“I felt like it was time – I got to a point where everything I was doing felt monotonous. I learned as much as I could at this position while delivering amazing results. It was, however, time to switch to something new.”
10 Common Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
Interviews can be high stress, anxiety-driving situations, especially if it’s your first interview. A little practice and preparation always pays off. While we can’t know exactly what an employer will ask, here are 10 common interview questions along with advice on how to answer them. The questions include:
- Could you tell me something about yourself and describe your background in brief?: Interviewers like to hear stories about candidates. Make sure your story has a great beginning, a riveting middle, and an end that makes the interviewer root for you to win the job.
- How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?: Share an instance when you remained calm despite the turmoil. If it’s a skill you’re developing, acknowledge it and include the steps you’re taking to respond better to pressure in the future.
- What are your salary expectations?: Before you walk in for your first interview, you should already know what the salary is for the position you’re applying to. Check out websites such as Glassdoor, Fishbowl, or Vault.com for salary information. You could also ask people in the field by reaching out to your community on LinkedIn.
Resignation numbers have remained abnormally high in the U.S. between July 2021 and October 2021, with millions of Americans quitting their jobs — which also means there are millions of new openings up for grabs. If you’re entering the market for the first time, or just looking to make a change, use this guide to prepare for your next interview.
Could you tell me about yourself and describe your background in brief?
Talk about a relevant incident that made you keen on the profession you are pursuing and follow up by discussing your education. In the story, weave together how your academic training and your passion for the subject or industry the company specializes in, combined with your work experience, make you a great fit for the job. If you’ve managed a complex project or worked on an exciting, offbeat design, mention it.
Example: “I come from a small town, where opportunities were limited. Since good schools were a rarity, I started using online learning to stay up to date with the best. That’s where I learned to code and then I went on to get my certification as a computer programmer. After I got my first job as a front-end coder, I continued to invest time in mastering both front- and back-end languages, tools, and frameworks.”
How to Answer 14 Most Common Interview Questions [+ Sample Answers]
In this section, we’re going to go through 14 of the most common job interview questions and answers. We’re going to explain what the HR manager wants to see in you, as well as give you sample answers you could use.
1) Tell me something about yourself.
This is usually the first question asked in an interview, so it acts as your introduction. Make sure your answer is relevant to the position you are applying for. What you should be aiming for here is to present yourself as the ideal candidate for the job.
For example, at Company X, I led a project for migrating all operations data to a new data warehousing system to cut down on costs. The new solution was a much better fit for our business, which eventually led to savings of up to $200,000 annually.
The lab felt like home, which is why I’d love to work as a lab assistant. I am passionate, hard-working, and extremely responsible. I am also looking forward to putting to practice all the things I learned during my time at university.
2) How did you hear about this position?
So, mention his/her name and his/her position inside the company and give their reasoning for inviting or recommending you to apply for the position. Tell the hiring managers what excites you about the job opportunity or what exactly caught your eye.
“I heard from Jim Doe, my old colleague and college friend, that [Company X] was looking for a new sales director. He encouraged me to apply, saying that my experience managing a sales team at [Some Software Company] would be helpful for [Company X].
3) Why did you decide to apply for this position?
What the interviewer is looking for here is to see how passionate you are about the job or the company. After all, job performance is directly linked to job satisfaction. The happier you are about your position at the company, the more productive you’ll be.
When you’re talking to a person that’s passionate about something, you can pretty much feel them glow as they talk. And if you’re an HR manager who’s interviewed hundreds of people, this is a very good sign to hire the candidate.
Keep in mind, though, that if you don’t know much about the company or the position – that’s OK too. Just be honest and show your passion for the job. However, it’s always better to do your homework before going to an interview..
4) What are your biggest strengths?
There are two answers you could go for here: what your actual strengths are, and what you think the hiring manager or HR representative wants to hear. We would most certainly suggest you go with the first answer.
For this question, you would want to narrow your answer down to at most three strengths. Pick 1 or 2 skills that would help you really excel at the job, and 1 or 2 personal (more or less unrelated) skills.
My biggest strength is that I’m good at picking up new skills. I’ve worked a variety of different odd jobs – things like working as a waiter, house-keeper, cook, and a lot more (as you’ve probably seen on my resume).
As an event manager at Company X, we were organizing an IT conference for a client. There were a ton of last-minute hiccups – some speakers canceled and the catering company said they’d be late for the lunch break. On top of that, we were understaffed because 2 of our volunteer organizers got sick and couldn’t show up.
5) What is your biggest weakness?
It’s also good practice to mention how you are working towards overcoming this weakness and realizing how it affects you negatively. If you can, just balance it with a positive side effect: treat it like two sides of the same coin.
6) What do you know about this company/organization?
Well, I know that you’re one of the biggest investment banks in [town / state / country]. Company X pops up on news pretty often – I’ve read that you’ve invested in some of the hottest tech IPOs, and have several up-and-coming biotech companies in your portfolio.
7) Why should we hire you?
I’m extremely organized, having managed several project teams in my university. I led the organization of Event #1 and Event #2. This involved continuous communication with 12+ companies, 30 speakers, and 15+ sponsors.
8) What are your salary requirements?
The final number you tell them should incorporate all 3 of the points we just mentioned. Do you know for a fact that the company is doing well (and compensates employees accordingly)? You’d quote a higher salary.
How to prepare for an interview
Use these questions and example answers to prepare for your interview by making them your own and tailoring them to fit your experience, the job and the company you’re interviewing for. It’s important to get comfortable with what you could be asked and understand what a good response might be.
Much like preparing for a test in school, the best way to succeed in your interview is to study and practice. Research the company and the job, and practice your talking points until you feel confident about your answers. The more you prepare, the more likely you are to leave a lasting impression and outperform fellow candidates. Come equipped with examples of work from previous jobs, as well as ideas for the new job. Try and make the interview as conversational as possible by showing genuine interest in the job, company and your interviewer.