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7 Common Interview Questions + How to Answer Them

  • Publish Date: Posted 10 months ago
  • Author: Kelly O'Neill

How long do you think most interviews last? 30 minutes? 45 minutes? No matter how long, it’s crucial you make a lasting impression during. Interviews are the time to sell yourself as the best for the job. The most effective way to do that is to understand the ins and outs of the most common interview questions. The floor is yours, don’t waste your chance and let a simple question trip you up. If you’ve got the most basic questions down, then those long minutes will feel like a few easy, breezy seconds. 

Knowing the ins and outs of the most basic questions (and, more importantly, being prepared for them) allows you to shine in your interview. Here are the most common interview questions, why hiring managers use them, and samples of answers you can use:

Tell Me About Yourself? 

One of the most infamous interview questions. This is meant to gauge who you are as an applicant. It gives insight to your behavior and whether you’re a good fit for the position. While this is one of the most basic interview questions it is a question that will continue to come up throughout your time interviewing. 

How to answer: Highlight aspects of your career and personal life. You don’t want to appear like a workaholic with no personal life, but you also want to show that you have a good work/life balance. Make sure you mention hobbies and things that you are comfortable sharing with others. No one needs to know every little detail about what you really get up to during the weekends. 

Example: “I’d love to. I’m an experienced {blank] with X years of experience in the [field]. I graduated with a degree in [blank] from the university of [blank]. In my current role [company] I oversee the companies [blank] and ensure [blank] is running smoothly. (Talk about prior experience if applicable) Outside of work I love to [hobby] and spend most of my time doing [hobby] and it is a real passion of mine. It is important to me that I ensure a good work life balance.”

Why Are You the Best Candidate for This Position? (Why do you want this job?)

This question is meant to truly understand if you are uniquely qualified for the position and if you display true interest in the position. Being prepared for this type of question indicates that you’re a candidate who genuinely wants this role, not just any role, which can mean a great deal in the eyes of a hiring manager. Hiring new candidates is a gambled investment, and every company wants to ensure that they are making the right choice. It’s about ensuring that you will not only fit in within the company’s culture but what your contribution will be to the company. 

How to answer: This question is the perfect time to stroke the company’s ego. Explain What makes you the best investment for the company. What are your qualifications and how do they best align with the company’s values and needs? This is also the best time to pinpoint keywords you found throughout your research on the company and job description. Take this time to share what you know about the company (products, services, mission, etc.). Explain what appeals to you about the company and how you will improve the company in a way that others can’t.

Example: “I’m the best fit for this role because of my [relevant experience/skills]. That has prepared me to best excel in [job title] as it [mention specific aspects of role]. What genuinely excites me is [mention something about the company or role] and it excites me because it truly allows me to grow and leverage my skills. I’m confident that my skills and prior experience really aligns with [mention something specific to company’s values or mission] and I’m eager to contribute to the success of [company’s name].”

How Do You Handle Stress/Pressure in Your Role? (What makes you angry?) 

This is an example of a behavioral question. Interviewers will sprinkle behavioral questions throughout the interview because they hold significant importance. This question explains your resilience and self-awareness. No company wants a candidate that can’t properly cope with stress as it is something that is a part of life. They want to understand how you will perform in the role especially in a fast paced/high pressure environment. It assesses whether you will remain effective under potential pressure. For even more info on behavioral interviewing questions and how to answer them, check out our full blog here.

How to answer: When answering the question, it’s important to frame your answer so that it displays your effective strategies to manage stress and prioritize your work. The best way to display your strategies is to provide an example using the STAR method. 

Example: “I think the best way to handle stress is to stay organized and make a to-do list prioritizing tasks that need to get done as soon as possible. I also find that taking short breaks during particularly busy days allows me to clear my head and refocus. Additionally, speaking with my supervisor or other colleagues about my challenges helps me find solutions and reduce stress. Of course, outside of work I make sure to prioritize my hobbies

therefore when I come back to work, I’m working with a level head. I believe in a balanced approach to managing stress

How do you handle multiple tasks or projects? 

Hiring managers ask this question to understand your ability to manage your time. Tasks and projects come with deadlines, and for a company to function at its peak, its employees must complete their tasks.This question predicts your potential productivity level. How quickly or not quickly do you complete your tasks and how do you stay organized? 

How to answer: The overall purpose of this question is truly investigating your problem-solving skills and if you fit the company's environment. Spend time really explaining your tools on how to stay organized and how those tools have led you to success. Highlight your self-awareness and strategies. 

