The 10 Most Common Interview Questions
The best thing that you can do to prepare for an interview is to think through the questions you're likely to be asked and formulate answers ahead of time. Here are the 10 most common interview questions and how to craft a strong answer to each.
"Tell me about yourself."
This means: "Give me a broad overview of who you are, professionally speaking, before we dive into specifics." You should prepare about a one-minute answer that summarizes where you are in your career and what you're especially good at, with an emphasis on your most recent job. Keep your personal life out of it; your interviewer isn't asking to hear about your family, hobbies or where you grew up.
"What interests you about this job?"
Focus on the substance of the role and how it interests you. Don't talk about benefits, salary, the short commute or anything else unrelated to the day-to-day work you'd be doing, or you'll signal that you're not particularly enthusiastic about the work itself. Interviewers want to hire people who have carefully considered whether this is a job they'd be glad to do every day, and that means focusing on the work itself – not what the job can do for you.
"Why are you thinking about leaving your job?" Or: "Why did you leave your last job?"
Don't discuss conflicts with your manager or co-workers, complain about your work or badmouth employers. Job seekers are commonly advised to say they're seeking new challenges, but that only works if you're specific about those new challenges and how this job will provide them in a way your last job didn't. It's also fine to cite things like a recent or planned move, financial instability at your organization or other reasons that are true.
"Why would you excel at this job?"
This is your chance to make a case for why you'd shine in the job – and if you don't know the answer to that, it's unlikely your interviewer will figure it out either. Since this gets to the crux of the whole interview, you should have a strong answer prepared that points to your skills and track record of experience and ties those to the needs of the job.
"What do you know about our company so far?"
Interviewers don't want you to simply regurgitate facts about the company; they're probing to see if you have a general sense of what it's all about. What makes the company different from its competition? What is it known for? Has it been in the news lately? If it looks like you haven't done this basic research, your interviewer will likely wonder how interested you really are and whether you even understand what the company does.
"Tell me about a time when …"
Good interviewers will ask about times you had to exercise the skills required for the job. These may be situations when you had to take initiative, deal with a difficult customer or solve a problem for a client. Prepare for these questions so you're not struggling to think of real examples. Brainstorm the skills you'll likely need in the job and what challenges you'll likely face. Then think about examples from past work that show you can meet those needs. When constructing your answer, discuss the challenge you faced, how you responded and the outcome you achieved.
"What would you do in your first 90 days in this position?"
Interviewers are looking for answers that reveal how you set goals and solve problems, and whether you're ambitious without being unrealistic. You should also acknowledge that you'll need to take time to get to know the team, what's working and what can be improved before you make any big decisions – but your answer should still get into specifics to a reasonable extent.
"What's most important to you in a new position?"
Interviewers want to understand your career goals and whether this job will fulfill them. After all, if you're looking for a job with lots of public contact and a highly collaborative culture, and this job is mostly solo work, it might not be the right fit for you. It's in your best interest to be candid and specific when you answer this so you land in a job that aligns with what will make you happiest.
"What salary range are you looking for?"
Job seekers are almost always asked this question, but they often fail to prepare for it and are caught off guard when it comes up. If you wing your answer, you risk lowballing yourself and ending up with a salary offer below what you might have received otherwise. It's crucial to research the market rate for the job ahead of time. Doesn’t let discomfort with talking about money thwart your ability to negotiate well for yourself.
"What questions do you have for me?"
At the end of every job interview, you'll likely be asked if you have any questions. At this stage, ask open-ended questions about office culture and those that clarify the role. Also ask about next steps in the hiring process and the employer's timeline for getting back to you. Avoid questions about benefits and pay; hold those for once you have an offer.