125 Common Interview Questions and Answers (With Tips)February 24, 2020
As you prepare for your interview, you may be considering which questions the employer is going to ask you. While there’s no way to know for sure what topics will be covered, there are several popular interview questions you can expect to be asked.
Every interviewer is different and their questions may vary. By preparing answers for these common interview questions, you can develop compelling talking points to make a great impression during your next job interview.
Looking for more tips to improve your chances of getting the job? Register here for our upcoming online workshop, Ace the Interview: Preparation and Etiquette to Land the Job, on Mar 18, 2020 at 12:30 PM Central Standard Time.
Common interview questions and answers
1. Tell me about yourself.
Tip: Your interviewers will likely start out with a question about yourself and your background to get to know you. Start out by giving them an overview of your current position or activities, then provide the most important and relevant highlights from your background that make you most qualified for the role.
Example: “Currently, I serve as the assistant to three of the company’s five executive team members, including the CEO. From my 12 years of experience as an executive assistant, I’ve developed the ability to anticipate roadblocks and create effective alternative plans. My greatest value to any executive is my ability to work independently, freeing up their time to focus on the needs of the business.
It’s clear that you’re looking for someone who understands the nuances of managing a CEO’s busy day and can proactively tackle issues. As someone with an eye for detail and a drive to organize, I thrive on making sure every day has a clear plan and every plan is clearly communicated.”
For more on answering this question, visit Interview Question: “Tell Me About Yourself.”
2. How would you describe yourself?
Tip: When an interviewer asks you to talk about yourself, they’re looking for information about how your qualities and characteristics align with the skills they believe are required to succeed in the role. If possible, include quantifiable results to demonstrate how you use your best attributes to drive success.
Example: “I would say that as a security officer, I’m vigilant, proactive and committed to ensuring safe, secure, and orderly environments. In my last incident response rating, I received a 99% against the team average, which has been at around 97% over the past three years. I like to be thorough, documenting all incidents. I’m also a lifelong learner, always seeking out the latest security equipment and techniques to patrol buildings. I frequently make suggestions to management about security improvements and changes as my motivation comes from making a meaningful contribution.”
For more on answering this question, visit Interview Question: “How Would You Describe Yourself?”
3. What makes you unique?
Tip: Employers often ask this question to identify why you might be more qualified than other candidates they’re interviewing. To answer, focus on why hiring you would benefit the employer. Since you don’t know the other applicants, it can be challenging to think about your answer in relation to them. Addressing why your background makes you a good fit will let employers know why your traits and qualifications make you well prepared.
Example: “What makes me unique is my experience of having spent four years in retail. Because I’ve had first-hand experience fielding shoppers’ questions, feedback and complaints, I know what customers want. I know what it takes to create a positive consumer experience because I’ve had that direct interaction, working directly with consumers in person.”
For more on answering this question, visit Interview Question: “What Makes You Unique?”
4. Why do you want to work here?
Tip: Interviewers often ask this question as a way to determine whether or not you took time to research the company and to learn why you see yourself as a good fit. The best way to prepare for this question is to do your homework and learn about the products, services, mission, history and culture of this workplace. In your answer, mention the aspects of the company that appeals to you and align with your career goals. Explain why you’re looking for these things in an employer.
Example: “The company’s mission to help college grads pay off their student loan debt speaks to me. I’ve been in that situation, and I’d love the opportunity to work with a company that’s making a difference. Finding a company with a positive work environment and values that align with my own has remained a priority throughout my job search, and this company ranks at the top of the list.”
For more on answering this question, visit Interview Question: “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”
5. What interests you about this role?
Tip: Like the previous question, hiring managers often include this question to make sure you understand the role and give you an opportunity to highlight your relevant skills. In addition to thoroughly reading the job description, it can be helpful to compare the role requirements against your skills and experience. Choose a few things you particularly enjoy or excel at, and focus on those in your answer.
