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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!

More by this author

Craig J Todd

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

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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