Your phone rings. This is it. You are invited to the job interview.
You are excited. You are worried. What interview questions the potential employer will ask you? How to make a good first impression? How to best present yourself during the first meeting?
Preparing for an interview is the key to success. You need to carefully research the company and the position you have applied for. Think about possible interview questions and your answers to them.
This article will be your guide as you get ready for the dialogue. It lists the most common interview questions and how to get prepared to answer them.
It also explains how to prepare for an interview and what questions to ask the interviewer.
At the end, it also mentions some illegal interview questions to show that not everything the hiring manager asks you must be elaborated on.
Get ready for your next job
Preparing for an interview? Do not stress! Read our other articles to help you feel relaxed as you prepare your answers for your next job interview.
- See common STAR interview questions to be ready for them as well.
- Review the list of the words to describe yourself in a job interview to present yourself in the best light.
- Remember to write a thank you email after the interview to show gratitude for the interviewer's time.
By the way, did you know it is a good idea to bring a copy of your resume to the job interview? Make sure you polish it with our resume builder beforehand!
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1. Commonly asked interview questions
There are some common job interview questions that you will almost certainly be asked at the job interview, no matter what role in the industry you seek. These generic questions pertain to your general information and overall description of who you are as a person.
“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”
Below are a few typical interview questions and advice on composing your responses to them.
- Can you tell me about yourself?
Most of your meetings will begin with this job interview question. Answering "Tell me a little bit about yourself" can sometimes take a minute. You start thinking about how to best introduce yourself, but you want to avoid getting too personal or saying something irrelevant.
"Tell me about yourself" is one of the most frequently asked interview questions. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 47% of hiring managers consider a candidate's response to this question as a crucial factor in their hiring decision.
Here is advice that can assist you with this common interview question.
- Begin by framing your answer in terms of the job. Elaborate on the experiences and skills from your resume. Explain what makes you the ideal candidate for the position.
- Focus on the positive aspects of your personality, such as your ambition and drive, rather than negative traits like insecurity. Showcase how you can bring value to the team with your skills.
- Avoid talking too much about yourself. Be concise and stay on topic. Keep it simple and elaborate on how your experience fits the role they are hiring for.
- Incorporate ideas and specific examples from the past applicable to the position or company. This demonstrates that you have done your research and are genuinely interested in working for them.
When answering the "Tell me about yourself" interview question, you do not need to recite your full resume. Remember the key points and show enthusiasm for the field. Staying positive and professional to leave a lasting impression on the employer.
- How did you learn about this position?
Another one of the common interview questions is "How did you hear about this position?" For this question, you need to strike the right balance between being honest and sounding well-informed.
If you have applied for the job, you must have learned somewhere about the vacancy. This interview question is your opportunity to share your research skills.
Avoid generic answers like "I saw an ad" or "I heard from a friend."
- If you were recommended for the job by a contact, explain who they are in the company.
- If you saw the job advertisement on social media or a job board, be specific. Tell which platform you used and why it stood out to you.
Examples of answers to this common interview question could be something like this:
"My former colleague is a marketing director at your firm, and he told me about the job opening. He thought I might have the skillset you are looking for."
"I came across this position on LinkedIn when searching for a new opportunity. The job description resonated with my experience and made me want to apply."
Your answer to such job interview questions should emphasize how passionate and knowledgeable you are about the role and the company.
Showing that you have put in the effort to investigate them demonstrates that you value their work and could be an asset to their team.
- What do you expect from a new position?
Every applicant has unique goals and expectations in their job search. Understanding what the candidate expects in a new role is essential. These common interview questions will help employers determine if the applicant is a good fit for the position and company.
- At a job interview, the hiring manager may inquire about what you desire in a new job. The answer should provide information about your career motivations and goals.
- The response should also give employers an idea of how you will fit into their team and work environment. HR specialists can recognize that you have the drive to take on extra responsibility and a willingness to learn.
- Grasping what motivates you to seek a job can assist in estimating how long you may stay with the company. If you mention that you want to progress up the career ladder, employers know you are keen to remain with the organization for several years.
By asking such interview questions, hiring managers can gain valuable insight into your potential before offering you a job.
This helps ensure that both parties have realistic expectations about their professional relationship and increases the likelihood of securing the role.
- Why should we hire you?
