Career

The Ultimate Guide to Job Interview Questions & Answers

QA interview

Doing well in a job interview is not an easy task. You will need to answer a number of interview questions carefully and persuasively. It can be hard for you to find exactly how to “sell yourself” and to give your friends and internet all types of misguided “advice” interviews.

Common interview questions and answers

1. Tell me about yourself

How you answer the “Tell me about yourself” question can set the tone for the rest of the interview. Overall, you would like to tell a wonderful story about yourself, in no more than two minutes, if you practice your answer. Do the following in your response:

  • Mention previous experiences and achievements in relation to the position: Start by re-reading your job description. Take note of the skills you have, and highlight recent stories to demonstrate them. Ideally, you can primarily draw from recent professional experience; however, volunteer work may also help your narrative when demonstrating dedication to your community.
  • Consider how the job you are applying for is related to your current job: Is it a more senior role? If so, clarify how you take more duties in your current role. If you’re making a side-by-side transition to a role with different skills, explain how your current skills translate into a new position.
  • Focus on abilities & strengths that you can support with examples: When you start building a script for each example, focus on the details and results that you can quantify if possible. For example, saying that “improved customer service” is less efficient than “increased customer service response rates by 10–15 percent per quarter.” If you do not have reliable statistics, estimate a realistic value.
  • Highlight your personality so you can break the ice: Since the “Tell me about yourself” question is about getting to know you, it’s a good idea to share your personality with your interviewer — but not your personal details. You may want to briefly mention hobbies that demonstrate intellectual development and/or community involvement (e.g. reading, music, sports league, volunteering) or those that showcase personal discipline and achievement (e.g. learning new skills, training for half a marathon). Discussing your personal interests is a good way to wrap up your response while maintaining a professional tone.

2. How would you describe yourself?

When an interviewer asks you to speak about yourself, they ‘re looking for details about how your qualities and qualifications are matched with the skills they feel are required to succeed in their position. If necessary, have quantifiable metrics that demonstrate how best to use the attributes to drive success.

Example: I’m passionate about the work I do. Because I love what I do, I have a continuous source of motivation that drives me to do my best. In my last work, this enthusiasm led me to push myself on a regular basis and learn new skills that helped me do a better job. For example, I’ve taught myself how to use Photoshop to improve the quality of our photos and graphics. Soon, I became the go-to person for any design needs.

3. How Did You Hear About This Position?

Another seemingly insignificant interview question, this is actually a great opportunity to stand out and demonstrate your enthusiasm for and connection to your company. For example, if you’ve found out about the gig through a friend or professional contact, drop that person’s name, then share why you’ve been so excited about it. If you have discovered the company through an event or article, share it. Even if you’ve found a listing on a random job board, share what, in particular, caught your eye on the role.

4. What makes you unique?

Employers frequently ask this question to find out why you may be more eligible than other candidates interviewed. To respond, concentrate on why the employer will benefit from hiring you. Because you do not know the other applicants, it will be hard to think about your response in relation to them. Addressing why your experience makes you suited, will let employers know why your qualifications and credentials make you well prepared.

5. Why do you want to work here?

Interviewers frequently ask this question as a way to assess whether or not you’ve taken the time to research the company and to understand why you think it’s a good choice. The best way to prepare for this problem is to do your homework and learn about the products, services, mission, history, and culture of the workplace. In your reply, mention the aspects of the company that appeals to you and aligns with your career goals. Explain why you’re looking for these things in an employer.

6. Why Do You Want This Job?

Again, companies want to hire people who are passionate about a job, so you should have a great answer to why you want a job. (And if you don’t? You may want to apply elsewhere.) First, define a few key factors that make the job a perfect match for you (e.g., “I love customer service because I love the continuous human contact and satisfaction that comes from helping others solve a problem”), then share why you love the company (e.g., “I’ve always been passionate about education, and I think you ‘re doing it.

 7. What interests you about this role?

Like the previous question, hiring managers often include this question to make sure you understand the role and give you an opportunity to highlight your skills. In addition to reading the job description in-depth, it may be helpful to compare the role requirements with your skills and experience. Select a few things that you especially enjoy or excel and focus on in your response.

