10 Common Interview Questions to Prepare Job Seekers
Updated: Apr 4
Be ready to answer today's most common inquiries for job interviews.
The job interview process has been studied and refined over time to become reasonably similar across the corporate landscape of vetting prospective candidates. There are questions that practically every interviewer will include in their inquiry about the prospect's experience, approach, and outlook for the future. Discover some of the most common interview questions in this list, including some bonus questions to ask the interviewer!
10 Common Interview Questions
This compilation of typical interview questions is gathered from canvassing several hiring managers, research online, and our own experience in the workplace. We hope this helps you prepare for success in the interview process with better answers and an understanding of what you bring to the table!
1. "Tell Me About Your Background."
Interviewers like to hear the story of a job candidate's background. Explain a relevant event that interested you in your chosen profession, then discuss your education and career development.
In your story, thread together how your academic or professional training and passion for the company or industry, integrated with your work experience, make you an exceptional fit for the job.
2. "How did you learn about this job opening?"
Employers want to know whether you were actively seeking their company, know of the position from a recruiter, or were suggested to the opportunity by a current employee. They want to see how you got to them.
If you pursued the role yourself, be precise about what appealed to you, especially if you can align your values with the company and its mission. You want to show the hiring manager that you chose their company, over all the others, for a few specific reasons.
If a recruiter contacted you, explain what about the position and company appealed particularly. Did this role sound like a good fit for your skill set? Does it align with the path you want to take in your career? Even if you weren’t aware of the organization before being recruited, be energetic about what you’ve learned and sincere about why you’re interested in moving forward with the process.
3. "What are your most prominent weaknesses?"
Some candidates will try to turn a theoretical weakness into a strength for this question, but a good interviewer will see through that. A better approach is to choose an actual liability you're working to improve. Share what you're doing to overcome that weakness. No one is flawless, but demonstrating you're willing to self-assess and seek ways to strengthen your abilities is almost there.
4. "What are your most significant strengths?"
Although a job candidate's resume and experience should make their strengths apparent, interviewers ask this common question to know how your skills can help long-term growth in the company.
Be clear and precise with examples of application. Don't just say you're a great problem solver. Deliver a few examples relevant to the opening that confirms you're a great problem solver. Rather than saying you're an emotionally intelligent leader, provide a few examples that show your intuitive leadership prowess.
Don't just claim specific attributes; verify those attributes with real examples.
5. "What is your greatest professional achievement?"
This is a question that needs an answer relevant to the job. The goal is to share achievements that let the interviewer visualize you in the position and see your success.
6. "Can you describe your dream job?"
Your answer should be relevant to the role, but that doesn't mean you have to make it up. You can learn something and develop skills from every job. Recognize things about the job you're interviewing for that could help you with your dream job someday, and then describe how this opportunity would help you towards your ultimate "dream job."
7. "Why do you want to leave your current job?"
For this question, focus on the positives a move will bring. Talk about what you want to achieve and learn and how this opportunity will enable that. Talk about ways you want to grow, about things you want to accomplish; explain how a job move will be great for you and your new company.
8. "Tell me about a difficult situation you had to overcome in the past six months."
This question assesses the candidate's reasoning ability, problem-solving skills, judgment, and possibly even willingness to take thoughtful risks.
A good answer shows you can make a difficult analytical or reasoning-based decision -- for example, going through tons of data to resolve the best solution to a problem. A great answer demonstrates you can make a complex interpersonal decision or, even better, a tough data-driven decision that includes interpersonal concerns and results.
Making decisions based on data is crucial, but nearly every decision affects people. The best candidates instinctively consider all sides of a situation, not just the business or human aspects.
9. "What are your salary expectations?"
Before you walk in for your first interview, you should know the average salary for the position you’re applying to. Check Glassdoor, Fishbowl, Vault.com, or other websites for salary information about the role you're applying for. You could also reach out to people in the domain by asking your community on LinkedIn.
Employers will consistently ask this question because every position is budgeted, and they want to confirm your expectations are compatible with that budget before moving forward.
Remember that it’s often better to discuss a salary range rather than a specific number during the interview to leave room for negotiation. It’s also better to quote a slightly higher number, as it’s easier to negotiate lower than higher. Generally, we advise not mentioning salary until your interviewer does or mentioning it too early in the process.
Example: “Based on my experience and skills with the current industry rates, I’m looking for a salary in the range of $____.”
10. "What questions do you have for me?"
A prepared candidate will not waste this opportunity. Intelligent questions signal an excellent candidate and reveal to the candidate whether the company is a good fit for them. After all, you're also interviewing the company and should inquire into the role to see your compatibility.
Questions to Ask the Interviewer
"What are the three traits your top performers have in common?"
Great candidates also want to be productive employees. They know every organization is different, and so are the essential qualities of top performers in those organizations. Perhaps your top performers work longer hours, or creativity is more important than methodology. Perhaps continually landing new customers in new markets is more influential than establishing long-term relationships.
"What truly drives results in this job?"
Employees are investments, and you expect every employee to generate a positive return on their salary.
Great candidates want to know what will make a difference and produce results because they know helping the company thrive also means they will succeed.
"What are the company's top-priority goals, and how would my role contribute?"
Great candidates want a job with meaning, a larger purpose, and to work with people who approach their jobs the same way. This is your chance to see how much the company values the role you're applying for!
Job Seeker Guidance
For more advice on resume building, job interview preparation, or career advancement, reach out to us via the contact page!
Mission Box Solutions is here to connect those seeking a new job opportunity with the companies we work with as talent acquisition specialists. Join our network of qualified, ready-now candidates by creating a profile and submitting an updated resume with your unique capabilities, valuable attributes, and workforce experience.
Photo credit: Getty/MangoStar_Studio