Interview questions can throw you off the balance if you fail to prepare adequately for it. But, with adequate preparation, you are sure to answers all questions correctly without any iota of doubt or fear. The key to success in any interview is to be familiar with the typical interview question and have the correct answers to them all. It will not make any difference if you know the possible questions without knowing the right way to answer them.
50 Common Interview Questions and Best Reply
Interviews questions are predictable, and they vary from one establishment to the other. The right way to go about it is to start with the most likely questions that will be asked during an interview. You can then move further to review other questions. Here are the most likely interview questions:
1. Tell me about Yourself
This is the first question your interviewer will ask you. It is not meant to get you nervous or agitated. It is a simple question that aims at determining your suitability for the job. So, before going for an interview, you should have prepared enough for this kind of question because it is an opportunity to sell yourself to the interviewer.
An excellent way to answer this question is by running through your educational background, your professional experience, as well as work experience relating to the job. When answering this question, you don’t need to beat about the bush or say what is unnecessary. The interviewer is not interested in the number of children you have or your position in your family. At this point, what matters most to know whether you are the right candidate for the job or not. Below are some pragmatic examples of how to answer this question:
I am a Mechanical Engineer with over ten years of experience in automobiles repair. After earning my degree certificate, I worked with XYZ tech for those ten years. At XYZ tech, I rose to the position of chief automobile engineer where I was in charge of their fleet of cars.
I have been involved in administrative work for the last four years. I am always interested and delighted to work in the IT industry. I was privileged to work at different levels such as programmers, business analyst, and assistant manager. I have the exceptional ability to pay rapt attention to the customer and can maintain a great rapport with them.
2. What is your responsibility
Here, the interviewer wants you to talk on what you did at your previous place of work. Try to incorporate your new job requirements into your answer.
Telling the interviewers that you have done a similar job is the right approach to this question. Talk more on the responsibility that is closely related to the task when responding to this kind of question. Here is a typical way to respond to this question:
As an expert education teacher, I have had a series of experience with different grades at a large inner-city school. I have worked in conjunction with teachers and parent to design IEPs, and we have made a move to promote the inclusion of disabled students in a regular classroom.
3. What are the things you like or detest about past work?
This question is tricky, so you must take must not rush into answering it. When asked this kind of question, the interviewer is trying to figure out how you might feel about the new position they employ you.
If the roles at your previous place of work are similar to this new one you are anticipating, you should answer with caution. You need to be as enthusiastic and positive about the job, so you may want to keep the things you detest about your previous roles to yourself. However, if the tasks are not similar, you can share your honest remark with the interviewer. Also, be free to point out the things you like about your previous job. If you are faced with this kind of question, check the model answer, it will give you an idea on how to answer such a question.
I like the yearly training program organized by my employer; it has been of tremendous help to me. My employer used to train a new employee on the ins and outs of financial services. In my former place of work, there were always new things to learn daily. The promotion was steady. The main reason why I am applying for another job is that my former place of work is too far from my home.
4. What were your starting and final take-home pay?
When a hiring manager asks you to him/her your final salary at your former place of work, he/she is trying to determine whether you are a competitive candidate for their firm from a salary perspective. When answering this question, be honest, tell them the exact amount you were paid when you started the job and your salary as at when you left the company.
However, employers are not allowed to ask about your previous salary in some places because some policies that prevent them from asking such question are in place. Here is a sample answer that will guide you:
When I started work as a graduate training at ABC company, my annual salary was around $56,000. My yearly salary became $90,000 when I became a service engineer. And, it rose to $120,000 when I was promoted to the position of a chief engineer.
5. How do you handle the significant challenges you faced at your former place of work?
This is another common question that you need to be prepared for when going for an interview? These questions are not asked to confuse you or probe into your private life; they are questions that expose the real picture of an applicant. You don’t have to feel nervous when answering any of these questions, see your interviewer as an examiner trying to get familiar with you in order to employ you.
Now, when the interviewer asks you this question, the hiring manager is trying to understand how effectively you can deal with issues that may arise within the company if hired. They want to know if you can devise a way out when there is a problem. Also, the interviewer is interested in knowing your problem-solving skills. This question will give them a clue whether you like taking up a challenge or you get agitated when there is a problem. You can consider this sample answer for an idea on how to respond to such question:
Our turnover rate was 70 percent at the time I started work as a stall manager. At that time, there was insufficient staff. What I did was that I put a performance incentive program in place that enhanced our efficiency by leveraging on training and promotion.
