What Are The 10 Most Common Interview Questions And Answers?


1. What Are Your Greatest Strengths And Weaknesses

2. Why Should We Hire You?

3. Why Shouldn’t We Hire You?

4. Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job?

5. What is Unique About You?

6. Tell Us Something Special About Yourself That is Not on Your Resume?

7. What Are Your Future Goals?

8. What Are Your Major Achievements?

9. Why Do You Want to Get This Job?

10. How Do You Handle Pressure?

Common Interview Questions And How to Respond (+ Examples)

1. What Are Your Greatest Strengths And Weaknesses?

Instructions: Always expect the interviewer to ask you this question as it tells them what kind of an employee you’ll be and how well you’ll fit in your role. It also tells the hiring manager how honest and self-aware you are. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses, and openly communicating them to the interviewer gives them an idea if you’re responsive to feedback. It’s very important to be honest when talking about strengths and weaknesses in an interview. Your answer should sound genuine and authentic, avoiding generalization and calculated reply. Interviewers always get impressed if you back your strength with a real-life example. Instead of saying that you can work under pressure, cite with an example how you demonstrated this strength in your current job or with previous experience.

When you’re admitting to a weakness, briefly explain a situation where it stopped you from delivering your best. It’s important to choose and highlight a weakness that you’re proactively working on and hope to overcome in the future. For this question, think quality not quantity, keeping your answer short and narrowing it down to only one or two strengths and weaknesses.

Related: Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

Example: How to answer “what are your strengths question?”.

“I believe I’m a team player and prefer working in groups. One of my strongest attributes is my collaborative nature and I like to engage with diverse team members as I feel it gives everyone an opportunity to inspire one another. On some of the projects that I have worked on, I implemented a system that improved the overall communication between my coworkers and enhanced our productivity as a team.”

“My biggest strength is my ability to adapt to different situations and willingness to work outside my job description. I’m not afraid to take up difficult projects or clients; in fact, I find it challenging and take pride in this asset that allows me to step up, and get the best result for the company.”

How to answer “what are your weaknesses?” question.

“I’m a bit introverted because of which I’m not always comfortable sharing my ideas in team meetings or a group setting. There have been situations where I could have contributed more towards my department’s success but my nature stopped me from being more proactive. After this I decided to take some online improv courses. It’s still a work in progress, but there’s been a considerable improvement in my confidence.”

2. Why Should We Hire You?

Instructions: When an interviewer asks you this question, it’s a perfect opportunity for you to convince them why you’re the best fit for the position. It’s the hiring manager’s responsibility to get the right person for the job and with this question you’re making it easier for them to measure how qualified you are for the role. You can cover you bases with this open-ended question by convincing the interviewer that you can deliver exceptional results and be a great addition to the team. It’s helpful if you make a list of job requirements beforehand and match them with your own qualities like personal traits, qualification and skills.

Most of the time interviewers don’t spell it out but what they really want to know is why they should hire you over everyone else. If you’ve already talked about your skills and strengths, then show them that you have a deep knowledge of the business. Combine industry experience with technical and soft skills, using them as the basis for your answer regarding what sets you apart as a candidate. Remember, it’s very important to come across as passionate and confident when you deliver your pitch. Make the hiring manager believe in your abilities and your dedication.

Example: Here are some “Why we should hire you” sample answers that you can use to frame your own response.

I’m quite confident that I have the right experience and skills for this job. Not only do I have a background in project management, having led successful campaigns and projects, but my people skills and passion have also helped me in delivering high-quality work. I’m a team player and know how important it is in this position to develop good relationships with senior members, vendors, and developers.”

“Based on the job description and what I have learned about your company, you’re looking for an administrative assistant who has both, technical knowledge as well as strong interpersonal skills. My experience and personality traits align for this job and make me a great fit. I’m an effective and skilled communicator with experience in oral presentations, communicating via email and speaking on the phone. I’m also proficient in related software programs that include Microsoft Office suite, digital publishing and design, and document creation. I hope to bring my diverse skill-set to your company.”

