Glassdoor has compiled a list of the 50 most common interview questions. If you are not familiar with Glassdoor, it's a website where employees and former employees anonymously review companies and their management. They also provide insight into the interview process of organizations. They found that the following questions are among the most common that organizations ask in interviews.
We won’t debate the relevancy of these questions and how it ties into making the best hiring decisions. That’s for another article. This is simply a quick reference guide to help you prepare for many of the questions that you will face. I can’t guarantee that you are not going to have a few oddball questions thrown at you but I can almost guarantee with certainty that you will more than likely have to answer many of these questions at some point. Why not be prepared?
The best way to get ready is to practice, practice, practice and be ready to answer these questions with confidence and enthusiasm.
Most Common Interview Questions
1. What are your strengths?
2. What are your weaknesses?
3. Why are you interested in working for [insert company name here]?
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
5. Why do you want to leave your current company?
6. Why was there a gap in your employment between [insert date] and [insert date]?
7. What can you offer us that someone else can not?
8. What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?
9. Are you willing to relocate?
10. Are you willing to travel?
11. Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
12. Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
13. What is your dream job?
14. How did you hear about this position?
15. What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days/60 days/90 days on the job?
16. Discuss your resume.
17. Discuss your educational background.
18. Describe yourself.
19. Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.
20. Why should we hire you?
21. Why are you looking for a new job?
22. Would you work holidays/weekends?
23. How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?
24. What are your salary requirements?
25. Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
26. Who are our competitors?
27. What was your biggest failure?
28. What motivates you?
29. What’s your availability?
30. Who’s your mentor?
31. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
32. How do you handle pressure?
33. What is the name of our CEO?
34. What are your career goals?
35. What gets you up in the morning?
36. What would your direct reports say about you?
37. What were your bosses’ strengths/weaknesses?
38. If I called your boss right now and asked him what an area that you could improve on is, what would he say?
39. Are you a leader or a follower?
40. What was the last book you’ve read for fun?
41. What are your co-worker pet peeves?
42. What are your hobbies?
43. What is your favorite website?
44. What makes you uncomfortable?
45. What are some of your leadership experiences?
46. How would you fire someone?
47. What do you like the most and least about working in this industry?
48. Would you work 40+ hours a week?
49. What questions haven’t I asked you?
50. What questions do you have for me?
Study the Company and Know the Position Description
Review the company’s website and other social media platforms before your interview. You should be able to speak confidently about the company services, customers, their industry, and know how you can fit into the organization to help them meet their future goals.
You’ll also want to review the job description. It’s a good idea to save a copy of the description in your own files as you apply just in case the description is no longer available online. Be able to speak in specifics about your experiences and how they match the company’s needs.
Mock Interview Practice
The best way to be prepared for the typical interview is by role playing and thinking about your response. Don’t worry if you mess up in the mock interview, you will be much better prepared for the real thing if you practice.
Practice using the S.T.A.R. method to answer questions that require more detail. You’ll likely be asked to expand upon your experience. The S.T.A.R. method is: Situation, Task, Action and Result.
First, present a specific situation you faced. Secondly, explain the task you had to accomplish and what action you took to address the issue. Finally, describe the results of your efforts. This last step is wrapping it up by explaining what you learned from the experience and how you will bring those lessons to the work that you will be doing for the organization.
Think about prior work experiences and craft a story to describe your accomplishments or to show how you dealt with a tough situation. Having a repository of career experience stories written down before an interview will make it easier to recall during the interview.
Keep a Record of Your Previous Interviews
After each interview, write down what happened, your impressions, the questions you were asked, and your general feelings.Try to do this as soon as you can after the interview. Reflect carefully on these because it will be a “lessons learned” so that you can use this to improve the next go round.
How to Answer Six of the Most Common Questions:
“Tell me about yourself.”
This may very well be the first question (although not really a question) that you will get. Be ready because this will set the stage for the rest of the interview.This is your chance to take control and showcase who you are and what you’d bring to the role. You want to paint a picture or tell the story to help the hiring manager see how you would be a good fit.
Don’t give your life history. Be brief. You want to be ready with about a one- to- two minute answer that summarizes your career with a focus on how your background matches the company’s needs.
Use a present, past, and future formula. Start with what you do now, then segue into the past, and top it off with the future and why you are excited about this opportunity.
