How to Answer Common Interview Questions (Plus Quick Tips to Succeed in Your Job Interview)

After submitting your resume to multiple employers and waiting for a couple of days or weeks, a hiring manager has finally contacted you or sent you an email inviting you for a job interview. You are now one step closer to landing your dream job; all you need to do is nail your job interview.

Are you ready for this nerve-racking stage of your job search game? Are you prepared enough to respond to the common interview questions a recruiter asks job seekers? Have you done your assignment researching for tips and practicing how to answer these common interview questions?

Worry no more; JobTalkUSA has got your back! In this article, we’ll discuss the 10 most common interview questions and answers you should prepare for to catch the hiring manager’s attention—and receive their congratulations as they hand you the details of your new job. Read on.

What are the 10 Most Common Interview Questions and Answers?

The following are the top 10 interview questions that hiring managers usually ask job applicants. It is important to note that aside from resumes, job hopefuls should also prepare for their upcoming job interview, and be ready for any questions that the interviewer might throw. Let’s dig in.

job seeker answering common interview questions asked by two hiring staff

1. “Tell Me About Yourself.

In many companies, hiring managers usually start with one of the most common interview questions to officially begin the job interview process. Aside from easing both job applicants and the interviewer into the actual interview, this phrase helps the latter obtain basic information about job candidates, which is one of the primary goals in the hiring stage. Furthermore, it gives hiring managers the impression of job seekers being confident, calm, and perfect fit for the position they are applying for.

How to Answer This Interview Question:

As mentioned above, this open-ended statement allows the interviewer to get to know the applicants. But what specific information do they really want to get? Is it related to your family pet? Your favorite musicians? Your dream when you were little? Of course not. What hiring managers would like to know is the reason you’re qualified for the job you’re interviewing for. Take note that how you respond to this job interview question could leave a long-lasting first impression to the interviewer.

To prove you’re the one they are looking for, answer this interview question by discussing your previous or current experience, roles, accomplishments, and contributions as they relate to the job you’re applying for—regardless if you’re an entry-level applicant or established professional. Highlight what sets you apart from other job seekers. Likewise, confidently emphasize your strengths and skills, and provide them with examples. Just make sure to relay this information systematically using either the present-past-future or the past-present-future sequence.

Moreover, you may showcase your personality to the interviewer by sharing some fun facts about you to break the ice and make the interview more interactive. However, do not dwell much into your life story.

Example Response to This Interview Question:

Currently, I am working as a sales manager at ABC Company. Prior to that, I served as a sales representative from 2013 to 2015, and some of my responsibilities involved promoting and selling products and services to existing and prospective clients. I was also in charge of reviewing the results to recommend changes in products, service, and policy; while also establishing relationships with customers.

Due to my professionalism and excellent work performance, I got promoted as a sales manager. I am now in charge of the sales operations of the company’s three branches in California. Over the course of my career as a sales manager, I have played an integral role in boosting the company’s sales, acquiring new customers, and achieving positive results.

2. “What is Your Greatest Strength?

Hiring managers ask this interview question with the main goal of determining if the applicants’ strengths are really in line with the job position and company’s needs. This question is a good opportunity to highlight your feats, attributes, and expertise that will make you stand out among other job candidates.

How to Answer This Interview Question:

One of the best ways to answer this common interview question is to show, not just merely tell, that you possess the necessary knowledge and skills that your interviewer is looking for in an applicant. Mention and correlate your experience with the job you are seeking. Underscore how your strengths have helped you fulfilled your responsibilities and made notable contributions to your previous employers.

You may also create a list of your skills specified in the job posting before you attend your job interview. These can be your education, training and certifications, soft skills, and industry-specific skills. Afterwards, provide one or two examples that can demonstrate how this particular strength played a vital role in producing positive results.

To make the interview more interesting, it’s highly recommended to use adjectives and industry-specific keywords when you are responding to this question. This will also help you earn additional points from the interviewer, showcasing that you’re knowledgeable of the industry.

Example Response to This Interview Question:

I am equipped with excellent interpersonal and communication skills. When I promote the products and services to customers, I always make sure that I have relayed the information they need to know, including the price, benefits, functionalities, and processes. Through these skills, I was able to persuade them purchased our products without sounding too pushy. I also make sure that they experience excellent customer service by assisting them with their needs, addressing their concerns, and responding to their questions. As a result, I received multiple Excellence in Customer Service awards.

