Common Interview Questions & How to Answer


Most interviews include at least a few similar questions, and feeling comfortable in your response can help you answer confidently. While you shouldn’t use rehearsed responses for these common interview questions, it is a good idea to practice answering them so you feel ready to formulate your response during the interview. Here are tips for answering common questions in a positive and professional manner.

What Are Your Greatest Professional Strengths?
This is your chance to show your unique talents and qualifications, so answer with your honest self-evaluation, not with what you think the interviewer wants to hear. Be sure to tailor your response to include the skills that are most relevant to the position, and be specific. If possible, use a short anecdote of how you’ve used those skills in your career.

What Can You Tell Us About Yourself?
Though this is one of the most common interview questions, it tends to be difficult for many people. One of the best things you can do is practice a general outline of your response. It should be concise and targeted to your industry with a few unique points that match with the job requirements. End with a solid conclusion that ties your previous experiences to the position.

Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job?
This is a potentially difficult one, especially if you were let go. In this case, simply state that your previous company terminated your employment. Otherwise, be honest about why you’re leaving your current job without speaking negatively about your employer. It’s wise to talk about a goal you would like to meet in the new job. For example, “I’ve always wanted to be part of a start-up.”

Can You Talk About a Time When You Were in a Leadership Position?
This is a popular question even for non-management positions. Discuss times when you lead a team at work or in school (if you are a recent graduate). It’s best if you can frame your response in story form, laying out the project and its success while detailing your specific role and responsibilities. Give enough detail for the story to make sense, but don’t ramble on for a long time.

What Are Your Hobbies Outside of Work?
Questions like this are meant to judge how you would fit into the culture of the company as an employee and may be especially important for smaller, open-concept offices. This is a time for you to open up a little and let your personality shine through. Remember to keep your answers work-appropriate, however. For example, you can discuss your passion for discovering new craft beers, but don’t imply that you spend weekends getting drunk.

Do You Have Any Questions for Us?
Despite the fact that this is one of the most common interview questions, many people don’t take the time to prepare for it. Most answers would be acceptable here, except for having no questions at all. Before the interview, take the time to research the company and position as much as possible, and come up with a few things you can ask. Most generic questions and answers may already have been covered in the interview, so you could try a personal angle, such as asking the interviewer for his or her favorite aspect of working for the company.

How to Answer Other Common Questions
Your interview will contain other general and specific questions, and some you may not be able to prepare for ahead of time. Here are some general things to keep in mind:

  • Research ahead of time to understand the company and position so you can frame your answers in the way that most relates to the job.

  • Think like an interviewer and try to decide how you would like a jobseeker to answer certain questions. You may also want to Google yourself to see if an interviewer would find anything negative so you can be prepared if there are related questions.

  • Practice. Ask a friend to help you with a mock interview if possible, or at least practice talking in front of a mirror. More practice should help you feel prepared and comfortable.

  • Consider using an interview prep assistant, like Interview Game Plan. This kind of program can give you the step-by-step guidance you need to get interview ready in just 24 hours.

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