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.
- 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.
“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.”
“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.
- There are no right or wrong answers to this question.
- It’s best to be open and honest about your motivations.
“I’m driven by a desire to have a successful career.”
“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.
- 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.
“I believe I have the necessary skills and experience to be a genuine asset to your company.”
“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.
- 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.
“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.”
“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.
- 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.
“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.”
“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.
- 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.)
“Organization was never my strongest point, but I’ve recently learned and implemented a time management system that has massively boosted my organizational skills.”
“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.
- 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.
“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.”
“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.
- 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.
“Once I’ve gained sufficient experience, I’d love to move on to a management position.”
“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.
- 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).
“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.”
“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.
- 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.
“You mentioned earlier that there would be opportunities for relevant professional training. Could you give me more information on this please?”
“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?
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!