Many people still stumble in job interviews no matter how simple and common the interview questions appear. The problem is usually not with the questions or the answers but strictly on how they are answered.
Interview questions come in different shades; based on your hiring manager’s decision, the questions can be behavioural-based, competency-based, experience-based or opinion-based. They could also be brain teasers or even a trap interview and how you answer each differ.
While we don’t recommend you memorize your answers for every interview question, spending time to think through what you’re going to say is highly recommended so you’re not put on the spot. Hence, getting comfortable with what you might be asked will be your best shot.
To ace your upcoming job interview, wouldn’t it be great if you knew or at least have an idea of what your hiring manager would be asking you? Here are 40 common interview questions and the answers you need to master.
40 Common Interview Questions and Their Answers
1. Tell us about yourself. Let’s meet you.
Ans: This is an open-ended invitation for you to market yourself as the best candidate for the job. Keep it professional but your answer should also have passion injected in it.
You can start by sharing some of your personal interests and experiences that don’t relate directly to work, such as a favourite hobby. You could also include quantifiable results to demonstrate how you use your best attributes to drive success.
2. What do you want?
While some may simply answer “I want a job”, be assured that your potential employer is not really all that concerned about what you want! but on what you have that satisfies what the company wants. In a nutshell, always be prepared to answer this question by proving that you are who they want!
3. What do you know about our company?
Ans: This is one of the common interview questions asked and to answer that, it is expected that you have done thorough research about the company. One of the best places to gain first-hand information is the company’s website, LinkedIn page, and Google.
4. How did you hear about the position?
Ans: Answer the question sincerely by mentioning where you got your information. If you got your information from a friend working in the company, name the person and go further explain why you are excited to work with them. “I was excited to find out about the job from my friend who works in ____ [department] is a perfectly OK response.
5. Why do you want this job?
Ans: Answer this question bearing in mind that the potential employer wants to hire people who are passionate about the job, so you should have a great answer about why you want the position. Be specific about what interested you about the company. You can start with “I love your customer support [or product] ____, and tell them why. This is key to giving a convincing answer to this interview question.
6. Why should we hire you?
Ans: Try to talk about the company or firm and how you’ll help them improve. With much confidence, prove to them you know what the advertised job position involves and you’re ready to perform the tasks.
Sample: “I read on the job description that you’re looking for someone with experience in ____. I’ve done that for 3 years and can immediately help you accomplish ____.” will be a good start.
7. Why are you looking to leave your current company?
Ans: Stay positive while answering this question. be sure you don’t badmouth your previous company. Instead, tell them you’re looking for more of something. If you must disclose a dissatisfying issue about your current position, you must do so without emitting negative vibes.
” I Like challenges and a platform where I can share my ideas and improve ____ [the company’s operations, services, technology etc]…” Could be a helpful start
8. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Ans: This is a question about your professional future, your ambitions and how you plan to achieve it. So when answering this, pick a work-related goal and ensure it’s slightly challenging or ambitious-sounding: Your answer should go in this format: “In 5 years, I see myself fully trained for my position and ready for more responsibilities ____ I’m not sure which path will make sense to pursue but am confident that my goal right now is to gain valuable experience so that I’ll have a successful future in this industry.”
9. What makes you Unique?
Ans: Explain why hiring you would benefit the employer. Sell yourself to the employer by stating what makes you different from other candidates seeking the same job as you. Point out your strength and experience.
10. How would you describe yourself?
Ans: Be sure you talk about your qualities as they align with the skills you are required to succeed with in the position. Also, include quantifiable results to demonstrate how you use your best attributes to drive success.
11. What motivates you or what are you passionate about?
Ans: Your answer outrightly needs details and examples and make sure your succinct stories relate to the skills and aptitudes required for the job you’re going for. Explain why you’re passionate about it, give examples of how you’ve pursued this passion and relate it back to the job.
12. What are your strengths?
Ans: Your answer should include your technical and soft skills. Share those personal attributes and relate them to the role for which you’re interviewing. “I’m a natural problem-solver. I find it rewarding to uncover solutions to challenges…” could be a good start.
13. What are your weaknesses
Ans: Awkward as it sounds for you to discuss your weaknesses, this another golden opportunity for the employees to show that they are aware and want to continuously get better at their job.
14. How do you deal with Pressure?
Ans: Your answer should prove that you can strive well in stressful situations. Let nothing stop you from accomplishing your goals.
15. What type of work environment do you prefer?
Ans: Be very specific while answering this question but be sure you make your research on the company’s working culture and ensure you will be fit to work there.
16. What important goal have you set in the past and how did you reach it?
Ans: To answer this, start by describing a situation, event or task you are to complete and the goal you set to achieve success. You go further to explain the action you took and the end result of your action. Your result is key to your answer to the interviewer’s question.
17. What’s your dream job?
Ans: You can start by saying “I love working with data [or any other similar skills] and also working closely with a sales team….. then end your answer with something like “My dream job is a job that allows me to be creative and collaborate with people who are excited about their work.
Know that the interviewer wants to uncover whether the position you are applying for is really in line with the ultimate career goals you’ve set for yourself. Hence, you don’t have to mention a job title in your answer. Instead, the skills that interest you that are also related to your position.
18. What’s your management style?
Ans: Start by describing what good management is all about and going further, let your explanation reflect your strength and flexibility. You can go ahead to share examples of some of your managerial moments like when you coached an employee to reach a particular goal.
19. Tell us about a time you failed
Ans: The employee is not as interested in your failure as he/she is in what you learnt from your mistakes. So your story is expected to entail how you are able to bounce back after accepting and learning from your failure.
