16 Most Frequently Asked Questions in a Job Interview
The following is a list of the most frequently asked questions during an interview. While it may not be these exact words you can be sure that in some way all the topics listed below will be covered. Following each question is a number of reminders on different things to consider when answering. There is no ONE way to answer the question, just use the hints as a guideline when preparing your answers.
1) Tell me about yourself?
- Talk about your career! Give a brief summary of your experience. About five to eight sentences ought to do it. (see Interview Preparation Document 1 – Answering the “Tell Me About Yourself” Question.)
- End it with “What specifically are you looking for so I can tell you about those things in my background that matter most?
2) Why are you looking to change jobs?
- Don’t bash your current employer. This is a sure way to leave a lasting bad impression.
- Answers that point to a positive progressive career path are best.
- Perhaps you weren’t looking and we called you with what sounded like an excellent career opportunity.
“I’m interested in this opportunity because I enjoy the challenges of increased responsibility. I like my current work environment; yet I feel I’ve reached a plateau in my career there. This job and company offers me a chance to continue challenging myself.”
3) Why did you leave your previous job?
- Hopefully, most of your changes have been for a better career opportunity.
- If it was because of downsizing, plant closure, or the sale of your company, tell them that.
4) What do you like most/least about your current job?
- Mention the things about your current position that get you excited and give you the most fulfillment.
- Be honest, but not overly critical when asked about least favorite aspects.
5) What are your strengths?
- Everyone has strengths in his or her career. Focus on the strengths you have that are directly related to the position for which you are interviewing.
- Recall recent reviews you’ve had and cite specific, concrete attributes & accomplishments.
6) What are your weaknesses?
- It is best to mention a positive negative like: “I drive myself too hard sometimes.” “I’m a perfectionist.” or “I tend to expect a lot from my subordinates.”
7) What are some of your accomplishments?
- Get specific. Have you increased productivity? Increased sales? Increased profits? Cut costs or downtime? Created programs?
- Remember your list of responsibilities, duties, and top three business accomplishments of your career. (A page has been provided at the end of this packet to help you make your accomplishment list.)
8) What have you done that shows initiative?
- Talk about the projects or ideas that you have put into action and mention the positive influence they have had on the company.
- Mention the problems that you (or the company) have identified and the solutions you came up with for each specific problem; always mention any positive results this action had.
- Explain a failure you had and how did you fix it?
9) What would your boss say about you?
- Put yourself in your boss’s shoes. Can your boss depend on you? Do you take some of the load off your boss’s shoulders?
- What impression have you made at work and how do you go about doing your job?
10) What are you looking for in a new job?
- Appreciation for doing a good job and the opportunity to build your career is a good answer.
- You may also want to tailor some specifics to what appeals to you in the role they have open.
11) What do you know about our company?
- Do your homework about the company. Browse their website. Check out company profiles through websites like www.Hoovers.com. Look for relevant press releases online, in major newspapers, or trade publications. The library, Internet and your recruiter are all good resources.
12) What would be the first thing you would do if you got this job?
- If you have listened carefully to what they are looking for you should have no problem answering this question.
- Identify the areas that appear to be important to the company and address those issues by matching them up to your specific skill set and experience.
13) Where do you see yourself in 1 year? In 5 years?
- Be careful not to make it seem like you want to advance to quickly.
- Saying that you will be looking for more responsibility and are looking to be a valuable employee to the company is a good answer.
- It is healthy to mention general career goals you have set for yourself and general areas you would like to gain training in.
14) What can you do for our company?
- This is your chance to “wow” them. Get them excited about you.
- Mention the things that you have done for your current employer that you are most proud of and tell them that you can do the same for them, plus more. (If you have ideas about what you would do go ahead and talk about those as well.)
- Tell them what you’ve done to make the company $, save the company $, and/or improve a process to impact the bottom line. (All people are hired to impact the bottom line.)
15) Why do you want this job?
- You should be able to articulate clearly why this is an attractive opportunity to you and it has to be answered on both a professional and personal level to achieve maximum results. Be able to talk to an interviewer about the growth path you have set for yourself, how your current skill sets can be maximized in addition to acquiring new skills. Plus, on a personal side, talk about the area, community and lifestyle that will be a benefit to you in getting this position. Additionally:
- What was it initially about this job that caught your attention?
- What have you heard about this job/company since then that has increased your interest level?
- What are the opportunities in this job that you don’t see in your current job?
16) Talking about money:
- It is fine to state the facts but not “what it would take”. When asked about money by the prospective employer the response is “The reason I am here is about an opportunity, money is not the motive; but I am assuming that you will make me your most competitive offer.”
- Feel free to give them the EXACT amount you currently make including bonuses and/or overtime.
You also need to be prepared for employers who sometimes ask an unexpected question. Here are questions other students said they’d been asked:
“If you were an animal, what animal would you be?”
“If you were an inanimate object, what would you be?”
“How many golf balls does it take to fill a bus?
In discussing why interviewers ask that kind of question and how to respond, the best answer I can give is this, “Most often, there is no one right answer.” Likely, the interviewer is more interested in seeing how you respond to an unexpected situation versus the answer itself.
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Looking for more Interview Tips? Take a look at our other blog posts below:
- Prepare for an Interview With These Questions
- How to Follow Up After an Interview
- How to Write a Job Interview Thank you Email with Template
- 15 of the Best Questions to Ask at the End of an Interview
- How to End an Interview and Follow-Up Successfully: A Guide
- How to Answer “Why did you leave your last job?”
- The Secret to Better Resumes and Interviews
- Asking Questions in Job Interviews