Example: “Making a meaningful difference in the lives of my patients and their families motivates me to strive for excellence in everything I do. I look forward to seeing their reaction when we get a positive outcome that will change their lives forever. Like the family of a young boy we treated last year—at eight years old, he had experienced rapid weight gain and signs of depression. His parents described him as a usually joyful child, but now he seemed disengaged and uninterested in his typical schedule. In the end, we determined that it was hypothyroidism, which is, of course, controllable with medication. The boy is adjusting well to the treatment and has returned to his joyful self. That’s why I became a nurse and why I’m pursuing a position in pediatrics.”
For more on answering this question, visit Interview Question: “Why Are You Interested in This Position?”
6. What motivates you?
Tip: Employers ask this question to gauge your level of self-awareness and ensure your sources of motivation align with the role. To answer, be as specific as possible, provide real-life examples and tie your answer back to the job role.
Example: “Making a true a difference in the lives of my patients and their families motivates me to strive for excellence in everything I do. I look forward to seeing my patient’s reactions when we get a positive outcome that will change their lives forever. That’s why I became a nurse, and why I’m pursuing a position in pediatrics.”
For more on answering this question, visit Interview Question: “What Motivates You?” (With Examples)
7. What are you passionate about?
Tip: Much like the previous question about motivation, employers might ask what you are passionate about to better understand what drives you and what you care most deeply about. This can both help them understand whether you are a good fit for the role and if it fits into your larger goals. To answer, select something you are genuinely passionate about, explain why you’re passionate about it, give examples of how you’ve pursued this passion and relate it back to the job.
Example: “As an experienced, service-oriented professional with more than a decade of experience working in boutique salons, I thrive on creating a welcoming environment for all clients and providing the highest quality skincare services. My specialized training and strong interpersonal skills have helped me become adept at developing long-term, trusted relationships that help to build a loyal client base. Some of my clients have been with me since the beginning—more than ten years now. These relationships are the reason I’m excited to go to work every day.”
For more on answering this question, visit Interview Question: “What are you passionate about?”
8. Why are you leaving your current job?
Tip: There are many reasons for leaving a job. Prepare a thoughtful answer that will give your interviewer confidence that you’re being deliberate about this job change. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of your current or previous role, focus on the future and what you hope to gain in your next position.
Example: “I’m looking for an opportunity that gives me the ability to build closer, long-term relationships with clients. In my current role, the sales cycle is so short that I don’t spend as much time building a rapport with my customers as I’d like. Relationship-building is one of the reasons I chose a career in sales, and I look forward to working with a company where that’s a top priority.”/
For more on answering this question, visit Interview Question: “Why Are You Looking for a Job?”
9. What are your greatest strengths?
Tip: This question gives you an opportunity to talk about both your technical and soft skills. To answer, share qualities and personal attributes and then relate them back to the role for which you’re interviewing.
Example: “I’m a natural problem-solver. I find it rewarding to dig deep and uncover solutions to challenges—it’s like solving a puzzle. It’s something I’ve always excelled at, and something I enjoy. Much of product development is about finding innovative solutions to challenging issues, which is what drew me to this career path in the first place.”
For more on answering this question, visit Interview Question: “What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?”
10. What are your greatest weaknesses?
Tip: It can feel awkward to discuss your weaknesses in an environment where you’re expected to focus on your accomplishments. However, when answered correctly, sharing your weaknesses can show that you are self-aware and want to continuously get better at your job—traits that are extremely attractive to many employers. Remember to start with the weakness and then discuss the measures you’ve taken to improve. This way, you’re finishing your answer on a positive note.
*Example: “Earlier in my career I noticed that because I was so enthusiastic about my work, I had a tendency to say ‘yes’ when I should have been saying ‘no.’ At one point I ended up so overwhelmed by my workload, taking on so many projects, that I was working evenings and weekends. It was stressful, and that stress affected my production quality. I realized this was counterproductive, so I started using workload management tools to set better expectations for myself and my teammates.”
For more on answering this question, visit Interview Question: “What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses?”
11. What are your goals for the future?
Tip: Often hiring managers ask about your future goals to determine whether or not you’re looking to stay with the company long-term. Additionally, this question is used to gauge your ambition, expectations for your career and your ability to plan ahead. The best way to handle this question is to determine your current career trajectory and how this role plays into helping you reach your ultimate goals.