Sample: “In the most recent position, I failed to hire the appropriate technicians for the production process in order to save money. The result was a lacklustre product that didn’t do well compared to other products the company produced. From this experience, I learned that sometimes it is worth not cutting corners to get the results needed.”
20. What are your greatest professional strengths?
Ans: Do not overblow your trumpet. Accurately share your true and relevant strengths, not what you think the interviewer would love to hear. You can follow that up with an example of how you demonstrated these traits in a professional setting.
Common Behavioural Interview Questions
21. Is it better to be perfect and late, or good and on time?
Ans: Your ideal answer to this question is ‘good and on time’ because perfection is not attainable worst if it comes late.
22. What is the most significant thing you learned at your current or last job?
Ans: Your answer to this question should reflect how easily you learn from every role you are assigned as your employee is interested.
Sample: In my previous job, I learned the importance of teamwork, collaboration, and communication. As these are key to a successful business, my knowledge about these skills has helped me achieve success in my position.
23. What do you like most about your last job?
Ans: Start by listing out what you enjoyed most about your last job then you go-ahead to mention those significant elements (including coworkers, company’s organization or customers) who helped you enjoy your time in your past company.
Sample: “I always look forward to going to work every morning because the people I work with are friendly and full of fun. The leadership were also helpful through those personal connections they tried to make.”
24. What is the most significant thing you learned at your current or last job?
Ans: “I learn[ed] a lot during my [months or years of experience] at my previous job…” Your answer should include the work environment, your coworkers, your daily tasks and how you work to accomplish it.
25. Tell us about a time when you went above your duty to do a job
Ans: This question is to check if you are the type of worker who won’t just do the bare necessities that the job calls for. Hence, when answering the question make sure you’re using an example that presents you as an ambition driver and that you weren’t just following someone else’s over-achieving ways.
26. Tell us about a time you disagreed with a decision that was made at work
Ans: Know that this question is to check your communication skills hence your answer should show how your experiences and skills help you diffuse the disagreement with the management or even your boss. Be positive with your answer even though it is about disagreement.
27. What kind of supervisor would you like to work with? (Opinion-based interview)
Ans: Your response should lean toward independence and teamwork. Don’t specifically mention that you need a lenient supervisor, instead, say you will prefer to work independently or with a hands-on supervisor
28. What would you do if you have a bad boss? (Opinion-based interview)
Ans: Negativity, insults, or defamatory statements about a bad boss earns you a red flag from your interviewer who may wonder what you will say in the future. Also, try to point out some of the good things you may have liked about your past boss and the challenging situation helped your career.
29. Can you give an example of a time that you solved a problem
Ans: Use work-related examples when answering this question as a behavioral question such as this is used to predict your future behavior.
30. How do you deal with deadlines on multiple tasks
Ans: This is an opinion-based question so when answering, pay attention to an organization and how you successfully handled multiple assignments either independently or as a team. Your answer might take this format: “In my role as Business Development Manager at XYZ Inc., I was responsible for a team of five tasked with organizing all of our client events.”
31. Tell us about what you have done to prepare for this job?
Ans: Here, the employer is as interested in how well you prepared for the interview as he is with your paper and skills qualifications. So your answer should reflect that you have the right education, qualification, skill, and experience to perform the job.
Sample: “While getting the required knowledge to perform excellently as ____ [the job position you are applying for], I have also gained over ____years of experience in ____ practices. With over ____years of experience working as ____ in a (previous company), I know that it won’t be challenging for me to perform this role effectively”.
32. Why are there gaps in your CV?
Ans: To answer this question, emphasize on any constructive thing that you engaged in during your time off. Also, try to give reasons that reflect positive traits about you. If you were laid off by your previous employer, you can say so and back it up with effort you took to bounce back. Be up-front and honest when answering this question
Answers like ” I focused on my volunteer work and started a new mentoring program for inner-city youth” are also good examples to use.
33. Describe yourself in 3 words
Ans: Your answer should include words that describe your personality, working style and priorities in the very best light. Some of these words include being passionate, ambitious, organized, a people-person, independence, and Friendly are some of the many positive words you can use to describe yourself.
34. If you were an animal what animal would you be?
Ans: You must first have knowledge of what every animal represents and how it speaks or match your skills and abilities before answering this question. Also, consider the job role you are applying for before making your choice of animal. Animals like dogs, dolphins, and ant represent loyalty, selflessness and hard work, respectively.
35. What is more important to you, the money or the work?
Ans: Be diplomatic when answering this question, emphasize that the two are equally important to you. You can as well discuss why you can’t choose one over the other.
Sample: As much as I would love to be adequately compensated for my job, I look forward to achieving more than a fair pay performing my duties.
36. What is your salary range expectation?
Ans: First, you should know the current rate for the job you are applying for. Avoid answering this question directly, instead, use it as a platform to sell yourself while putting the pressure on the organization to make a fair offer by saying something along the lines of
Sample: “I’m more interested in finding a position that’s a good fit for my skills and interests. I’m confident that you’re offering a salary that’s competitive in the current market.”
37. Would you like to be overpaid?
Ans: Be careful not to say yes almost immediately. Bear in mind that the interviewer wants to know your value system. You may want to begin answering this question this way: “As much as I would love to earn more, I would love to earn more if I have actually been able to give more to the organization.
38. How do you intend to increase what you earn overtime
Ans: Here, the interviewer is after your view on reward according to performance and value system. So your answer may go this way: “I intend to increase my earnings over time by performing my task excellently to ensure the company’s goals are achieved.”
39. Rate yourself over ten
Ans: This question is about your competency so try not to underrate or overrate yourself. be honest and let the interviewer see your effort for improvement.
40. Do you have any questions?
Ans: A good answer to this question should be Yes I do” followed by well-prepared questions you’ve set ahead of the interview. Your question should be relevant.