You may find yourself going through a certain level of anxiety when you have an upcoming job interview. Most of the time, you’re anticipating the event. Trying to guess the questions and prepare the best answers.
There are also a lot of “what if?” scenarios playing in your head. You want to make the best impression and that’s fine. Everyone likes to make a good impression, especially if it’s a job you really want.
So now that you’re here, we believe it’s because you want to be better prepared for your upcoming interview and that’s a great first step. Quality practice always goes a long way. We’ve created this comprehensive list to equip you with some common interview questions and give you the best way to answer them.
1. Tell me about yourself?
It’s easy to think that your interviewer(s) wants some general information when they ask you this question. While it wouldn’t hurt to include some, you want to focus on a background story that is relevant to the job you applied for. What you tell them should reflect your professional capabilities, how you have scaled through the career terrain, or added value to yourself.
Give them a glimpse into your professional experience and relevant skills. What were those complex projects you worked on? What are the major highlights of your professional journey? How did you start out and why did you choose this path? These are examples of the information to share when your interviewers want to know about you. You don’t have to give all the details here. Keep it brief. Make it simple, concise, and interesting.
2. How did you hear about this job?
Employers want to know how you discovered an opening at their firm. This is because they may have used multiple platforms or sources and wish to know which was more effective. They want to know if you heard were recommended by an employee, applied through a recruiter, or actively sought to work with them.
If you sought the role and applied because of your interest or individual fascination, let them know why you found the role interesting. It would be good for them to know that you’ve grown familiar with the company by observing what they do from a distance. Let them know that working with them was a choice that you made for reasons that stood out to you.
If you were recommended by someone, it’s important that you state their name and let them know the nature of your relationship with this person. This could be one of their current employee who you had worked with in the past met at an event. It could also be a relative or a friend. Being open about who recommended you will help you build more credibility with your interviewer. Simply ensure to explain that whoever recommended you did so because they thought you were a good fit for the job based on your skills and qualifications.
If you found a vacancy on a recruitment platform like LinkedIn. You can explain why the job caught your attention. For instance, you could say you applied because the role aligned with your career path, or it seemed like a good fit for you. How does the little information you have about the role stand out to you? Be honest about why you want to work with them.
3. What do you know about this organization?
You may be tempted to simply repeat what you saw on the job description or on the website, but we would advise you to dig deeper. Your ability to answer this question is proof that you did the research. Interviewers are interested in people who show a great level of intentionality. It would help to know that you actively sought to know what they do and the idea behind their mission. It’s a good thing companies have websites that can give you a glimpse into what they do. Take advantage of this.
However, you should also seek various sources of information about this company, and go beyond the website. Look out for third-party reviews too. This might be an opportunity to spot a problem and show them how you can solve it.
While you can’t know everything about the company you want to work with, knowing the basics will help you win the hearts of employers. What do you know about their industry, goals, competitors, values, or challenges? Being able to answer this shows them that you’ve been asking the right questions.
4. Why do you want to work for us?
This question gives employers an insight into your motivation. The best advice is that you know why you want this. Show them that your desire to work with them is not some bogus attempt to get a better-paying job. Of course, it’s not bad to want a job that pays higher. But your underlying motivation should be your passion for solving problems. Especially when you are confident about your skills.
To answer this question right, focus on the organization’s needs. This time, make it about what they want, not what you want. It could be something about how the solution they provide is a mission you want to get behind; the type of technology they use and why it interests you; or the work culture they have and how you want to bring value to it. The key is to find a link between something they already have and what you can bring to the table.
Example: I’ve always been fascinated about working with data and your organization gives me the opportunity to do this while providing value at the same time.
5. Why Should We Hire You or What Can You Bring to the Company?
Here you want to emphasize how you work, your expertise in the industry and how you will bring new perspectives towards accomplishing the organization’s goals.
It’s also important that you understand the job requirements as this will help you identify how your skillset is suitable for the company’s needs. In addition, giving examples of how you have added value to previous teams or organizations you worked with will put you in a favorable position with your interviewer. It’s always a good thing to showcase your good track record but be careful not to exaggerate your abilities.
6. What are your weaknesses?
This is a good place to be transparent. When interviewers ask this, they want to know that you are aware of your weaknesses and are taking measures to improve yourself. Everyone has a weakness, so you shouldn’t come off as one who doesn’t.
