An interview is the most crucial part of the job search process - it’s important to make a good first impression and ensure you’re putting your best foot forward. Interviewing can be an intimidating experience, but preparation and practice are key to success. To help you prepare, here are the top 10 most common interview questions from the past year and tips on how to answer them effectively.
This question aims to reveal your enthusiasm and knowledge about the role. Be sure to highlight your qualifications that are most relevant to the specific job you’re interviewing for and provide a few examples of how you’ve successfully demonstrated those qualities in past experiences. It’s also important to show your excitement about the role and to be enthusiastic about the company – the interviewer wants to know if you’re interested in this role at this company (vs. any job at any company).
Focus on one or two professional strengths that make you suitable for this position, and provide detailed examples of how you’ve used those strengths in past successes. For example, if the company is looking for someone who is good on the phone or can learn a new technology system quickly, make your strength align with their needs.
This is an opportunity to be honest about a professional limitation while also demonstrating your willingness to learn and grow. Avoid focusing on surface-level weaknesses (e.g., I'm not great at public speaking) and instead, provide examples of how you’ve taken steps to improve (e.g., I took a public speaking class last year and have since become more comfortable presenting in front of groups). Another example you could consider: “I can be quiet in team meetings and I am sometimes shy about raising my ideas in front of a group. I usually talk to my manager in private when I have a new idea. She has been encouraging me to speak up more in group settings, so everyone can hear the idea and brainstorm together. While I’m still not 100% comfortable with speaking in front of larger groups, I’m getting better with time!”
Be prepared to answer this question by providing an example that demonstrates your ability to think creatively and problem-solve. One example of how to answer this would be: “I’m dependable and easy to work with. I have great communication skills and I can work on my own or within a group. Either way, I will get my work done and have a good attitude along the way.”
Focus on a specific situation where you successfully navigated challenging circumstances. Explain the steps you took to resolve the issue, how you remained professional throughout the process, and what was learned from the experience. There are no wrong answers here - they just want to understand how you solve problems. Here is one example to consider: “All of a sudden, business picked up and our team had to handle more volume than we were used to. Instead of handling 15 tickets per day, everyone had to take on 20 tickets per day. I created a few templates for common emails and notes that we were sending - this ended up saving each team member 30 minutes/day so they could dedicate time to another ticket.”
The interviewer will be looking to see if your values align with the company's mission. Focus on talking about the opportunities and challenges that motivated you to pursue this role, while avoiding any negative comments about your past employer. Make sure your excitement and enthusiasm for this job come through in your answer.
Researching the company prior to the interview is key. Show that you’ve done your homework by providing specific details about their products, services, and culture. One example: “I want to join an innovative organization like [insert company name] - I love the mission of the company and what you all are trying to achieve with your customers. I would be really excited/proud to work at a company doing this kind of work.”
Be sure to highlight any experiences where you’ve worked collaboratively to achieve a goal or resolve an issue. Provide examples of how you’ve actively listened to other team members, taken initiative, and maintained open communication. One example: “I have great communication skills and I work well with anyone. I can build relationships quickly and tailor my communication style based on the situation. In my previous role, I was nominated to run our monthly team meeting because I had built trust with everyone on the team.”
It's important to demonstrate that you can receive feedback constructively and use it to make improvements. Talk about a situation where criticism was received positively and used as an opportunity for growth. One example: “Feedback is really important to me because I’m always trying to improve myself personally and professionally. In order to grow and develop, we have to be open to hearing feedback from the people we work with - because of this, I always welcome feedback and I also try to provide constructive feedback to others when appropriate.”
Always be prepared to ask the interviewer a few well thought-out questions. Ask about their experience with the company, what they enjoy most about their role, and what challenges they’ve faced in the position. A few other questions to consider: what does good look like in this role? What is the company culture like? What about the dynamics on the team I’d be joining? What are the next steps in this process? Is there anything else I can answer to help you make a decision?
The best way to prepare for these questions is to practice out loud. Ask a friend or family member to help you practice answers and provide feedback on delivery. Also, having sample answers for each question can be helpful in giving you an idea of what to say during the interview. However, make sure that you tailor each answer to your own experiences and qualifications instead of simply repeating the same thing every time. Finally, research the company you are applying for and structure your answers around its values and mission statement.
Interviews can be daunting but with some practice, preparation, and a positive attitude, you will be in an excellent position to succeed. For more information, see our blog post on How to Ace Your Next Job Interview!
Hope this helps! Best of luck on your interview!