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The Definitive Helps to Answering Exact Interview Questions with Unified Career
It would be amazing if you could know exactly the questions that a hiring manager will ask you during your next job interview.
Unfortunately, we can't read minds. However, we will give you the next best thing: A list of over 40 most frequently asked interview questions along with guidance for answering each one.
Although we don't advocate having a pre-written response to every interview question, we recommend that you spend some time getting familiar with the questions you may be asked and what the hiring managers really want in your answers. This will help you show them why you are the best person for the job.
This list can be used as a study guide for interview questions and answers.
Tell me about yourself.
How did you hear about this position?
Why do you want to work for this company?
What are you looking for in a job?
Why should we hire you?
What can you bring to the company?
Which are your greatest strengths?
What do you consider your weak points?
What is your greatest professional achievement?
Let me know about a conflict or challenge you've faced at work and how you dealt with it.
Please tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership skills.
What is the Time When You Aren't Happy with a Work Decision?
Please tell me about a time when you made a mistake.
Tell me about a time when you failed.
Why are you leaving your current job?
Why were you fired?
What was the Gap in Your Employment?
Can you explain why you changed career paths?
What is your current salary?
What do you dislike most about your job?
What are you looking for in a new position?
Which type of work environment do you prefer?
How do you work?
Which Management Style are You?
What would your bosses and coworkers describe you?
How do you deal with stress and pressure?
What do you like to do outside of work?
Are you planning to have children?
How do you prioritize your work?
What are you passionate about?
What motivates you?
What are your pet peeves?
What do you like to manage?
Do You Consider Yourself Successful?
What do you see yourself in five years?
What are your Career Goals?
What is your dream job?
Which other companies are you interviewing with?
What makes you unique?
What should I know that isn't on my resume?
What would your first 30, 60 or 90 days look like in this role?
What are your Salary Expectations?
What do you think we could do better or differently?
Where can you start?
Are you willing to relocate?
How many tennis balls can you fit into a limousine?
What Animal Would You Choose to be if You Could Be a Human?
This pen is for sale
Do You Have Any Other Information?
Are you looking for answers?
These commonly asked questions cover the basics that hiring managers need to know about each candidate: who you really are, what your strengths and weaknesses are. Although you may not be asked these exact questions, if you know the answers, you will be ready for anything an interviewer asks.
1. Tell me about yourself.
Although this question may seem simple, many people don't prepare well enough. However, it is crucial. The deal is this: You don't need to disclose your entire employment history. Instead, make a compelling pitch that explains why you are the best fit for the job. Lily Zhang, MIT career counselor and Muse writer, recommends that you use a present-past-future formula. You can start by describing your current job, including the scope of it and any notable accomplishments. Next, give some background information about how you got there and any relevant experience. Next, talk about why you are interested in this role and what it would suit.
2. When did you hear about this position?
This is a seemingly simple interview question. However, it's a great opportunity to shine and show your passion for the company. If you learned about the job through a friend, colleague, or professional contact, mention that person and then tell why you are so excited about it. Share the event you found out about the company or an article. You can also share the details of the job, even if it was found on a random job board.
3. Why do you want to work at this company?
Avoid generic responses! You don't have to answer the same questions as everyone else. Zhang suggests one of the following strategies: First, do your research. Next, talk about what makes the company special and why it appeals to your heart. Third, focus on the opportunities for growth in the future and how you can help it. Finally, share your experiences with employees. No matter which route you take, be specific. If you don't know why you want to work for the company you are interviewing with, it's a red flag. This could be a sign that the job is not for you.
4. What are you looking for in a job?
Companies want people who are passionate about their job so be sure to have a compelling reason why you are interested in the job. (And what if you don’t? If you don't, then you should probably apply elsewhere. First, determine a few key characteristics that make this role great for you. (e.g. "I love customer service because I love the constant interaction with people and the satisfaction that comes in solving a problem") Next, share why you love the company. (e.g. "I have always been passionate about education and I think I do great things so I want to join it."
