Top 20 Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions (And the Best Responses)
1. Can you tell me about yourself and your background?
Finding the perfect response to a question during a job interview can seem easy. But it's crucial to understand what this inquiry actually is: a pitch, before you begin by listing your previous career history or internship experience.
The interviewer is interested in your background, but they also want to hear why you would be a great fit for the position. Before moving on to the more challenging ones, some recruiters use this question as an icebreaker to make the candidate feel more at ease.
You can start with the motivating factor that led you to the job path you've selected. If it's not captivating enough, discuss a few triumphs and experiences you've had that are related to the job description.
Sample Answer: “I am currently a social media specialist at [insert company name here]. It’s been a dream job since I’ve always been interested in communication in all its forms. Being a Fine Arts graduate from [insert school name here], creating content that speaks to our clients and their customers comes as second nature. This ability has helped me succeed in many client presentations at work and I am eager to prove my value to your team.”
2. Can you walk me through your resume?
You could be asking yourself, How is this question different from the last one?
To begin with, this job interview question encourages you to delve further into your career and explain how each position you've held makes you qualified for the position you're applying for.
Make sure you don't just copy and paste everything from your resume like a machine. By highlighting unique successes, abilities, or feedback relevant to the position, you can increase your chances by talking about relevant experiences.
Sample Answer: “I knew that digital marketing was the right profession for me, even as an undergraduate college student. I took advantage of special lectures about the field offered on campus, and the lessons I learned from industry experts have become the foundation for my career.
The most memorable experience for me would be when I trained under the social media department head of [insert company name here] for a year. I was directly responsible for creating website copy and social media posts that our brand released. Plus, I attended client pitch meetings and received several chances to present our ideas to them.
More than that, I learned how to organize large-scale events, whether online or in-person, thanks to my undergraduate student club. I was able to grow my communication skills since I was tasked with sourcing and connecting with prospective speakers.
3. Why was there a gap in your employment?
We won't lie; this is a nerve-wracking interview question. But the only thing you have to do to nail your response is to be open and truthful about the work break without going into unneeded or potentially private details.
Maybe you had to take care of your aging parents or deal with an emergency medical situation. Another reason for a career pause could be that you lost your work and found it difficult to find another position due to the recession.
Whatever the cause, to fill in the blanks, it's essential to quickly describe how you came to be in that circumstance.
Sample Answers: “I worked at a corporation for a number of years in a position that was extremely difficult, and as you can see from my references, I excelled at it. However, the pandemic caused me to be let go from my position and the challenge of finding another job opened up some time to learn more about my trade. Now I feel more than ready to jump back into my career with renewed energy and focus and I feel this role is the ideal way to do that.”
“My father’s illness caused our family to experience hardship when I finished college. I took the year off to assist my mother in taking care of him, but I also worked a few part-time jobs online to cover expenses. Now that he’s recovered, I’ve made the decision to go after my dreams, and I feel that joining your illustrious organization would be the first step.”
4. Why are you leaving your current job?
Another tough interview question, this one has the potential to jeopardize your candidacy if you don't choose your words carefully.
Interviewers want to know why you left your previous employer and how you would respond to difficult queries. This is one approach to determine if the company's expectations for employees and your values are compatible. While being honest is always the best course of action, try to be as diplomatic as you can. Keep it brief, stick to the facts, and attempt to spin your exit in a favorable light.
Sample Answer: “I learned how to become a better, more capable software engineer because of my role in the [insert company name here]. But it has come to a point where the current setup and internal opportunities don’t match my expectations in the long run. Based on my research about the offered position in your company, I believe that it is a better fit for my skills and interests since your ongoing projects suggest an innovative and unorthodox stance on software development.”
5. Why did you get fired?
If your leaving from a job was not under ideal conditions, disclosing the reason for your termination may potentially place you in awkward situations with potential employers. Who, after all, wants their bad performance or errors to be highlighted?
Employers are naturally interested in the details behind your termination. Has there been a change in operations or is it the result of poor conduct and actions? Your response can help you land the job or hurt your chances.
Sample Answer: “It was time to leave the company because the creative differences between my boss and I have steadily been growing. It was an amicable split and I believe that moving on to a new role can be mutually beneficial for us. Now, I am available, motivated, and ready to contribute to your team.”
6. How did you hear about this position?
Employers ask you this question during a job interview to learn more about your motivation and level of passion for them in addition to any internal connections you may have within the organization.
One thing you should do is express your enthusiasm for and interest in the business. Mention how you routinely monitored their website or social media accounts to see if there were any job openings that suited your skill set if you have always wanted to work for them.
Sample Answer: “I’ve followed your page on LinkedIn for quite some time, and I sent in my application as soon as I saw the job opening posted there. Your collaborations with international tech giants have produced many mobile applications that inspired me to pursue a career in software development. I believe that I have the skills you’re looking for, including a knack for innovative solutions and quick decision-making skills, and joining your team is a great next move for my career.”
7. Why should we hire you? What sets you apart from other candidates?
Today, nearly every applicant's résumé includes strong academic credentials, a long list of extracurricular activities, and relevant work experience, making it more difficult to stand out throughout the hiring process.