Example: “I handle multiple tasks and projects by making a to-do list, resolving priorities, and using a calendar to track all my deadlines. The best thing to do is to breakdown bigger projects into small steps. Communication is very important so, if necessary, I ensure that I’m talking to my team regularly. Lastly, if it requires it, I will block out focused work time and adjust plans accordingly to meet deadlines.”

What are your salary expectations? 

Employers ask this question to ensure that your expectations fit within the budget of the company. There is usually a set range for the position, and they want your expectations to fit within the range. At the end of the day employers will work with candidates by negotiating to ensure that everyone’s expectations will be met. 

How to answer: Whenever you are asked this question, it's best to come back with a question of your own. Ask what the budget is for the role. From there, it is best to say that that budget either works for you or doesn’t. It is also important to do your own research on what the common salary is for your role. Being well informed will give you the tools to negotiate a proper salary and benefits. Statistics show that 91% of employers expect the candidates to know their salary before the interview. Also, it’s rarely a good idea to share your previous salary with an interviewer. Most states ban salary history questions and won’t inquire about your previous salary.

Example: “I’m open to discussing the salary further. I’m really focused on finding the right fit for the role and the company. Based on my experience and considering my skills, I would expect a competitive salary.” 

Why are you leaving (or have left) your job? 

The purpose of this question is to understand your career goals and your reasoning for looking for a new job. They want to know if the role you're applying for aligns with your long-term career goals. They also want to identify any potential red flags. Your response can reveal how you handle workplace challenges and issues. 

How to answer: The most important thing when answering this question is to make sure you are not speaking badly about your former company or position. You do not want to bring up past grievances or issues you faced while in your former position, no matter how bad they were. Express that you are looking for other growth opportunities and you have learned and grown as much as you could in your former position. This is also the time to explain potential gaps in employment and the reason for them. Keep in mind that appearing “hoppy” isn’t always a bad thing. There are countless reasons someone may leave their role, especially in today’s fluctuating job market. What really matters is that you’re able to explain why those jumps or gaps exist in the first place. 

Example: “I’m looking for new opportunities to further develop my skills and take on more responsibilities. While I enjoyed my time in my former position, I believe [mention aspect about the new job role/ new responsibilities] better aligns with my long-term career goals. I’m excited about the potential to contribute to a new team and take on new challenges." 

What are your strengths and weaknesses? 

This question aims to provide hiring managers with a holistic understanding of your qualifications, self-awareness, and attitude toward personal and professional growth. It gauges your ability to handle feedback and assesses areas of improvement. The perfect candidate does not exist, but understanding areas for improvement ensures that you have a growth mindset. 

How to Answer: Knowing how to answer this question can be difficult as it requires you to truly be aware of your areas of improvement but also not come across overly confident. Display your ability to take on new challenges and learn new tasks. Avoid saying anything too cheesy here and genuinely answer the question. Trust us, your hiring manager has already heard (at least) a candidate say their biggest weakness is being “too much of a perfectionist,” and that candidate probably didn’t move on to a second interview. 

Example: “In terms of strengths, I like to pride myself on being a strong team player with effective communication skills. This has helped me in collaborating and contributing effectively. However, an area of difficulty for me is working on my time management. Occasionally, I had challenges with meeting deadlines but to combat this I’ve started using tools like to do lists and calendar mapping to ensure that I am more organized and meeting deadlines.”

Land Your Next Interview With Our Help

In the competitive job market, interviews may feel like a dime a dozen. However, your ability to respond to common interview questions confidently and knowledgeably can really set you apart. If it is not clear enough, preparation and research are the key to success in interviews. Twin Employment found that 47% of interviewers said they won’t offer a candidate a job if they don’t know much about the company they are applying to. Armed with a deep understanding of the role, the company, and your own qualifications, you can approach any interview with confidence and assurance. Remember interviews are not just about highlighting your skills and experience but also about demonstrating your suitability for the company.

So, whether you’re hit with the infamous “Tell me about yourself” or the ever perceptive "What are your strengths and weaknesses?” questions, know that your research and prep will give you the tools to shine. Your responses should not only highlight your qualifications but also your ability to grow and improve. With this approach you will look great in the interview but also increase your chances of landing the job you want!

Now that you know the ins and outs of common interview questions. Let Per Se step in and help you find a job that fits you!