Common Job Interview Questions and How To Answer Them

Nerves may hit along with the excitement when you reach the interview stage of an employment opportunity. Luckily, you could learn from those who’ve asked and answered before. Here, we provide you with a helpful guide for job interview preparation with these common job interview questions. We’ll explore questions job candidates often face, discuss why the interviewer might be asking the question, and provide tips on how to respond.

1. Tell Me A Bit About Yourself And Your Work Experience

This is the first in the list of common job interview questions. It’s common for an interviewer to start with a “non-question” like this. This question works a lot like an overarching personality test. Consider questions like this as an opportunity to highlight your special features that may not come through in the forthcoming standard interview questions.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

This question is a good way for both you and the interviewer to ease into the interview. But it’s also a way for the interviewer to assess your temperament, confidence, ability to communicate, and priorities.  

At base, interviewers are looking for a competent candidate with enthusiasm for the work who could play a functional role on their team. On a more general level, people spend a lot of their time in life at work. So, interviewers might also look for signs of a personality match with the current team and dynamic.

How To Respond to Common Job Interview Questions Like This?

Think of your response as a story, one that highlights your interests, background, and future goals. As with stories, it could be helpful to structure your response to help make it organized and concise and keep you on track. One possible structure is “past, present, future.” Begin by discussing how you became interested in the field, your past work experiences, and your achievements in those positions. Next, transition to your current situation, and then to your hopes for the future.

Make your response specific, and consider including a few details about hobbies and interests outside of work. This is a chance to let your personality shine!

2. Why Do You Want To Work At This Company In This position?

Take note that this is a two-part question. You’re being asked what appeals to you about this workplace as well as the job opening within it. It’s essentially one of the most common job interview questions about your motives.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

Potential employers want to hear about why you’re interviewing for this particular job in this particular company. It’s important to them that job candidates know what they’re signing up for when applying to work with them. This question helps them determine if that’s the case and reveals your level of interest in the company as well as your potential role.

How To Respond to Common Job Interview Questions Like This?

A good way to prepare for this question may be to ask yourself, Why this job and this company? Then, you could answer in a way that’s true to yourself and suited to the potential employer’s expectations. Consider checking the company website for their mission statement and look for goals that parallel your own purpose.  

Prepare with research and insights into what makes the company special and how you might fit in and make helpful contributions. Answer with passion—this is a perfect time to show your enthusiasm for the company. Showing excitement for the position and company could help you build rapport with the interviewer while also spotlighting yourself as a match.

3. How do you manage challenging situations at work? Please give an illustrative example from your last job

This common job interview question presents a dual challenge. That’s because an answer reveals how you see work challenges, based on the way you frame the situation in your story. Ideally, you give the interviewer a lens into how you could manage stressful situations in the workplace.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

Interviewers want to assess your adaptability for managing stress in different types of challenges. They want to know that you have a set of tools and techniques for handling difficult situations that allow for flexibility.

How To Respond to Common Job Interview Questions Like This?

Give a specific example of how you handled stress and pressure at work. Keep this story relevant to the position you’re interviewing about. Focus on your personal growth, the skills you used, and the lessons you learned to help make your story compelling while also highlighting your abilities.

4. When you have multiple projects at the same time, how do you stay organized and on time? What’s an example of this in action from the recent past?

Organization and timeliness may be key in the workplace no matter your role. Many people have trouble juggling more than one task at a time—you want to show that you have the tools and ability to do so.

Why is This one of the Most Common Interview Questions?

Interviewers want to see indicators that you know how to manage a workload, meet deadlines, and set priorities. They also want to see that you are able to communicate and collaborate, because these parts of staying organized and on time as part of a team.  

How To Respond to Common Job Interview Questions Like This?

There are many ways to stay organized and on time—which means there’s not a singular answer for this. So, when you prep your answer, think about specific ways you manage your time and the organizational practices you use.

Give an example from a typical workday that shows your time and organization systems in action along with how you share needs and expectations with your team. You might want to keep this answer especially succinct and organized—given the subject matter. For example, you might follow an outline of sorts by framing the answer with <em>First, second, then, and last.</em> It may serve you to also account for unexpected changes and show some flexibility in your system so that you don’t appear overly rigid.

Many employers utilize systems and apps to help employees stay on track. So, if you’ve used them, it may serve you to mention this experience and talk about how it helped your process.

5. What can you tell me about a time when you made a mistake at work? What happened, and how did you handle the situation from start to finish?

We all make mistakes, and the way we handle them could reveal a lot about what we’re like at work. For instance, if a candidate won’t admit they’ve made mistakes, it might show they aren’t great at accountability.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

This question presents a great litmus test for a candidate’s personality and temperament. For instance, if you answer the question with a harsh indictment of your mistake, you might be seen as being too harsh on yourself and perhaps others as well. Your answer could also show the interviewer how well you communicate and your teamwork style.