5. Why should we hire you?
This interview question is intimidating and seems to be forward-looking. This interview question seems daunting and forward-looking. It is your job to answer this question with a three-part explanation: That you are able to not only perform the work but also deliver great results; you will fit in with the culture and team; and that you would be a better candidate than the rest.
6. What Can You Bring to the Company?
Interviewers don't want to know your past. Interviewers want to know if you are able to identify the problems and challenges facing the company or department, as well as how your skills will fit in with the existing team. Do your research about the company and the job description. Make sure to pay attention to your interview to learn more about the issues you are being hired to fix. Next, connect your skills and experience to the needs of the company and give an example of work that you have done in similar or transferable situations.
7. Which are your greatest strengths?
This is your chance to share what makes you unique and a good fit for this job. Think quality and not quantity when answering this question. Also, you shouldn't recite a bunch of adjectives. Pick one or several (depending on your question) relevant qualities and show them off with examples. Stories are more memorable than generalizations. This is the time to share what you've been meaning to say, even if it's something that makes you an excellent candidate.
8. What Do You Consider to Be Your Weaknesses?
The question is not meant to identify any red flags, but to assess your honesty and self-awareness. It is impossible to meet a deadline and save my life, but it is possible. I am perfect! You can strike a balance by focusing on something you struggle with and working towards improvement. Perhaps you aren't a natural speaker, but you have recently offered to lead meetings to help you become more comfortable speaking in front of a crowd.
Questions about your work history
Your track record at work is the meat of any job interview. It includes what you have accomplished, how successful you were (and how it affected you), and how you behaved in real-world work situations. You'll be prepared to answer behavioral interview questions if you prepare a few stories about your work history.
9. What Is Your Greatest Professional Achievement?
You can't say "hire me" like a past track record of great results. So don't be afraid to answer this interview question. Using the STAR method (situation, task, action and results) is a great way to accomplish this. To give the interviewer background context, you should first set up the situation. Next, describe the action and the result.
10. Let me know about a conflict or challenge you've faced at work and how you dealt with it.
You won't be eager to discuss conflicts at work in a job interview. If you are asked, do not pretend that you have never experienced one. Tell the truth about any difficult situations you have faced, but not in the same way you would to vent to a friend. Richard Moy, a former recruiter, says that most people asking for information are looking for proof that you're willing and able to confront these types of issues face-to-face and attempt to resolve them. Keep calm and professional while you tell your story. Answer any follow-up questions. Spend more time discussing the resolution than the conflict. Also, mention what you would do differently next time. This will show that you are open to learning from difficult experiences.
11. Please tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership skills.
To be a leader and demonstrate leadership skills, you don't need to hold a fancy title. You can think of a time you managed a project, were able to suggest an alternative process or motivated your team. Next, use the STAR method. Tell your interviewer a story. Give enough detail to give a picture but not too much to make it boring. Make sure to spell out the end. Also, make sure you are clear about the reason for telling the story.
12. What’s a Time You Disagreed With a Decision That Was Made at Work?
An example of a professional handling of a dispute and learning from it is the ideal one. Zhang suggests paying attention to the way you begin and end your responses. For the opening, you should make a brief statement that frames the rest of the answer. This will help to focus on the main takeaway or reason for the story. You could say, "I learned early in my professional career that it was fine to disagree if your intuitions are supported by data." To close strong, you can either summarize your answer in ...") (or talk briefly about the benefits of what you have learned from this experience for you in the job you are applying for.
13. Please tell me about a time when you made a mistake.
When you are trying to impress an interviewer or land a job, it's not likely that you want to dwell on past mistakes. Moy says that talking about past mistakes and winning over someone are not mutually exclusive. It can actually help you if you do it correctly. It is important to be open and honest, without blaming others. Then, explain your mistakes and the steps you took to prevent them from happening again. Employers are looking for people who are self-aware and can accept feedback.
14. Tell me about a time when you failed.
The question about making mistakes is similar, so you should approach it the same. You should choose a real, honest failure that you are able to talk about. Begin by explaining to the interviewer what failure means to you. As a manager, it's considered a failure when I'm taken by surprise. "I try to understand what's happening with my team and their works." Next, place your story in relation of that definition and then explain what happened. Don't forget about sharing what you have learned. It's okay to fail, everyone does. But it's important that you show that you learned something.
15. Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job?
Although this is a difficult question, you can be certain you will be asked. Keep things positive. You have nothing to lose by being critical of your employer. Instead, show that you are open to new opportunities and that the job you're applying for is better for you. You could say, "I would love to be involved in product development from start to finish, and I know that I would have that opportunity here." What if your last job was terminated? It's okay to say "Unfortunately, it was my turn"!
16. Why were you fired?
They may also ask you the following question: "Why were you fired?" If you lost your job due to layoffs, you can simply say, "The company [reorganized/merged/was acquired] and unfortunately my [position/department] was eliminated." But what if you were fired for performance reasons? It is best to be truthful (the job-seeking market is small). It doesn't need to be a deal-breaker. It can be viewed as a learning opportunity. Share your growth and how it has affected your work and personal life. If you can use your growth to advantage in the next job, that's even better.
17. Why was there a gap in your employment?
Perhaps you took care of your parents or children, dealt with health problems, or traveled the world. Perhaps it took you a while to find the right job. No matter what the reason, it is important to be prepared for the conversation about the gaps on your resume. Practice answering your question loudly. It's important to be truthful, but that doesn't necessarily mean you should share more information than you are comfortable with. You can talk about any skills and qualities that you have acquired outside of the workplace, such as through volunteering, managing a home or dealing with a personal crisis, to help you succeed in this role.
18. Can you explain why you changed career paths?
Do not be intimidated by the question. Just take a deep breath and tell the hiring manager why your career choices were made. You should also give examples of how your previous experience can be applied to the new job. It doesn't necessarily have to be a direct link; it can often be more impressive when candidates can show how even seemingly unrelated experience is relevant to the job.
19. What is your current salary?
Employers can now ask about your salary history in several states and cities, including New York City, Louisville, North Carolina, California, and Massachusetts. It doesn't matter where you live, this question can be very stressful. There are many strategies that you can use to avoid panicking. You can, for example, deflect the question by responding like this: "Before we discuss any salary, I'd really love to learn more about this role. I have done extensive research on [Company] so I am confident that we can agree on a fair and competitive salary.
20. What Do You Like Least About Your Job?
Be careful! Do not let your answers turn into rants about your employer or your boss. It's best to keep your answers calm and to concentrate on the opportunity that the job you are interviewing for has. Keep the conversation positive by emphasizing why you are so excited about the job.
Questions about you and your goals
Interviews are only half the battle. It is important to get to know the candidate. You will likely be asked questions about your work habits, goals, and how you see yourself working in a job, company, or manager. If interviewers are looking to ensure that you will be a good match or add value to the team, this is a great sign. It's a great opportunity!
21. What Are You Looking for in a New Position? .
Hint: It is a good idea to have the same qualities that this job offers. Be specific.
22. What Type of Work Environment Do You Prefer?
Tip: It's best to choose one that is similar to the work environment at the company to which you are applying. Be specific.
23. What Type of Work Environment Do You Prefer? .
Interviewers are likely to ask you about your work style in order to picture you in the job. What will your approach to work be like? How will you work with others? Do you feel like you can work well with the current team? Focusing on what is important to you and in line with all you have learned about the company, role, and team can help you to assist them. This question is very broad so you can be as specific as you like. You could talk about how you communicate with cross-functional teams; how remote work allows you to be more productive, how you manage direct reports and how you lead a team. Keep it positive. Remember to tell a story. This will almost always make your answer memorable.
24. What’s Your Management Style?
You want to be a strong, flexible manager. Think about this: "While every situation is different and each team member requires a slightly different strategy, I tend toward my employee relationships as ...") A few of your greatest managerial moments include when you grew your staff from five to fifteen or when you helped an underperforming employee become the top salesperson in your company.
25. How Would Your Boss and Coworkers Describe You?
Be honest. Remember, if you make the final round, the hiring manger will call your former bosses or coworkers to get references. Next, try to highlight strengths and qualities that you haven’t talked about in the interview. For example, your work ethic or willingness to help with other projects.
