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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 January 13, 2020

Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

Are you challenged at work? Do you regret career decisions? Are you happy? If the answer to the questions leads to a negative feeling, it is time to determine next steps.

Many people settle for a career that no longer brings satisfaction. Most will respond by stating, “I am surviving” if a colleague asks them “How’s work?”

Settling for a job to pay bills and maintain a lifestyle is stagnation. You can re-direct the journey of a career with confidence by taking control of future decisions. After all, you deserve to be live a happy life that will offer a work-life balance.

Let’s look at the reasons why you need a career change and how to choose a career for a more fulfilling life.

How to Know if You Need a Career Change?

The challenges of dissatisfaction in a career can have a negative impact on our mental health. As a result, our mental health can lead to the obvious appearance of stress, aging, weight gain and internal health issues.

You deserve a career that will fulfill the inner desire of true happiness. Here are common factors that it is time for you to change your career.

Physical Signs

Are you aging since you started your job? Do you have anxiety? What about work-related injuries?

It feels amazing to receive a pay cheque, but you deserve to work in an environment that brings out the best of you. If the work environment is hazardous, speak to your boss about alternative options.

In the case that colleagues or your boss take advantage of your kindness, feeling the anxiety of fear of losing your job because of a high-stress environment may not be right for you.

Mental Signs

One out of five Americans has mental health issues, according to Mental Health America.[1] In most cases, it is related to stress.

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I remember working at a job in a work environment where harassment was acceptable. I had to walk on eggshells to avoid crossing the line with colleagues. My friends started to notice the difference in that I seemed out of character. It was then that I knew that changing a career to freelancing was the right decision.

Here is a list of mental signs of workplace unhappiness:

  • The tension in your neck
  • Difficulties with sleeping
  • Unable to concentrate
  • High anxiety
  • Depression

If you start to feel your self-esteem is diminishing, it is time to consider if working in a high-stress industry is for you. The truth is, this negative energy will be transferred to people in your life like friends and family.

Are You Sure You’re Not Changing for the Wrong Reason?

Most people that feel they need a career are frustrated with their situation at work. Do you really understand your current situation at work?

The reason it is important to think about the work situation is some people decide to change career for factors that are insignificant. Factors that can potentially change if the person works in a different department or new organization.

Here is a list of unimportant factors to think about before you decide to make the transition:

Desire for an Increase of Salary

The desire for a higher income can persuade some to believe they are in the wrong career. The issue with this is more money requires more time in the office or taking on several positions at a time.

At times, pursuing a high-income role can be the complete opposite of what one is expected. It is what happens when a colleague leaves a company to a new one and returns several years later.

Overnight Decision

Let’s face it. We make overnight decisions when stressed out or disappointed with situations at work. The problem with a quick decision is the negative and positive points is overlooked.

Rejected for a Promotion

I have heard stories of managers that applied ten times for a position throughout a 5-year period. Yes, it sounds to be a lengthy process, but at times, a promotion requires time. Avoid changing a career if you do not see the results of a promotion currently.

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Bored at Work

Think deeply about this point. If you work a job that is repetitive, it is normal to feel bored. You can spice it up by changing the appearance of your desk, socializing with new employees in a different department, joining a leadership committee at work or coming to work with enthusiasm. Sometimes, all it takes is you to change jobs into a fun situation.

A career change can take time, networking, education and the job search process can be a journey. Here is a list of things to consider before making a final decision:

  • How long have you worked in your career?
  • What is the problem at work? Do you work well with the team?
  • Do you receive recognition?
  • Can you consider working in a new department?

If after reviewing your work situation and none of the above recommendations can help, then it’s time to make a career change.

How a Career Change Will Change Your Life

I have a friend that works in the medical industry. She was once a nurse working directly with patients in one of the top hospitals in her area. After five years, she started to internalize the issues with her patients to the point where she felt depressed after work hours. It impacted her relationship with her family and she almost lost herself.

One day, she decided to wake up and take control of her destiny. She started applying for new medical jobs in the office. It meant working on medical documentation of patients which is not an ideal career based on what society expects a medical professional to perform. But she started to feel happier.

It is a classic example of a person that was negatively impacted by issues at work, stayed in the same industry but changed careers.

A career change can fulfill a lifelong dream, increase one’s self-esteem or revive the excitement for one’s work.