Answering the interview question "Why should we hire you?" helps you once again spotlight the value you can bring to the team.
Provide a concise and confident answer that showcases your skills, experience, and ambition. The suggestions below can help you prepare for an interview inquiry of this kind.
- Highlight your qualifications. Present your relevant credentials and experience. Make sure to note achievements or awards to exhibit your commitment and strive for success.
- Explain why you are interested in the job. Express excitement for the position and elaborate on why it is an excellent opportunity for you. Discuss how your skills and interests align with the job requirements and how you will contribute to the company's prosperity.
- Demonstrate self-awareness. Show that you understand yourself, your strengths, and your weaknesses. Mention how you have worked on improving weaker areas and how you plan to continue learning.
- Showcase your interpersonal skills. Stress your ability to work well with others by highlighting past team projects or successful collaborations with colleagues. Describe how you can bring a positive attitude and good communication skills.
- Articulate your goals. Explain your short-term and long-term career goals and what helps you stay excited. Show that you have a clear vision for where you see yourself in the future and how this job can help you reach those goals.
When answering such interview questions, remember to speak confidently about yourself and be prepared to back up any claims with examples from past experiences.
By following these tips, you can present yourself as the ideal candidate for the job.
- What are your strengths?
The interview question about your strong sides may be challenging. You do not want to sound arrogant, but you do not want to lose an opportunity due to revealing your flaws.
However, if done right, these job interview questions are a great opportunity to show off your best qualities and stress your willingness to progress as a professional.
- Take time to think about your strongest qualities. Consider past achievements, positive feedback from coworkers, or any awards you have received for your work.
- Make sure that the strengths you highlight are relevant to the job you are interviewing for.
- Be confident in your answer and be brave enough to show enthusiasm.
- Give specific examples of how you have used each strength in the past and explain the outcomes that resulted from these actions.
- Keep your answer concise and avoid rambling on too long. Use short sentences and focus on only a few of your greatest strengths rather than trying to list them all.
Adhering to these guidelines, you can guarantee that you are prepared and confident when responding to this job interview question.
- What are your weaknesses?
No one likes to talk about their weaknesses, but it is important to be aware of your shortcomings and how to overcome them. Elaborating on them can help you excel in securing the job.
- Do not try to make things look better. Be honest and open about what you feel your weaknesses are.
- Avoid listing generic traits like being too organized or too much of a perfectionist. Instead, focus on areas you have recognized as needing improvement and have actively worked to address.
As you talk about your flaws, emphasize how you want to continue learning and growing in the role. Discuss strategies to work on specific skills or how you would welcome feedback from mentors or colleagues to help develop yourself further.
For example, if you struggle with public speaking or collaboration, talk about the steps you have taken to feel at ease in those areas. This could include joining a Toastmasters group or attending workshops on teamwork.
The question "What is your biggest weakness?" offers insight into a candidate's self-awareness and willingness to improve. According to a survey by Robert Half, 92% of employers found a candidate's ability to discuss weaknesses and demonstrate a growth mindset as important or very important.
Being honest is critical while still being positive and confident in your abilities. Show that you are aware of what needs improvement and that you are committed to working on it. Employers will appreciate your openness and willingness to grow.
- What is your motivation/passion?
Interviewers often ask potential hires, "What motivates you?" This interview question can help determine whether or not your goals and ideas align with what the organization strives for.
When talking about your motivation at the job interview:
- Think about your unique qualities and interests. What excites you? What drives you to work hard and excel? Think of specific examples from your past to illustrate how these qualities motivate you.
- Consider your stimulus at the job. Do you thrive on challenges or enjoy working with others? Maybe completing projects is motivating for you. Explain how these factors contribute to your work performance.
- Focus on concrete results. Explain how your motivation has led to tangible outcomes in the past, such as awards or promotions. Showing that you are goal-oriented can make a great impression on the interviewer.
Answering the question about your passion in a job interview is an exceptional way to illustrate your enthusiasm and the skills you have to offer.
Tips on addressing an interview question about your passion:
- Think about what you love doing. Take a moment to reflect upon what activities make you feel alive, enthusiastic, and passionate. It may be a hobby or something related to your profession.
- Prepare your answer. After deciding what you are passionate about, think about similar interview questions and answers you can give them. Explain why it is important and how it can benefit the company. Make sure to stay focused and provide examples of any relevant skills that you possess.
