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40 Common Interview Questions to Make You 90% Prepared Before the Interview

40 Common Interview Questions to Make You 90% Prepared Before the Interview

Interviewing for a new job can be stressful. Especially if you’re asked questions that you haven’t prepared for.

Fortunately, most interviews follow a standard format, and are likely to include common interview questions.

While it’s impossible to cover all questions that you may be asked, we’ve picked out 40 of the most common interview questions. If you learn responses for these, you’ll find yourself 90% prepared for any interview.

Imagine how much more relaxed you’ll be going into an interview, knowing that you have answers prepared for the vast majority of questions you may be asked.

Let’s dive straight into the questions…

Focus on These 10 Most Common Interview Questions First

To help you get started, we’ve chosen 10 most common interview questions that could make or break your interview.

1. What can you tell us about yourself?

Employers often ask this open-ended question as a way to break the ice. It also gives them an early opportunity to view your personality, as well as an insight into whether you would be a good match for the company and job.

Tips:

  • Summarize your career highlights and goals.
  • Talk about personal interests or accomplishments that could create a positive impression in the minds of the interviewers.
  • Avoid rambling.

Good Example:

“After my graduation with honors, I immediately found work with a blue-chip company. I’ve spent the last five years helping them to grow their B2B market by more than 75%. I’m now ready for a new challenge and a new company.”

Bad Example:

“I wouldn’t describe myself as lazy, but I do like to sleep in late and go home early!”

2. What motivates you?

Depending on the role you are applying for, it’s likely the company will ask this question to determine if your motivations match what they are looking for. If it’s a sales role, then they’ll be expecting you to say money. For a caring or nursing role, then they’ll expect you to say you’re motivated by helping others.

Tips:

  • There are no right or wrong answers to this question.
  • It’s best to be open and honest about your motivations.

Good Example:

“I’m driven by a desire to have a successful career.”

Bad Example:

“I’ve got loads of credit card debts so I really need the money!”

3. Why should we consider hiring you?

Employers ask this question to see whether you’ll be a good fit for their company. They’ll also be looking to see if you understand the duties of the role they are hiring for.

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Tips:

  • Reply with a concise sales pitch.
  • Show that you’ve researched their company.
  • Talk about how you can fill the duties of the role successfully.
  • Avoid talking negatively about your current (or past) employer.

Good Example:

“I believe I have the necessary skills and experience to be a genuine asset to your company.”

Bad Example:

“It’s a good question. Let me see… I live locally, and I’m happy to start anytime after 10 a.m.”

4. Why do you want to work here?

This is similar to the two questions above. Namely, employers are looking to ascertain if you’ve researched their company and the role you are applying for.

Tips:

  • Research the company thoroughly. (For example, their history, ethos and market sector.)
  • Demonstrate your career goals.
  • Explain why you believe you’ll be a good match for the company.

Good Example:

“I was tremendously excited when I saw your advertised position. I know your company well, as I already use some of the great services you offer. I believe that I can contribute significantly to the continuing growth and success of your company.”

Bad Example:

“My friend used to work here, and he told me that you have some great staff benefits. To be honest, I think your early finish on a Friday afternoon would suit me perfectly!”

5. Can you list your strengths?

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this question. Employers are looking to see if your strengths include suitable qualifications for the specific role as well as personality traits that match the needs of the company.

Tips:

  • Avoid cliches such as: capable, enthusiastic and hard-working.
  • Give concrete examples of things you do well.
  • Talk about attributes that might set you apart from other applicants.

Good Example:

“I am a skilled public relations expert with over ten years of experience. I have represented and protected my current employer for the last five years. This has included several ‘damage limitation’ exercises, all of which ended positively for the company. My contribution to the company was rewarded recently with an ‘Employee of the Year’ award.”

Bad Example:

“By strengths, do you mean my force of personality? If yes, then I’m great at telling people what to do and getting my own way!”

6. What weaknesses do you have?

Let’s be honest, this question appears to be designed to catch you. In reality, however, employers will most likely ask this question simply as a contrast to the one about your strengths.

Tips:

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  • Don’t say that you have no weaknesses. (Looks arrogant!)
  • Talk about a weakness that would not affect the job you are applying for.
  • Identify a weakness that you’re now in the process of eliminating.
  • Turn a perceived negative into a positive. (For instance, your obsessive attention to detail.)

Good Example:

“Organization was never my strongest point, but I’ve recently learned and implemented a time management system that has massively boosted my organizational skills.”