List three to four key strengths you have that are pertinent to this job (experiences, traits, skills, etc.).
Talk about your strengths and abilities and remember to focus on the experiences and skills that are going to be most relevant for the hiring manager. It’s okay to tell a story or anecdote if it helps to relay the story to help them know a little more about you.
“Why are you leaving your current job?”
The reason why you are asked this question is because recruiters or hiring managers want to know your motivation for wanting to leave your current job. Is your boss a jerk? Do you want more money? Is your company culture a joke? One or all of those things may be the reason why you are looking but when you answer the question, be positive.You’ll want to discuss the positives that came out of your most recent job with a focus on why you think this new position is a great new career for you.
Never disparage your prior boss, co-workers, or the company. Are you looking to be challenged? That’s great. If the time has come to seek out a new opportunity, to expand your skills and knowledge, or to find a company in which you can grow, there’s nothing wrong with that. Those are positive reasons to seek out a new career. You rarely go wrong when talking about self-improvement. Interviewers love it when candidates are interested in bettering themselves. It’s a trait that indicates you could be someone who wants to grow with the organization.
Negativity never goes over well in an interview.You can always turn a negative into a positive and that’s the best rule of thumb for an interview.
“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
Taking about strengths is an easy one. So, let’s focus on the weakness. The reason why a manager asks this question is to see if they are missing anything if they were to hire you. It’s also designed to test your character and mental awareness. Who’s perfect? Nobody. They want to see how you have identified what you need to work on.
Be sincere. Don’t just select a weakness just because it sounds good. Pick a weakness that is acceptable for the job in which you are interviewing. Don’t mention a weakness related to any of the required skills or desired qualities. For example, if you are a sales person, don’t mention that you have hard time meeting new people or by saying that you are too reserved.
Pick a weakness that is relatively minor and correctable. By correctable, that means something you can improve through work, motivation, or training. If you say “It’s hard to speak in front of large groups of people.” That can be overcome and if it’s not germane to the role, it won’t matter to the hiring manager.
“What are your salary requirements?”
All companies have a budget and recruiters ask this question to make sure that everyone is on the same page. You will want to do your homework on this one. Know what you are worth and know what the same type of positions pay. There is enough information online that you can get a pretty good idea.
Know your “walk away” point. Know what you want and what you expect. Speak in ranges when giving figures. After you answer be comfortable with the silence that may come follow. Consider a statement like this: “I’m currently making $X, and I’m looking to make 10% to 15% more.
“Why should I hire you?”
Often times, this comes at the end of an interview. This is another great opportunity to seal the deal. By this time, you’ve heard about the position and should have a good idea of how you can contribute to the bottom line.
Stay focused on why your background makes you an ideal candidate. Tell them how you are going to contribute to the department and the company. Hiring managers love it when they think their job will be easier.
Tell them or explain how you will:
• Do the work and deliver extraordinary results
• Fit in well with the corporate culture
• Bring a combination of skills and experience that make you stand out from the crowd
• Make their life easier
This is an opportunity to reiterate your most impressive strengths and to describe your most memorable selling points.
"Do you have any questions for us?"
Of course you do. What is important to you? What do you want to know? This question works two ways: It also helps you to know if the company is right for you. So don’t be afraid to ask questions that give you some feel about what it would be like to work there.
Here are Some Questions to Consider
• How does this position fit in with the rest of the company/organization?
• Is this a new position?
• If so, what made you decide to create it?
• If not, are you changing it in any way now?
• Where do you see this department / company going over the next year?
• What would a successful employee make happen for you?
• What kinds of things would you expect of me to enable me to advance within the company?
• What kinds of advancement opportunities are there for someone in this position?
• Is there anything else at all that I can tell you about myself to help you in your decision?
• If I may ask, how long have you worked here? What do you like most about it?
• What would a typical work day/week be like for me?
• After I start, what would the first few weeks look like for me?
• Are there any special projects coming up you’d like me to work on?
• How would you describe the company’s management style?
• How would you describe the company culture?
• What would you say employees like most about working here?
• Is there anything employees would say they like least?
• If I do get the job, how soon would you like me to start?
• What can I expect as far as next steps
By Jan Johnston Osburn, Talent Acquisition Executive