- Show enthusiasm. When addressing this query, let your enthusiasm shine through. Use positive language and manifest your excitement for the opportunity ahead of you.
Most importantly, be honest with yourself and with the interviewer as you respond to these interview questions. Do not try to fabricate something you do not care about or pretend to have a passion for something untrue.
The interviewer is eager to discover what makes you want to perform well. So, do not be shy to show it! Be confident and showcase your best self in the job interview.
- What do you like to do outside of work?
An interviewer might ask this common interview question. This is yet another opportunity to talk about your positive qualities.
Below are some ideas for crafting an adequate response.
- Start by giving an overview of the types of activities you enjoy engaging in. Focus on involvements that demonstrate your good qualities. This should include hobbies, sports, or volunteering projects.
- Explain why those activities are important to you. Are they creative? Do they help you relax and recharge? Demonstrating your motivations will prove to the interviewer that you have enthusiasm and self-awareness.
- End your response briefly explaining how these commitments contribute to your overall well-being and job performance.
For example, if you volunteer at an animal shelter, mention that you like helping animals in need and working with people from different backgrounds.
If you play sports, talk about how it helps you cultivate discipline and resilience- the qualities that can be useful in the workplace.
In summary, to answer the interview question about your hobbies, give a thoughtful answer that displays your best qualities while showing the interviewer why they can also benefit the company.
- What makes you unique?
We all have unique qualities that make us stand out. When asked such interview questions, think of something that distinguishes you from others.
Here are some things to consider when preparing your answer:
- Your educational background and qualifications.
- Your life experiences, such as cultural differences or travel.
- Your skills, such as problem-solving or communication.
- Your values and interests, such as volunteer work or hobbies.
- Your personality traits, such as creativity, resilience, or leadership.
Think of a few examples that illustrate your uniqueness and show you in the best possible light.
Be sure to back up your points with real-life examples and explain why they make you a great candidate for the job. Showing enthusiasm and confidence in yourself will also go a long way!
- Do you consider yourself successful?
Success is a relative term and can mean different things to different people. When faced with this interview question, reflect personally on what success means to you.
Here are a few pointers to assist you:
- Explain how you define success. Go beyond money or job titles. Focus on other factors, such as growth, learning, and impact.
- Be honest and humble. Express your pride in past successes but avoid boasting or exaggerating. Highlight your accomplishments without coming across as arrogant.
- Show your goals and aspirations. Demonstrate that you have ambitions and plans for the future - this indicates a strong sense of self-motivation and drive for success.
- Keep it positive. End your response positively, showing how excited you are about the opportunity to succeed in the role if given the chance!
Think of specific achievements that exemplify your success in your career or personal life. Focus on those relevant to the position you are applying for and make sure they are customized to the business you are meeting with.
Do not overthink this kind of interview question, as there is no right or wrong answer. This is just another way to present your reflective abilities, critical thinking, and creativity.
So, use this job interview question to prove to the hiring manager again that you are the person they are looking for.
- What is your dream job?
The interviewer wants to understand your ambition and goals by asking such job interview questions. It is essential to furnish an honest and confident response that reveals your intentions for the future.
Tips on how to respond to this question:
- Be specific. Contemplate what you hope to achieve professionally in the next five years, how, and why it is important for you.
- Show ambition. Describe how you plan to challenge yourself and pursue professional growth.
- Demonstrate enthusiasm. Make it clear that you are excited about the opportunities ahead.
- Emphasize transferable skills. Focus on your skills and experiences that will help you move forward in your career, no matter your job or industry.
- Remain optimistic. Avoid dwelling on any negative aspects of your current situation or any roadblocks you may face in achieving your goals.
- Keep balance. If maintaining a healthy work-life balance is significant to you, make sure to state it in your answer.
By following these tips, you can give an answer that shows you have ambition, enthusiasm, and a plan for your future career path.
Questions like this aim to assess a candidate's long-term goals and ambitions. A study by LinkedIn found that 30% of professionals felt unsure or had no answer to this question, indicating the importance of preparing a thoughtful response.
Answering the question "What's your dream job?" during a job interview can be challenging.
For instance, you may not even know what is your dream job yet. However, do not say that, and elaborate on what you wish your work environment looked like.