Interviewers want to know that you have the initiative to find solutions and ask for help. Even if the mistake was a mere misunderstanding, reaching out and asking for clarity could show that you are able to take action to fix matters.

How To Respond to Common Job Interview Questions Like This?

This question invites an example. So, give a specific instance of a minor mistake you’ve made and how you managed the situation. One way to use this question to your advantage could be to highlight positive qualities you may have used to solve it, such as communication and teamwork. You could also wrap up your answer with what you learned and how you use that lesson now to avoid making the same mistake again.

Check out the infographic below to learn more.

Common Job Interview Questions

6. Where do you see your career in 3 to 5 years?

Interviewers pose this standard question even if they don’t expect candidates to know where their career might be in the future. Mostly, it’s about checking where your head is career-wise. Are you thinking about where you’re going, how you’re doing, and what it means to you?  They’re looking for a motivated and productive mindset.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

Typically, the main objective of this question is to learn about how much you care about your career path. Interviewers are checking for short- and long-term goals. But they may not consider the actual goals as important as the fact that you have some. So, it’s not critical that your plans perfectly align with where you may wind up. Just have some goals. It shows you’re thinking about it.

How To Respond to Common Job Interview Questions Like This?

This question calls out for preparation. You may want to work toward aligning your goals with a career trajectory that follows naturally from the position they’re filling. Be enthusiastic about your goals and the possibilities for your career. Show your ambition, but be realistic—keep your goals achievable within the time frame.

7. Why did you leave your last job?

This question gives you a chance to highlight your ambitions and hopes to meet new challenges. It’s also an opportunity for you to ask why the position you’re applying for is open now. That could yield insight into what might lie ahead if you land the job.  

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

Potential employers typically want to know several things: 1. Whether you were fired and, if so, why; 2. If you’re someone who has trouble staying interested in work and moves around a lot; 3. If any issues with your last job might also be issues in the position you are applying for.

How To Respond to Common Job Interview Questions Like This?

Interviewers want a clear and honest answer; simple works fine here. But it’s also important to keep your story as positive as possible. No matter how you may feel about your former or current job, there’s a bright side to every story, and this is a great place to shine a light on it.

You could talk about wanting to learn from a new environment and make a more significant contribution at a company that’s better suited to you. Your response could open a channel to talk about how this company and position could be one that you are excited to commit to.

8. What would you change about your current place of work if you could?

This question may be a little tricky. On the one hand, you don’t want to sound like you are bad-mouthing your current company. On the other hand, you want to focus on an issue that is significant and warrants changing.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

The interviewer wants a clear answer that tells them a concise story about a problem and solution relevant to their business and your potential role. This could help them understand how you might suit the position and fit into the company culture. It also puts your ambition level on display based on how big a change you’d like to make. Do you want to change a company fundamental? Or the kind of coffee in the break room?

How To Respond to Common Job Interview Questions Like This?

Among the many ways to answer this question, one key element crosses through all of them. Try to keep the topic to something you’re capable of changing. It grounds your proposal in a possible reality. Also, be specific. For example, you might talk about ways to open channels of communication such as creating a system for answering emails in a timely way or filtering irrelevant emails from the team inbox.

9. What’s your greatest achievement—the one about which you’re most proud?

It’s your time to shine. This question opens the floor for you to spotlight accomplishments. We’re all proud of something we’ve done. These achievements say a lot about us and may show not only how we see ourselves but also what we think matters most about our work.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

Interviewers are likely hoping for a relevant answer that suits the open position they’re attempting to fill. That could mean several things, from skills and experience to attitude and value alignment. So, stay relevant to the position you’re seeking, and talk about a measurable success.

They might also be looking for how you measure success at work. For example, if you see your greatest achievement as the blowout office parties you plan, you may not measure success in alignment with your interviewer.  

How To Respond to Common Job Interview Questions Like This?

This question highlights what you value most about yourself. For example, sharing a parenting story about overcoming a challenge with your kids might point to family values. That may align with the interviewer’s interest in you as a candidate. Perhaps they’ve been tasked with finding candidates who share the core values of their family values company. Answer this question honestly. Having a job that fits your values could increase the chances that you’ll be more invested at work.

10. What didn’t I ask you but should have?

This question could serve as an opportunity to fill gaps that may be left about your experience or skills. It’s also a chance to give the interviewer a more rounded perspective of you.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

This question may enable the interviewer to see how interested you are, how much you’ve been paying attention, and learn more about you. It’s also a low effort way for them to do all of this with a single question.

How To Respond to Common Job Interview Questions Like This?

Answering this question well could serve as a chance to spotlight listening skills and insight. Prepared candidates could also use this opportunity to talk about unmentioned strengths. Key to this question could be an alignment with the way the interviewer has set the stage. You’ve been answering their questions and gained familiarity with their priorities and interview style. Keep these aspects in mind.  


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