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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 September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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