8. What motivates you?

Employers ask this question to assess your level of self-awareness and to ensure that your sources of motivation suit your position. To respond, be as descriptive as possible, include real-life examples, and relate your response back to the job role.

9. Why Should We Hire You?

This interview question sounds forward (not to mention intimidating!), but if you’re asked, you ‘re lucky: there’s no better opportunity for you to sell yourself and your skills to the hiring manager. Your job here is to come up with a response that covers three things: that you can not only do a job but also produce great results; that you really fit into the team and culture; and that you will be a better hire than any of the other applicants.

10. What Are Your Greatest Strengths?

Here’s an opportunity to speak about something that makes you happy — and a great fit for that role. When you answer this question, think about quality, not quantity. In other words, don’t rattle off a list of adjectives. Instead, choose one or a few (depending on the question) specific qualities that are relevant to this position and illustrate them with examples. Stories are much more unforgettable than generalizations. And if there’s anything you were hoping to say, because it makes you a better candidate, but you haven’t had a chance yet, it would be a perfect opportunity.

11. What Do You Consider to Be Your Weaknesses?

What your interviewer is really trying to do with this question — beyond finding any big red flags — is to evaluate your self-awareness and honesty. So, “I can’t reach the deadline to save my life” is not an option — but neither is “Nothing!” I’m just fine! “Strike a balance by thinking about something that you’re struggling with, but that you’re working to improve. For example, you may never have been strong in public speaking, but you have recently volunteered to run meetings to help you get more comfortable addressing the crowd.

12. Why are you leaving your current job?

There are a lot of reasons to leave a job. Prepare a thoughtful response that will give your interviewer faith that you’re ready to change your work. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of your current or previous role, focus on the future and what you hope to achieve in your next position.

Example: “I’m looking for a chance that gives me the ability to build closer, long-term customer relations. The sales cycle is so short in my current role, that I don’t spend as much time building a relationship with my customers as I would like. Relationship-building is one of the reasons I have chosen a sales career, and I look forward to working with a company in which that is a top priority.

13. What are your goals for the future?

Hiring managers often ask about your future goals to determine if you are looking for a long-term stay with the company or not. This question is often used to determine your motivation, your goals for your career, and your ability to plan ahead. The best way to deal with this question is to determine your current career path and how that position can help you achieve your ultimate goals.

14. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Understanding how you can imagine your future life can help employers understand how the job and company trajectory fits into your personal growth goals. To answer, give general ideas about the skills you want to develop, the types of roles you’d like to be, and the things you’d like to do.

15. Can you tell me about a difficult work situation and how you overcame it?

This question is also used to determine how well you do under pressure as well as your problem-solving abilities. Keep in mind that stories are more unforgettable than statistics and figures, so seek to “show” instead of “tell.” It’s also a perfect opportunity to show the human side and how willing you are to go the extra mile without being asked.

16. What did you like most about your last position?

Link your answer to this question to the needs and focus on describing your proven success at your last job. Be specific and tell an example.

17. What did you like least about your last job?

While this question might seem to beg for a negative, job-hating, company-hating, or boss-hating response, that’s not the case! In fact, the interviewer is really trying to get a feel of your future level of happiness if you’re employed in the company you ‘re interviewing, so they certainly want to see how you answer the question.

The best way to structure your responses is to consider putting strength, weakness, and then another strength in the framework of your response. In this way, you can make sure that you’re not guided by the negative questions that the interviewer is looking for. Meaning, you ‘re not using this as an opportunity to talk negatively about your previous employer. But you are still able to respond constructively.

Here’s an example of that, “I loved everybody I worked with in my previous job. But I felt that I wasn’t being challenged enough in that particular job function. While I fully agree that the role I performed for the company was important and beneficial to the health of the organization.

18. How do you handle stress?

It’s not a trick question to see if you get stressed out at work or not. Actually, how you cope with a stressful moment is an indication of your ability to solve problems. Employers want to recruit candidates who respond constructively to stress, so it’s important that your response to this question demonstrates personal growth.