26. How Do You Deal with Pressure or Stressful Situations?
This is another question that you might feel the need to dodge in your quest to prove you can handle everything. This question is important to not dismiss (i.e. It's important to not dismiss this one (i.e. Talk about your top strategies for managing stress, such as meditating every day for 10 minutes, going for a run, or keeping a detailed to-do-list. Also discuss how you communicate with others and try to reduce pressure. You can also give an example of a stressful situation that you have successfully navigated.
27. What Do You Like to Do Outside of Work? .
Interviewers may ask you about hobbies and interests other than work to get to know you better. This is to help you discover what you are passionate about and what you can devote your time to outside of work. This is another opportunity to show off your personality. Keep it honest but professional. Be aware of any answers that could make it seem like you are going to be focusing solely on the job.
28. Are You Planning on Having Children?
You may be asked questions about your family, gender, and religion. Although they might not be asking these questions with malicious intent, the interviewer may just be trying to have a conversation and not realize that these are off limits. However, you must make sure to tie any questions you ask about your personal life back to the job. Think about this question: "You know what, I'm still not there yet." However, I am interested in the career opportunities at your company. Could you please tell me more?
29. How Do You Prioritize Your Work? .
Interviewers are looking for evidence that you are able to manage your time, use judgement, communicate effectively, and change gears as needed. Talk about the system that works best for you in planning your week or day. You'll want to use a real-life example for this one. Now, describe how you have reacted to an unexpected request or shift in priorities. Include how you evaluated the situation and what you did to communicate with your manager and/or colleagues.
30. What Are You Passionate About? .
You are not a programmed robot that will do your work then shut down. It's a question that you are a human being, and people often ask this question during interviews to get to know you better. This answer could be directly related to the work you would do in the role. For example, if you apply to be a graphic artist and spend your time creating illustrations and data visualizations for Instagram, this might be the case.
Talk about hobbies that are different to your work. Al Dea, Muse career coach, says that it's a bonus if you can "take things one step further" and link how your passion makes you an ideal candidate for the job you are applying for. If you are a software developer who is passionate about baking, you might discuss how your ability to be creative and precise influences your code.
31. What Are You Passionate About? .
Be calm and not panic when answering what seems like a probing existential query. The interviewer wants you to be excited about the job at this company and to feel motivated to succeed if they choose you. Think back to your previous experiences and identify what brought you joy when you saw this job description. You can pick one thing to focus on, but make sure it is relevant to the job and company for which you are applying. Then, use a story to illustrate your point. Your enthusiasm will shine through if you are sincere, as you should.
32 What Are You Passionate About? .
Another one can feel like a maze. It'll be much easier to understand the question if you are clear about why they asked it. They want to see how you handle conflict and ensure you thrive in their company. Be sure to choose something that isn't incompatible with the culture or environment of this company, but still honest. Next, explain the reason and how you dealt with it in the past. Try to remain calm and composed. You don't need to dwell on an issue that bothers you so keep your response brief and sweet.
33. How Do You Like to Be Managed? .
Another question that is about finding the right fit, both from the company's point of view and yours. Reflect on the things that worked for you and what didn’t. What were the things your previous bosses that helped you succeed? Focus on one or two key points and make sure to use a positive frame. Even if you have had a negative experience with your boss, try to phrase it like what you would expect a manager to do. It will make your answer stronger if you can provide a positive example of a great boss.
34 Do You Consider Yourself Successful?
You might be uncomfortable answering this question. You can view it as an opportunity for the interviewer get to know you better, and to position you as an excellent candidate for this job. First, say yes! Next, choose one professional accomplishment that you are proud of and that is directly related to the job you're applying for. This should be something that shows a skill, knowledge, or ability that will help you succeed in the position. It's important to discuss the reasons you consider it a success and the process, as well as the results, and to highlight your accomplishments without forgetting about your team. If you are uncomfortable sharing your own story, it will be easier to focus on one.
35 Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years? .
