14 common job interview questions

How do you feel about job interviews?

Since I view job interviews as a chance to talk about myself, my career and work that I’m proud of, I actually like them.

But I’ll admit that being confident in a job interview is only possible with some preparation.

A great place to start when preparing for a job interview is by thinking about responses to some of the most common questions asked by interviewers. Common interview questions are asked across different jobs, levels of experience and industries, so that interviewers can get to know you, understand your professional background and learn what you could bring to the table.

Before an interview, get your head in the game by reading the 14 questions listed below. As a bonus, I’ve noted some things to keep in mind as you think about your answers. Jot down notes and even practice saying your answers out loud.

Rehearse your answers to these questions as you prepare for a job interview:

1. Tell me about yourself.

Your answer to this question should cover your professional life, and it should align with what the interviewer has read in your resume, cover letter and/or application. Follow a chronological order as you speak, starting with the education and training that’s relevant to this role. Cover your previous jobs, keeping the details high-level. Mention job titles, promotions, achievements or recognitions. Avoid mentioning hobbies, vacations or family life right off the bat.

2. What’s your greatest strength?

This question is an opportunity to sell yourself. Is there something that you need to do in your job that you’re awesome at? Or, which of your key skills or abilities is transferable and can help you in many different situations in the role?

3. What’s your weakness?

Prepare for this question by keeping something that you’re improving in your back pocket. You can mention something that was previously a weakness, but you’re actively improving or correcting it. Just make sure that the area your weakness falls in isn’t a core competency for your job. For example, an interviewer would only see red flags if someone applying for an accountant job said they were bad with numbers.

4. Tell me about your best boss.

You don’t need to name names, but explain the type of professional relationship you had, and what the person did or how they acted. Bosses who contributed to your development, and who you might still consider a mentor or role model, are generally good picks.

5. Tell me about your worst boss.

This question could be a Trojan horse that the interviewer uses to see how professional you are. Even if you had a legitimately rotten, bad or mean boss, this isn’t the time to blame them or air your dirty laundry. First, be objective. What did they do, and why did it hinder the performance of you or your colleagues? Then, address your reaction to working with this person. Did you have an open line of communication with your boss to help him or her improve on this weakness? If not, how did you find a solution and stay productive when faced with this challenge? Again, don’t name names.

6. How did you hear about this job?

If someone at the company or someone in the hiring manager’s network referred you, make sure you ask before name dropping them. You may not be aware of a reason that the person might want to keep the referral confidential.

7. Where do you see yourself in three to five years?

You’ll likely want to answer this question by saying that you’ll still be with the company you’re interviewing at. Whether the job you’re applying for is a full-time, part-time or contract position, an interviewer will want to hear that you’re interested in and committed to staying with the company for the long haul. Why? Depending on the level you’re at, a company would expect that they get the return on their investment in you, consisting of training, onboarding and other perks, after three to five years.

8. How do you work with others on a team?

Provide examples to demonstrate your “soft skills,” like how you’re collaborative, constructive and an effective communicator.

9. How have you managed conflict with or among colleagues?

Think of a situation in which a minor conflict has come up and how you proactively took steps to resolve it.

10. How do you manage multiple projects and deadlines?

Electronic to-do lists are important. Importantly, communicate that you know how to look beyond the minutiae of the day-to-day and keep big goals for both yourself and your team in sight. Explaining that you can stay abreast of dynamic changes impacting cost, quality of work and timelines for projects is also key.

11. Why are you leaving your job?

You might be asked this if you have a job. Stay positive, and speak to the benefits that your current role provides to you. That said, you’re ready for a new challenge and want to gain knowledge, skills and experience while contributing to the company that you’re interviewing at.

12. What are your salary expectations?

If the salary range for the role is listed in the job description, it would be important that your expectations align with that range. Or else, why are you interested in the job? However, if your salary expectation is higher than what’s advertised, make sure you have an excellent case for a difference by describing the value you can bring.

13. What do you like to do for fun?

This is the time to mention your interests beyond work. Consider mentioning your hobbies, athletic endeavours, volunteering roles, places you’ve travelled, or your pets. However, you aren’t obligated to indulge in every detail about your personal life. Specifically, if you’re planning a wedding, pregnant, have children or other family responsibilities, you aren’t dishonest or unethical if you don’t reveal these details in an interview.

14. Do you have any questions for me?

This is a chance to learn more about the company and the team you’d work with to help you decide if they’re a good fit for you. Come prepared with at least three questions you’d like to ask. Jot them down in advance and refer to your notes to answer. If you’re not asked this question by the interviewer, say that you’d like to ask a few questions at some point before the meeting ends. Find out more about preparing questions to ask here.

Can you think of other common questions an interviewer would ask? Share them in the comments.

Image credit: Sue Styles from Pixabay.com.

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