The Ten Most Common Interview Questions
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 have found 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. Our advice is to go about answering this "question" in one of two ways:
1) Apply the Past-Present-Future formula- where you mention a hobby or experience of yours from the past, follow with what you are doing presently, and finally what you want to do in the future. This Past-Present-Future formula is the perfect transition into why you want this job position.
2) Answer this question professionally and then personally- mention your professional experiences, relating these experiences to the job you are interviewing for when possible. Follow this with details about yourself, your hobbies, information that will allow them to know you better and remember your interview.
2. Why do you want this job?
The secret to answering this question is to mention both why the industry appeals and (more importantly) why this specific company appeals to you. Before an interview, always do your research! Find 1-3 talking points through this research process on why this company is a good fit for you and why you are a good fit for the company- whether it’s their mission statement, company values, testimonials, or something else entirely. It is also beneficial to identify an attribute that is uniquely possessed by the company during your interview. By doing this, the employer will be able see that you prepared well and worked hard to understand the company as a whole.
3. What has been your greatest accomplishment?
This question serves as an opportunity to brag about yourself. To answer this question, the STAR method can be great! STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. In using this method, you would first provide the necessary background on the situation, detail the task you were accountable for, talk about the action you took, and lastly the result of that action. The STAR method is a great way to organize your thoughts and come across clearly and concisely.
4. Why should we hire you?
This is yet another opportunity to brag about yourself. This question is another way of asking what makes you special, so do not be humble. In answering this question, talk about your qualifications, skills, and work ethic. 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 are 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 very similar to the previous about your weakness, instead with this question, this is where you should pick a specific example of a time that served 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 tried 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 helpful to align what you are looking for with what the company provides. Be specific when explaining what you are 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 one might think, and another opportunity to make your interview memorable. Feel free to talk about anything you are interested in outside of work, but you should not go overboard. After all, the interviewer shouldn’t think that you’ll be spending too much time not working.
Final Advice: Be ready to ask questions!
At the end of your interview, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions. ALWAYS ask 1-3 questions. This is a chance to demonstrate your interest and knowledge of the company. You can ask questions such as:
“Am I replacing someone or stepping into a new job?”
“Who do I report to on a day-to-day basis?”
“Is there any on-the-job training for this role?”
These questions show that you paid deeper-level attention to the company and care about working well for them.
Struggling to prepare for your interview?
Not to worry, schedule an appointment with us so we can help.