6. Tell me your greatest strength?
Your strength is the unique ability that makes you better than others. When responding to this question, talk more on your skills that are related to the anticipated job. Let the interviewer know how your ability will fast-track your success on the job. It is great to be humble, but at this moment, let the hiring manager know that you are qualified for a job. You are free to blow your trumpet at this point so far it is not exaggerated. This sample answer will give you the idea of what I am trying to pass across:
Ability to adapt quickly to a new process is one of strength. I quickly adapt to a new working environment. I do this by actively observing how people do things. Also, I am versatile. I am always willing to embrace new ways of doing things to maximize efficiency.
7. Let me know your greatest weakness?
There diverse ways to answer this question. A lot of interviewees have said what they ought not to say because they don’t know the right way to tackle this question. Your response can focus on the additional skills that you have recently acquired because you have worked on the areas you needed to improve upon. Another around this question is by turning negative to positive by telling them about something that you saw as a weakness but have helped you tremendously in your previous job. Here is a sample answer for you:
I am introvert, and I considered that as a weakness because of my inability to reach out to people due to my shyness. But, I discovered that I am a great listener, which is as a result of being an introvert. This attribute has been of great benefit to me as a Help Desk Officer. I can offer satisfactory service to the customer through, asking the right question to obtain helpful information, and finding a timely solution to their tech issues.
8. How do you handle pressure and stress?
You should expect this question if you applied for a high-pressure position. Your response to this question will determine if you are the ideal candidate for that position or not. So, the hiring manager wants to know how you respond to a stressful situation at work. Be positive when answering this question, tell them how you had effectively dealt with stress. The sample answer below will help you:
I try as much as possible to prepare myself mentally and physically fit for each day’s work. However, when I find myself in a stressful situation, I take a few minutes to stabilize my breathing to remain calm and focused. Every morning, I practice guided meditation for about 20 minutes and go for a walk out every evening.
9. Tell me how you overcome a challenging project or task?
Here, you need to convince your hiring manager, and the only way you can achieve this is by sharing a real-life example. So, you need to get ready to tell them the challenging situation at your former place of work, and how you went about the job. Consider this sample question:
A client made a demand that we complete our deliverable two weeks earlier than the agreed date, which was impossible because our team is understaffed. We do accommodate such request, but it was impossible to meet up at that time. I approached the client and explained the situations to them, and told them that we give them 20% discount on their two subsequent orders if they accept the original deadline or they would need to pay more for the cost of hiring more hands to meet the new deadline. They opted for the former.
10. What do you consider as your most significant achievement (or failure) in this position?
You should not hesitate to talk about your most significant accomplishment. Was there a time where things didn’t work out the way you intended, and you were able to learn from it? Share them with your interviewer. To drive home your point, share honest, practical examples from your previous place of work. This sample response will help you greatly:
My ability to convince our CEO to implement promotion and internal training program is one of my great achievements at my former place of work. This allowed our staff to advance steadily within our organization
11. How do you measure your success?
When you are asked to talk about how you evaluate success, the interviewer is interested in knowing your career goals as well as your life goals. This question will give the hiring manager perception of your work ethics. Your response here matters a lot; therefore, you should choose your words carefully. Your answer should be tailor towards the goals you are expected to achieve if you finally got employed. Here is a simple answer that will be of tremendous help to you:
I wake up every morning feeling enthusiastic about my job, at the close of the day, I always have a sense of fulfillment that I have a difference in the lives of people, an indication that the day has been a success.
12. Why did you leave your job or why are you going your present place of work?
There are numerous reasons for leaving a place of work. You may decide to work close to your home, or you feel it is time to move to a greener pasture. Maybe you are relocating out of town or looking to explore the broader opportunity. Hiring managers always want to know why you left your former workplace. Your response may elicit further probing question if you are not consistent in your answer. The key here is consistency and be explicit and precise in your reply. You can take a cue from this model answer:
I decided to explore a new career opportunity when our company was sold. Though the acquiring company offered me employment, but I was bent on my decision to explore more extensive career opportunities
13. Why are you interested in this job?
The employer can also ask this way – why did you apply to this company? Why did you choose this company? What attracts you to this company? All these questions are pointing towards the same direction, which is – the reason you think the job fits your career objective. When you have this understanding, you will be able to tackle the question satisfactorily. In your response, give enough reasons why you are qualified for the job. This sample answer will help you greatly:
From the time I had typhoid fever as a kid, which necessitated me to stay in the hospital for two weeks, I have wanted to be a nurse. Since then, it has been my dream to become a nurse working in a specialized hospital like this place. I went to nursing school, and I obtained my license as a Registered Nurse
14. Why should we hire you?
There is no way an interviewer will not ask you this question. It is a ‘sure’ question that everyone going for an interviewer must prepare for. How do you go about this common question? Before we go into that, let us look into forms by which a hiring manager can put this question across to you. This question can also take these forms – Let us know what you are bringing to the table? Tell us your skills and attribute that will advance this company? What are you going to achieve if you were employed? This question is critical as it determines your success in an interview. The right way to approach is to emphasize as much as possible what you can do for the company. Not only that, tell them how your skill will promote the company. Take note of this sample answer:
I am an experienced consultative salesperson, I have always surpassed my quota, and I have kept exceptional sales records because I genuinely enjoy working with customers especially if it has to do with matching them with the brands that I am sure they will cherish as much as I do
What are your future goals?
When fielding to this question, try to align your goals with the company’s career path. This way, the hiring manager will be convinced that your objective is in line with the organization. No one will like to hire a candidate that intends to work for a short time. Therefore, let the interviewer know that you are staying for a long time. Here is a typical answer to this question:
My goal is to work in a multinational oil company where I can eventually rise to the position of a manager
what are your salary expectations?
This question has generated a lot of arguments. Some believe that an interviewee is not meant to answer this question while others see nothing wrong in telling the hiring manager your realistic salary expectation. Although this kind of question can be tricky, your response to this question speaks a lot about you and might influence recruiter’s final decision positively or the other way round. A way around this question is by telling the hiring manager that you are flexible, and you will like to be rewarded based on the company’s compensation package. Take a look at this model answer:
I average around $40,000 yearly, and that is the approximate salary here for professionals with my level of experience. I discovered this from an online salary calculator. However, I am open to negotiation as regards your benefits package.
Who was your worst boss and tell us about your best?
This question may appear strange to you, don’t be confused at all; it’s an interviewer way of discovering the type of management and leadership style that is perfect for you. That is, they are trying to figure out the kind of managerial style that you detest. You should be careful when answering this question; you don’t have to be too negative. How you speak about your former boss matters here, even if you had the worst boss, be careful of how you talk about them so as not to leave a negative impression on your interviewers. In short, you must not take things to the extreme. Here is how to answer a similar question:
I have never had a bad manager. All the managers I have worked with were excellent. Out of them all, my best boss was Dr. Gateway. He was always willing to hear us out. Everyone was free to speak to him privately about issues, and he treated everyone equally. However, I don’t like it when someone prefers to micromanage my work. In such cases, I try my level best to gain their confidence so they will be willing to give me some autonomy
What is that thing you are most passionate about?
Your recruiter may decide to ask in another way – what are the things that you love doing? What do you consider as most important? What gives you joy? Don’t need to be rigid in your response. It doesn’t have to be about work only. Here, you can diversify a bit. The essence of this question is to determine whether or not you are a well-round person. And the things you like doing asides work. The importance of this question is that it tells the employer the kind of person that you will turn out to be if they hire you. Tell the recruiter pleasant things you enjoy doing, and not what can make them have a second thought about hiring you. Consider this sample answer:
I love listing to country music, and I like attending festivals during the summer. I am also a passionate piano player. I used this to entertain my children and wife during the weekends and my off days.
Tell us about your relationship with your co-workers and supervisors?
The above question might come in this form – Have you had a problematic co-worker in the past? Did you get along with your supervisors? Have you ever quarreled with your supervisors or co-workers? How do you relate with your co-workers? This is a direct question, and you should go straight to your answer, providing your recruiter an insight into your communication and interpersonal skills. Again, you should be positive when fielding this question. What you say here tells a lot about your opinion about others. Of course, your employer will be interested in learning about that. Here is a sample answer that will guide you on how to answer this question:
I am an easy-going person and get along well with anybody that comes in contact with me. My manager and colleagues are not left out. One reason why I have been able to maintain a healthy interpersonal relationship is that I approach everyone with the respect they deserve. I always seek clarification and like to resolve differences of opinion in an amicable way
How do you unwind?
Here is a sample answer:
I listen to music and watch educative programs on TV.
Can you say you are successful?
Put in another way – do you consider yourself a successful person? Of course, no one will see himself or herself as a failure. The recruiter wanted to dig deep into your personal goals by asking this question. This is an avenue to talk about your short and long term goal and don’t forget to relate them with the company’s career path. This tells them that you are a good fit for their company. Here is a model answer to help you:
To me, success is spending most of my time on work that enhances my efficiency to fulfill the aim of the organization. