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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

Freelance Writer helping businesses and people to thrive.

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Last Updated on April 25, 2019

How to Write a Career Change Resume (With Examples)

How to Write a Career Change Resume (With Examples)

Shifting careers, tiny or big, can be paralyzing. Whether your desire for a career change is self-driven or involuntary, you can manage the panic and fear by understanding ‘why’ you are making the change.

Your ability to clearly and confidently articulate your transferable skills makes it easier for employers to understand how you are best suited for the job or industry.

A well written career change resume that shows you have read the job description and markets your transferable skills can increase your success for a career change.

3 Steps to Prepare Your Mind Before Working on the Resume

Step 1: Know Your ‘Why’

Career changes can be an unnerving experience. However, you can lessen the stress by making informed decisions through research.

One of the best ways to do this is by conducting informational interviews.[1] Invest time to gather information from diverse sources. Speaking to people in the career or industry that you’re pursuing will help you get clarity and check your assumptions.

Here are some questions to help you get clear on your career change:

  • What’s your ideal work environment?
  • What’s most important to you right now?
  • What type of people do you like to work with?
  • What are the work skills that you enjoy doing the most?
  • What do you like to do so much that you lose track of time?
  • Whose career inspires you? What is it about his/her career that you admire?
  • What do you dislike about your current role and work environment?

Step 2: Get Clear on What Your Transferable Skills Are[2]

The data gathered from your research and informational interviews will give you a clear picture of the career change that you want. There will likely be a gap between your current experience and the experience required for your desired job. This is your chance to tell your personal story and make it easy for recruiters to understand the logic behind your career change.

Make a list and describe your existing skills and experience. Ask yourself:

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What experience do you have that is relevant to the new job or industry?

Include any experience e.g., work, community, volunteer, or helping a neighbour. The key here is ANY relevant experience. Don’t be afraid to list any tasks that may seem minor to you right now. Remember this is about showcasing the fact that you have experience in the new area of work.

What will the hiring manager care about and how can you demonstrate this?

Based on your research you’ll have an idea of what you’ll be doing in the new job or industry. Be specific and show how your existing experience and skills make you the best candidate for the job. Hiring managers will likely scan your resume in less than 7 seconds. Make it easy for them to see the connection between your skills and the skills that are needed.

Clearly identifying your transferable skills and explaining the rationale for your career change shows the employer that you are making a serious and informed decision about your transition.

Step 3: Read the Job Posting

Each job application will be different even if they are for similar roles. Companies use different language to describe how they conduct business. For example, some companies use words like ‘systems’ while other companies use ‘processes’.

When you review the job description, pay attention to the sections that describe WHAT you’ll be doing and the qualifications/skills. Take note of the type of language and words that the employer uses. You’ll want to use similar language in your resume to show that your experience meets their needs.

5 Key Sections on Your Career Change Resume (Example)

The content of the examples presented below are tailored for a high school educator who wants to change careers to become a client engagement manager, however, you can easily use the same structure for your career change resume.

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Don’t forget to write a well crafted cover letter for your career change to match your updated resume. Your career change cover letter will provide the context and personal story that you’re not able to show in a resume.

1. Contact Information and Header

Create your own letterhead that includes your contact information. Remember to hyperlink your email and LinkedIn profile. Again, make it easy for the recruiter to contact you and learn more about you.

Example:

Jill Young

Toronto, ON | [email protected] | 416.222.2222 | LinkedIn Profile

2. Qualification Highlights or Summary

This is the first section that recruiters will see to determine if you meet the qualifications for the job. Use the language from the job posting combined with your transferable skills to show that you are qualified for the role.

Keep this section concise and use 3 to 4 bullets. Be specific and focus on the qualifications needed for the specific job that you’re applying to. This section should be tailored for each job application. What makes you qualified for the role?

Example:

Qualifications Summary

  • Experienced managing multiple stakeholder interests by building a strong network of relationships to support a variety of programs
  • Experienced at resolving problems in a timely and diplomatic manner
  • Ability to work with diverse groups and ensure collaboration while meeting tight timelines

3. Work Experience

Only present experiences that are relevant to the job posting. Focus on your specific transferable skills and how they apply to the new role.

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How this section is structured will depend on your experience and the type of career change you are making.

For example, if you are changing industries you may want to list your roles before the company name. However, if you want to highlight some of the big companies you’ve worked with then you may want to list the company name first. Just make sure that you are consistent throughout your resume.

Be clear and concise. Use 1 to 4 bullets to highlight your relevant work experiences for each job you list on your resume. Ensure that the information demonstrates your qualifications for the new job. Remember to align all the dates on your resume to the right margin.

Example:

Work Experience

Theater Production Manager 2018 – present

YourLocalTheater

  • Collaborated with diverse groups of people to ensure a successful production while meeting tight timelines

4. Education

List your formal education in this section. For example, the name of the degrees you received and the school who issued it. To eliminate biases, I would recommend removing the year you graduated.

Example:

Education

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  • Bachelor of Education, University of Western Ontario
  • Bachelor of Theater Studies with Honors, University of British Columbia

5. Other Activities or Interests

When you took an inventory of your transferable skills, what experiences were relevant to your new career path (that may not fit in the other resume sections?).

Example:

Other Activities

  • Mentor, Pathways to Education
  • Volunteer lead for coordinating all community festival vendors

Bonus Tips

Remember these core resume tips to help you effectively showcase your transferable skills:

  • CAR (Context Action Result) method. Remember that each bullet on your resume needs to state the situation, the action you took and the result of your experience.
  • Font. Use modern Sans Serif fonts like Tahoma, Verdana, or Arial.
  • White space. Ensure that there is enough white space on your resume by adjusting your margins to a minimum of 1.5 cm. Your resume should be no more than two pages long.
  • Tailor your resume for each job posting. Pay attention to the language and key words used on the job posting and adjust your resume accordingly. Make the application process easy on yourself by creating your own resume template. Highlight sections that you need to tailor for each job application.
  • Get someone else to review your resume. Ideally you’d want to have someone with industry or hiring experience to provide you with insights to hone your resume. However, you also want to have someone proofread your resume for grammar and spelling errors.

The Bottom Line

It’s essential that you know why you want to change careers. Setting this foundation not only helps you with your resume, but can also help you to change your cover letter, adjust your LinkedIn profile, network during your job search, and during interviews.

Ensure that all the content on your resume is relevant for the specific job you’re applying to.

Remember to focus on the job posting and your transferable skills. You have a wealth of experience to draw from – don’t discount any of it! It’s time to showcase and brand yourself in the direction you’re moving towards!

More Resources to Help You Change Career Swiftly

Featured photo credit: Parker Byrd via unsplash.com

Reference

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