When you are asked this question, you should be honest about your future goals. But, consider this: A hiring manager will want to know a) whether you have realistic career goals; b) if your ambitions (a.k.a. this interview isn’t your first), and c) how the job aligns with your growth and goals. It is best to be realistic about the potential opportunities that this job could bring you, and then answer these questions. Even if this position is not necessarily the right path to your goals, you can admit that you aren't sure where the future will take you, but you recognize that this experience is important in helping you make that decision.
35 Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years? .
When you are asked this question, you should be honest about your future goals. But, consider this: A hiring manager will want to know a) whether you have realistic career goals; b) if your ambitions (a.k.a. this interview isn’t your first), and c) how the job aligns with your growth and goals. It is best to be realistic about the potential opportunities that this job could bring you, and then answer these questions. Even if this position isn’t the right fit for your goals, you can admit that you aren't sure where the future will take you, but you recognize that this experience is important in helping you make that decision.
36 How Do You Plan to Achieve Your Career Goals? .
Interviewers will notice that you have goals. This shows they care and are ambitious. A plan of how you will achieve your goals shows your self-motivation and organizational skills. The fact that you have achieved past goals you set yourself is proof of your ability to keep going. These are all indicators that you can set and achieve your own goals, as well as helping your boss, team and company to do the same. Focus on one or two goals to craft your answer. Explain why they are important, what milestones are expected, highlight past successes and link back to this job.
37. What's Your Dream Job? .
Similar to the previous point, the interviewer will want to find out if this job is in line with your career goals. Although "an NBA superstar" may get you some laughs, it is better to discuss your career goals and why this job will help you get closer to them.
38 What Other Companies Are You Interviewing With? .
For a variety of reasons, companies might ask you to name the other candidates you are interviewing for. They might want to know how serious you are about the role, team or field. Or they may be trying to determine who their competition is to hire you. You want to show enthusiasm for the job but not give the company more leverage by saying there is no other candidate. Depending on your current search stage, you might talk about interviewing for XYZ roles. Then you could mention why you think this job is a good match.
39. What Other Companies Are You Interviewing With? .
Dea says, "They really want the answer." Give them reasons to choose you over similar candidates. It is important to answer the question relevant to the job you are applying for. It doesn't matter if you run six minutes per mile or can beat a trivia test to get the job. This is your chance to share something that will give you an advantage over the competition for this job. You can ask your former colleagues to help you figure it out. Or, look at feedback and see patterns that you have seen. Try to understand why people turn to you. You should be able to focus on just one or two points and back it up with evidence.
40 What Should I Know That's Not on Your Resume? .
If a hiring manager or recruiter is interested in more than what you have on your resume, it's a good sign. This means that they have looked at your resume and believe you may be a good match for the job. They want to learn more about you. Talking about something positive, a story, detail, or mission that highlights your personality and interests can make this a more manageable question.
Questions about the Job
The people on the other end of the hiring process want you to be able to take on the role. They might ask you logistical questions in order to make sure timing and other factors are correct. Or they might try to imagine your life after you start.
41. What Would Your First 30, 60, or 90 Days Look Like in This Role?
The question was asked by your potential boss or someone else. They want to know that you have done your research and thought about how you would get started. And, that you are able to take responsibility if you are hired. Think about the information you would need to know about the company and its team, and who you'd like to talk to. To show that you are ready to contribute and start quickly, you can suggest a starter project. While this won't be the first thing you do if you get the job, it will show that you are thoughtful and care about the work.
42. What Are Your Salary Expectations?
Answering this question requires that you know your salary requirements in advance. Use sites such as PayScale to research similar jobs and reach out to your networks. Remember to consider your education, experience, and personal goals. Jennifer Fink, Muse's career coach suggests that you choose one of the following strategies.
Fink suggests that you give a range of salary levels. But, keep the lowest point in your range towards the middle-to-high end of what you are actually looking for.
Rephrase the question: Fink suggests something like "That's an excellent question. It would be helpful if we could share the range for this role."
Do not delay answering: Tell your interviewer you would like to know more about the job or the compensation package before you discuss pay.