Employers may find it difficult to choose from a strong candidate pool, therefore you must emphasize your distinctive qualities. Avoid giving general responses to this kind of interview question. Don't ramble; be direct and precise!
Sample Answer: “I read in the job description that you prefer a candidate who can oversee projects and that has extensive client management know-how. One piece of experience that sets me apart from other applicants would be my position as an account manager in a small startup. Our limited manpower enabled me to handle multiple accounts and face clients during meetings. As such, I believe I’d have a unique advantage in the role you’re offering and would go through the onboarding process faster and easier than others.”
8. Why do you want to work at this company?
You'll be questioned about your interest in joining their team at some point during the interview. Employers will learn more about your values and potential driving forces from your response to this job interview question.
A key opportunity to make a good impression will be lost if you give generic responses that apply to any organization. Instead, make use of the organization's mission, vision, and culture to match them with your own objectives and guiding principles.
Sample Answers: “I’ve been working in the commercial advertising industry for more than three years, and it’s been established that [insert company name here] is at the top of the game. I’m ready to work with the best in the business and hone my skills as an editorial photographer with a global company consistently ranked as one of the best places to work. I’m particularly excited that this role will allow me to work with various niches, such as fashion, lifestyle, and technology. My ultimate objective is to rise to a leadership position as an art director, and I know that this opportunity with you can make that goal a reality.
“I’m actually a loyal patron of your baked goods. More than the high-quality ingredients and the cutting-edge technology used to make your products, it’s the unique yet consistent customer experience that keeps me coming back. I also read employee reviews on job sites and was impressed to see that almost all gave you good feedback. This means that your dedication isn’t only for customers but for your employees as well. I would love to grow my career at a company that’s passionate about both its products and people.”
9. What can you bring to the company?
When asked this question during a job interview, many candidates make the mistake of rehashing their work experience. If you do, you've lost the chance to highlight how your qualifications and experience are exactly what the organization needs!
You must demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the organization's difficulties or potential areas for progress in order to respond to this question properly. Add to that a concise and convincing justification of how your skills might lead to potential answers or fresh viewpoints.
Sample Answer: “I work extremely well under pressure because I love problem-solving, which I understand is a necessity for this managerial role. My time as a purchasing manager always required deciding which supplies to order with a tight deadline and a tighter budget, but I always came up with creative solutions that got the job done.
10. What are your strengths?
This seems like a simple interview question, right? Naturally, those that are interested in hiring you need to know your strong suit categories.
But striking a balance between modesty and confidence is the key to answering this question correctly! Going too far in either direction can give off the vibe that you don't have much to offer or are conceited.
Sample Answer: “My greatest strengths are my impeccable communication skills honed by my stint as a dedicated member of student government and other campus leadership positions. Additionally, I consider my adaptability and leadership skills to be first-rate because I’ve been consistently focused when it comes to developing student services and projects that answer current needs.”
11. What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
It can be dangerous to discuss your flaws during an interview. You might unintentionally demonstrate a trait that raises questions about your capacity for the job or for teamwork. Therefore, you must proceed with caution, which is why it's crucial to prepare the ideal response to this typical job interview question.
In order to accomplish this, you should recognize your vulnerabilities and consider how they can still be used to your advantage (without veering totally off-topic).
Sample Answers: “I strive for perfection to a fault. My constant need to review and polish every detail can be a draining process in the long run and could impact the team’s schedule. I triple-check each item on the spreadsheet and find it hard to seek help from other people because they might mess it up. But I’ve since learned to successfully gauge which tasks require this level of attention and have become more open to collaboration.”
12. What is your greatest achievement throughout your career?
Before you choose your finest professional achievement to date, bear in mind that your response to this job interview question should be applicable to the position you have applied for, even if you feel like you have accomplished something better.
If you were to apply for a human resources position while claiming that your finest professional accomplishment was penning the official script for a high-profile commercial shoot, it would be absurd. Even while this response is impressive, it might not help you get the job.
Sample Answer:“Having only recently graduated from [insert school name here], my greatest achievement was what I managed to accomplish during my time as an undergraduate. Since my scholarship didn’t fully cover my college expenses, I took on a part-time job to offset some of the costs.
There were many challenges with working the night shift at a coffee shop, only to get a few hours of sleep and then prepare for my 9 AM class. But through hard work, I found a system that helped me balance studying, working part-time, and even an internship to gain some experience in this industry.
There could be other impressive achievements out there, but I’m incredibly pleased to say that I haven’t missed a deadline or failed a class. More importantly, I graduated with a 3.7 GPA.”
13. How do you keep yourself organized when balancing multiple projects?
You are a valuable asset wherever you go if you are organized and can manage your priorities without help.
Interviews for jobs frequently include questions regarding time management. Why? because it helps interviewers better understand who you are as a worker and gives you an opportunity to discuss your preferred time management techniques.
How can you best respond to this query, then? A suitable answer should touch on several time management topics
“At my current employment, I frequently juggle multiple assignments, switching between writing one article to another to meet deadlines. While I use our team’s content management system, I also use the timeboxing technique, allocating a certain time for all tasks. It helps me focus and prioritize urgent and important tasks. Furthermore, I utilize Google Drive and Docs to organize my files, making it quick and easy to refer back to past articles that I wrote.”
