And What The Interviewer Wants to Know
Prepping for an interview isn’t just picking out your best outfit, shiniest shoes, and packing extra copies of your resume and cover letter in a briefcase. You should also be preparing for the questions that you’ll be asked.
Doing a mock interview may seem silly, but it can be really helpful. The more prepared you are, the better you’ll do. (Pro Tip: you want to practice answering these questions naturally, you don’t want to sound rehearsed, which, funnily enough, takes a little bit of rehearsal.) So don’t be afraid to get together with a good friend or family member and have them grill you on some of these common interview questions.
1 | Tell me about yourself.
This is generally the first question and it is used as a bit of an ice breaker and so the interviewer can get a sense of you as a person. Keep your answer short and to the point, focusing on the elements you really want to talk about. But don’t cite your resume or cover letter word for word.
2 | What is your greatest strength and weakness?
Do not, under any circumstances, say you don’t have a weakness–this can seem arrogant. Plus, the interviewer wants to hire a human, not a robot! But also don’t dress down a positive as a negative, for example, “I’m a perfectionist.” Instead take the opportunity to identify something you’d like to improve on. ID your weakness and suggest a way you can resolve it. As for your greatest strength, relate to a skill that you really want to highlight.
3 | What are you passionate about? What are your hobbies outside of work?
Employers want to get a little insight into your life and your personality. While this question seems informal, keep your answer sensible. So if you like reading industry blogs, then say that, but don’t lie. If you love painting, tell them!
4 | What did you like and dislike about your previous job?
Be careful what you say here. If the role you are interviewing for is similar, keep what you really didn’t like to yourself. Instead, focus on the positive and be enthusiastic about the job you are being interviewed for. For example, you can talk about how much you loved the training your previous employer gave you, but that you didn’t like the commute and that is why you are applying for a job closer to home.
5 | What are your responsibilities?
This is your chance to discuss your skills and responsibilities in a little more depth than the list on your resume. Make sure that you highlight those that most closely align with the job you are interviewing for.
6 | Why are you leaving your current job?
Do not speak about your current or former employer or colleagues in any negative way. Instead, focus on how the role you are applying for appeals to you and why you are looking for new opportunities for personal development.
7 | What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
Here, the interviewer wants to know how you handle problems and if you enjoy a challenge. So be prepared to think back about a challenge you faced and how you helped solve that problem.
8 | How do you handle stress and pressure?
Work can be stressful and a future employer wants to know how you handle it. Do you stay calm under pressure or do you have a difficult time handling stress? If you do get stressed, focus on how you have become good at recognizing it and what you do to handle it, like meditating before work each day.
9 | What is your biggest accomplishment and biggest failure?
Handle this like your greatest weakness and strength question. Let them know what you are proudest of or what you learned from something that didn’t work out.
10 | How do you measure or evaluate success?
The answer to this question gives a sense of your work ethic, career and life goals. Tailor your response to fit what you expect to achieve if you were hired by this employer.
11 | What do you know about the company?
Do your research. Period. The best answer is when you identify a challenge the company is facing and how your unique skills can help them solve that problem.
12 | Why do you want this job?
Here, the employer wants to know if you think this job is a match for your career objectives. Answer by describing how your qualifications are a match for the job and what you find most interesting about the job or the company.
13 | Why should we hire you?
The best answer to this question lies in what you can do for the company. What you bring to the table and what you hope to achieve in the job.
14 | Why is there a gap in your work history?
As awkward as it may be, you’ll need to explain any gaps. Be honest. For more on this, check out this article.
15 | Do you prefer working by yourself or in a team?
This question can be tricky but also very important. While it’s okay to have a preference, the best answers show that you understand the benefits of both and that you understand the need to be comfortable working in both scenarios.
16 | What would your colleagues say are your best qualities?
Here, the interviewer is looking to assess your work relationships and how you engage with co-workers and managers. They want to see if you are a good fit for their team. So avoid being vague or making over-the-top claims.
17 | What experience can you bring to this job from your previous one?
This is another way of asking about your current responsibilities, but the question is posed in a way that gets you to talk about what you can bring to the company if they hire you–so focus on that.
18 | Where do you see yourself five years from now? What are your goals for the future?
Employers want to know if your goals mesh with what their company has to offer as a career path, so try and mesh your goals as much as possible, but don’t lie. At the least, make sure your goals involve staying with the company for more than a short-term basis.
19 | What are your salary requirements?
Be honest when discussing how much you were paid and what you want as a starting salary for your next job. Some hiring managers are just wanting to see if you’re a competitive candidate for the company from a salary perspective.
20 | Do you have any questions for me?
Be ready with a list of questions to ask, otherwise you may seem disinterested by not wanting to learn more.