3. Why Shouldn’t We Hire You?

Instructions: Most interviewees anticipate the coveted question, “what are your weaknesses?” but there’s one that throws many candidates off-guard. “Why shouldn’t we hire you”? Surely a tough question, why would you want to give the interviewer a reason not to give you your dream job? It’s best to be prepared for this complex trick question and equally important to know why the interviewer asks this in the first place. Designed to make you think on your feet and to gauge your honesty, it’s actually a chance for you to shine. The best way to answer this question is to emphasize on your strengths and use them to your advantage. You might choose a quality that’s easily acceptable and embraced by the company your interviewing at but not seen positively in other companies. Like, you can smartly highlight your skill as an independent thinker by saying, “well, you shouldn’t hire me if you’re looking for someone who thrives in an environment where he’s told what to do at every step. I work better when given certain guidelines and a desired outcome, but also freedom to carry out the task my own way.” This shows your honesty and clarity on how you work best.

Example: Here are some “Why we shouldn’t hire you” sample answers that can help you tackle the tricky question.

I’m an executioner, getting things done on time with minimum errors. In order to achieve this I like to call meetings, discuss progress with my team and make sure that the work is being carried out efficiently. If your company doesn’t support the culture of impromptu meetings or appreciate open communication, then I may not be the person for you.”

“If you’re looking for a natural leader, somebody who can conduct meetings on his own then I might not be the right fit for this position. I’m more of an active participant who likes to give ideas in a meeting and help set targets. My strength is working around a deadline and finishing tasks for the company.”

Both these answers show that you’ve taken the question seriously and haven’t presented yourself as a perfectionist. In both cases you’ve cleverly identified your strengths – an effective communicator and a doer.

4. Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job?

Instructions: When going for a new job interview, always expect the interviewer to ask you about your current job and reasons for leaving it. The key here is to refrain from being negative, which means don’t start bashing your current boss. Focus on the things that you’ll be looking forward to with this new job, like desire to learn, taking on additional responsibilities, and developing a career skill-set. Use this opportunity to share with the interviewer what you’ve learned about the new company, its culture and environment that got you excited, and how you feel it’s a good match with your experience and strengths. It’s always a good idea to talk about the position you’re being interviewed for, showing your eagerness to adapt to change and learn new skills.

Be honest with your answer as you’re leaving your job for a reason. There are some blunt reasons like you want to earn more money, you have a bad boss, or you generally just don’t like your current job. But make sure to translate your response tactfully so that it shows you’ve applied for the new position for the right reasons.

Example: Here are some sample answers to the question “Why are you looking for a new job?”

“During my four years at Smith, I had the opportunity to work with a talented team that allowed me to develop strong skills in quantitative analysis, data handling and programming. It was a great learning experience and while I enjoyed contributing to my team, I’m looking forward to be a part of a company that encourages me to use my skills more fully and enhance my capabilities to my potential.”

“I have grown both personally and professionally in my current company, but I feel the leadership is now going in a different direction. I enjoy working in a collaborative environment as it motivates and inspires you. As much as I respect the mission of the company, I think it’s time for me to move on to other endeavors.”

“I have great respect for my coworkers and really enjoyed working on exciting projects, but I’m ready for the next challenge in my career. I feel that I have become too comfortable in my role and am not being challenged the way I used to be earlier in my career. I want to pursue a position where I can continue to grow and evolve.”

5. What is Unique About You?

Instructions: The hiring manager will ask you many questions to determine whether you’re the right person for the job or not. One of them is “what makes you unique?”. The purpose of this question is for the interviewer to understand what qualities set you apart from the other candidates and why they should hire you over them. Before you decide how to tackle this question, it’s best to know about the company’s goals so that you can connect them with your unique attributes. You can impress the interviewer by telling them what’s special about you and how that quality will enable you to make a valuable contribution to the company. Be careful not to over exaggerate as you don’t want to come across as arrogant. Answer this question by using a modest approach like, “I have been told by my manager that I can be assertive in a diplomatic kind of a way.”

The employer not just wants to know if you’re a good fit for the position but also to determine if you’re compatible with the culture of the company. The interviewer wants to see an evidence of soft skills and strengths, and also for that something extra that’ll make you a strong addition to the company.

Example: Here are some sample answers to the question “What is unique about you?”.

The best way to handle this question is with honesty, be confident, and give concise, to the point answer.

“One thing that sets me apart from other customer service representatives is that I can connect with the clients on a more human level. I make them comfortable from the onset and this way I can learn more about their requirements, and present the product in light of their needs. I have always been good in carrying out conversations and I attribute this skill to my extrovert nature as well.”

I believe I’m the best fit for this job because of my organizational skills. I’m quite adept in devising systems that help me stay on top of the things. In my past role as an administrative assistant, I was replying to numerous emails and answering calls on daily basis, and never had I fallen back on a schedule.”