(Request help answering a question regarding your salary requirements in an application form. This is what you need to know.
43. What Do You Think We Could Do Better or Differently?
This question can be very damaging to your self-esteem. How can you provide a meaty answer to this question without insulting the company, or worse, the person with whom you are speaking? Take a deep breath and then take a deep, slow breath. Next, take a deep breath and start your reply with something positive about the company you are addressing or the product that you're referring to. Once you are ready to offer your constructive feedback, you should give some background information about the perspective that you bring to the table. Also, explain why the changes you propose (ideally based upon past experience or other evidence). If you end your conversation with a question you can show that you are interested in the company and product, as well as being open to hearing other perspectives. You might try this: "Did that approach work here?" "I'd love to learn more about your process."
44. When Can You Start?
The goal should be to establish realistic expectations that work for you and your company. Your specific situation will dictate what that means. You could offer to start the week if you are available to work immediately if you are unemployed. If you have to notify your employer, do not be afraid to tell them. People will appreciate and respect the fact that you are able to close things. You can also take a break from your job, but you should mention that you have "previously committed commitments to attend" and be flexible if they need you to start sooner.
45. Are You Willing to Relocate?
This may seem like a straightforward yes-or-no question, but it is often more complex than that. If you are open to the idea of moving, and willing to do so, this is the best scenario. If the answer is no or not now, you can still express your enthusiasm for the job, explain why you cannot move, and then offer an alternative such as working remotely or from a local office. Sometimes, it is not so clear-cut.
Questions to Test You
You may get some very unusual questions depending on the company and interviewer. Interviewers often test your ability to think on the spot. Don't panic. Take some time to think. There is no single right answer.
46. How Many Tennis Balls Can You Fit into a Limousine?
1000? 1,000? 10,000? 10,000? 100,000? Seriously? Seriously? The interviewer won't ask for exact numbers, but they want to ensure that you are able to understand the question and respond in a systematic and logical manner. Take a deep breath and begin to think through the math. It's okay to ask for a pen or paper!
47. If You Were an Animal, Which One Would You Want to Be?47 47.
These seemingly random personality-test questions are often asked during interviews to test your ability to think on your feet. Although there is no right answer, you will instantly gain bonus points if you answer this question in a way that helps you connect with the hiring manager or shares your strengths. Pro tip: Try stalling to give yourself time. For example, you might say, "Now that is a great query." I think I would say ..."
48. Sell Me This Pen.
Interviewers might ask you to buy a pen, a legal pad, a water bottle or any other item if you are applying for a job in sales. What is the main thing they are testing you for? How you deal with high-pressure situations. Keep calm and confident and show confidence by using your body language (e.g., eye contact, standing straight, etc.) to convey that you are capable of handling this situation. Listen, be attentive, and get to know your customer's needs. Be specific about the benefits and features of the item and close strong, as if you are closing a deal.
You might get a chance to share any final thoughts with the interviewer, and there will almost always be time for you to ask the questions that will help determine if the company and the role are right for you. If they don't allow you to ask questions during interviews, this could be a red flag.
49. Is There Anything Else You'd Like Us to Know?
Your interviewer suddenly asks you this question, just when you think you are done. It's not a trick question, so don't panic! Zhang suggests that you can use this opportunity to end the meeting on a high note one of two ways. If you feel there is something that is relevant, mention it immediately. You can also briefly sum up your qualifications. Zhang suggests that you could summarize your qualifications as follows: Zhang says, "I think we have covered most of it but just to sum it up, it sounds like someone who can really hit it off the ground running." With my prior experience [enumerate here], I believe I'd make a great match."
50. Do you have any questions for me?
As you probably know, an interview is more than just an opportunity for a hiring manager or to question you. It's also an opportunity to find out if the job is right for your needs. What information do you need to know about the job? What is the company? The department? The team? This will be a lot of information, so make sure you have some less-common questions. Questions that are specific to the interviewer (e.g. "What is your favorite thing about working here?") and the company's growth (e.g. "What can I tell you about your new products?") are great.