14. What type of work environment do you like best?
Do you feel better at ease working for an organization that supports work-life balance? What about one that is non-conventional and encourages creative expression and personal expression?
The workplace culture of the organization you want to work for should match your ideal environment, that much is certain (give or take a few compromises). Even if the pay or prestige seem alluring, if it doesn't, it might not be the best long-term professional option.
Sample Answer: “I’ve gathered from my past experiences that a superior who encourages a mentor-mentee relationship is the best work environment for me. I appreciate a manager who is a great resource of knowledge and willingly steps in whenever the team encounters an issue. Teamwork and highly collaborative colleagues are important factors for me because I love exchanging ideas and approaches with other people.
15. What are you passionate about?
Some interviewers delve deeply into your personal life in order to learn what ignites your enthusiasm, which makes you more driven when it comes to your career.
Why? Because in the view of the employers, the ideal applicant would naturally be fired up by the duties attached to the position. Additionally, it provides a window into your character and work ethics.
Sample Answer: “Even though I studied biology and am applying to become a biological technician, my biggest passion is painting. I’ve always celebrated life and nature, and I love creating something beautiful from such inspirations. When the pressures of the job tend to be overwhelming, I bust out a canvas and get started with art. I believe having outlets like this helps me become more level-minded, patient, and keen on details which makes me an asset in the workplace.”
16. How do you handle pressure or stressful situations?
Pay attention! If you act as though working stress doesn't affect you, there is no benefit in store for you.
The purpose of this job interview question is to find out how you function under pressure and how you can handle a crisis at work.
Sample Answer: “I try to respond to the situation rather than the stress because this way I can focus on dealing with the problem without being overwhelmed by other factors, like panicking colleagues. For instance, I don’t focus on feeling upset when I deal with a dissatisfied customer who’s been yelling at me on the phone; instead, I concentrate on the task at hand which is resolving their complaint.
I use the reverse lens method, which is seeing the situation from another person’s perspective, and quietly perform meditation exercises when I receive harsh criticism. I also switch off my phone and email, as well as enable website blockers, to keep me focused when doing high-concentration tasks.
I believe these strategies help manage pressure. Of course, I am not completely immune to the anxiety, but I think I get better at it with every new experience.”
17. Tell me about a challenge or conflict you’ve faced at work and how you dealt with it.
It is inevitable in the workplace to have disagreements with individuals who hold different beliefs and personalities.
Meeting individuals with radically different practices from your own is common. What's worse still, do you know? People who take credit for your triumphs, put the blame for their faults on you, or leave you with the grunt work while taking the more glamorous responsibilities for themselves.
Sample Answer: “I’ve had my fair share of disagreements with colleagues over differing opinions, personalities, and strategies. As an example, I was assigned to oversee the preparations for our office Christmas party, and a co-worker, who had been in the company longer than I, kept shutting down everybody’s ideas and made passive-aggressive comments about my leadership.
I admit that it irritated me to hear what she had to say, but I knew that the team would not benefit if we fought. I tried to readjust my attitude and exercise self-control, especially since the conflict wasn’t worth a big reaction. I listened to what she wanted to happen and strived to find a compromise, which we did. But don’t get me wrong, I am not afraid to voice my opinion if the situation calls for it.”
18. What are your goals for the future?
Employers value candidates who possess a good sense of ambition. Additionally, in order to save everyone's time during the interview process, this question eliminates applicants whose aims don't align with their own.
Additionally, it's utilized to gauge your drive and determine what keeps you going as a professional.
Sample Answer: “My long-term goals include being a top-performing employee at a multinational company like yours. Since professional growth is a big deal for me, I want to be rooted in a job where I can continue to learn, take on additional responsibilities, and contribute as much value as possible to the team. If given the chance, I would also take full advantage of going back to school to pursue a master’s degree to become more knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the industry.”
19. If you get the job, what can we expect from you in your first three months?
Typically, expectations for the employment are established by the employer. However, some businesses want to make a change and put the initiative in your hands.
It's quite acceptable if your response to this question during a job interview doesn't go too technical or descriptive. Don't worry about not having enough inside knowledge to provide a great response—after all, it's only a hypothetical question.
Sample Answer: “I intend to take full advantage of your organization’s great reputation for offering professional growth and training to increase my worth to the business in the first three months. You can expect me to remain proactive while taking in the organization’s processes and to eagerly ask for tasks that can positively impact the company’s output, including assisting colleagues with tasks that I’ll be handling in the future.”
20. What are your salary expectations?
A primary consideration before every job interview should be figuring out your desired salary (and researching what others in the position really make).
You need to strike a balance when responding to this interview question in order to avoid underselling yourself or overrequesting. Keep in mind that companies are determining whether they can afford you, so one mistake could cause you to withdraw from consideration.
Sample Answer:“Taking into account my experience and relevant certifications, which you mentioned earlier would be very helpful to the team, I’m looking for a salary between $40,000 to $42,000 annually.