6. Tell Us Something Special About Yourself That is Not on Your Resume?

Instructions: Interviewers want to go beyond what they have read about you on your resume and like to gain some perspective on what drives you outside work. With open-ended questions like “Tell me something about yourself that isn’t on your resume”, they like to get in-depth view of your personality and qualifications. There are different ways of answering this question, like discussing a positive trait that’s not mentioned on your resume. You can also tell a story that highlights your enthusiasm, creativity, tenacity, or dedication.

With this question the hiring manager also wants to know about your motivation and reasons why this job is so appealing for you. Use this opportunity to emphasize what inspired you to apply for the position and how you’re looking forward to play your part in helping the company grow bigger. Structure your answer properly by explaining or highlighting a trait and then summarizing it for the interviewer. It’s important to make your response relevant to the job or the company. Remember, if it’s already on your resume then don’t say it. Not only will it make you look unimaginative but it might also appear that you didn’t understand the question.

Example: Here are some sample answers to the question “Tell us something special about yourself that is not your resume?”

“Well, this is something that I didn’t put on my resume – during college I took mandatory CPR training and a few months ago I got a chance to practice it on a young woman. I was with some friends at the lake when it seemed the woman was drowning. We got her out and I gave her CPR, before the paramedics took over. This incident showed me that I can remain calm under pressure, figure out a way to handle the situation and then act on it. I believe this trait is useful in any kind of situation, be it personal or professional.”

“Since it’s a personal thing, I didn’t put it on my resume, but I volunteer at a hospital near my house. I was visiting a relative once when I saw these young boys and girls helping out and I was inspired. It’s a great learning experience and improving self-worth. It has helped my social skills and as I help out with inventory and restocking, it has also improved my organizational skills.”

7. What Are Your Future Goals?

Instructions: One of the most common interview questions is “what are your future goals?” or “where do you see yourself five years from now?”. The purpose of this question is for the interviewer to determine how long you plan to stay with the company if given the job. Your answer should align with the goals of the company and it’s best to highlight parts of your vision that matches theirs. The hiring manager also wants to make sure that you have an ambition and career goals. To stand out in your interview, reply within the context of the job and mention skills that are vital to the position. The interviewer is interested to know what you’re looking for in your next job, so don’t discuss your personal goals outside of work. Information about your family, travelling and other aspirations is not relevant here.

This question also gives you the opportunity to ask the interviewer about career paths within the company, especially regarding growth potential. Remember, your answer to this question has to be honest, realistic and focused on your own experiences.

Example: Here are some sample answers to the question “What are your future goals?”

“Well I’m really excited by the exposure that this position at Dynamic Consulting will offer me. In five years time I would like to be seen as an experienced senior manager in the field of energy, potentially handling my own accounts and projects. I believe that’s something I’ll have an opportunity to achieve in this company.”

Another favorable response to this question can be admitting to become a leader in future and steering a team of people.

“I hope to make the most of this opportunity of being a part of your company and learning as much as I can. I believe I could thrive as a leader and it’s my goal to eventually take on a management role that involves handling a team. I look forward to guide a team into achieving company’s goals and shaping them into successful employees.”

You can also start by giving short-term goals and moving on to long-term plans.

“If given the chance to be a part of your company, initially I would like to develop my interpersonal communication skills and enhance my marketing knowledge. But eventually, I would want to use this opportunity to manage a marketing group and utilize my experience by taking on a leadership role.”

8. What Are Your Major Achievements?

Instructions: Hiring managers look for certain skills and personality traits in the interviewees. By asking the question “What is your greatest accomplishment or achievement?” they want to see if your competencies and work ethics match with the job you’ve applied for. The achievement you decide to share must demonstrate that you’re the best person for this job and how you achieved it will show the interviewer how you get things done. The key here is to match your soft and hard skills with that of the company’s culture.

This question helps the hiring manager to see what you’ve done to go above and beyond in your field and to visualize you as a professional. The best approach to answer this question is to start by telling the interviewer a story, describing the challenge you were up against, and your approach in handling it. Take this opportunity to relate how your accomplishment can be beneficial for the company and the position you’re being interviewed for. Your reply must display a specific quality or skills that have been mentioned in the job description. Honesty is the best policy for this question, so don’t stretch the truth and don’t take make somebody else’s success as your own.

Example: Here’s a sample response to the question “What is your greatest accomplishment?” that you can use to tailor your own.

