THE Most Common Interview Question
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Best Answer: The best answer is one that is well thought out, positive, and can be backed up with examples. There is absolutely no reason not to ace this question. It is the one question you know you will be asked. Be prepared with a solid answer that is short and simple. The only thing worse than stammering uncertainties is rambling without making a point. Write out your top selling points and condense them into a sentence or two. Skip words like loyal and hardworking for now. Tell them who you are. For example: “I am an experienced graphic designer. I specialize in logos and advertising campaigns. I’ve worked (number) years with (most reputable employer) where I worked on the successful (most successful project) campaign.” Write it out, and practice it in front of a mirror, with a friend, and on the drive to the interview. This is your first impression. Make it a good one.
Experience and Qualifications Interview Questions
2. Are you the best person for this job? Why?
Answer: Here the answer is always yes. Definitely. Absolutely. Don’t begin your answer with “I think so.” Show confidence and back it up with a reason. “I do. I believe I have the skills and experience necessary to this position and I’m willing to work hard and learn everything I can to succeed within your company.”
3. What can you do for this company?
Answer: Explain how your skill set relates to the needs of the company. If you’re interviewing to work in customer relations, explain how you are a people person and that personality makes helping customers not only effective but pleasant.
4. What relevant experience do you have?
Answer: Be specific. What previous positions have you held that prepared you for this one?
5. What was your biggest accomplishment?
Answer: This is an opportunity to brag about an accomplishment. Do this right and you’ll make a solid impression on your potential employer. Try to relate your experience to the position you are trying to get. If you’re interviewing for a sales position, describe a difficult but successful sale you made and how you did it.
6. How will you compensate for your lack of experience in this field?
Answer: Everyone starts somewhere. You may not have the experience they’re looking for but you have other great qualities. Now is the time to speak up about them. For example: I may not have worked in this field for very long but I am smart and I’m willing to work hard and learn everything I can. I believe that I would be a real asset to your company.
7. Do you feel that you are overqualified for this position?
Answer: you may actually have more experience than most people applying for this position. You may have already held a position that paid more than the salary this employer is looking for. They want to know that you’re not using them as a stepping stone. The best answer: Overqualified, no. But I’m certainly qualified. I believe the skills and experience I have will enable me to grow and advance in this company.
Strengths and Weaknesses Interview Questions
8. How would you describe yourself?
Answer: While most questions don’t warrant a list of traits, this is one time, that is okay. Words like people person, determined, loyal, hardworking, creative, and fast learner are not only allowed, they’re actually what the interviewer is looking for. Choose the ones that relate best to you, but be ready to back them up with solid examples if they ask for an explanation.
9. How would you describe your work style?
Answer: The employer expects a certain answer. Even if you consider yourself “productively messy” or a “disorganized genius,” it is not the answer you want to give. Tell them you are focused, steady, and organized and that you always get projects finished within the deadline.
10. Do you prefer to work alone or on a team?
Answer: Even the most independent position will require you to work with others. The best answer is one that is flexible. “I work well in both situations. I can work alone, but I also work well with a team.”
11. Give an example of a time when you worked well with a team.
Answer: Everyone has an example of this, whether it was on the high school band or as a cook in a kitchen full of employees. Describe the situation and how it worked in a positive light.
12. Do you take your work home with you?
Answer: Keep your answer as short as possible. “I can take work home when it’s necessary or when there is a deadline involved.”
13. What sort of work environment do you prefer?
Answer: “I’m pretty flexible and I’ve worked well in a number of different situations. What sort of work environment can I expect?” Take note of the key phrases your interviewer uses in the response. Remember them and use them later. This will help you to make a positive impression.
14. Why should you be hired?
Answer: “Because I have the skills and experience to be an asset to this company. Also, because I believe the goals of this company match the goals I have for my own career.”
15. Why would your friends or family members say you should be hired?
Answer: The skilled used to maintain a relationship are some of the same ones used to maintain a position within a company. Best answer: “My friends and family know me better than anyone. They would tell you that I am honest, hard working, dependable, and helpful. These are qualities they value in me and are some of the same qualities that make a valuable employee.”