You know a career change can be the right decision to make if you experience one or all of these:

  • Working in a negative workplace: Don’t be discouraged. A negative workplace can be changed by working at a new organization.
  • Working with a difficult boss: The challenges of working with a difficult boss can be stressful. All it takes is communication. You can address the issue directly with a manager professionally and respectfully.
  • Feeling lost about what you do: Most people stay at their jobs and settle for mediocrity because of the fear of failure or the unknown. The rise to success often comes with working a tedious role or stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. If you fear the idea of being involved in activities that are new, remember that life is short. Mediocrity will only continue to make you feel as if life is passing you by.

How to Make a Career Change Successfully

The ultimate key to success is to go through a career transition step by step to avoid making the wrong decision.

1. Write a Career Plan

A career plan has a dead line for action steps that includes taking new courses, learning a new language, networking or improving issues at work.[2] A career plan should be kept in your wallet because it will motivate you to keep pursuing the role.

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You can learn how to set your career plan here.

2. Weigh Your Options

If you have a degree in Accounting, write down five positions in this industry of interest. The good news is diplomas and degrees can be used to a variety of roles to choose.

You don’t have to stick to what society holds a top job. In the end, choosing the right role that will make you happy is priceless.

3. Be Real About the Pros and Cons

It is time to be honest about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the job market that are impacting the current situation.

A SWOT Analysis of a career can include:[3]

  • Economic factors
  • Direct competition: Is this role in high demand?
  • Location: Do you need to move? If the goal is to work in tech and living in Cincinnati is not realistic, consider moving to San Francisco.
  • Achievements: To stand out from the competition achievements like awards, committee involvement, freelance work or volunteering is a recipe for success.
  • Education: Do you need to go back to school? Education can be expensive. However, online courses, webinars or self-study is an option.

    A career blueprint is the first step to creating realistic goals. A person without goals will be disappointed without a clear direction of what to do next.

    4. Find a Mentor or Career Coach

    A mentor or a career coach that works in the desired position can share the pros and cons of working in the role. Here is a list of questions to ask a mentor:

    • What is required to be successful in the role?
    • What certification or educational development is needed?
    • What are the challenges of the role?
    • Is there potential for career advancement?

    A chat at a coffee shop with a mentor can change your mind about the desire for a career change.

    Find out how to pick a good mentor for yourself in this article: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

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    5. Research Salary

    Some people decide to change careers for a role that pays less or perks like benefits to make up for the difference in previous to potential salary.

    It can reveal the cities throughout the country that offer a higher salary for those that have an interest in relocating for work.

    6. Be Realistic

    If your goal is to move up into an executive position, it is time to be honest about where you are in your career.

    For example, if boardroom meetings, high-level discussions about financials or attending weekly networking events are boring, an executive role may not be right for you. If you are an introvert and working with people every day is nerve wrecking, you need to reconsider a job in sales.

    Ask yourself if you can work in this role for the next five years of your life. If other benefits that come with the role are enticing, other roles are fit that will make you happy.

    7. Volunteer First

    A person that wants to become a manager should take on volunteer opportunities to experience the reality of the position.

    Becoming a committee member to pursue a presidential opportunity can provide a perspective on leadership, maintaining a budget and public speaking.

    Volunteer in a role until you are certain that it is the right opportunity.

    8. Prepare Your Career Tools

    I recommend asking a boss, colleague or mentor for career tools. If you prefer professional assistance, you can seek out resume writing assistance. Here is a list of things to consider when preparing career tools:

    • Online search: Search your name online to see what shows up. I recommend searching images that are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or other sites on a personal account. The last thing you want to realize is the job search is unsuccessful because there is unprofessional content you posted online.
    • Be LinkedIn ready: Recruiters conduct a LinkedIn search to see if the work experience is the same on a resume. Remember to change the wording on LinkedIn from the resume, or it will appear there was no effort put into creating the profile.
    • Portfolio: A portfolio of work is recommended for people that work in the arts, writing, graphic design and other fields. I recommend a portfolio online and one that is available in hand when attending job interviews or networking meetups.
    • Cover letter: A good cover writer will always impress your potential employers. Here’s how to write a killer cover letter that stands out from others.

    Bottom Line

    It takes time to move towards a new career. Pay attention to the physical and mental signs to maintain your health. You deserve to work in happiness and come home stress-free. If you avoid the common mistakes people make, you will find a job and discover the role in a career field that is the best fit with your skillsets.

    Master these action steps and changing career paths will be on your terms to make the best decision for your future.

    More About Career Change

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

    [1] Mental Health America: The State of Mental Health in America
    [2] MIT Global Education & Career Development: Make a Career Plan
    [3] Creately: Personal SWOT Analysis to Assess and Improve Yourself

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