Bad Example:

“I have lots of weaknesses. The worst of these being my tendency to drift off to sleep at inopportune moments…”

7. What makes a good team player?

If an employer is considering you for a team leader or department management position, then they’ll want to be 100% sure that you can work well in a team environment. They’ll also want to hear that you understand team dynamics.

Tips:

  • Talk about examples from your past that demonstrate your team-building prowess.
  • As well as work examples, you could mention clubs and organisations that you are an active member of.
  • Teams rely on harmony to be successful, so show that you know how to get on with people.

Good Example:

“Being a good team player means being able to understand the goals of the team and to be an active participant in reaching these goals. I have some experience of this, as I play weekly for my local basketball team. This has taught me the power of a harmonious team as well as how to deal with difficult people.”

Bad Example:

“Being in a team is great. There’s always someone who can fill in for you. And plenty of space to hide behind the more productive team members.”

8. Where do you see yourself five years from now?

As you can probably imagine, this question is usually asked to determine if you’re likely to move on quickly from the role you’re interviewing for. Hiring new members of staff is expensive. For this reason, companies will try to avoid hiring anyone who appears to be drawn to constant change.

Tips:

  • Use this question as an opportunity to state your career goals and why they are a good fit for the company.
  • Be sure to focus your answer on the specific role and company that you are being interviewed for.
  • It’s okay to say that in five years time you’d like to have progressed from the role on offer.
  • Don’t be afraid to sound ambitious or success-driven.

Good Example:

“Once I’ve gained sufficient experience, I’d love to move on to a management position.”

Bad Example:

“Hmm, I haven’t really thought about it before. Five years is a long time. Maybe I could switch from full-time hours to part-time?”

9. What is your salary expectation?

Employers will ask you this question to determine whether you’ve researched the average pay for the role, and to ensure that you’re not expecting a salary higher than what can be offered. Although it’s definitely an awkward question, employers will be impressed if you’re prepared with an answer.

Tips:

  • Make sure you’re aware of the pay rate for similar jobs.
  • Don’t feel pressured to provide a specific number. (Instead, offer a salary range that you would be happy with.)
  • As well as stating your salary expectations, ask questions about company benefits (such as healthcare and pensions).

Good Example:

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“I’m glad you asked me that question. I’ve taken a look around at similar roles, and I’d be happy to accept a salary in the range of $30,000 to $35,000.”

Bad Example:

“Well, I really need a lot more money than my current role, so what’s your best offer?”

10. Is there anything that you would like to ask us?

This question will be asked at the end of the vast majority of all interviews. It gives you a chance to ask questions about topics that may not have been covered in the interview. It also gives employers a chance to see how curious and enthusiastic you are about the role and their company.

Tips:

  • Always have a least one question prepared in advance. (Preferably more!)
  • Ask inquisitive questions about the job and company.
  • Ask the interviewers to expand on points they may have only touched on.

Good Example:

“You mentioned earlier that there would be opportunities for relevant professional training. Could you give me more information on this please?”

Bad Example:

“Err, when will I get my first payment?”

30 More Common Interview Questions

While the below questions aren’t as common as the 10 above, you should still read through them and make sure you know how to answer them.

11. What do you think we could do better or differently?

12. If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?

13. How do you handle stress and pressure?

14. Why do you want this job?

15. How do you deal with failure?

16. How do you deal with success?

17. What are your hobbies?

18. What separates you from the other applicants?

19. What’s the low-point of your career?

20. What’s the high-point of your career?

21. What would your first month look like in this role?

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22. Can you tell us why you changed career paths?

23. Why is there a gap in your employment history?

24. How would your colleagues describe you?

25. Why should we hire you?

26. If you had the opportunity, what would be your dream job?

27. Why do you want to leave your current job?

28. What are your expectations for this role?

29. What’s your ideal working environment?

30. Can you describe a time you disagreed with your manager?

31. What do you regard as your greatest contribution to your current employer?

32. Do you have a specific management style?

33. Where else have you applied to?

34. What do you think of our competitors?

35. Are you a leader?

36. How do you go about solving problems?

37. What gets you out of bed in the morning?

38. What do you do when you are late for work?

39. Would you describe yourself as competitive?

40. What’s the most fascinating thing about you?

Being prepared for interviews will not only help you relax ahead of them, but it will also give you an edge over most other applicants.

Of course, there will always be unexpected questions. However, your preparedness will boost your confidence and enable you to answer even the most difficult of questions.

Good luck with your next interview!

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Craig J Todd

UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

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