How to Answer the 10 Most Common Interview Questions

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Anyone who has experienced a few job interviews will likely notice that some interview questions make a regular appearance. We’ve narrowed the list down to the ten most common interview questions, discussed below, and have suggested some accompanying strategies and sample answers.

The key to an effective interview is good preparation. This includes researching the company you’re interviewing with, but it also includes practicing your answers beforehand. You can practice with a trusted friend or even get constructive feedback to improve with our mock interview services.

For now, let’s take a look at how to effectively answer the ten most common interview questions.

1. Could you tell me something about yourself?

There’s a good chance this will be the first question the interviewer or panel will ask, so it’s your chance to make your best impression in the first few critical minutes. Because you’ve done your research on the company, you can highlight how your qualifications make you a good fit. Talk about your present position, focusing on your responsibilities and how you bring value. Personal details are good, but keep those short unless they ask for more information.

2. How did you decide you’d like to work here?

If you stumble through this question, the interviewer will know you haven’t done your research. Be prepared with a response that matches your skills and experience, or even your personal interests, with the mission and vision of the company. Take this great example and see how you can craft your own: “I know your company has a strong commitment to public service in the community. In my previous position as claims manager, I also organized our annual day of caring for local seniors in need.”

3. Why do you want to leave your present position?

There are a number of ways to respond to this common interview question. Above all, don’t criticize your present employer. Sour grapes have no place in the interview. Have a response ready that reflects your future goals and aspirations, such as this example: “My major in school focused on management, and though my current company has been a great place to work, they don’t offer the long-term opportunities I’m seeking in my career path.”

4. What do you consider your greatest strengths?

Prepare a few key strengths that best match the needs of the company according to your research. Include a personal attribute or two and a couple of your strongest skills. Part of your response could be something like the following: “I have extensive sales experience and a natural technical ability with various software applications, which I think matches well with this marketing position.” Practice your response with a trusted friend, or get feedback from a professional job coach with a mock interview.

5. What are some of your weaknesses?

This common interview question has a number of wrong answers. One is anything like “Well, I’m a perfectionist, and I care too much about doing a good job,” which reeks of insincerity. Be honest, and wrap up your response with how you’re trying to make improvements. Your response might be something like the following: “I’ve gotten bogged down with managing projects during our busiest quarters, but I’ve been making significant improvements with a time management system that’s been endorsed by the company.”

6. Can you tell me about a situation where you solved a difficult problem?

The questioner wants to know how well you think on your feet and how you react under pressure. Demonstrate this by talking about an instance where you saved your company time or dollars with a practical suggestion or reacted quickly to an unexpected event and prevented a problem from becoming worse.

7. Why should we hire you over the other candidates we’re interviewing?

This common interview question is often saved for later, giving you an additional opportunity to shine and stand out among the others. Prepare for this question ahead of time, but use what you learn in the interview in your response. Take this example: “I feel I’ve been growing in my corporate communications skills over the past five years, and I’ve taken many social media courses to improve my digital communications. Since you told me you’ll be focusing more on social media for your marketing efforts over the next year, I believe I’ll be a solid asset to help move that forward.”

8. What are some of your career goals?

Companies want to know this to make sure you have long-term potential. You may have strong customer service skills but not be interested in answering phones your entire career. Talk about your career path with something concrete, such as in this sample answer: “I really enjoy assisting customers, which is one of my strengths. One of my goals is working into management. I feel that would be realistic with this company.”

9. What are your salary expectations?

Your interviewer is not asking this to see how cheap the company can be. You’re an investment in their future, so be honest in your reply. Do your research on industry standards, and frame your response based on those. If you respond with a figure lower than typical compensation for that position, they might question your self-worth. Something like the following is appropriate: “My expectations are somewhere between $X and $X, but we can negotiate salary.”

10. Before we finish the interview, do you have any questions for us?

This most common interview question is your final chance to demonstrate you’re excited for this position and interested in the company. From your research, have some questions ready, such as “How long have you been with the company?” or “Are you planning any further expansion in the near future?”

Solid preparation is essential to giving good answers to the most common interview questions. Do your research, practice, and review those important talking points. We can help you on your path to success with our mock interview services, which will provide constructive feedback and help you stand out in your field!

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