- Examine what kind of work you enjoy doing. Are there specific tasks that you feel passionate about? Uncovering the characteristics of your ideal job can assist you in conveying what you strive for more precisely.
- Consider how the job you are applying for fits your expectations. If it aligns closely with your dream job, explain why it would be a great fit and how it excites you. If it doesn't quite match up, think about what elements could be incorporated into the role to make it a better fit.
- Pay attention to upbeat language. Highlight why you would be an ideal candidate and how well-suited you are for the position. Also, don't be afraid to talk about your ambitions for future employment and how this job could help get you there.
- Do not refer to another company or position. Acting in such a way may give off the wrong impression and lead to further questions from the interviewer. Instead, keep your answer focused on why this particular role is your dream job.
By preparing for interview questions in advance, you can provide a response that will illustrate your excitement and aptitude for the job.
2. Tricky common job interview questions
Some job interview questions may make you feel intimidated or confused about what the potential employer wants to hear.
When preparing, you need to think about these interview questions and the answers you can come up with.
Below are a few examples of delicate interview questions.
- Why is there a gap in your work history?
If you have a break in your employment resume section, be ready to explain it.
There are many reasons someone may have a period in their employment history when they did not work.
- Some may have utilized time off to care for family or their health.
- Others may have been terminated due to the economic climate.
- Some individuals may have taken a break to pursue other interests or take classes to learn new skills.
You should explain the circumstances surrounding the gap and how you spent the time, such as taking classes or volunteering. This will show that you used your time constructively and can be an asset to the company.
You can also use this opportunity to illustrate how you have grown from the experience and what skills you have acquired.
You might also talk about how the situation has motivated you to become more organized, better at problem-solving, or more focused on your career goals.
If the reason behind your career break is personal, say so. State that you would not want to disclose your private life or medical information in detail.
You can describe the situation using generic terms, such as a medical condition, loss of a family member, etc.
Finally, emphasize that your experience gap does not detract from your enthusiasm and capability to work. Showing enthusiasm and ambition is key to demonstrating that you are eager and ready to take on any challenges that come your way.
- Are you considering other jobs?
An employer might ask if you are exploring opportunities with other organizations to gauge your interest and availability. Indeed, if you are actively looking for a job, you have applied to multiple places.
Being truthful and thoughtful in your response is paramount to this interview question.
- Explain that you may have looked into other roles but that this particular job is the one you are most interested in and why.
- Highlight the reasons why you are excited about this opportunity and how it aligns with your career plans.
- Mention that you have conducted research into the organization and the position, and explain what you have learned about them.
- Evidence that you are knowledgeable about the company and know what it will take to be successful in the role.
You can also mention if you have spoken to any contacts or former colleagues who may have mentioned the role or provided insight into it. This could further demonstrate that you are serious about the job.
Ensure to express enthusiasm for the role and a strong desire to join the team and make a positive impact. This is still possible while also being frank about looking at alternatives.
- What is your current salary?
Such interview questions can be tricky to answer. As for your current pay, it is okay if you wish to keep such details private from a stranger. Explain the reasoning behind it.
You may state that the current pay could be more satisfactory for your professional level. Also, disclosing such information may hurt the company you are currently working for.
You will not fail your job interview by not disclosing your present pay rate but providing the explanation.
Instead, you will show your integrity and high work ethic regarding the company you work for now, meaning you will do the same in your new role.
- What is your expected salary?
When asked about salary expectations, the best way is to provide a salary range rather than an exact figure. This allows you to explain any relevant experience or qualifications that could increase your value.
If you are changing jobs and moving into a new role, it can be beneficial to research the salaries of similar positions in the same area. This can help you decide what an acceptable compensation is for your new role.
Many job-seekers are afraid to lose an opportunity and avoid negotiation.
Tips to help you answer such interview questions:
- Know the industry standards. Research the market rate for your job and the location so you know what is fair.
- Consider your qualifications and experience. Think about how much you should be compensated based on what skills and qualifications you bring to the table.
- Think about your budget. Include the cost of living in the area where the job is located, and decide if that fits with your budget.
- Be reasonable and flexible. If you have a specific range in mind, ensure it suits the position and company size. Also, be open to negotiation if the employer makes an offer lower than your expectations.
- Take into account other benefits. Make sure you understand all the benefits of the job, such as vacation days, health insurance, etc., before deciding on a salary requirement.