Example: “I would like to continue developing my marketing expertise as well as over the next several years. One of the reasons I’m interested in working for a fast-growing startup company is that I’ll have the ability to wear many hats and collaborate with many different departments. I believe this experience will serve me well in achieving my ultimate goal of someday leading a marketing department.”
For more on answering this question, visit Interview Question: “What Are Your Future Goals?”
12. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Tip: Understanding how you imagine your life in the future can help employers understand whether the trajectory of the role and company fits in with your personal development goals. To answer, provide general ideas about the skills you want to develop, the types of roles you would like to be in and things you would like to have accomplished.
Example: “In five years, I’d like to be an industry expert in my field, able to train and mentor students and entry-level designers alike. I would also like to gain specialized experience in user experience to be a well-rounded contributor working with design and marketing teams on large-scale projects that make a difference both in the company and the global community.”
For more on answering this question, visit Interview Question: “Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?”
13. Can you tell me about a difficult work situation and how you overcame it?
Tip: This question is often used to assess how well you perform under pressure as well as your problem-solving abilities. Keep in mind stories are more memorable than facts and figures, so strive to “show” instead of “tell.” This is also an excellent opportunity to show your human side and how you’re willing to go the extra mile without being asked.
Example:“It was the first day of my boss’s two-week vacation and our agency’s highest-paying client threatened to leave because he didn’t feel he was getting the personalized service he was promised. I spent my lunch hour on the phone with him, talking through his concerns. We even brainstormed ideas for his next campaign. He was so grateful for the personal attention that he signed another six-month contract before my boss even returned from her trip.”
For more on answering this question, visit the following resources:
Behavioral Interview Questions (and How to Answer Them)
How to Use the STAR Interview Response Technique
14. What is your salary range expectation?
Tip: Interviewers ask this question to make sure your expectations are in line with the amount they’ve budgeted for the role. If you give a salary range exceedingly lower or higher than the market value of the position, it gives the impression that you don’t know your worth. Research the typical compensation range for the role on Indeed Salaries , and tend toward the higher side of your range. Be sure to let the hiring manager know if you’re flexible with your rate.
Example: “My salary expectation is between $XX,XXX and $XX,XXX, which is the average salary for a candidate with my level of experience in this city. However, I am flexible.”
For more on answering this question, visit the following resources:
How to Talk About Salary in a Job Interview
Interview Question: “What Are Your Salary Expectations?”
If you’re unsure about what salary is appropriate to ask for the position you’re applying to, visit Indeed's Salary Calculator to get a free, personalized pay range based on your location, industry and experience.
15. Why should we hire you?
Tip: While this question may seem like an intimidation tactic, interviewers generally bring this up to offer you another opportunity to explain why you’re the best candidate. Your answer should address the skills and experience you offer and why you’re a good culture fit.
Example: “I have a passion for application development that’s grown stronger over the course of my career. The company’s mission aligns with my personal values and, from my limited time in the office, I can already tell this is the sort of positive culture in which I would thrive. I want to work for a company that has the potential to reshape the industry, and I believe you’re doing just that.”
For more on answering this question, visit Interview Question: “Why Should We Hire You?”
16. Do you have any questions?
Tip: This might be one of the most important questions asked during the interview process because it allows you to explore any subject that hasn’t been addressed and shows the interviewer you’re excited about the role. By this point, you’ll likely have already covered most of the basics about the position and the company, so take time to ask the interviewer questions about their own experiences with the company and gain tips on how you can succeed if hired.
Example: “What do you love about working for this company?” “What would success look like in this role?” “What are some of the challenges people typically face in this position?”
For more on answering this question, visit Interview Question: “Do You Have Any Questions?”
17. What did you like most about your last position?
Tip: Tie your answer to this question into the company’s needs and focus on explaining your proven performance at your last job. Be specific and provide an example.
Example: “What I liked most about my last position the ability to contribute in a collaborative way with other teams. Each team member was encouraged to bring new ideas to the project which were respectfully considered by all. For example, we once worked with a client who was relying on us to solve a critical issue. Our team met to discuss the situation. After I recommended a plan to resolve the issue, we took time considering the pros and the cons of the solution, building on how to make the idea better and more comprehensive. When we implemented it, it worked better and faster than everyone expected. The client was very pleased.”