3. “What is Your Greatest Weakness?

One of the most common interview questions that will be asked by hiring managers is your weakness. Take note that this question is always present along with your strengths. Hence, you should think of your greatest weakness, and how you have improved this and turned into your strength.

Remember that the interviewer also wants to know how challenge-driven person you are and how much willing to learn when it comes to managing new, unfamiliar tasks. Further, they want to find out whether or not you know yourself well, as well as if you’re a good fit for the role.

How to Answer This Interview Question:

Just like the way you shared your strengths to the interviewer, select a real weakness that won’t hinder you from getting the dream job. This may include skills that are not directly related to the job position. Be honest with the hiring manager and use this opportunity to emphasize how you’ve treated this weakness as your driving force to succeed in your tasks. Then, elaborate what the steps you have taken to conquer and improve your great weakness.

For instance, if you’re applying for a content writer position and it requires communication with other teams, admit that you had a hard time interacting with other people because of your personality. You could mention that you have overcome this weakness by, say, having the initiative to invite your colleagues over a cup of coffee before commencing work, taking your breaks together, and sharing your hobbies and interests with your team.

With this, you’re showing the interviewer your ability to recognize your areas for improvement and the steps to take to ensure you achieve them. Additionally, you’re allowing them to see your initiative to turn that weakness into strength.

Example Response to This Interview Question:

I am afraid of being rejected. While I was serving as a sales representative, every time that I was not able to convince our customers to buy our products, I always had a hard time dealing with it. I would think of myself as not effective in what I do and that thought led me to quitting my job.

To overcome this weakness, I always asked for feedback from my colleagues and the management. What struck me the most was when my manager told me that we can’t please everybody even if we’re doing our best. Since then, I started accepting rejection. And those rejections have led me to become a better salesperson in the industry.

applicant answering job interview questions

4. “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

When the interviewer asks this question, note that there are several things they would like to find out aside from your reasons: It’s either you voluntarily left your position, were fired, or were laid off due to circumstances out of your control. Regardless, you must answer this question honestly while maintaining positivity. In addition, the interviewer wants to know why you’re are looking for a new job.

How to Answer This Interview Question:

If you voluntarily left your last job, you may mention that you’re interested in seeking a challenging yet fulfilling position with a new company since you feel like you’re not being challenged anymore and working at your last job had become a routine. If this is the case, impress the interviewer by discussing the attributes of the position and their company that attracted you to apply for the job.

Some of the good reasons you may give to the hiring manager include the following:

  • You have other professional and life goals you want to achieve;
  • You’ve been looking forward to your well-deserved promotion but has never happened;
  • You’re a freelancer and seeking a full-time job opportunity;
  • You’re aiming for better compensation and benefits;
  • You’ve lost your passion for the work; and
  • You’re looking for greener pastures when it comes to your career.

You may also tackle that you recently graduated with a degree or received a certification relevant to the job position, and you would like to use and enhance your acquired knowledge and skills with their organization. If the interviewer asks why you’ve chosen their company, tell them that you can’t apply these at your current or previous job.

On the other hand, if you were fired or laid off from your job, be honest with your answer while keeping it short and positive as much as possible. Stop beating around the bush and answer it directly. However, make sure that you are ready to whatever additional questions that the interviewer might throw regarding this topic. Never ever badmouth your previous employers in front of your prospective employer. Instead, grab this opportunity to prove your worth as to why you’re the perfect fit for the job.

Example Response to This Interview Question:

As of present, I am interested in embarking on a new, challenging yet fulfilling career that will help me achieve my career goals. Although my current company has helped me with my professional growth, I still have other goals that I want to achieve. Furthermore, I believe that your company’s mission and vision are aligned with my goals as an individual and professional.

5. “What is Your Greatest Accomplishment?

This job interview question is almost relative to the question ‘What is your greatest strength?’ By asking this one of the behavioral interview questions, hiring managers will be able to easily assess what sets you apart, what makes you stand out, and why you are the best applicant among other job seekers.

Likewise, they want to know your work ethic, core values, and what achievement you consider as the most important and valuable. Moreover, this question is a great chance to share how you’ll be able to provide notable contributions to your target company.

How to Answer This Interview Question:

As much you want to highlight your accomplishments during the interview, choose only one great achievement that you are most proud of. Start by mentioning the situation or the context of your accomplishment, followed by the challenges and problems you encountered. Afterwards, show the interviewer the steps or actions you took as well as the skills you applied to overcome the challenges. Were they effective at producing positive results? If so, proudly share the result with the interviewer.

