, your job history, and the employer), you’ll have no problem answering the interviewer’s questions honestly, thoughtfully, and unhesitatingly. You might think you obviously know yourself and your job history, but can you quickly come up with succinct and persuasive answers when grilled by a potential employer? The last thing you want is to be scrambling for answers or drawing a blank, so make sure you’re well-prepared so you can improve your chances of getting the job.

To practice your interview skills with a professional, set up a mock interview with a member of our team, who will give you constructive feedback and help you build up your confidence. We’ll walk you through a simulated interview as similar to the real thing as possible, and our actionable tips will help you bring your A-game on the big day.

So, what common questions should you be prepared to answer at your upcoming job interview?

1. Why are you looking for a job? 

Whether this is your first job, you’re rejoining the workforce after a hiatus, you’re between jobs, or you’re looking for a change, this is one of the first things interviewers want to know. Since you can expect to field some form of this question, it’s a good idea to rehearse your answer so it flows naturally and paints you in the best light. You can try different versions of your answer, asking friends or mock job interview experts for their input.

It’s imperative to be honest, especially about your professional and academic history, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to come up with answers spontaneously during the interview. Also, being honest doesn’t mean you have to share every single feeling you have about your previous jobs and this new opportunity. Companies want to hire people who are passionate about the job and their mission, so even if the salary or benefits are what prompted you to apply, figure out the deeper reasons why you might want the job and tap into those when you answer.

On a similar note, in case you’re switching jobs because you can’t stand your current boss, don’t lambaste your employers. A candidate who badmouths their current company or boss is a major red flag for hiring managers since they know that ire could easily be weaponized against them one day. Instead, focus on the positives when you answer. For example, you can say you’re searching for new challenges, wishing to take your career in a different direction, or looking for a change in your life. Whatever reason you settle on, give it some thought. 

2. Why do you want to work here?

The purpose of this question is to gauge your level of interest, engagement, and passion. In some ways, employers care even more about your enthusiasm than your qualifications since passionate employees are likely to work harder and remain more loyal. 

You want to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the company’s services or products, so try to connect your answer to its business and how you can be an asset to this organization. To do so, it’s crucial to conduct some research into the company. Answering this question requires learning the basics about the employer, not just by checking out the corporate website and social media profiles but also by reading up on any recent news about the company, which also shows you’re proactive and curious. If you’re knowledgeable about the organization, the interviewer will see that you’re interested and enthusiastic, as well as willing to go the extra mile.

Also, don’t mention the salary, benefits, location, or any other superficial reason for wanting to join this particular company. Instead, think of a more personal reason why you’re keen to work for it, showing that you’ve really put thought into this decision. It could be your love for the field, your passion for the company’s mission, or a connection with its culture and energy—whatever it is, make sure it’s meaningful.

3. Can you take us through your job history? 

You’ll most probably be asked to walk the interviewer through your professional background, which is the perfect chance to impress them with a quick statement about what sparked your interest in your field or how you got to where you are today—basically, it’s another opportunity to prove you’re their ideal candidate. Effectively, all questions in a job interview offer this opportunity, but this one gives you great freedom to shape the answer however you want.

To prepare for it, make sure you’ve reviewed your resume and can confidently talk about your previous jobs, reasons for leaving, and biggest achievements. You should already know the basics of your resume, of course, but it’s worth it to memorize its contents so you can present your answer without hesitation. 

Keep in mind that most of the questions you’ll be asked about your job history are intended to help the interviewer predict your future behavior as an employee, which is why it’s important to practice how you’ll phrase your answers. The same information can sound completely different depending on how it’s framed, worded, and delivered, so work on presenting a quick, concise story about your career that’s no more than a couple of minutes long, and focus on making a good impression. 

Use your knowledge of the company and what it’s looking for to determine which details to include. Practice your answer a few times until the narrative is clear in your head so you don’t start rambling. Not only is rambling a sign of nerves and poor communication skills, but it could also lead you to accidentally overshare, which could prove fatal in a job interview.

4. What are your greatest professional accomplishments?

You’ll likely be asked about your strengths and weaknesses, where you see yourself in five years, and what your work/life balance expectations are, but a key question you should prepare for is the one about your greatest professional accomplishments. For the interviewer, this information is more valuable than information about your strengths or weaknesses because it’s more objective—it draws on your actual performance in the workplace rather than your opinion of your skills and abilities.

It’s important to mention concrete examples—projects, problems, or situations—that highlight your skills, experience, and character. Offer facts and figures (if relevant), and get specific with the details. Numbers and percentages make your achievements more quantifiable, which often makes them feel more real, so bring them out whenever you can. Remember that this is your chance to impress the interviewer, so have a few examples ready to go. 

If you don’t have much or any relevant professional experience, think about what you bring to the table that makes up for that, and keep focusing on how you can enrich the role. In case you don’t have any good examples from your work experience, you may be able to draw on successes you’ve had outside of the workplace, especially if you walk the interviewer through the steps you took to achieve them.

No matter what questions they throw your way, if you’ve been practicing talking about yourself, correcting your body language, and coming up with thoughtful answers about your professional life and future, you’re already on the right path to a successful job interview. Bring your confidence, show how much you want the job, and don’t try to be too perfect—it’s better to admit you don’t know something or take a minute to consider your answer carefully than to be fake or dishonest. In fact, having the confidence to say “Let me think about that for a moment” could work in your favor.

After your interview, send a follow-up letter thanking the interviewer for their time and reiterating your interest in the position. If you’re not sure what to say, don’t worry—use our professionally crafted letter templates to reinforce your professionalism and increase your chances of landing the job. 

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