To be safe, do not use phrases like "I want to be paid X thousand dollars per year."
Alternatively, say, "Based on my research of the local job market, I expect to be compensated anywhere between X and Y."
In this way, you will sound knowledgeable and realistic, rather than a money-driven individual.
Everybody wants to get paid what they are worth. However, knowing what salary to ask is not as simple as it may seem.
Remember that salary is not the only factor when considering a job offer. Things like job satisfaction, career progression, and even location can all be important considerations.
Do not hesitate to probe or haggle if you feel the job offer is not quite right for you.
- Are you planning to have children?
This is a type of interview question that may be challenging to answer. Although the interviewer may be asking to learn how your family commitments might fit with the role, you are free to not respond to such inquiries if you feel uncomfortable.
Should you choose to answer this question, be honest about your plans?
Discuss how you intend to reconcile work and personal life. If you are not planning to have children, explain that you are focused on building your career right now and are not ready to start a family at this time.
It is perfectly normal to be unsure or undecided about such an important decision. Tell the interviewer that it won't impede your capacity to do the role if they employ you and that you can adapt if necessary.
No matter what your answer is, remember that having children is a very personal decision. No one should feel obligated to explain their reasons for wanting or not wanting kids in a job interview.
Be confident as you respond to this interview question, clearly stating your position on whether you wish to disclose this information or not.
3. Illegal interview questions
Certain job interview questions are illegal to ask. Employers may not be aware of such questions or pursue asking, relying on you being stressed.
Here is the list of some forbidden subjects that should not be asked at the job interview: age, race, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, marital status, disability, gender identity, pregnancy; and genetic information.
Employers should never ask questions about these topics. Doing so could make them vulnerable to legal issues. Instead, they should focus on skills and qualifications related to the job role.
Inquiring about salary, hours, and benefits are also not good interview questions and should also be avoided.
Hiring managers must wait until an offer is accepted before discussing such matters. Otherwise, they may give a potential employee the wrong impression or make promises they cannot keep.
Finally, employers must abstain from inquiring regarding an applicant's criminal history or credit score. This could open them up to lawsuits and discrimination claims.
By understanding which questions are forbidden, you can protect yourself from being discriminated against.
If you hear such a question, you may point out your awareness of it being inappropriate. In fact, this should be a red flag for you if you even want to pursue a career in an organization that fails to follow hiring ethics and laws.
4. Questions for the interviewer
Most job seekers know the importance of preparing for a job interview. This is because they do not know what questions to ask at the end of an interview.
"Opportunities don't happen, you create them."
Appearing confident and knowledgeable can help you make a good impression.
However, many people forget the significance of preparing questions to ask the interviewer. The right questions can show your enthusiasm and interest in the job and prove that you have done the research.
Thinking about good interview questions beforehand gives you an insight into the type of information you may need about the role and company.
This will help you decide which topics to focus on during the interview and give you time to research answers if necessary.
Having questions ready will also show that you are thoughtful and engaged in the conversation. It is critical that the questions you ask demonstrate your knowledge of the industry or company rather than general questions about benefits or salary.
You should also consider asking questions about opportunities for career development or how the company will measure your performance. This shows that you seek more than just a job but an opportunity to grow within the organization.
Finally, it is imperative to inquire about ask what expectations are set for someone in this role and what qualities they would like to see in their new hire. This may give you a better idea of how your skills and experience could fit into the position and ensure that you are both on the same page.
Ideas for questions to ask at the end of an interview:
- How would you describe the company culture here?
- What opportunities are there for professional growth and development?
- What challenges do you anticipate the successful candidate facing in the role?
- What strengths do you feel are most necessary to be successful in this position?
- How do you measure and evaluate success in this role?
- How quickly would you expect the chosen candidate to become integral to the team?
Preparing thoughtful questions to ask at a job interview may be a great way to stand out from other candidates and show your enthusiasm for the position. Therefore, it is important to come up with questions beforehand so that you can make the best impression possible during your job interview.
Interview questions: conclusion
The job interview is a vital step in the hiring process. It is your first encounter with your potential employer and a chance to impress them.
Even though each interview is unique, there is a way to get ready for the interview. The above advice on preparing for an interview will equip you with confidence and help you present your qualifications best.