19. What is your greatest accomplishment?

Interviewers ask this question to gain insight into your proven work and what you consider to be the most valuable and important accomplishments. When interviewers ask about your greatest accomplishment, they ‘re interested in learning about three main things (Your work ethic, Your Core Values & Examples of your work). 

Example: In my most recent work, I have been responsible for overseeing the orientation and training programs for our new hires. The content was not, unfortunately, engaging. While there was a need for information on our new hires, we found that only 35 percent of new hires did not complete the training. We have got bad reviews on the course evaluation forms. I have decided to rework the training program to make it more relevant and interesting on the basis of industry best practices and feedback on the evaluation forms. Today, 93% of participants complete the training and receive positive feedback on their experience. My boss was so happy with the changes that she asked me to lead the training session.

20. Tell Me About a Time You Made a Mistake.

You may not be too eager to dig into past blunders when you try to impress an interviewer and land a job. Yet talking about a mistake and winning over others isn’t mutually exclusive. In fact, if you do the right thing, it can help you. The trick is, to be honest, not to blame anyone, and then explain what you learned from your mistake and what steps you took to make sure it didn’t happen again. At the end of the day, employers are looking for people who are self-conscious, who can take feedback, and who want to do better.

21. Why Was There a Gap in Your Employment?

You may have been taking care of children or elderly parents, struggling with health problems, or traveling around the world. Perhaps it just took you a long time to get the job right. Whatever the cause, you should be prepared to address the void (or void) in your resume. Really, practice telling you your answer out loud. The trick is, to be honest, but that doesn’t mean you have to share more information than you’re comfortable with. If there are skills or qualities that you honed or gained in your time away from the workforce — whether through volunteer work, running a home, or responding to a personal crisis — you can also talk about how they would help you excel in this role.

22. Can You Explain Why You Changed Career Path?

Don’t be thrown away by this question — just take a deep breath and explain to the hiring manager why you’ve made your career decisions. Most importantly, provide a few examples of how your past experience can be transferred to a new job. This doesn’t have to be a direct link; in fact, it’s even more impressive when a candidate can demonstrate how apparently insignificant experience is quite important to the position of the candidate.

23. How Would Your Boss and Coworkers Describe You?

First of all, be honest (remember, if you make it to the final round, your former bosses and colleagues will be named by the hiring manager!). And seek to identify the strengths and characteristics that you haven’t addressed in other areas of the interview, such as your good work ethic or your ability to get involved in other projects when needed.

24. What Are Your Salary Requirements?

You should do your research on how much you can be paid by using sites such as Payscale and reaching out to your network. You are likely to come up with a list, so we suggest that you indicate the highest number in the range that applies, based on your experience, knowledge, and skills. And make sure the hiring manager knows you ‘re flexible. You convey that you know that your talents are important, but that you want a position and are willing to compromise.

You may also try to divert or postpone giving a number, particularly if you get this question early in the process, by saying something like, “I was hoping to get a sense of the range/band you were talking about.

25. When Can You Start?

Your goal here should be to set realistic expectations that will work both for you and for the company. What exactly does that sound like depends on your particular case? When you’re able to start immediately — when, for example, you ‘re unemployed — you might be willing to start within a week. So if you need to give your current employer notice, don’t be afraid to say so; people will understand and appreciate you ‘re trying to wrap things up properly. It’s also reasonable to want to split between jobs, but you may want to say you have “previously scheduled commitments” and try to be accommodating if you just need someone to start a little sooner.

26. Are You Willing to Relocate?

Although this might sound like a straightforward yes-or-no question, it’s always a little more complicated. The easiest situation is one in which you are totally open to moving, and would be able to do so for this chance. But if the answer is no, or at least not right now, you can reiterate your excitement for the job, clarify briefly why at this time you can’t travel, and suggest an alternative, such as working remotely or out of a local office. It’s not as clear-cut at times and that’s Fine. For other reasons, you might say you prefer to stay put, but you would be willing to consider relocating for the right opportunity.

See Also
The Guide to Long-Distance Job Search

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