Preparing For An Interview – Common Interview Questions And Answers

Preparing for an Interview

So you have the interview? Here are some preparation tips.

As you are probably aware the interview is a big factor when it comes to landing the job you’ve applied for.

The biggest challenge and uncertainty are the questions that you may be asked.

Here are some tips to help you make the best of your interview:

  • The first thing you need to consider, is the way you answer questions will greatly determine if you are hired.
  • You should be confident in your responses to questions and project a professional
  • Always answer questions truthfully and respectfully – you can project some personality when answering, but it should be displayed in the right context.
  • You can use the many online services, such as this to help you prepare.
  • You should do plenty of research about the company for the interview you will be attending. When properly prepared you will be able to anticipate questions that may be asked – without any need to bluff.
  • Using practice interview questions are the perfect aid for ensuring success.

Be warned that an interviewer will know if you are unprepared. It’s never a good idea to attend any interview unprepared, good looks and charm are not enough to get a job.

The interview is you chance to show how interested you are in the position and you will also have the chance to ask questions too.

Some Common Interview Questions and Answers.

Below you will find a list of 40 of the most common interview questions you are likely to come across, which will help you when preparing for an interview.

This list should be used as a guide – keep in mind these could be asked in any sequence.

Preparation is key, so having a mental list of your key selling points and some creative ideas you would introduce once you’re employed is important. You should always aim to answer questions with your key selling points in mind.

This type of preparation will impress any employer. Always be tactful.

Here are some common questions and answer guidelines for you to consider:

Are you considering other companies?

when answering this question, be honest but don’t let the interviewer know, if you think another job offer is more appealing.

What made you leave your previous job?

If you owned this company what would you do?

Your answer should be very diplomatic. It’s also not a good idea to say anything negative about your last employer.

when answering these questions from the interviewer, it’s your job to keep the underlying question in mind, which is, ‘why should they hire you’.

Related: What Is A Cover Letter – How To Write A Cover Letter For A Job

A List of 40 sample Interview Questions

  1. What are your career aspirations?
  2. what have made your career goals change over time?
  3. How long do you plan on working in this position?
  4. What do you know about what this job will involve?
  5. What attributes would you bring to this position and this company?
  6. What makes you more qualified than other candidates for who have applied for the position?
  7. What made you want to work for this company?
  8. How much do you expect to be paid?
  9. What different procedures would you inplement if you were in charge of this company?
  10. What is one of your weaknesses?
  11. What is one of your strengths?
  12. What have the companies you have worked for praised about your work?
  13. What areas of work have you often been criticized about?
  14. What do you think your last bosses impression of you is?
  15. How do you think colleagues would describe you?
  16. How do you think an employee in a lower position would describe you?
  17. Show me and explain the most important points on your resume?
  18. What makes your work experience relevant to this position?
  19. What made you leave your last job?
  20. What other companies are you considering?
  21. Tell me about how you like to work?
  22. What is your ideal job environment?
  23. What factors do you use to determine success?
  24. Do you think you are a leader? What qualities make a good leader?
  25. Explain to me how you solved a problem you encountered while working and how you dealt with it.
  26. Explain to me a situation where you failed to resolve a conflict.
  27. Tell me about a time when you acted on someone’s suggestion.
  28. Are you willing to travel for this job?
  29. Are you willing to relocate for this job?
  30. Describe a project you were proud to be a part of. What was your role in this project?
  31. What made you choose your college major?
  32. What do you do in your spare time?
  33. How do you keep your self up-to-date in this industry?
  34. Explain to me a situation when you used your creativity to overcome a problem?
  35. What skills-technical or otherwise-have helped you on the job the most?
  36. What new skills have you learned or developed recently?
  37. Have you made any oral or written presentations recently? Please describe it.
  38. Is there anything else I should know about you?
  39. Do you have any questions for me?
  40. Why should we hire you?

