Are you ready to ace your upcoming job interview? It’s always important to be prepared to respond effectively to the questions that employers typically ask. Since these questions are so common, hiring managers will expect you to be able to answer them smoothly and without hesitation.
don’t need to memorize your answers, but you should think about what you’re going to say so you’re not put on the spot. Your responses will be stronger if you prepare in advance, know what to expect during the interview, and have a sense of what you want to focus on.
Knowing that you prepared will boost your confidence and help you minimize interview stress and feel more at ease.
Top 10 Interview Questions and Best Answers
Review the most common interview questions and examples of the best answers. Also, be sure to review the follow-up questions at the end of the article to prepare for some of the more challenging interview questions asked by hiring managers.
1. Tell Me About Yourself. – Examples of the Best Answers
This is one of the first questions you are likely to be asked. Be prepared to talk about yourself, and why you’re an ideal candidate for the job.
What They Want to Know: The interviewer wants to know why you’re an excellent fit for the job. Try to answer questions about yourself without giving too much, or too little, personal information.
You can start by sharing some of your personal interests and experiences that don’t relate directly to work, such as a favorite hobby or a brief account of where you grew up, your education, and what motivates you. You can even share some fun facts and showcase your personality to make the interview a little more interesting.
As an ER nurse, I find that the best way for me to de-stress when I’m not working is to relax outdoors, rain or shine. I’ve always been an avid hiker, nature photographer, and trout fisher, and one of my favorite things to do is to volunteer with the U.S. Forest Service and with local salmon habitat restoration groups. I also lead group hikes on some of Mt. Baker’s more challenging trails. This is where the skills I developed during my initial training as a military nurse sometimes come in handy. My current personal goal is to climb Mt. Rainier next summer. Being outdoors never fails to renew my spirit so that I’m able to be the best ER nurse I can be.
2. Why Do You Want This Job? – Examples of the Best Answers
Why are you a good fit for the position? What would you accomplish if you hired? This question is an opportunity to show the interviewer what you have to offer the company, and what you would achieve if you got the job.
What They Want to Know: This question gives you an opportunity to show the interviewer what you know about the job and the company, so take time beforehand to thoroughly research the company, its products, services, culture, and mission. Be specific about what makes you a good fit for this role, and mention aspects of the company and position that appeal to you most.
Construction design is in my blood—both my dad and my grandad were home builders who owned their own construction firm. From the time I entered college, I knew that I wanted my architecture career to be focused on sustainable, green design practices, so I earned my certification as a LEED Accredited Professional. Greenways Construction is the most respected sustainable design firm in Texas. I’ve been following reports of your LEED Certified projects in Journal of Green Engineering, and I wrote my capstone project on the energy modeling you pioneered for the ACME Business Park and the ABC Tech campus. Working here really would be my dream job, since your mission aligns perfectly with my goals as a sustainability specialist.
3. Why Should We Hire You? – Examples of the Best Answers
Make your response a confident, concise, focused sales pitch that explains what you have to offer and why you should get the job. This is a good time to review the qualifications and the requirements in the job listing, so you can craft a response that aligns with what the interviewer is looking for.
What They Want to Know: Are you the best candidate for the job? The hiring manager wants to know whether you have all the required qualifications. Be prepared to explain why you’re the applicant who should be hired.
You should hire me because my experience is almost perfectly aligned with the requirements you asked for in your job listing. I have seven years’ progressive experience in the hospitality industry, advancing from my initial role as a front desk associate with Excalibur Resort and Spa to my current position there as a concierge. I’m well-versed in providing world-class customer service to an upscale clientele, and I pride myself on my ability to quickly resolve problems so that our guests enjoy their time with us.
4. What is Your Greatest Strength? – Examples of the Best Answers
When you’re answering this question, remember to “show” rather than “tell.” For example, rather than stating that you are an excellent problem solver, instead tell a story that demonstrates this, ideally drawing on an anecdote from your professional experience.
What They Want to Know: This is one of the questions that employers almost always ask to determine how well you are qualified for the position. When you are asked about your greatest strengths, it’s important to discuss the attributes that qualify you for that specific job, and that will set you apart from other candidates.
As a cybersecurity specialist, my greatest strength is my intellectual curiosity. I enjoy researching the latest technology trends so that our critical information technology systems remain uncompromised. Not only do I do this by reading the latest issues of cybersecurity journals, but I also convinced my employer to fund my participation in quarterly information technology conferences. This has allowed me to build a network of peer resources—many of whom are leaders in the field—that I can call upon for strategies when new threats arise to our systems.
5. What is Your Greatest Weakness? – Examples of the Best Answers
This question is an opportunity to show the hiring manager that you’re well qualified for the job. In addition to learning whether you’ve got the right credentials, the hiring manager wants to know whether you can take on challenges and learn new tasks.
What They Want to Know: Another typical question interviewers will ask is about your weaknesses. Do your best to frame your answers around positive aspects of your skills and abilities as an employee, turning seeming “weaknesses” into strengths.
You can also share examples of skills you have improved, providing specific instances of how you have recognized a weakness and taken steps to correct it.
My greatest weakness used to be procrastination. Friends who knew my work style would tease me, saying, “Panic precipitates performance.” In college, I was the person who pulled all-nighters to finish their essay right before deadline. This isn’t as irresponsible as it sounds—from the moment I’m assigned a project, I’m thinking about it. Most of my first and second drafts get composed mentally, so it’s only a matter of writing down the final draft. And, since I have an excellent command of grammar, I don’t have to spend much time proofreading or revising.