Keep in mind, however, that you should strategically transition and tailor your responses to your target job. Always remember that whatever accomplishment you’ll discuss with the hiring manager, make sure that it also speaks of the position you’re applying for.

Example Response to This Interview Question:

During my first three months as a sales representative, I noticed that my colleague was struggling with communicating with a customer. He was not able to express his thoughts clearly that led to customer dissatisfaction. I tried to help him with the best of my ability by talking to the customer. I identified what the client needed and I was able to address client’s concern by explaining the details in a manner that she could understand.

As a result, the customer still purchased our products and we were able to give her the best customer service, which is something that I can bring to this position.

6. “How Do You Handle Stress and Pressure?”

Stress and pressure are always present in every company, especially if the organization is always adapting to changes and fast-paced working environment. And the main reason a hiring manager asks this question is to identify how you deal with stress and pressure despite high volume of workload. Are you capable of juggling multiple responsibilities without compromising the quality? Will you be able to produce positive outcomes when you’re in high-stress situations? Take note that job stress could be one of the factors why some employees have negative work performance.

How to Answer This Interview Question:

Same with the first five common interview questions, the best way to answer this question is to provide an example or situation wherein you managed stress and pressure successfully, whether it is work-related or personal. You may also tackle how this stressful situation allowed you to be more efficient and productive at work. Share the methods, approaches, and techniques you applied in order to overcome stress.

But wait! Don’t mention that your default stress relievers are expressing stress through anger, reacting to stress in a disruptive way, and crying in the hallway or under your desk.

Another way to answer this behavioral interview question is by discussing the lessons and skills you’ve gained from working under pressure within high-stress environment. Mention that you were able to learn how to prioritize and manage your time, perform your responsibilities in an organized manner, and meet the set deadlines. Moreover, emphasize that you are always reminding yourself of the goals and results that you want to obtain.

Example Response to This Interview Question:

Being highly organized is the best way I handle stress. With my increasing responsibilities, being systematic at work and having a list of priorities help me accomplish my tasks efficiently and without compromising the quality. These also help me meet the set deadline.

7. “What are Your Goals for the Future?

Employers ask this interview question mainly because they want to identify your motivation and aspiration for applying for the position as well as how goal-oriented and forward-thinking you are. Your response will also help them figure out whether you intend to stay with them for a long time, or hop on another job in a few months. Furthermore, employers would like to know if your career goals are in line with the job position and the company.

How to Answer This Interview Question:

Your answer to the question can be divided into two categories: your short-term and long-term career goals. When sharing your goals with the interviewer, always start with your short-term goals, then smoothly transition to your long-term goals. Whatever your career goals are, make sure they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timebound (SMART).

After defining your career goals, discuss how you’ll achieve them. Outline your steps, actions, and plans to attain your goals. Make it systematic as much as possible. Next, make sure that you’ve already conducted research about your target position and company. This will help you align your answer with the company’s needs, mission, vision, and core values. Take note that focusing your goals on the organization and the job you’re applying for shows that you’ve already included them as part of your career journey.

Example Response to This Interview Question:

My short-term goal if given the opportunity to be the sales manager is to oversee the sales operations of a company that matches my professional goals. Eventually, I would like to climb up the ladder and will use my leadership skills to supervise a sales team or a sales department. To prepare for this goal, I will take on different management responsibilities and maintain active involvement in various professional development conferences conducted by your firm.

job seeker answering one of the common interview questions

8. “Why Should We Hire You?”

Aside from telling something about yourself, another way to market and speak of your skills and qualifications to your prospective employer is by answering the question, ‘Why should we hire you?’ This is a good chance to reiterate your interest in the position, why you are the perfect fit for the job, what sets you apart from your competitors, and how you could contribute to the company’s success.

How to Answer This Interview Question:

When responding to this interview question, always keep in mind that employers have interviewed numerous applicants who have the same skills and same qualifications as yours. The challenge now for you is that how you will be able to make yourself stand out among these crowds. What is your edge? What makes you unique? What can you offer to the company that other applicants can’t? Make sure you have answers to these to ace this job interview question.

Going back, start selling your qualifications by demonstrating that you are equipped with the skills and experience necessary to perform the job. Mention how your achievements have helped your current or previous employers achieve continuous growth and relate them to your target job. Afterwards, emphasize your traits and attributes that could be valuable to the team. And lastly, show the interviewer how interested and enthusiastic you are about the position.