More Interview Preparation Tips

Preparing for an interview is of paramount importance, whether you have just graduated, looking for your first job, or transition between jobs.

The first step is likely to be filling in an application or sending your prospective company a resume with the intention of getting a job interview.

Other requirements before the interview also include having a good impressive resume.

If you are a recent graduate, inorder to put your best foot forward, a professional resume writer may be an option. Specifically one that specializes in graduate and entry level resumes.

Preparation for an interview should involve preparing for the tough questions an employer is likely to ask, why? Because most people are likely to prepare for just the most obvious questions.

Practicing your answers in advance is a great way to control any nervousness. You are also likely to sound more confident and professional.

You need to be aware that in today’s job climate employers are likely to ask the toughest questions, due to the growing competition in the job market. This is the employers way of only getting the very best employees.

You should be prepared for questions that might cause your heart to race.

Here are some sample interview questions and answers to help prepare you for those tougher questions:

  • You don’t have any experience, so why should we hire you?

With this question you need to answer in a persuasive manner.

Your abilities to over come your deficiencies is a good angle. And how you have learned a lot from previous jobs.

If you are newly graduated, mentioning your increased knowledge through your studies and any internships or summer jobs you have been a part of is good.

A scenario such as you having expertise in an area such as computers, which resulted in your colleagues requiring your advice is also worth mentioning.

You can then tie this all in to the fact that your management skills would be a great benefit to the organization.

  • What did you do to resolve a conflict with a previous employer (or professor)?

With this question you will need to acknowledge that you have had a disagreements with your past employer that was resolved.

When giving examples of how you coped with the issue. You should do this from a neutral stand point and not sound judgemental towards your professor or previous employer.

The aim here is to show you can see other people’s view points during disputes and actor rationally and accordingly.

Remember the interviewer doesn’t care who was right or wrong. They are more interested in how you handle yourself in such a situation.

  • How do you think a past employer would describe you?

You can start by explaining that you would be described as energetic, hard working and able to complete the tasks that are given to you.

Emphasis on you dependability, creativity and ability to apply your knowledge in a practical way to complete tasks, is also good.

To solidify your claims you can emphasise to the interviewer that you can provide references.

  • What qualities do you believe a successful manager should have?

With this question you should be brief clear and logical with your answer. This approach will allow the interviewer to see the qualities of a manager in you.

Qualities such as team collaboration, leadership foresight planning and a good understanding of the company objectives, are all things you should include.

Tying these qualities into increasing revenue and good customer services for clientele should also be emphasised.

You can the end your answer by mentioning a person you believe is a true leader.

  • What would you say you is your greatest weakness?

First thing to remember is that everyone has a weakness. When answering you need to be clear precise and confident.

By expressing confidently and clearly your weakness, you will be telling the interviewer that you have an objective view of your self.

A good way to round up, is by saying that recognising your greatest weakness is what drives you to overcome it.

Related: Skills For Resume Writing Success – Resume Objective Statements And More

Tough Interview Questions

So let’s set the stage here. You are in your interview, you’ve prepared and and everything is going well…

Then suddenly you get one of those tough interview questions!

The problem is you haven’t prepared for the question asked, and you didn’t see it coming.

Your first reaction is likely to be hesitation and stumbling over your words, followed by sweating.

So, what do you? The first thing you should keep in mind is, that, as always preparation is the best answer.

A tough question is likely to be something like:

Why should you get this job?“.

The best way to tackle questions like this is to compile question that are general and job-specific.

Once you have the questions you then need to practice answering them until you can clearly give a solid answer.

Practice should end when you are no longer uncomfortable with the question and can answer it confidently.

Don’t make the mistake of not practicing questions you might think are easier to answer, such as, “Tell me about yourself”.

You should also know that it’s impossible to practice every question. It’s very possible you will get a question you haven’t come across in the interview.

When this happens the first thing you need to do is stay calm and take some deep breaths.