“My biggest achievement is a mix of both personal and professional. I finished my MBA degree in six years with a 3.8 GPA. I achieved this without any financial support from my parents as they were already finding it hard to make ends meet. I pursued my degree while working full-time at a café. This taught me a lot about time management, prioritizing my goals and staying focused. This entire experience made me a good leader as the struggle taught me to level with my team members and focus more on the end result than how it was achieved.”

“I was a part of a local design agency, working as their senior content writer. Due to the small size of the company, we were being pushed out by bigger agencies and it was then that the owners assigned me as the project lead to revamp the company’s website to generate more clientele. I had a good team on my hand – we set clear creative milestones, had fun brainstorming sessions, and had weekly meetings to give each other feedback. This practice helped everyone feel motivated and valued, and we completed the redesign on schedule. The marketing team also pitched in and within weeks there was an increase in the site’s traffic. The very next month we landed two new clients. I am very proud of what we all pulled off through teamwork and collaboration.”

9. Why Do You Want To Get This Job?

Instructions: The question “Why are you interested in this position?” is likely to come up in an interview. Hiring managers usually ask this question to see how well suited you are for the job, to understand what motivated you to apply, and to determine how long you’ll stay in the role. This is an opportunity for you to show your enthusiasm for the company and how excited you are about joining the team. First thing – do your research on the company and match their goals and vision with yours to pitch why you’re a good fit.

When preparing your answer, you can pick different reasons like the general reputation of the company or its key leaders, and even show your excitement about their products and services. It’s always impressive when a candidate knows details about the company, so it’s a good idea to talk about their marketing campaigns, training programs or community programs. You can also mention company’s core values that inspired you to join the team and grow with them.

Another way to approach this answer is to align your experiences and skills with the job. Make sure to speak about the things mentioned in the job description, combining them with your own competencies to show what makes you the best choice. In the end, communicate to the interviewer that the position is perfect for where you’re going in your career. Show them that you’re in for the long haul.

Example: Wondering how to answer this important question? You can take help from these sample answers and customize them to fit the job you’re applying for.

“Well, the reputation of Park Hill Group is certainly an important factor. I feel it’s a great privilege to work for a company that has such great standing and a long history of leadership in the business. Also, a friend of mine has been a part of your company for the last three years and she told me how supportive the management is about development and learning on the job.”

“I read an article on Forbes about your new CEO and his focus on technological advancements as well as innovation. I consider myself to be a passionate innovator and have an inherent curiosity that motivates me. I would love to work in a company that supports such forward thinking and has interest in developing cutting-edge technologies.”

“I have learned a lot about your company through press releases and information available on your website. I know that you people are on the rise and launching new products in the coming months. Through my vast experience in product management, I hope to help your company as you roll out these new products and be a part of the business as it grows.

10. How Do You Handle Pressure?

Instructions: Most jobs are stressful and it’s one of the most commonly asked questions, “how do you handle stress?”. Be prepared for this question as the hiring manager doesn’t want to hear that you never come under pressure or get stressed. The interviewer wants to know how stress or work pressure affects you and how you cope with it. This question is especially important if you’ve applied for a job that comes with tight deadlines and strict targets. How well and confidently you answer this question will help the interviewer understand your mindset and determine if you can deal with a range of stressful situations.

It’s best to answer with specific examples, focusing on a positive story, and highlighting not how you felt but what you did. Mention the skills that you used that align with the job description. You can talk about time management, prioritization, organizational skills, and attention to detail. It’s always a good idea to link pressure with productivity and you can say that how working under pressure motivates you. Tailor your answer in a way that it shows you thrive in stressful situations.

Example: Read through these sample answers for the question “how do you handle pressure” and tweak them according to the position you’ve applied for.

“I equate pressure with productivity. Having multiple assignments or to finish tasks in tight deadlines helps me stay focused and motivated. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t get stressed or always find it a smooth sailing. I try to create a balance – there was one time I had to submit two important projects and both had the same deadline. I carefully created a timeline for both the projects, prioritized each into small assignments, and managed to complete both ahead of time.”

“As a junior executive I can’t say I enjoy stress but I have learned to cope with it through communication and prioritization. In my last job I was assigned to two supervisors – which meant double stress for me! There were multiple times when both of them assigned me conflicting tasks and I had to finish them within the same deadline. Initially I used be overwhelmed but later decided to talk to both of them and discussed which assignment was more urgent, and which could be finished later. We were able to come up with a plan and I learned to organize myself, and prioritize things. Now I can handle multiple tasks at the same time – it’s all about time management.”

Table of contents

Read more

Local News