Answers to Common Interview Questions

Your application and resume have gotten you in the door for an interview, now it is up to you to set yourself above the other candidates for the job. A good interviewer will be evaluating not only your experience and qualifications for the job, but also your personality and attitude to see if you will fit in well with that company’s environment.

Several common interview questions are listed below. Included with each question are possible answers an interviewer may be hoping to hear. You should always be honest at an interview, but there are ways to respond to questions that may be perceived better then others. Generally, questions are asked to determine a possible candidate’s stability.

  1. Tell me about yourself.–Recall your qualification statement! Remember, the employer is interested in how you can be of benefit to them. Give relevant information regarding what you can bring to his or her company. Focus on skills that apply to the job to which you are applying. Avoid family or personal information. You may respond to this question in two parts.
  • Make a statement about something that implies you are stable. For example, how long you have worked in a particular field or with a certain company. Perhaps a statement of how long you have lived in the area would be appropriate as well.
  • Give a brief overview of what you have been doing and where you are going work-wise, in regards to the field of work to which you are applying.
  1. Why do you want to work here?–You need to do research on a company before you go to your interview. What does the company do? How old is the business? If you have researched the company, you can speak more intelligently about why you want to work there. Also, make sure whatever you say is about giving to not taking from the company.
  2. Why did you leave your last job?–What did you write on your application? Whatever you say in the interview needs to be consistent with your application. Stay positive. If you were fired, or left on negative terms, you need to tell your perspective in the most positive way without saying bad things about your past employer. If you speak about others in a negative way, what will stop you from saying bad things about your new employer?
  3. How long do you plan to stay with this company?–A company invests time and money into a new employee. The interviewer wants to find out if you intend to use that company as just a “stepping stone” job. However, make no promises. Speak in general terms, “A long time,” or “I am a stable person and have no intention of leaving soon.”
  4. What position do you expect to be in five years?–Again, speak in general terms. Be careful you do not step on toes. If you talk about advancement, you might be talking about the interviewer’s position! Instead, explain that you hope to be in a position of more responsibility because you are a responsible person.
  5. When are you available for work?–“I am flexible.” or “When do you need me to start?”
  6. What do you think your references will say about you?–Instead of putting words in someone’s mouth, recall your work style and explain that you believe the interviewer will receive a good reference on you. For example: “I was a punctual and responsible for my work.” “I got along with my co-workers.” “I believe you will hear positive information about me.”
  7. Give an example of a problem you have encountered and how you handled it.–Employers are interested in your ability to problem solve effectively. A good way to answer this question is to use the S.T.A.R. Technique:
      Situation-state the work-related problem OR

      Task-describe a task or project for which you had responsibility

      Action-talk about the approach you took to solve the problem

      Result-discuss the outcome of your action, making sure to mention any accomplishments or improvements due to your action

    Example: “At my last job, we had to record data manually on a paper spreadsheet. There were often errors and problems with this procedure. I developed a spreadsheet using a computer program which in turn made our system of record keeping more accurate and legible. My supervisor was very pleased with my initiative and I was named employee of the month.”

  8. How do you deal with stress?–The interviewer is wanting to know how you will react in tense situations. Give an example of when you met deadlines or worked under pressure successfully.
  9. What is your greatest strength?–The biggest mistake that most job seekers make is that the do not say enough when they try to name one strength. Do not give a one word or phrase answer. Paint a picture with words. For example: “I believe that my greatest strength is that I am thorough. What I mean by that is that I follow through on my projects and tasks and I go the extra mile to make sure things are done correctly and on time.”
  10. What is your greatest weakness?–Everyone has weaknesses, but you should turn a potential negative into a positive. For example, “I’d say that my greatest weakness is that I have a low tolerance for disorganization…I am a very organized person and believe that it makes work more productive.”
  11. Have you ever done this kind of work before?–Always say “YES!” Then explain what you have done that is either similar or the same. Take the time to elaborate on your specific skills that relate to what you are interviewing for.
  12. Do you have any questions?–You should always have questions so that they know you are interested in the job. In general, your questions may include inquiries about: work duties, dress code, supervision, training, safety procedures, etc.
  13. Call back closing-If the interviewer does not specify when he or she will be contacting you about a decision. YOU should ask if you may call back at a convenient time. For example, “I am really interested in working for your company. I have several interviews set up and would hate to miss your call if I am out. Would it be okay if I called you?” Then set a scheduled time to call back-and make sure you do.
Common Interview Questions
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