18. What did you like least about your last position?
Tip: Avoid saying anything negative about your former employer, managers or colleagues. Make this answer about your career growth and your enthusiasm for joining their organization.
Example: “While I enjoyed my time learning and growing in my last job, there was a lack of opportunity in the way I wanted to progress in my career. I deeply enjoy being challenged and getting better at what I do, which I understand is a top priority for managers at your organization. That’s why I’m excited to continue having conversations about this opportunity.”
Much like preparing for a test in school, the best way to succeed in your interview is to study and practice. Do research on the company and the job, and practice your talking points until you feel confident about your answers. The more you prepare, the more likely you are to leave a lasting impression and outperform fellow candidates.
19. How do you handle stress?
Tip: This isn’t a trick question to see if you get stressed at work or not. Rather, how you handle a stressful moment is an indicator of your ability to solve problems. Employers want to hire candidates who react to stress in a constructive manner, so it’s important that your answer to this question demonstrates personal growth.
Example: “I’m able to stay calm when I focus on the bigger picture and break down my projects into smaller tasks. What is the ultimate goal I’m trying to achieve? From there, I make a list of action items with reasonable deadlines. Even if the big project is due tomorrow, I ask myself, ‘What’s something I can tackle in the next 30 minutes?’ Before I know it, I’ve made significant progress and that impossible project doesn’t seem so impossible.”
For more on answering this question, visit Interview Question: “How Do You Handle Stress?”
20. What is your greatest accomplishment?
Tip: It’s easy to get hung up on figuring out your single most impressive accomplishment. Instead, think of a few achievements that showcase your work ethic and values. If you can, pick examples that also tie back to the job you’re applying for. The STAR method is a great tool to ensure you highlight not only your role but how you drove business results.
Example: “In my last role, I managed all social media content. I noticed other brands were experimenting with videos and seeing great engagement from their customers, so I asked my boss if we could do a low-budget test. She agreed, so I produced a video cheaply in-house that drove double the engagement we normally saw on our social channels. It also drove conversions, with 30% of viewers visiting to our website within a week of seeing the video.”
For more on answering this question, visit the following resources:
Interview Question: “What is Your Greatest Accomplishment?”
How to Use the STAR Interview Response Technique
21. What is your teaching philosophy?
Tip: This isn’t a question solely for those applying to teaching positions. Employers may ask this of anyone who might be leading or teaching others. A good answer will concisely identify what you think teaching should achieve and include concrete examples to illustrate your ideas.
Example: “When it comes to managing people, my teaching philosophy is to start by asking questions that hopefully get the person to come to a new conclusion on their own. This way, they feel ownership over the learning rather than feeling micro-managed. For example, in my last role, I was editing an article written by a copywriter I managed. The story didn’t have a clear focus or hook. In a one-on-one meeting, I asked her what she thought was the main point of the article if she had to sum it up in a sentence. From there, I asked if she thought the focus was clear in the article. She didn’t think it was clear and instead thought she should rework her introduction and conclusion. As a result, the article improved and my direct report learned a valuable writing lesson that she carried into her future work.”
For more on answering this question, visit Interview Question: “What is Your Teaching Philosophy?”
22. What does customer service mean to you?
Tip: If you’re applying for a public-facing role, an employer may ask this question to see how you think customers should be treated. A good answer will align with the company’s values, which you can glean through researching their customer service policy, understanding their products and clientele, and reflecting on your own experiences as a customer. Your answer can either come from the perspective of a customer or a customer service provider.
Example: “In my experience, good customer service involves taking responsibility when something goes wrong and doing what you can to make it right. For example, on a recent flight, I had pre-ordered my meal only to discover they didn’t stock enough of my dish. Instead of simply stating the facts, the flight attendant apologized sincerely and offered me a free drink or premium snack. To me, this apology went a long way in smoothing things over. The freebie was an added bonus that made me feel valued as a customer and choose the same airline for my next flight.”
For more on answering this question, visit Interview Question: “What Does Customer Service Mean to You?”
