How to Answer the 35 Most Common Job Interview Questions

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To help you prepare for your next job interview, we compiled a list of the most common questions and some ideal answers that will set you apart from other applicants. To learn how our job coaches can help you prepare for your next opportunity, explore our services for jobseekers, including interview prep.

1. How would you excel in this role?
How to answer: Your answer should emphasize how your experience makes you uniquely qualified. For example, perhaps previous experiences have equipped you with skills suited to this role.
2. How do you plan to make up for your lack of experience?
How to answer: If this is your first job, highlight how your previous roles in school or volunteer work have equipped you with skills that suit the position. Emphasize that you are a fast and eager learner.
3. Do you consider yourself successful?
How to answer: The answer should be yes! Be sure to clarify how you define success and relate that to your professional and academic achievements.
4. How would you define success in this role?
How to answer: Your definition of success should involve meeting and exceeding the expectations for your position.
5. How long would you expect to work for the company?
How to answer: Do not provide a time limit. Instead, you might say you wish to work there as long as you provide value to the company and continue to grow in your role and responsibilities.
6. How would your previous supervisor describe you?
How to answer: A letter of recommendation is invaluable here. Provide examples of successes in your previous role and any positive feedback your supervisor provided.
7. Why did you leave your last job?
How to answer: Frame your job search as a positive change and a chance to advance in your career. Never speak badly about previous colleagues, bosses, etc.
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8. Why should we hire you?
How to answer: Focus on how you can provide value. For example, you are well suited to the responsibilities of the role, and your vision aligns with that of the company.
Businessman showing off biceps
9. What are your greatest strengths?
How to answer: List a few of your strengths and some examples of how you have demonstrated them. Focus on strengths that align with the responsibilities of the new position.
Woman with colleagues smiling
10. How would colleagues describe you?
How to answer: Come prepared with a few examples of positive feedback colleagues have given you in the past. As always, these should be related to the workplace.
11. Is wealth or professional fulfillment more important to you?
How to answer: Your answer should reflect that you value a balance between the two, but focus on how you value the opportunity to grow and better yourself professionally.
12. What motivates you to succeed in the workplace?
How to answer: Avoid talking about compensation here. Speak about how you value the opportunity to grow professionally and develop new skills.
13. Tell me about the gap in your job history.
How to answer: Any periods of unemployment should be explained in a way that relates to your professional development. For example, you may have taken a year off to explore a volunteer opportunity related to your field.
14. What are your expectations from this company?
How to answer: If you value the opportunity for innovation, teamwork, etc., describe that. Focus on how you expect an environment in which you will grow professionally and build your skills.
15. How do you believe you will succeed in this role?
How to answer: Focus on how your skills align with the job requirements and on anything unique you can bring to the role.
16. What would you look for in a candidate for this position?
How to answer: Describe the qualities necessary for the job role as well as general positive qualities. Without explicitly doing so, link these with your own skills.
17. Are you willing to prioritize the company’s interests over yours?
How to answer: The answer is yes. Clarify that you feel your interests align with those of the organization.
18. Describe the last company you worked for.
How to answer: Avoid speaking negatively of previous employers. Highlight how you were able to grow in your previous role, and point out a few positive qualities of your previous supervisors and colleagues.
19. What are your activities and interests outside of work?
How to answer: This is an appropriate time to discuss your hobbies and personal interests. Activities that involve teamwork and skill building are great to mention here.
20. Tell me about a time you learned from a mistake.
How to answer: Focus on one incident that you were able to turn around to achieve a positive outcome, and describe how that changed your approach to future projects.
21. Tell me about your management style.
How to answer: Emphasize your ability to communicate with and provide valuable feedback to colleagues and subordinates. Provide a few examples of times you’ve demonstrated leadership in previous roles.
22. Do you think you are overqualified for this position?
How to answer: Even if you are overqualified, the answer should be no. Reinforce how your experience aligns well with the role.
23. What is your work philosophy?
How to answer: Describe how you find fulfillment in challenging work, and highlight how your philosophy aligns with that of the company.
Man with office supplies
24. Do you work well under pressure?
How to answer: Never exaggerate your abilities, but do provide examples of how you excelled under pressure in previous roles.
25. What qualities do you value in a supervisor?
How to answer: Focus on general qualities such as the ability to communicate clearly, create a motivating environment, etc.
26. Where do you see yourself in five years?
How to answer: Describe your vision of the future in general terms, focusing on your professional growth.
27. Do you have any questions for me?
How to answer: Prepare two or three questions beforehand, focusing on areas of genuine interest regarding the company. Ask for clarification if necessary.
28. Do you handle criticism well?
How to answer: Speak about how you value criticism as a chance to improve and learn new skills. Describe an instance in which you rose to the challenge after receiving critical feedback.
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29. Tell me about yourself.
How to answer: Talk only about work subjects. Avoid mentioning your personal life unless the interviewer prompts you to do so.
30. What is your greatest weakness?
How to answer: Come prepared with a few weaknesses and how you have turned them into strengths. For example, you may be a perfectionist, so you enjoy collaborating with team members because that forces you to look at the bigger picture.
31. Describe your dream job.
How to answer: Naming a specific role or responsibility might prompt the interviewer to question how you would be suited to that role, so stick to a general description of the type of work environment you would prefer.
People spelling out TEAMWORK using boards
32. Are you a team player?
How to answer: Yes! Explain how you feel teamwork encourages motivation and camaraderie, and provide examples of successful team projects from your prior experience.
33. What irritates you about colleagues?
How to answer: Instead of listing personal qualities you find irritating, focus on how you address feelings of irritation in the workplace—by maintaining an open line of communication with colleagues and addressing interpersonal issues as they arise.
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34. What do you know about the company?
How to answer: Research the company thoroughly before the interview, and go over that information several times to commit it to memory. If you know anyone who works in the industry or the company itself, schedule a meeting to find out more.
35. Do you prefer to be a leader or a team member?
How to answer: Emphasize your adaptability, and provide examples of how you have succeeded in both roles.

Our job coaches have helped hundreds of applicants ace their interviews. We offer a custom mock interview and feedback session designed to boost your confidence and talk you through these questions and others that often trip up applicants. Learn more about interview prep and our other services for jobseekers.