13 common interview questions and sample answers

13 common interview questions and sample answers

Interviews can be intimidating. You need to be able to convince hiring managers, recruiters etc. that you are the right person for the job and have the necessary skills to succeed at the company. There are also many types of interviews so be prepared for all of them.

How do you convince them that you should be hired for the position?

You answer their questions in the right way. Using tricks such as the S.TA.R. method will help you, but preparation is also important. Knowing how to answer these common interview questions will make you look confident at your interview.

So, here's a guide for the 13 most common interview questions and sample answers for them.

1. Tell me about yourself

This is a basic question, and most people don’t think to prepare it.  But at interviews, this can be a make-or-break question. Interviewers want to know how you got to the position you are in right now in this question. Instead of telling the interviewer information that they can find in your resume, try to tell a story that touches on your experience or education in an interesting way. This is particularly important for freshers. (For more fresher interview questions, check our article on the most common interview questions for freshers.)

Potential answer

I have always been fascinated by the intricacies of hairstyling but never seriously thought about it as a career. When I was in high school, my friends begged me to style their hair for prom and other students heard and asked as well. That’s when I realized that this could be my future and began to look for beauty schools for college. I found the University of Pennsylvania....

2. How did you hear about this position?

Employers like to know how you learned about the company to know if you are interested in them. You could have been recruited, discovered the vacancy online or even had a friend recommend you. If a friend recommended the position to you, mention them by name, how you know them and why they thought you were a good fit for the role, similarly with recruiters. And if you learned about the company online, answer as to why you thought the role would be perfect for you.

Potential answer

I was working as a paralegal for Sanchez, Perez and Alvez at the same time as Danny Grief. He is now a lawyer at your firm and told me about this position. He said that my attention to detail, orderliness and calm manner would make me an ideal candidate for the role.

3. Why do you want to work at this company?

You MUST know the answer to this question. If you don’t, then you need to reconsider why you applied to this position. Your answer should reflect the things that attracted you to the company and how you align with them. Don’t generalize as that can bore the hiring manager.

Potential answer

I read in your mission statement that your restaurant is focused on a no-waste policy. As a chef, I try to use every ingredient in its’ entirety. I am interested in a place that is focused on the creativity of trying to use every part of an ingredient in a sustainable manner.

4. What are your greatest strengths?

Try to give at least two to three examples for this question. Most people think that just listing their strengths is enough, but you need to also give evidence to back up what you are saying. When you are stating your strength, give an example of a time that you displayed it as well.

Potential answer

I am great at conflict resolution. At my previous position, there was an incident wherein two employees were at odds because one handed the monthly reports in late and that caused delays for the data analyst. I mediated between the two and formed a solution wherein the monthly reports could be delivered in a timely manner. I am also good at meeting deadlines. My previous boss commended me on being the only person in the department to hand in reports on time.

5. What are your weaknesses?

This can be a tricky question to answer. You shouldn’t say you’re perfect because then you will give the impression of arrogance. You also can’t make a list of your weaknesses because the HR manager will not want to hire you. You have to find the balance between honesty and trying to better yourself.

Potential answer

I have difficulty in realizing that not everyone works at my pace. At my previous workplace, there was a co-worker who was slower to hand in reports than myself or the rest of the team. At first, I was annoyed but when I checked the records, I realized that they had handed in their work before the deadline but later than the rest of the team, so no one was negatively impacted, and I resolved to be more tolerant to their pace.

6. Do you prefer to work in a team or independently?

Ideally, if you have done your research on the company before the interview, you likely already know what kind of culture the company has. This will help you to prepare your answer to this question. However, you should keep in mind that every company has some kind of collaborative element even if you work independently for the majority of time.

Potential answer

As an analyst, I am used to working on my own and I prefer to work independently as a result. But I am always willing to build up connections with my fellow teammates and work collaboratively with them should the need arise.

7. Why are you leaving your current job?

Another tricky question to answer. Companies value loyalty so you need to express dissatisfaction with your present situation while being respectful about your current workplace. DON’T speak badly about your current employers or air any grievances as that can tell the HR manager that you are not loyal.

Potential answer

I really enjoy my current work, but I have worked at ST company for many years, and I feel that I am  ready to be challenged. I feel that in a new situation, such as AC company, where I would be involved from the grassroots level, I would be compelled to be more creative than I have previously been in creating marketing campaigns.

8. How do you deal with stress?

There is always going to be stress, no matter what field you are in. Companies want to know whether they can rely on you, or you are going to fall apart. If you are a person who doesn’t handle stress well, tell the truth but emphasize that you are working on it to the interviewer. Try to give an example of a time that you managed a stressful situation successfully so that they have an example.

Potential answer

I like to think I deal well with stress. At my previous workplace, a situation arose when we discovered a bug, the night before the product lunch. I didn’t panic but took three deep breaths and assigned tasks to everyone to figure out and solve the issue.

9. Why is there a gap in your CV?

Gaps in a CV aren’t as much of an issue as you think. Employers understand that there can be multiple reasons for gaps. What they want to learn is what you learned from your experiences during this time. Tell an engaging story of an incident in your gap and how that experience led you to where you are now.

Potential answer

During the summer, my mother had a major medical issue, and I had to quit my job to help take care of her. During this period, I joined an arts class where I learned new techniques and styles in designing that I can use in my graphic designs.

10. What are your salary expectations?

You should have a basic idea of your salary value. Try to avoid absolute numbers and say a range instead. Companies usually have a budget of the amount they are willing to pay you and by giving a range, you might find yourself being offered a fair salary.

Potential answer

I was expecting a salary in the range of …

11. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Knowing your future goals will allow employers to see if you are a potential long-term employee. They also need to know if the position aligns with your ambitions.

Potential answer

I have many plans for my future. In five years, I hope to rise to the position of senior developer or even team leader in the company. I’d also like to have gained enough experience in software development and working with software to create or design an app by myself. I believe that with the skills I gain from working with your company, I could be able to even pitch ideas to senior management to develop the app.

12. Are you interviewing for other positions?

This is a fairly common question. Companies want to know if they are wasting time interviewing you or if you are interested in the company. If you are being interviewed by other companies, let them know but mention that you are more interested in working with them.

Potential answer

I have interviewed for other companies, but LMC company is my top choice for a position as I believe that the company's goals and my goals align together.

13. Do you have any questions for us?

This is a good chance for you to clarify any doubts that might have been raised during the interview. Make sure that your questions are not repeats of what has already been said in the interview and deep enough that you can impress the interviewer by letting them know your interest in the position.

Potential answer

I do have a few questions. Is there any potential for growth in the company?

Trying to interview for a specific job role? Maybe you are hoping to land that promotion? Check out our article on the best answers for manager interview questions and make your way up the ladder.

For more tips on how to impress at an interview, check our article on the best interview tips and tricks for 2024. And check out more interview tips as well.

For more information on how to prepare for a new position, check out our career blog.