Next step is to repeat the question to your self. You can do this aloud, to the interviewer, or in your head to your self.

This will help you ensure you are clear on the question.

The next step is to draw a connection between the questions you have practiced and the one you’re being asked.

What you should be asking your self is:

Is this question a variation of a question you’ve practiced?

Is it similar to a question you have practiced?

Once you have identified some similarities the new question will be much easier to answer.

Another way to break down tough questions is to answer them in a two part way.

For example a question such as:

Give me an example of a time you had conflict with a team member. What caused it and how did you handle it?

This question can be broken into two parts:

  1. The first is providing an example of a confrontation.
  2. The second part is saying how the confrontation was resolved.

When you answer the first part you should use it to set the stage. Here you should give all the necessary details to the interviewer.

When answering this question, focus entirely on the first part initially. Set the stage for the conflict that arose, giving the interviewer all of the necessary details.

Second you need to give details of how the conflict was resolved.

Remember the interviewer will be more concerned about how you were able to resolve the conflict and the stresses of the situation. More so than the details of the conflict it’s self.

So the resolution should be your biggest priority. This is what the pattern is likely to be with all multi-part questions.

Remember one part of the question is likely to set the stage for the next.

Questions You Can’t Answer

If a questions comes up that you can’t answer it’s always best to admit to being unsure of the answer.

As mentioned previously an interviewer is like to know when you are not sure of an answer.

If an interviewer thinks you are lying they will either pull you up on it or just write you off as liar. Which you definitely don’t want.

A good response is that you don’t know the answer, but that you would like to research it for the future.

Answering this way will show you have integrity – and a willingness to learn and keep your skills up to par.

Quick Tips For Answering Difficult Questions:

  • Ask the interviewer to repeat the question if you didn’t hear it, or if it’s a long multi-part question.
  • Ask for clarification if a question is unclear.
  • Don’t give the interviewer personal information they haven’t asked for.
  • Always attempt to turn any negatives into positives. So if your asked about a weakness you should demonstrate how it’s an asset.
  • Don’t panic, interviews are a learning experience – so if you don’t think your first one goes well, you can always improve on your next one.

Remember all you have to do is identify the areas of you interview that were weak, and ensure you improve on them.

Good Interview Questions for an Interviewer

When going for an interview it’s normal to over look your proactive part in the process.

You should remember that you are also there to ask some good interview questions.

Having some good questions for the interviewer will serve two purposes:

  1. If you ask the right questions, this will show that you have the right frame of mind and qualifications for the job.
  2. You are also interviewing the employer, to ensure that this is a company that you really want to work for.

Here are three things asking good interview questions should achieve.

  1. They will give the interviewer no reservation.
  2. Let the employer know you’re interested.
  3. A way to let you know if the employer is right for you.

These 3 goals should be the motivation for your questions.

A good amount of questions for the interviewer is five for any interview you attend. You’ll probably ask about 3 questions, but having 5 is good incase some are answered during the interview.

The Top 10 Interview Questions

Here’s a list of the 10 best questions to ask at an interview:

1. What skills are you looking for in the ideal candidate?

This is an open-ended question that allows you to know exactly what the employer wants.

If the interviewer says something that you didn’t cover, now is your chance to include it.

2. What is the biggest problem your staff are having and would my position help to alleviate it?

This questions shows you are willing to help, as well as helping the employer to envision you in the position.

3. What’s your most enjoyable thing about working here?

This allows the interviewer to form a personal connection with you by sharing their feelings. You can also gaging how happy staff are. A hesitate answer will tell you a lot about the company – and is a red flag.

4. What would you consider success in this position and this firm or nonprofit?

This question shows that you are ambitious. The answer will allow you to know whether it’s something you want to do.

5. Are you hesitant about any of my qualifications?

This allows the employer to know that you are confident in your skills and abilities.

6. Do you offer further development like education and professional training?

This question positions you as a person that wants to increase your knowledge within the company.