Additional list of interview questions
Here are more questions to use as practice for your next interview:
Basic interview questions
- Tell me about your work experience. Example answer
- How do you define success? Example answer
- How do you work under pressure? Example answer
- What is your dream job? Example answer
- What can you bring to the company? Example answer
- How do you handle conflict at work? Example answer
- Why are you interested in this position? Example answer
- What skills would you bring to the job? Example answer
- Can you explain these gaps in your resume?
- Are you willing to travel?
- Are you overqualified for this role?
- Would you be willing to work nights and weekends?
- What qualities make a good leader?
- What is the name of our CEO?
- What questions haven’t I asked you?
- What do you know about our company?
- Why are you changing careers?
- Can you walk us through your resume?
- Why is our company interesting to you?
- Who was your favorite manager and why?
- Who are our competitors?
- Why are you the right person for this job?
- What is your greatest personal achievement?
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
- What do you know about our industry?
Behavioral interview questions
- Describe a time when your boss was wrong. How did you handle the situation?
- How would you feel about reporting to a person younger than you?
- Describe a time you went above and beyond at work.
- Tell me about the last mistake you made.
- What do you want to accomplish in the first 30 days of this job?
- Describe a time you got angry at work.
- Describe a time when you had to give a person difficult feedback.
- Describe a time when you disagreed with your boss.
- Would you ever lie for a company?
- Tell me about how you dealt with a difficult challenge in the workplace.
- What do you really think about your previous boss?
- What has been the most rewarding experience of your career thus far?
- How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?
- Describe a time you chose to not help a teammate.
- Describe a time you went out of your way to help somebody.
- Describe a time when your work was criticized?
- What do you want to accomplish in the first 90 days of this job?
- Do you think you could have done better in your last job?
- How would you fire someone?
Read more: How to Prepare for a Behavioral Interview
Questions about salary
- Can you discuss your salary history?
- How much do you expect to be earning in five years?
Read more: How to Talk About Salary in a Job Interview
Questions about you
- What makes you uncomfortable?
- What is your ideal working environment?
- What commonly accepted view do you disagree with and why?
- What are some positive things your last boss would say about you?
- What differentiates you from our other candidates?
- Are you a morning person?
- How would a good friend describe you?
- Are you more of a leader or a follower?
- Do you have a personal mission statement?
- What do you like most about yourself?
- How long do you expect to work for this company?
- How do you keep yourself organized?
- What character traits would your friends use to describe you?
- What is your favorite movie of all time and why?
- What are three skills or traits you wish you had?
- Describe your perfect company.
- Do you prefer to work alone or on a team?
- What is your proudest achievement?
- How do you want to improve yourself in the upcoming year?
- Who are your heroes?
- What is your favorite memory from childhood?
- What is your favorite website?
- When were you most satisfied in a previous job?
- What’s the last book you read?
- What is the best job you ever had?
- What is your greatest fear?
- What was your greatest failure, and what did you learn from it?
- What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a mistake you’ve made?
- If you won a $10 million lottery, would you still work?
- What was the last project you led and what was the outcome?
- How many hours per week do you normally work?
- Do you ever take your work home with you?
- What three things are most important to you in your job?
- What is one negative thing your last boss say about you?
- What will you miss about your previous job?
- Describe your work style.
- What is your management style?
- Who has impacted you most in your career?
- What is your least favorite thing about yourself?
- What is your biggest regret and why?
- What are your coworker pet peeves?
- Why did you choose your major?
- What is your ideal company size?
- What is a book that everyone needs to read and why?
- Do you prefer working alone or in a team environment?
- Do you find it difficult to adapt to new situations?
- Do you have a mentor?
- Explain why you’ve had so many jobs?
- What do you do in your spare time?
- Describe your top three technical skills?
- What causes are you passionate about?
- If you suddenly gained the ability to time travel, what’s the first thing you’d do?
- If you could get rid of any one US state, which would you choose and why?
- Which is more important, creativity or efficiency?
- Is it better to be good and on time or perfect and late with your work?
- How many times per day do a clock’s hands overlap?
- How many stacked pennies would equal the height of the Empire State Building?
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