Commonly Asked Interview Questions & How to Answer Them

Peter PanacyStaffing Coordinator

Showing up to an interview, dressing the part and engaging in thoughtful, professional discussions with your interviewers is critical to ensuring you get the job over the rest of the competition.

But preparing for that interview is just as crucial. You may not know exactly what questions your interviewer will ask when you sit across from each other face to face. Yet there’s a good chance many of those questions are ones for which you can prepare right now.

Interviewers are trying to gauge what kind of employee you’ll be, how you might handle certain situations, your character and, most importantly, if you’re the right fit for the position.

You never want your answers to be robotic or “canned.” But knowing what the interviewers are looking for will go a long way in being prepared.

Let’s take a look at some common interview questions you might be asked.

It’s about as simple as a question gets. The interviewer is trying to get to know you, right?

Of course! But this isn’t an open invitation to tell your life story. Remember, this is a formal interview, and you’ll want to keep your answer relevant to the position for which you’re interviewing. Consider starting off with your work history, especially the parts directly related to the interviewing company. You might want to work in some education if it helps.

Consider this your “opening statement” on how you’re the best fit for the position. Just remember to be clear and concise. No interviewer wants to hear you ramble on about the little details of your life experience.

The pay might be nice, as may be the benefits and perks. But those aren’t reasons you want to give in an interview. Instead, try to identify some aspects about the company you appreciate or enjoy. Maybe the company specializes in a product or service you’re passionate about. Or maybe you love the field in which the company is excelling.

This is the moment where you can show off how much you researched the company before the interview.

If the interviewer asks for your best strength, give him or her your best strength. Don’t go into a laundry list of positive attributes you think you possess. If the interviewer asks for multiple strengths, OK. But you’ll want to do more than just highlight your best abilities.

Back them up with relevant examples. If you feel you’re a hard worker, describe an instance where you demonstrated such in the workplace.

This is a little tougher than a question about strength. It’s a negative-based question. You’ll want to be honest too. Answers like, “I work too hard” or “I tend to take too much on” are too cliché. And please, please don’t answer with, “I don’t have any weaknesses.”

Find a true weakness you have. But the key is to turn it into a positive. That’s what the interviewer is looking for. Maybe you struggle with time management. But instead of just leaving your answer as such, describe your efforts in improving how you balance your time-management skills.

This is a tough one, especially if you left your last job on a sour note.

One thing you’ll never want to do is talk poorly about a previous employer, boss or coworker. Even if you were fired from a last position, spin it into a positive and describe how it was a valuable learning experience for you.

And if you left your last position on a good note, be sure to describe that as well!

Scenario-based questions like this are ways an interviewer tries to gauge how you’ll handle certain situations under pressure.

Again, never talk badly about a previous boss or coworker. But you’ll want to draw on your experience and highlight an instance relevant to the question. Maybe you and a coworker didn’t see eye to eye on how to complete a project. Don’t just leave it like that though. Break down how you might have come to some sort of agreement with your coworker to ensure you were able to complete your tasks amicably.

This is a question probably 90 percent of interviewees get wrong. Almost every interview will end in a question like this. And almost every interviewee will simply answer “no.”

No is negative. It doesn’t sound nice. And you certainly don’t want your interview to end on such a word. Instead, consider this question your closing remarks about why you’re a great fit.

If you have questions about the company, ask them. Be thoughtful though. Consider asking questions like, “What are some traits of your best-performing employees?” or “What do you like most about working for Company X?”.

And if you don’t have questions, at least answer this question with a thank you of some sort. Remember, the interviewer took time out of his or her schedule to meet with you. Be thoughtful and consider telling, one last time, why you’d love the opportunity to work for the company.

General Interview Tips

  • Remember to be clear with your answers. But stick to the point. Long winded answers aren’t always better

  • Be honest. If you don’t know the right answer, don’t try to make something up on the spot.

  • Maintain good eye contact and body posture throughout the interview.

  • Make a mental list of things you want to stress about your professional experience. Incorporate them into your answers when possible.

  • Be friendly. Try to smile and show a positive demeanor. Likable candidates have a much better chance of landing the job.