7. Can you tell me something about the team I’ll be working with?

Here you are asking a question that presumes you already have the job. The question also gives you insight into the type of people you will work with.

8. What new products or plans do you have ahead?

You will need to ask this question in the way it relates to your employer. You will need to research the employer. You can even mention a product or service that’s been launched to show that you’re interested.

The employers response will let you know what their future plans are.

9. Who was employed in this position previously?

From this question you can find out if the last employee quit, retired or was fired.

This can tell you if employees are unhappy, in turmoil and if employees are your age.

10. What step is next in the process?

This is a good last question, and a great one to ask because it shows that you want to move on in the process. It can also give the employer a chance to tell you how man other people applied.

Phone Interview Questions

The phone interview is not always talked about but it’s a very important part of the job getting process.

Getting a phone interview means that employer has read your resume and is interested in hiring you.

A phone interview can make or break whether or not you get the job.

It will tell the employer if you are a good technical and cultural fit for their company work environment.

Here are 5 common phone interview questions and answers to help you prepare:

Q1. Tell me something about yourself?

A. This question is used to break the ice it’s main purpose is to get some basic personality traits.

A short professional response is needed. It should also relate to their business.

Q2. Tell me about your education background?

A. Giving a direct honest answer is the best answer. If you don’t have a degree don’t say you are planning to get one, just say what you do have.

Q3. Are your currently employed, if so where?

A. Answer this question in a dignified fashion, even if you became unemployed abruptly. Do not talk negatively about you’re previous employer.

Q4. If you are not currently employed, when was the last time you were, and why did it come to an end?

A. If you are not working just be honest about your dates of employment and what’s written on your resume. Note: do not talk negatively about employers of previous job situations!

Q5. Tell me a bit about your current employer?(i.e. For instance, how long they’ve been in business, and what they do etc.).

A. This question gives the interview a chance to gage how familiar you are with your current employer and your attention to detail.

Second Interview Questions

Second interview questions can be daunting. Once you have past the first stage of questions you’re half the way there.

The danger is to just repeat the answers to questions you were asked in the first interview. This is not a good idea.

Here are some differences between first and second interviews.

First interviews are more about your personality and basic abilities.

In the second interview the employer wants to separate you from other candidates. They will be interested in your leadership qualities, the way you work with other colleague’s and whether these would make you an asset to the organisation.

Here are two questions you could encounter:

Q1.What kind of salary are you expecting?

This is a common question for the second interview stage. You should be honest when asked. Never say an absurd number if it’s not a reality. For example don’t say 500k if it’s a basic cashier Job.

A good answer is to give a range for instance $17,000-$20,000 if that’s normal.

Q2. How much notice does your current employer need?

This is the employers way of finding out what kind of administration will be needed to take you on.

You should be clear about your current companies notice policy before  the interview. It’s also important to mention any pre booked holiday you may have planned.

Be aware though, don’t assume that this is a job offer. The employer is merely trying to gage what would happen if they offered the job to you.

Answer: to answer this question just tell the employer your companies notice period.

You should avoid telling any potential employer that you don’t have ro give notice, or you’ll just leave without notice.

Behavioral Interview Questions

What are behavioral questions? You might not have heard of them but they are some of the toughest questions in an interview.

We have touched on questions through out this article that may have been behavioral. These are questions that are designed to give an employer an insight into how you behaved in specific work situations.

Situations in which these questions are normally used is when an employer is trying to find out if a candidate has leadership qualities.

These questions are most popular within the second interview questions.

Behavioral interview questions and answers will be presented below:

A typical question maybe something like:

Can you give me an example of when you lead a project?

To answer a question like this, the best way to do it, is by using a story when you had success.

For example, if you were involved in a project where you organised a team and implemented a roster, this could be seen as a success.

Now your have all the tools you need tpo have a good interview its time to get started. Check out our recommended resources that can aid you in getting an interview.


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