For instance, you could point out your difficulty with certain tools you need to perform more efficiently and how you are taking online courses to help you improve. It could also be your difficulty working with deadlines and how developing a to-do list and prioritizing tasks helps do better. The bottom line is that you know that there’s room for improvement and are actively seeking to do that.
7. What are Your Strengths?
Highlight your expertise and competencies when answering this question. This is an opportunity to showcase what you are good at. Answer this question based on the preferred skills and competencies mentioned in the job descriptions.
Also, research the job role and see which skills are most relevant to the job demands. Be sure to tell them how previous employers gained from your expertise in given areas.
Don’t mention strengths that are irrelevant to the role you have applied for. Avoid generic responses to this question. Your answer should be tangible, realistic, and practical.
8. Do you prefer working independently or with a team?
If the role you applied for requires you to work with a team, it wouldn’t be wise to tell your interviewer that you prefer working independently. Most organizations have a philosophy that supports team collaborations.
However, you should be honest. Don’t lie because you think that’s what they want to hear. A more decent approach would be to tell them how you perform in both situations and how some of your personality traits fit specific scenarios. Most times, the interviewer just wants to know that you have a decent balance between both working scenarios.
For instance, working alone might be more favorable when you want to strategize and coordinate your thoughts while working with a team might help when you need to pool ideas or get feedback or review a project.
9. How do you deal with pressure?
Your employer wants to know how you keep things together when the demands blow up. This may not always be the situation but moments like this are bound to come up at some point. How do you respond when they do? The ability to maintain a high level of calmness in pressurized situations is commendable. It’s a good idea to share an experience in which you handled an intense situation with a positive and calm disposition.
However, if this is a skill you’re still developing, be open about it and tell them how you manage to stay in check. You can state that you reach out for support when things get overwhelming or take an active step to reduce the level of anxiety that comes with it.
10. What type of work environment do you like?
If you have done proper research about the company, you will know what their work culture is like. You can also reach out to existing employees through networking platforms like LinkedIn. When you research before applying, it means that you already accepted the company’s way of doing things because it matches your individual preferences. Therefore, your answer should reflect that your preferences are in alignment with their current work culture.
11. How do you stay organized when dealing with multiple projects?
Your response to this question should indicate how you stay productive and maintain efficiency with the amount of time you have. They want to know if you have a system that actively ensures that you stay productive, accountable, and focused. Here, you should emphasize that you can adapt to the company’s structure and take deadlines seriously. Also, show how your time management skills will help you deliver efficiently.
12. How do ensure that you improve on your professional expertise?
Your interviewer wants to know that you do not take redundancy likely. So tell them how you actively improve your skills. This could be through taking courses, practicing consistently, or monitoring trends and practices within your niche. Tell them about a skill you recently acquired or a new technology you just discovered.
13. What is your salary expectation?
You should know the ideal salary for the role you are applying for even before you apply. Check out salary review sights or reach out to your community on platforms like LinkedIn, Quora, Twitter, etc. if the salary was not mentioned in the job description.
Employers usually have a predetermined budget for this role and they want to ensure that your salary expectations fit into what they have to offer. It’s advisable to present a salary range rather than a specific number and leave room for negotiation. It’s also wise to quote a higher number especially since negotiations always tilt towards the lower range.
14. How do you deal with conflict at work?
Conflict management is an important skill to have because disputes are bound to occur when working with other people. Let your employer know that you value the organization’s progress more than personal reservations with coworkers. Therefore, your approach would be to seek a peaceful resolution so that the work can go on. You would do this by identifying the cause of the conflict and discussing a solution with the parties affected. You can also give an instance where you have done this in the past.
15. Why are you leaving your current job?
Keep it positive. There is no need to go on about the negative experience you had in your previous workplace. The truth is that every work environment comes with its challenges. Your answer should indicate that: you are looking forward to new opportunities, have contributed adequately to your current organization, or that the role you are applying for is a better fit considering your skillset and level of expertise. It could also be an indication of your passion for providing certain solutions or working in a certain environment which is what this new organization is offering.
16. What are you looking for in this new position?
Based on your observation about the company. There are a few ways you can answer this question. It could be that the organization offers you an opportunity to work with a team of like-minded professionals, or the position is an opportunity for you to fully maximize your skillset while creating remarkable solutions for the organization and its client. The goal is to tell them how your professional aspirations propel you towards this new position and how this will also benefit them. Your response should be specific. It should also indicate the same thing the company promises to offer its employees. This emphasizes the need to do your research.
