Interviewing can be a nerve wracking experience, but it doesn’t have to be if you take the time to prepare yourself first. No matter what industry you’re trying to get a position in, there are a lot of common interview questions you need to master which come up all the time. Even if you think you have the finesse to put together polished answers on the fly, why risk it?
Of course there will always be at least some questions you can’t anticipate. So just in case you choke on those, make sure you can impress them with the rest! Since it would take weeks for me to guide you on how to answer each question, what I’ve done first is listed some quick tips to help you get started. Below them you will find a bunch of common interview questions you need to master which I’ve divided into helpful sections. Now it’s up to you to do your homework and formulate your best answers!
Quick tips on answering interview questions
- Be as specific as possible in your answers.
- Avoid repeating examples and saying the same thing over and over.
- Don’t bring in or discuss any confidential data from your previous employers.
- Keep your answers to no more than a few minutes in length. Rambling on will bore your audience.
- Don’t lie or BS because it will come back to bite you.
- Be genuine and don’t be afraid to show your personality.
- Smile when you speak and take breaths in between sentences.
- Go beyond canned responses to differentiate yourself from the competition.
- Focus on relevant work related details in your answers and stay on topic.
- Don’t panic if you get asked a logic or brainteaser question. Talk your way through the steps you’d take to get to your answer. They want to hear your reasoning and see how you handle pressure.
- Have a few questions of your own to ask during or at the end of the interview. 3-5 is ok, not 20!
- Be respectful that your interviewers are on a tight schedule.
- Read more of my Job Interview Tips: Don’t Be A Slob Or A Stinkbomb
- Practice, practice, practice!
Common interview questions you need to master:
Take a few minutes and tell us about yourself.
What attracted you to this position and our company?
How did you hear about this job?
What you know about our company?
Why do you want to work in this industry?
What are you known for amongst your friends/peers? How would they describe you?
Recent College Grads
Why did you choose your major?
What lead you to attend ABC school?
Which college courses did you like the most/least?
In which classes did you get the worst grades?
What extracurricular activities were you involved in?
What was your overall GPA and your major GPA?
Why did you choose your internships? or Why didn’t you have any internships?
What did you learn from your internships?
Did you have experience in group/team environments? What did you learn?
Current Job/Recent work experience
How did you get your present job and why did you choose it?
What are your responsibilities?
Describe a typical day.
What do you find the most satisfying/frustrating about your current job? Why?
What is the most challenging/rewarding aspect of your job? Why?
Tell us about a recent challenge you faced? What was the outcome?
Describe a new initiative/procedure you worked on that had a positive impact.
General Work Experience
Tell me what you did at your last few jobs.
What type of people did you work with?
What has been your favorite job in all of your experience, why?
What specifically were your most/least favorite aspects about that job, why?
What do you like most/least about working with others?
Have you ever been fired or laid off? Tell us about that experience.
Performance And Achievements
When was the last time your job performance fell short of expectations? Why?
Describe a recent time you took the initiative to improve something. What was the outcome?
How has your experience prepared you for this job?
What’s the most creative achievement you’ve accomplished?
What about yourself has contributed to your success?
What is your greatest achievement?
Behavior and Interactions
How do you stay organized?
Tell us about the worst decision you ever made.
Do you manage your time well? Give an example.
Explain how you handle change.
Give an example of something you failed at and how you handled the situation.
Tell us about the types of people you have trouble getting along with.
How do you handle stress? Tell us about a stressful event you experienced.
How do you behave when you have a problem with a coworker or client?
What qualities about your manager and coworkers do you like the most/least?
Have you recently established any new objectives or goals?
What’s the biggest problem you’ve failed to overcome so far?
What have you learned from your past jobs and what do you want to accomplish here?
Is there anything you’re trying to change about yourself?
What do you do when things are slow/hectic?
What motivates you?
How important has communication been in your career?
Talk about an experience you’ve had with a dissatisfied client.
Describe some of your strategies for dealing with difficult people.
How do you rate your communication skills?
When you’re assigned to work with new people, how do you go about getting to know them?
Tell me about your worst customer service situation and how you overcame it.
Work Ethics And Moral
How well do you work with others? Give some examples.
Describe a situation in which you sacrificed your immediate needs for the larger good of a team.
What do you do when you lose interest in an assignment?
Tell me about the last time you made a poor decision, or a mistake.
Describe a time when you had a problem with authority. What happened?
Tell me about an experience when emotions limited your ability to perform a task.
What are your strengths/weaknesses?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be, why?
Tell me about something you’re the most/least proud of.
What are the things you do best?
What are your current goals?
What’s the biggest problem you’ve failed to overcome? Why?
What qualities do you have that other applicants may not?
How would your manager describe you?
How much direction and feedback do you need to be successful?
What do you know about our competitors?
Tell us your thoughts on XYZ current event.
What is the biggest challenge you think this industry is facing?
How would you explain industry term in plain English?
Have you attended any training classes or conferences this year?
Do you consider yourself a self-starter? Why?
What aspects of your education, experience have prepared you for this job?
What are your educational goals?
Describe your proficiency in ABC skills/program.
How long would it take you to perform XYZ task and how would you get faster?
Describe how you use analytical skills on a day to day basis.
Give us an example of detailed oriented assignments you’re responsible for.
What kinds of people do you like to work with?
What type of people do you find difficult to work with? Why?
What frustrates you the most at work? How do you cope?
Do you prefer working in groups or alone?
What type of management style do you prefer?
In what types of environments do you feel most effective?
What kinds of rewards are most satisfying to you?
Under what circumstances do you perform best? Pressure, deadlines, structure, supervision?
Are you a risk taker or do you prefer to play it safe?
How important is recognition to you?
Managerial And Leadership Skills
Describe a time when you had to evaluate a situation in order to resolve a problem. How did you know you were successful?
Give an example of your ability to supervise others.
How have you positively influenced others?
Describe a decision you made when you didn’t have all the pertinent information.
Tell us about a time when you made a decision quickly.
How have you supported a new policy or procedure with which you disagreed?
In what ways do you motivate your direct reports? Your peers?
Describe a situation when you had to seek out information, analyze it, and make a decision.
Tell us about your leadership and management style.
Describe a recent high-risk decision that you made. How did you make this decision?
How would you rate your managerial skills?
What was the most difficult management decision you’ve ever had to make?
Why are you leaving your present job?
How does this position fit into your career plans?
What do you want out of this job?
What are your long/short term career goals?
How have your career aspirations changed over the years? Why?
What would you like to accomplish the most if you got this job?
What types of jobs are you applying for?
Are you considering any other offers right now?
Interest And Expectations
How long do you plan to stay if we offer you this job?
You’ve changed jobs frequently. How do we know you won’t quit in 6 months-1 year?
What is better/worse about this job than others you’ve applied for?
What reservations do you have about this role?
Why do you want to work here? Why should we hire you?
What differentiates you from other candidates?
What does our company offer that your present employer does not?
Tell us what your understanding is of this role and its responsibilities.
How will you handle the least interesting parts of this job?
Logic And Brainteasers
How many ping-pong balls would fit in a 747?
How many basketballs would fit in this room?
Tell me a joke.
You have a five-gallon jug and a three-gallon jug. You must obtain exactly four gallons of water. How will you do it?
You have three buckets. One is filled with apples, one with oranges, and one with both apples and oranges. Each bucket is mislabeled. You can take out as many fruit from each bucket as you want and look at them. What is the least number of fruits you need to remove to correctly label the buckets?
Untemplaters, what was the hardest interview question you had to answer when you were job searching? For you interviewers out there, do you have a favorite question you like to ask candidates?