Remember that when highlighting your edges, avoid sounding too braggy. Always pay attention to your body gestures, facial expressions, and the way you interact with the interviewer. Show how confident you are to embark on a new career.

Example Response to This Interview Question:

I believe my experience, skills, and qualifications as a sales manager will be integral in achieving your company’s goals and mission. I can provide notable contributions to your organization the way I contributed to my previous employers. Aside from these, I will bring my interpersonal and communication skills to this role to ensure smooth coordination within the team, department, and eventually the company.

9. “What are Your Salary Expectations?”

This is one of the most common interview questions that make for many awkward and uncomfortable moments between interviewer and job applicant. Well, there are two reasons employers ask for your salary expectations for the job position. First, they want to know if your expected compensation is in line with the budget they’ve allotted for the role. And second, they would like to find out how much you value your work and yourself. Nevertheless, there are several ways to confidently answer this question.

How to Answer This Interview Question:

Before your interview schedule, make sure that you’ve already researched the market and salary trends or even the average salary for the position. You may use free salary calculators online and refer to reputable sites such as the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Don’t forget to factor in your expenses. Once you have the estimates, you may now provide a salary range to the interviewer. Providing a salary range for your target job puts yourself in a good spot instead of giving specific amount.

Now—assuming that you’ll get the job based on your conversation—be open for a negotiation. Remember that aside from the salary, you will also receive other perks that the company is offering, including health benefits, vacation and sick leaves, and equity in the organization. You can always negotiate based on the entire compensation package.

However, if you think that it won’t be possible to make an agreement on your desired or expected salary, consider turning the question back to the interviewer. This will help you discover how much they are willing to invest in you once you join them.

Example Response to This Interview Question:

Thank you for asking. Based on my research, the salary for the position I’m applying for ranges from $XX to $YY. I believe that with my skills, qualifications, and level of experience, I can be compensated in line with my expectations. However, I’m still open to negotiating a fair salary for the position. Are we on the same page?

10. “Do You Have Any Questions for Me?”

This interview question indicates that the interview process is almost done and that is your turn to get to know more about the position you’re seeking and the company. It also gives you the opportunity to show that you’re engaged and much interested in the job and the organization. Hence, do not end the interview with, ‘none’. Having a list of questions to ask for the interviewer actually makes you stand out from the competition.

Always ask the interviewer with open-ended questions, and not just merely those they can answer with a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ But of course, you should focus your questions on the position, the company, and the industry. You may also ask the interviewer about their experience while working for the company.

What to Ask in This Part of Your Interview:

Here are some of the questions you can ask the interviewer:

About the Position

  • What would be the most difficult challenges for someone in this role?
  • Could you provide more information on the day-to-day tasks of this position?
  • What are the company’s short- and long-term goals for a new hire with this job position?
  • How is success measured in this position?

About the Company or the Interviewer

  • How would you describe the company’s culture, work environment, and leadership style?
  • Why do you enjoy working here? What’s your favorite part about working here?
  • What attracted you to apply in this company?
  • On an average, how long do employees stay with this firm?

About Your Qualifications

  • Do you have any reservations regarding my experience or skills?
  • Are there any qualifications that you think I’m lacking to fit for the position?
  • In your opinion, do you think I’ll be able to land this job based on our interview?

About the Next Actions

  • What are the next steps in the hiring process?
  • Will there be another schedule of interviews for this position?
  • How long should I wait to hear back from you?

Since you’re still in the stage of impressing the hiring manger, avoid asking about activities not related to work such as outings, vacations, and team bonding. While we suggest asking the interviewer’s experience in the company, stay away from asking personal questions. And more importantly, refrain from asking questions that you could answer yourself.

job seeker preparing her resume before applying for a job

Common Interview Questions: Preparation is Always Key

Soldiers don’t go into the battlefield without preparation. Athletes make sure they are equipped with intensive training before diving into competitions. Performers spend a lot of time rehearsing to successfully pull off their acts.

What the examples above have in common is preparation. Likewise, preparation is what every job applicant must do in order to succeed in their job search journey—from writing and submitting resumes to attending and answering job interview questions.

Now that we’ve shared some examples and tips on how to answer common interview questions, it’s your turn to do your assignment: Research, practice, and prepare. Remember, you’re just one step closer toward achieving your dream job. Don’t miss this opportunity!

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