However, after I landed my first job as a content writer, it became clear that while this process worked for me (I’ve never missed a deadline), it made my editor extremely nervous. And so I’ve learned to set “early” deadlines for myself, at least 24 hours before the actual deadline, so that my projects now always arrive with plenty of time to spare.
6. Why Do You Want to Leave (or Have Left) Your Job? – Examples of the Best Answers
Be prepared with a response to this question. You’ll need to give an answer that’s honest and reflects your specific circumstances but keeps it positive. Even if you quit under challenging circumstances, now isn’t the best time to share what could be construed as too much information with the interviewer.
What They Want to Know: The interviewer wants to know why you left your job and why you want to work for their company. When asked about why you are moving on from your current position, stick with the facts, be direct, and focus your answer on the future, especially if your departure wasn’t under the best circumstances.
I was very fortunate to be hired by ABC Company right out of college. They taught me a lot about digital marketing, and it’s been stimulating to work as a contributor to their creative teams. However, I’m ready for the next step. I’ve always been a leader—I was captain of the crew team in college, student body vice president, and I’ve served as team lead for most of our projects in FY 2019. I think I’m ready to move into management, but ABC Company already has very talented managers in place, and they won’t be leaving such a great employer anytime soon. I’ve completed supplemental management training courses during my time there, and I know I can hit the ground running as your next digital marketing manager.
7. What Are Your Salary Expectations? – Examples of the Best Answers
What are you looking for in terms of salary? Questions about money are always tricky to answer. You don’t want to sell yourself short or price yourself out of a job offer. Employers can’t ask how much you earned at previous jobs in some locations, but they can ask how much you expect to get paid.
What They Want to Know: The hiring manager wants to know what you expect to earn. It seems like a simple question, but your answer can knock you out of competition for the job if you overprice yourself. If you underprice yourself, you may get shortchanged with a lower offer.
Reliable salary calculators, like the one used by Glassdoor.com, say that experienced sous chefs here in Portland average around $50,964 a year, 5 percent below the national average. I brought home around $49,700 last year. While I would definitely welcome a salary over $50K, particularly given the cost of living here, I’m open to negotiation if a lower salary was accompanied by greater flexibility in scheduling and additional vacation time.
9. How Do You Handle Stress and Pressure? – Examples of the Best Answers
Do you work well in high-stress situations? Do you thrive on pressure, or would you prefer a more low-key job? What do you do when something goes wrong? The best way to respond to this question is to share an example of how you have successfully handled stress in a previous position.
What They Want to Know: What do you do when things don’t go smoothly at work? How do you deal with difficult situations? The employer wants to know how you handle workplace stress.
Avoid claiming that you never, or rarely, experience stress. Rather, formulate your answer in a way that acknowledges workplace stress and explains how you’ve overcome it, or even used it to your advantage.
I’m not someone who is energized by or thrives in stressful environments. My first step in managing stress is to try to circumvent it by keeping my work processes very organized, and my attitude professional. When customers or associates come to me with issues, I try to look at things from their perspective, and initiate a collaborative problem-solving approach to keep the situation from escalating. I find that maintaining an efficient, congenial office with open lines of communication automatically reduces a lot of workplace stress. Of course, sometimes unanticipated stressors will arise. When this happens, I just take a deep breath, remembering that the person I’m dealing with is frustrated with a situation, not with me. I then actively listen to their concerns and make a plan to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
10. Describe a Difficult Work Situation or Project and How You Handled It. – Examples of the Best Answers
There isn’t a right or wrong answer to a question about handling a difficult situation. How you react will show the hiring manager your work style and how you manage issues. It will help determine if you mesh with the company, and you’re a fit for the role.
What They Want to Know: The interviewer wants to know how you respond when faced with a difficult decision. As with the question about stress, be prepared to share an example of what you did in a tough situation. It’s important to share details to make the story believable and engaging.
I think the most difficult situation I face as a production manager is when I have to lay off staff, either because they aren’t doing their job properly or, even worse, because sales are down. When I can, I try to work with underperforming personnel to see if we can’t improve their efficiency. If not, then I hand them their pink slip and give them straightforward reasons for why they are being laid off. No one wants to be fired without an explanation. When this happens, I keep my tone polite and avoid using too many “you” statements; I absolutely do not want to cast shame on them.
10. What Are Your Goals for The Future? – Examples of the Best Answers
Are you a job hopper? Or do you plan on staying with the company, at least for a while? Do your plans for the future match the career path for someone typically hired for this position?
What They Want to Know: This question is designed to find out if you’re going to stick around or move on as soon as you find a better opportunity. Keep your answer focused on the job and the company, and reiterate to the interviewer that the position aligns with your long-term goals.
I’m someone who likes stability. My goal is to find a job that I can hold long term with a local company, becoming a valued employee as I gradually advance to positions of increasing authority and responsibility. I’m extremely interested in the teller job here at First Financial Credit Union because of your internal training program. My long-term goal is to eventually become a branch manager after I’ve proven my competencies in customer service and team leadership.
Questions to Ask the Interviewer
At the close of the interview, most interviewers ask whether you have any questions about the job or company.
If you don’t have any questions, this can make it seem like you are apathetic about the opportunity. It’s always a good idea to have a list of questions ready, and to be prepared to discuss th