65 common interview questions and how to answer them

by Ashley Jones

One of the biggest parts of preparing for a job interview is learning how to answer common interview questions, especially behavioral interview questions, which you can use the STAR method to answer. Although you likely won’t be asked every single question on this list, having a general idea of how you might answer questions that come up during your interview will help you think fast on your feet. Learn how to answer these 65 common interview questions so you are fully prepared for your next job interview.

1. Tell me about yourself
Not so much a question, as it is a requirement for an interview. Be sure to have a succinct elevator pitch ready to fire off that aptly describes your background.

2. What are your strengths?
Instead of listing off a bunch of adjectives, pick three strengths and give examples of how these strengths might relate to the role you are interviewing for.Never miss an article!Follow Ladders on Flipboard

3. What are your weaknesses?
Begin this answer with “I am working to improve on…” and then address an area that you feel you could be stronger. Having no weaknesses to name is not a good option.

4. Why should we hire you?
You want to highlight your expertise and any unique qualities you would bring to the role when answering this interview question.

5. Why do you want to work for this company?
Show the interviewer that you’ve done your research by listing specific reasons why this company interests you.

6. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Show your growth mindset by explaining that you would like to see yourself flourishing in your career and generally happy in life.

7. What is your salary expectation?
It is completely appropriate to say that you would prefer to discuss salary once you know more about the role and the interviewer knows more about you. If you feel comfortable, you can give a range to show your flexibility. Be honest about your needs, but realistically based on industry averages.

8. What is your educational background?
Give the name of the institution you attended, what you studied, and how this helped prepare you for the industry or role.

9. How did you hear about this opportunity?
If you have a name to drop, this is the time to do it. Otherwise, simply explaining where you first saw the job posting is sufficient.

10. Why did you leave your last job?
If you were let go or quit, be honest about why. You won’t gain any favors by bashing your previous employer, so instead focus on your desire for new opportunities.https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

11. Why were you fired?
Honesty is the best policy here, but also be sure to mention what you learned from being let go and maintain an air of positivity.

12. What was your relationship with your previous employer like?
Your interviewer may have already checked with your previous employer, so it is best to be upfront about what the relationship was really like.

13. How do you handle conflict in the workplace?
Be honest and share a story about a difficult situation you have faced and how you handled it.

14. Why do you have a gap in your work history?
You can explain a gap in your resume by honestly relaying the reason you took time off, but ending on a positive note and highlighting what you learned during your employment gap.

15. What is your background in this industry?
Explain your related experience and how you think this will translate into the role you are interviewing for.

16. What are some things your previous manager asked you to improve on?
Again, the interviewer may already know the answer to this question based on your references, so it is best to be honest. Then, explain how you are working to improve.

17. What are your main career goals?
Answer this question by listing a short-term goal that relates to the position and a long-term career goal that you could eventually achieve if you got the job.

18. What can you offer this position that someone else cannot?
Highlight what sets you apart from others when answering this question. This could be a unique skill set, previous work history, or level of education that other applicants may not have.https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

19. Are you willing to relocate?
If you are, say so. If not, explain politely that at this time you would not consider relocating.

20. Are you willing to travel?
If you have boundaries regarding how much travel you are willing to endure be sure to be upfront about it when asked.

21. Are you willing to work more than 40 hours per week?
Express a desire to fulfill the requirements of the position when answering this question, but also set boundaries about how much you are willing to work.

22. Are you willing to work on holidays or weekends?
Boundaries come into play when answering this interview question as well. Note that flexibility is important to you, but if you value your family time during holidays and weekends, be sure to say so.

23. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Pick a professional achievement and describe how you completed the task to accomplish the desired result and why it makes you proud.

24. Can you describe a mistake you have made?
Everyone has made a mistake at some point. Pick one, briefly explain the situation, what you learned from your mistake, and describe what you would do differently now.

25. Can you describe a time when you went above and beyond on the job?
To answer this question, talk about how you successfully implemented a new idea, helped out a coworker without being asked or took on a project outside of your normal job scope and what the results were.https://ce53cf8d9b57113555f4324b40fe0c94.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

26. How would you fire someone?
This could be tricky if you’ve never done it, but typically you would want to keep the conversation short and sweet and be direct. You can also say that you would follow the company’s process for firing.

27. What did you like least about your previous employer?
Discuss specific situations or disagreements without any personal bashing, and be sure to offer information about how you overcame these issues.

28. Do you have a mentor?
If yes, explain who and why they inspire you. If not, explain that you have not found the right mentor yet.

29. What do you like most about this industry?
Honestly explain what makes you excited to be in the industry you are in. This can be small or big, but showing enthusiasm is key.

30. What do you like least about this industry?
Is there a small tweak that could make your industry better for everyone like less overtime hours or more flexible

31. Who are our competitors?
Ahead of your interview, learn about two or three of the company’s main competitors in case you’re asked this question. Bonus points if you can suggest ways this company could improve their standing among the competition.

32. Who is our company’s CEO?
This is another area where the interviewer is trying to make sure you researched the company ahead of time, so be sure you’ve done your homework.

