One of the most nerve-racking parts of looking for a job is knowing what to say in an interview and how to answer common job interview questions.
Succeeding at job interviews is a crucial part of the job search process. How you answer each question will be the major part of how successful you are in the interview and whether you get the job! That's why it's important to have an idea of the most common job interview questions and how best to answer each one. That way, you can go into each job interview already knowing how to answer any question the interviewer throws your way.
Every job interview is different. There are different hiring managers, expectations, and job posts involved. But many interviews will have some similarities like the following top 10 interview questions:
Practice interview questions by writing your answers down on the practice sheet below. By filling out a job interview questions and answers sample pdf, you’ll be more prepared for every question. The job description on the job offer post can also help you guess anything you could be asked for that particular job offer.
The best way to successfully answer typical job interview questions is to have a story in mind for each possible question. A brief story can successfully answer the interviewer's question, illustrate your skills and experience and make your answers more memorable.
You want to take every opportunity during the interview to show that you are a great fit for this position. So make sure to answer each interview question in a way that will help the interviewer see what you can bring to this job.
It's hard to talk about yourself, but you'll want to learn how to talk about yourself in relation to your work. Don’t give personal information that doesn’t somehow tie to your job, like your likes, dislikes, and hobbies. Instead, when asked, “Tell me about yourself?” answer with information about yourself that is relevant to your work.
"I just finished school as a computer science major and interned over the summer with a local software development firm where I learned to put my knowledge to practical use. While I was there I worked on several important projects on my own and in teams. I learned to meet deadlines and coordinate with others to solve problems."
When an interviewer asks about your greatest strengths they are trying to determine how you perform your job and what it will be like to work with you. When they ask about your strengths they want to know what good characteristics, skills, habits, and project management skills you bring to the table.
"One of my strengths is that I work really well with others. At my last job I worked in different groups of people for all our projects and learned to work under multiple management styles. I also had to figure out how to communicate effectively with different personality types. This taught me how to manage myself really well in almost any group setting."
It might seem counterintuitive to talk about your greatest weakness with someone you hope hires you, but there is a specific purpose for this question. If you have a weakness within your area of expertise they want to hear about the efforts you're taking to overcome that weakness. They want to hear about how you turn weaknesses into strengths.
"I have always had difficulties with public speaking. Throughout much of my life, giving presentations at school or at work was a difficult and nerve-racking task for me. That's why I decided to take a public speaking course in college so I could learn to overcome my fears, gain lots of practice with public speaking, and become confident in my abilities to present in front of others."
When an employer asks, "why should we hire you?" or "what makes you the best candidate for this job?" They want to know specific ways you'll contribute and help make things better. You can show the interviewer how you'll do this by giving examples of the contributions you've made in previous jobs. They also want to know what they would be gaining by specifically hiring you instead of someone else.
"You should choose to hire me because I want to work in a healthy and positive work environment where I can work with fellow members of my field. I feel that in this work environment I could really thrive, achieve my own career goals, and make a positive impact on this company and the community by the work I do here. I also appreciate the flexible schedules we discussed that will allow me plenty of time in the mornings to take my kids to school."
This question might come with an arbitrary amount of years tacked onto it like, "where do you see yourself in 5 years?" or "where do you see yourself in 10 years?" But the intentions behind the question are the same. The employer wants to know what your long-term career goals are and how you’ll achieve those goals at this job.
"In 5 years I want to be able to call myself an expert in my field. I plan on achieving this goal through my work and career development here, as well as personal courses and endeavors that will help me to continue learning about my field outside the workplace as well."
This question is closely tied to the "where do you see yourself in the future?" question. They want to know if this job will be a great fit for you and for them. They want to know why you are excited about this job, how it will elevate your life and your career plan, and all you could contribute to making this position better than when you found it.
"I want to work here because I believe this job position will allow me to grow and learn in my field. Not only will I be able to use skills I already have, but this job opportunity will give me the opportunity to develop new skills, make important connections in the field, and gain years of experience I can't get anywhere else."
There are many reasons to leave an old job and seek a new one. Whatever your reasoning, you can use this question to illustrate your plans, goals, and hopes for this new job and why you needed to make this change for your career path. Just remember to never criticize or speak poorly of people who aren't present and keep the conversation as positive as possible.
"I would like to leave my current job because while I learned and experienced many helpful things while I was there, the job position I had didn't align as closely with what I want to do in life as this job does. I feel that by making this job change, I can better pursue my 5-year plan and have the ability to do more with the skills I have."
As an employee, there may be times when your boss will need to give you feedback or correct your mistakes. Mistakes are a normal part of life, and our worth is about how we handle them, rather than never making them. So your future boss might want to know an example of when you've received criticism and how you handled it. Talk about how you’ve used criticism in the past to become a better person and do a better job at work.
"I used to feel very hurt when given criticism, but then I took an art class in college where we would critique each other's pieces at the end of each week. At first, this felt very uncomfortable for me, but after a while, I began to see how useful criticism could be in helping me improve. Now, even if the criticism is poorly given, I'm generally always able to pull something helpful and positive from it that I can use to make my life easier and better my own work."
One reason an employer might ask this question is to gauge how self-aware you are of your own job performance. Many jobs require letters of recommendation or contact information for references. This means that an interviewer might already know what an old boss has to say about you.
"My old employer would often tell me that I was one of their most punctual employees. I always got to work at least 10 minutes early to make sure shift transfers went smoothly and I was always on time for our monthly meetings."
At the end of a job interview, they will often ask if you have any questions for them. This is your opportunity to 1) ask about important information that wasn't available to you before now and 2) ask questions to help you determine whether this work environment is a good fit for you.
Take enough time to prepare for your interview beforehand. Get a friend to help you practice answering each of these questions.
Doing a couple of run-throughs can help you get all your thoughts in order and figure out the best way to say everything. It can also keep you from getting stumped during the interview and blanking on what to say because you've said it all before.
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