17. What do you like to do outside work?
Interviewers want to know what you do for fun. They also want to know that you have other interests, and you should. This shows them that you are a balanced individual and can devote time to other things asides from work. Be mindful of your response but true to your personality. There’s no need to try and impress them here. Keep it professional and show them that these interests do not interfere with your ability to do your job.
18. How do you stay organized?
Employers seek to work with individuals who are organized. This is because they will be more productive to the organization and make working with others easier. Give them a response that assures them that you are in control of your time and activities. Tell them how you avoid or deal with distractions and what determines your priorities. Tell them about the tools you use or the methods you have adopted to maintain focus.
19. How do you prioritize your work?
Here, you want to show your interviewers how you manage your time and determine important tasks. They want to see that you have a good sense of judgment and that you can navigate diverse work demands in a deliberate manner. Show them how you plan your tasks and indicate the criteria for prioritizing these tasks. It’s important to indicate that you discuss with your team to identify key deliverables and pattern your priorities accordingly.
20. What are you passionate about?
So far, it’s been all about the work. But it’s okay to indicate that you have other passions outside your job. When interviewers ask this question, they simply want to know who you are and how you see the world. For instance, you might be an interior designer who also loves to write poetry. True, it’s unrelated, but writing helps you explore your creativity which in turn helps you become a better interior designer. Your passion for other things could perfectly align with your ability to do the job even if they are not related.
21. Tell me about an achievement you are proud of?
Tell them about something that truly reflects your passion for excellence. It’s good to give an instance that is related to your job but if you don’t recall any, you can share an achievement that reflects values and skills that can help you deliver on your job. This could be a competition you participated in that reflects your drive for innovation or your ability to deliver within job demands.
To help you recall work-based achievements, you should look out for projects that were successfully delivered or clients that gave positive feedback on a project you worked on.
22. Do you have any questions for us?
Employers want to give you an opportunity to know them better. There is a high chance that you are also curious about this company. Ask questions about the department you’ll be working in, ask about the payment structure, and how they ensure that employees are consistently progressing. It’s better to ask open-ended questions like these.
You also want to find out about the organizational culture, your team, the company’s approach to gaining competitive advantage, and the challenges you may face in the first few months. There’s a whole list of questions you can ask but you may not get the opportunity to ask all your questions. Be sure to ask questions you really want answers to.
23. What qualifies as an excellent performance to you?
Self-assessment comes with the job. You should match your answers to the job demands. Excellence is your ability to deliver on the job needs and meet goals effectively. Target specific job goals within the role you have applied for and indicate how achieving these goals is a standard for excellence.
24. How do you incorporate feedback into your work?
Your employer wants to know that you have a positive attitude towards feedback. Tell them about how you have previously improved your work based on feedback from your managers and teammates in the past. The key is to indicate that you identify those areas of concern and implement changes where necessary.
You can also highlight moments when you acknowledged the feedback but made recommendations based on your expertise and it worked. Show them that you take an objective approach to implementing feedback. You’re neither trying to get the prize nor please people, but doing what’s best to get the desired results.
25. What would you do in your first month of this job?
Your employer wants to know how you will get started on the job. Giving them the right answer depends on how well you did your assignment. Here, you should let them know how you will get familiar with the team and the rest of the organization; the information and the resources you will need and the strategies you will put in place to ensure that specific goals are achieved. This is a good place to display thoughtfulness and share ideas that will bring value.
26. Where do you see yourself in five years?
This question comes up in a lot of interviews and most people get stuck because they haven’t thought so far ahead. Employers ask this question because they want to know your career motivation and future goals.
To answer this, consider your career goals and the path you have chosen. This could be to work in a certain kind of organization or to be more proficient in providing the solutions you do now. Maybe you aspire to be part of a project that will shape the future of web development. It’s best to state a relevant aspiration and how working with them is a positive step towards achieving this goal. Your aspiration could already be in sync with that of the company you have applied for. If it’s not, that’s okay. It’s better to keep it honest and realistic.
Example: In five years, I would like to be part of a major project that maximizes digital solutions for organizations in the design and construction industry. I will have improved on my skillset and developed an expertise in leading innovative teams. I believe working in your organization will help me achieve this because it is also your goal to provide digital solutions for construction companies in America.