16. What do you expect from a supervisor?
Answer: “I expect a supervisor to communicate his or her expectations well so that I can be certain to meet or exceed those expectations. I also expect a supervisor to be fair and open to hearing the ideas of those they supervise even if they don’t end up using those ideas.”
17. What do you believe is your greatest strength?
Answer: Like the greatest accomplishment question, this is an opportunity to show off. Keep your answer short and simple. If you have a specific skill that would be extremely helpful in this position, make sure to mention it.
18. What is your greatest weakness?
Answer: Careful with this one. It’s a bit of a trap. When answering this question, don’t talk about the thing you struggle with the most. Instead talk about a weakness you have overcome. “I used to have difficulty meeting deadlines until I developed my time management skills. I have found that keeping a day planner really helps me to stay organized and I no longer have a problem meeting deadlines.”
19. How do you evaluate success?
Answer: “There are different types of success. I am successful with (hobby or interest) when I (accomplish something related to it). I am successful at work when I meet or exceed the goals my supervisor and company have set for me.”
Interests and Skills Interview Questions
20. What are you passionate about?
Answer: The interviewer is trying to get an idea of who you are as a person. Everyone has interests, hobbies and talents. Talking about them makes you more memorable. Talk about your interest in painting or the novel you write in your spare time. Don’t be afraid to show a little enthusiasm. Just make sure that your hobby isn’t one that will interfere with your work. If your biggest interest is backpacking through Europe for months on end, it’s probably best to leave that one out.
Situational Interview Questions
21. Describe a difficult situation and how you handled it.
Answer: This is one of the top ten questions asked in interviews. It’s a personal question that only you can answer for yourself. Think of a time when you dealt with a difficult customer, project, or work situation and describe how your skills (organized, hardworking, personable, and patient) helped you to overcome it.
22. Have you ever been made angry at work?
Answer: In this case, anger means losing control. It means reacting without thinking. You never want to admit to a potential employer that you allowed something to make you angry at work. The only exception to this rule is if you lost your job over an anger incident. In this case, it’s best to be honest but positive, “I made a mistake but I have learned to react to stressful situations by taking a moment to clear my head and rationalize the situation.” Otherwise, the best answer is no. “I have had difficult situations, but I know that allowing myself to become angry isn’t going to solve anything.”
23. How do you handle stress or pressure?
Answer: This is one of the best opportunities to show that you can turn a negative into a positive. “I take stress or pressure as a challenge. Instead of getting nervous or worried, I let the stress motivate me to do the best job I possibly can.”
24. What do you do if the boss is wrong?
Answer: This is a test in itself. The interviewer is trying to see how you would really do in a difficult situation. Are you confrontational or do you prefer to let a mistake slide by unnoticed. Luckily, there is a simple answer for that. “Honestly, it depends on the boss and the situation. I would address the mistake if my supervisor allowed it. Either way, I would be tactful and respectful to everyone involved.”
25. What are the most difficult decisions to make?
Answer: this is one of the most difficult questions to answer. The best way to respond is with an example of a difficult decision you had to make in the past. Talk about the time when you were faced with a difficult decision to make and how you went about making the decision. Try to avoid generalizing the situation as this can take your answer in a negative direction.
26. What have you learned from your past mistakes?
Answer: Make sure you answer this in a positive way. Maybe you misjudged someone because of something they said or did, but later learned that it’s better to give people a second chance. Maybe you gave up on something that seemed hopeless only to find that the answer was just around the corner, learning that it’s better to be persistent even when things seem tough.
27. What problems have you encountered at work?
Answer: For this question it’s much less important that you give the right answer and much more important not to give the wrong one. Don’t use this as an excuse to badmouth a previous employer or teammate. Instead, give a specific example of a problem you came across that you managed to solve, whether it was an unhappy customer or a scheduling issue when an employee quit without notice.
Work Experience Interview Questions
28. How would you describe your best boss?
Answer: Beware of comparing your favorite boss to your least favorite boss. If you had a boss that you learned a lot from or who was a positive influence on you, talk about what you learned from working with him or her. Try not to talk about employers who favored you or who buddied up to their employees as this sounds unprofessional.