33. What did you like most about your previous role?
This interview question provides an opportunity to highlight how productive you were at your last job.

34. What makes you uncomfortable?
Be honest, but make sure you tie your answer back into a positive quality like your ability to thrive even situations where you’re uncomfortable.

35. What are your hobbies?
Stick to talking about your hobbies that are either relevant to the position or that are generally well-received such as volunteering or exercising.

36. Where do you get your news from?
Avoid answering this interview question with “social media” and instead list a few reputable news sources online or on television.

37. What is the last book you read?
Answer honestly and give a short statement about what you did or did not like about the book.

38. What is something you disliked about a former co-worker?
You want to make sure to tread lightly here. Don’t engage in a personal attack, but pick one thing and be honest.

39. Do you consider yourself a leader or a follower?
Every company has room for both, but you should pick one. Think about the role that you’re interviewing for and be honest about how being either a leader or follower would work for the role.

40. What would your direct reports say about you?
Use specifics here if you can and give examples of times when you were supportive or helped your team succeed.

41. Can you name three words to describe yourself?
Choose words to answer this interview question that says something about your character personality traits or how your mind works. Words like curious, responsible and trustworthy are always good options.

42. What motivates you?
This interview question is really about seeing if your values match the company’s culture. Choose an answer that closely aligns with what you might be expected to do in your role such as meeting deadlines or achieving results.

43. How do you handle stress?
Explain that you are well-equipped to deal with stress because you understand the importance of getting ahead of stress by getting plenty of sleep and exercising, but you also have mental recharge strategies in your back pocket.

44. How have you previously handled disagreements with a boss?
Focus on how you overcame tension and moved forward from a specific disagreement when answering this interview question.

45. What is your biggest failure?
Describe your failure, but be sure to mention what you learned from the experience and what you would do differently now.

46. How would you deal with an angry customer?
In a customer-facing role, you’ll need to know how to speak to someone who is unhappy or angry. Explain how you would calmly approach the situation and focus on a solution.

47. What draws you to this position?
To answer this interview question, don’t be afraid to say exactly what you are looking forward to experiencing in the position if you are hired.

48. Why are you looking for a new job?
This interview question can be answered in clear, simple terms by explaining that you’re ready to move forward in your career and this position seems like a good fit.

49. What is your dream job?
Avoid mentioning specific titles or roles, but make you answer to this question more general in terms of what you hope to achieve by the end of your career.

50. Can you explain why you changed career paths?
If you have switched careers or are in the process, let the interviewer know why you are passionate about your new career choice and how confident you are in your decision to change paths.

51. What is your current salary?
This question is a tricky one to answer outright (and you may have a legal right not to answer it) so it is best to explain that you are currently seeking a certain salary range instead.

52. What is your ideal work environment?
Take the company’s culture into consideration when answering this interview question, and base your answer off of which parts of their work environment specifically appeal to you.

53. Do you have children or are you planning on having children?
This interview question should technically be off-limits for legal reasons, but if you are asked it is perfectly acceptable to explain that you would rather not discuss your family details. You can also assure your interviewer that you are committed to fulfilling all job-related duties regardless of your personal history.

54. What are your workplace pet peeves?
If the unprofessional habits of your former co-workers drove you crazy, explain why you’re looking forward to a new workplace with more professional colleagues.

55. What do you envision your first 30, 60 or 90 days in this role to look like?
Here is your chance to give an overview of your game plan if you were to be hired. Be sure to also include what you know you still need to learn about the role as well.

56. When can you start?
The answer to this interview question will depend on whether you need to give notice at your current job or are available right away. Either way, provide an ideal start date for your interviewer.

57. What is your availability?
Be honest about when you are able to be at work, but explain that you are willing to be flexible within reason.

58. What does customer service mean to you?
If the role you are interviewing for deals with customers at all, you will want to explain that you are able to meet and exceed a customer’s expectations by being helpful, friendly and polite.

59. How long do you expect to work here?
If you plan to be around for the long-haul, explain that you plan to stay with the company as long as you are making meaningful contributions and that you are open to opportunities for advancement.

60. How do you stay organized?
To answer this interview question explain how you like to prepare for your workday, prioritize tasks and communicate effectively.

61. What are the three traits or skills you wish you had?
Pick traits that you admire in another person, explain why you admire those qualities in them and that you are working on developing your skills in those areas.

62. Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?
Depending on the role you are interviewing for, you will want to tailor your answer to explain how you can work both alone and as part of a team, but that in general, you tend to do one or the other more often given the nature of your work.

63. What is the best job you’ve ever had?
Describe the job where you felt most supported by your team, achieved results in your position or other positive attributes. Then, explain how the role you are interviewing for is similar.

64. Do you have any questions about this position?
If you have specific questions about the requirements of the position, it is appropriate to ask if you are asked this question during your interview.

65. Is there anything else we should know about you?
This is your opportunity to close your interview on a strong note by summarizing why you’re right for the job and that you are looking forward to the possibility of working with this company.

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