The Ten Most Common Interview Questions

 

And how to excellently answer them

It's always good to look interested.

Image by Christina @ wocintechchat.com

One of the final but most crucial steps before landing a job is the interview. Many employers ask variants of the same few questions, so we thought we would let you know what those questions are and how you can prepare for them. Here are what we believe to be the ten most common questions as well as our advice for answering them.

 

1. Tell me about yourself.

While not really a question, every interviewer asks applicants some form of this question. One can go about answering in one of two ways. Either apply the past, present, future formula where you mention a hobby or two of yours from the past, what you’re doing presently, and what you want to do in the future, which is perfect to tie into why you want the job. The other way is to talk about yourself professionally and then personally, talking about what you have done in the past as well as your hobbies.

2. Why do you want this job?

The secret to answering this question is to mention both why the industry appeals to you but also and more importantly why this specific company appeals to you. Before an interview, try to research something unique about the company, and reference that. Whether it’s their mission statement, testimonials, or something else entirely you should identify an attribute that is uniquely possessed by the company.

3. What has been your greatest accomplishment?

For questions that require you to brag about yourself, the STAR method can be great. STAR stands for situation, task, action, and result. You provide the necessary background on the situation, detail the task you were accountable for, then talk about the action you took, and lastly the result of that action. STAR is a great way to organize your thoughts and come across clearly and concisely.

 

4. Why should we hire you?

This is your time to brag. The employer is asking what makes you special, so do not be humble. Talk about your skills and work ethic, and show the company that you will provide them value. Feel free to give examples from the past where you made a key contribution or insight that shows how you think and why you’re a good candidate.

 

5.What are your greatest strengths?

Instead of spewing out a list of positive-sounding adjectives, try to pick a few attributes that reflect well on you, and talk at length about them. When you pick an attribute, try to give an example of how you have used that in past employment or previous schooling. Using this technique will help you come across as focused and driven, because you are concentrating on and elaborating about specific strengths.

6.What are your weaknesses?

Ultimately, this question simply serves as a measure of honesty. The answer employers are looking for is something that shows a bit of nuance. A great way to answer this question is to pick something you’re not great at and then list how you are working on improving it. For example, you could mention you are not great at presenting to large audiences, and then mention how you are working on your public speaking skills.

7. When have you made a mistake in the past?/When have you failed?

This question is similar to your weakness, where you should pick an example that spells as a learning opportunity.

 

8. What is a challenge/conflict you've faced at work and how did you deal with it?

Every single one of us has had a conflict in previous school or work, so there is no need to pretend you are above that. Be honest about your challenge, but do not take the casual tone you would venting to a friend. At the end of the day, your employer wants to see that you face these challenges head on and really try to come to an agreement or solution.

9. What type of position/work environment are you looking for?

For both of these questions, it is very important to align what you are looking for with what the company provides. Be specific when you explain what you're looking for and how the company can provide it.

10. What are your hobbies?/What do you like to do outside of work?

This question is more straightforward than people think. Feel free to talk about anything you’re interested in outside of work, but you should also not go overboard. After all, the interviewer shouldn’t think that you’ll be spending too much time not working.

 

Bonus: Be ready to ask questions!

At the end of your interview, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions. This is a chance to demonstrate your interest and knowledge of the company. You can ask things along the lines of,  “Am I replacing someone or stepping into a new job?”, “Who do I report to on a day-to-day basis?”, and “Is there any on-the-job training for the role?”. These questions show that you really paid attention to the company and care about working for them.

 

While there are many more job interview questions than these, most answers you give can be used for similar questions. If you receive a question in a job interview that you thought was challenging and want our take on it, please use the Contact Us form on the main jobs portal.

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