29. How would you describe your worst boss?
Answer: Careful! It’s a trap! Never, ever, badmouth your previous employers or supervisors. This makes you look unprofessional and gives the employer the impression that you will talk just as bad about them when you move on from the company. Instead say that you’ve never really had a worst boss. You have learned from every boss you’ve had, even if you simply learned what not to do. If pressed, though pressing you would be extremely unprofessional in itself, simply say that you prefer not to speak ill of previous employers and would give the same consideration to them.
30. Have you ever had difficulty working with a supervisor or manager?
Answer: Beware of being too specific as that could be considered badmouthing your previous employer. Instead say that you have never had a difficulty that couldn’t be resolved by communicating your concerns or questions directly with the supervisor or manager.
31. What did you like about your previous job?
Answer: The friendly tone of this question may make you forget that it is, like all interview questions, a test. Don’t tell your potential employer that your favorite part of your previous job was the Christmas bonus and the free gourmet coffee in the break room, even if it was. Instead, talk about the friendly atmosphere, the ability of the employees to work as a team, and the willingness of your supervisor to listen to your questions, concerns, and ideas.
32. What did you dislike about your previous job?
Answer: Like the worst manager question, this one is a trap. Don’t let yourself be fooled into talking bad about your previous employer. In fact, try to be as positive as possible, even when discussing the negative. Good answers for this are a lack of challenge, limited opportunity for advancement and the fact that the previous job didn’t allow you to really make use of your particular skill set.
33. What was the most rewarding part of your last job?
Answer: Be honest. You’re talking about the part of your job that you enjoyed, the part that made you feel good about it. Smile and be enthusiastic. This is an opportunity to really shine. Just make sure to try to relate your answer to the job you are trying to get. In most cases, you’ll be applying for a job that lets you do the same thing you enjoyed the most in your previous job.
34. What was the least rewarding thing about your previous job?
Answer: This is a good opportunity to point out why you want to work for this new company. Mention something that your previous company lacked, such as a challenge or opportunity for advancement, and explain why this company is a better fit for you because of it.
35. Why are you leaving your job?
Answer: Keep your answer as positive as possible. Talk about the potential for new opportunity for advancement, challenge, or specialization. Under no condition should you talk about your previous boss or supervisor.
36. Have you ever been fired? And why?
Answer: If the answer is yes, be ready for this one. This is a big negative towards you and you need to be ready to turn it into a positive. Be honest. If you lie now and they find out about it later, you could lose your job. Instead, explain that you made a mistake and though it cost you your job, you have learned from the experience. In the end, being fired was a blessing in disguise. It caused you to leave a job you weren’t right for so that you could find something more suited to your skill set. Keep the answer short and end it on a positive note.
“Plan for the Future” Interview Questions
37. How would you describe your career goals?
Answer: You already know this one. Where do you want to go in your career? What do you want to do? Be positive and enthusiastic when describing your plan, but keep it brief. They don’t need your life story, just an idea of where you want your career to go. Try to explain how the current job is an integral part of your plan and not just a stepping stone to a better job. If you plan to advance in your field, let them know that you want to do it within the company. No company wants to train an employee for someone else. Show them you’re here to stay and you’ll have a better chance of landing the job.
38. What are your goals outside your occupation?
Answer: Give the interviewer an idea of what you have planned for your life. This shows that you have goals and are well rounded. Try not to go too far into detail. They’re just looking for a brief idea of who you are as a person and how far into the future you think. A good answer: “I plan to buy a house and start saving up for the future. I also want to build a retirement and maybe take a few recreational or refresher courses at the local college. Things change and I want to be prepared for that.”
39. How long do you expect to stay with this company?
Answer: Again, the employer wants to know that their company is more than a stepping stone. Be generous with your answer. If you’ve thought of joining the military or moving to Korea to teach English to underprivileged kids, it’s best to keep it to yourself for now. You can worry about those things if you decide to do them. Instead, tell the employer that you’re willing to stay with the company for as long as you can, especially if the company offers advancement within the company.
40. What will you do if you don’t get this Job?
Answer: The company wants to know whether this is the job you really want or just one name on a list of job opportunities. Stress your interest in the company, but show that you have a back up plan. This shows that you are both enthusiastic and resourceful. It lets them know that as an employee, you won’t give up at the first sign of trouble, whether it be with a customer, a client, or a big project. A good answer: I feel this company is the best choice for me but if I don’t get this position, I am willing to apply for another. If there is nothing available for me here, I will have to apply with another company, but I really hope that isn’t the case.”
41. What will you do if you don’t get this position?
Answer: The employer is trying to find out whether you’re a team player or a sore loser. Keep your answer as possible as possible, even if you believe you already have the job. There will most likely be other promotions in the future and you may not get every position you apply for. The company wants to know that you’ll continue to support the company, even if you don’t like their choices. The best answer: “While I would really like the position and believe I would do a good job with it, I also understand that there may be other applicants who are just as qualified as I am. If you choose another person for this position, I will continue to work with and support the company and I will support and help whoever you choose for the position.”
Company/Job-Related Interview Questions
42. What challenges are you looking for?
Answer: This may seem like a strange question but the answer they’re looking for is pretty straightforward: “I’m looking for challenges that help me build my skills and grow in my chosen field.”
43. What are you looking for in your next job?
Answer: The best answer is one that is well researched. Know as much as you can about the company that you’re trying to work for so that you can have this answer ready ahead of time. A good general answer: “I’m looking for challenges specific to the skills I am trying to develop. I want to learn and grow as a (manager, graphic designer, your specialized position) and I know that I will only do so if I push the limit of what I am capable of.”
44. Why do you want to work here?
Answer: Again, if you’ve done your homework, you’ll be more than ready for this one. Mention some of the things this company has done and how that has inspired you. You chose this job for a reason. Chances are, it isn’t just a paycheck you’re looking for. Explain what drew you to the company in question and why you feel it is a good match for your skills.
45. What interests you most about this job?
Answer: There is no copy and paste answer for this one. You need to be honest. Choose one of the things you mentioned when asked why you want to work here and elaborate on it. Give an example or share a story. Be honest and enthusiastic and you’ll be well on your way to making a good impression.
46. Why do you want this job?
Answer: More specific than why do you want to work here, but roughly the same question. Explain why you feel this job is the best way to start your career with this company. Tell them what you think you will learn from it and how it will help you grow in your chosen field.
47. What do you know about this company?
Answer: If you’ve done any research at all prior to walking into the interview, this question should be a piece of cake. Many people apply for jobs and companies they know little to nothing about. Doing your homework will put you a step about them from the start. Share what you know and explain why that knowledge only builds your enthusiasm for working with the company. You’ll be well on your way to making a great impression.
48. Are you willing to put the needs of this company above your own and are you willing to relocate to do so?
Answer: This is a two part question with a two part answer. The first part is an undeniable yes! You are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. You will sacrifice your free time and energy to being the best employee you can possibly be. As for the second part, try not to rule it out completely unless you’re absolutely certain you will never be willing to relocate. Instead, say that it could be a possibility in the future but that you would prefer to stay in the area if it is at all possible.
49. What are your salary or pay requirements?
Answer: You really want to avoid this question if it is at all possible. Quote a number too high and the company may go with someone who asked for less, especially if the number you give them is out of your price range. Ask too little and you could come off as unqualified or un-knowledgeable about your field. In case the question does come up, make sure you are fully prepared. Do some research into the standard salaries of your field both in general and in your local area. Also try to research the company you’re applying for. If you have an idea of what the position usually pays and what you can expect from the company in question, you can give them a salary range that fits their budget and expectations. This will make the salary question less of an issue and increase the chance that you’ll give the impression that you are exactly what they’re looking for.
The [Most Common] Final Interview Question
50. Do you have any questions for me?
Anwer: The answer to this should always be yes. While it’s tempting to say, “No thanks,” the interviewer is giving you an opportunity to emphasise your interest in the job and the company and you should take it. Some good questions to ask are:
What kinds of projects will I be able to work on?
How soon can I start working?
When will I be given my first project?