interview questions

most common interview questions

"What are the most common job-interview questions?"

This article is part of a series from The Career Doctor's Cures & Remedies to Quintessentially Perplexing Career and Job-Hunting Ailments.

Before even addressing this question, let's be honest and say the most important elements related to success in job interviews is research and preparation. The more job-seekers know about the type of interview(s) they face, the better you can anticipate questions and prepare and practice answers. Employers often use a combination of traditional and behavioral interview questions, and you need to be prepared. Finally, remember that the job interview is the time to sell yourself to employers.

From various research sources, here are some of the most common interview questions job-seekers should expect in a job interview:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What do you see yourself doing five years from now? Ten years from now?
  • What are your long-range career objectives?
  • Why did you choose this career?
  • How well do you work with people? Do you prefer working alone or in teams?
  • How would a good friend describe you?
  • What would your last boss say about your work performance?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What makes you qualified for this position?
  • What do you think it takes to be successful in a company like ours?
  • In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our company?
  • What's the most recent book you've read?
  • What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why?
  • Describe the most rewarding experience of your career thus far.
  • Why did you decide to seek a position in this company?
  • What can you tell us about our company?
  • What do you know about our competitors?
  • What two or three things are most important to you in your job?
  • Are you willing to travel for the job?

by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., a nationally recognized career and job-search expert, and founder of Quintessential Careers

preparing for the ten most common interview questions

Too many job seekers stumble through interviews as if the questions are coming out of left field. But many interview questions are to be expected. Study this list and plan your answers ahead of time so you’ll be ready to deliver them with confidence.

What are your weaknesses?
This is the most dreaded question of all. Handle it by minimizing your weakness and emphasizing your strengths. Stay away from personal qualities and concentrate on professional traits: “I am always working on improving my communication skills to be a more effective presenter. I recently joined Toastmasters, which I find very helpful.”

Why should we hire you?
Summarize your experiences: “With five years’ experience working in the financial industry and my proven record of saving the company money, I could make a big difference in your company. I’m confident I would be a great addition to your team.”

Why do you want to work here?
The interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you’ve given this some thought and are not sending out resumes just because there is an opening. For example, “I’ve selected key companies whose mission statements are in line with my values, where I know I could be excited about what the company does, and this company is very high on my list of desirable choices.”

What are your goals?
Sometimes it’s best to talk about short-term and intermediate goals rather than locking yourself into the distant future. For example, “My immediate goal is to get a job in a growth-oriented company. My long-term goal will depend on where the company goes. I hope to eventually grow into a position of responsibility.”

Why did you leave (or why are you leaving) your job?
If you’re unemployed, state your reason for leaving in a positive context: “I managed to survive two rounds of corporate downsizing, but the third round was a 20 percent reduction in the workforce, which included me.”

If you are employed, focus on what you want in your next job: “After two years, I made the decision to look for a company that is team-focused, where I can add my experience.”

When were you most satisfied in your job?
The interviewer wants to know what motivates you. If you can relate an example of a job or project when you were excited, the interviewer will get an idea of your preferences. “I was very satisfied in my last job because I worked directly with the customers and their problems; that is an important part of the job for me.”

What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?
What makes you unique? This will take an assessment of your experiences, skills and traits. Summarize concisely: “I have a unique combination of strong technical skills, and the ability to build strong customer relationships. This allows me to use my knowledge and break down information to be more user-friendly.”

What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?
It’s time to pull out your old performance appraisals and boss’s quotes. This is a great way to brag about yourself through someone else’s words: “My boss has told me that I am the best designer he has ever had. He knows he can rely on me, and he likes my sense of humor.”

What salary are you seeking?
It is to your advantage if the employer tells you the range first. Prepare by knowing the going rate in your area, and your bottom line or walk-away point. One possible answer would be: “I am sure when the time comes, we can agree on a reasonable amount. In what range do you typically pay someone with my background?”

If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?
Interviewers use this type of psychological question to see if you can think quickly. If you answer “a bunny,” you will make a soft, passive impression. If you answer “a lion,” you will be seen as aggressive. What type of personality would it take to get the job done? What impression do you want to make?

by Carole Martin, Monster Management Advisor

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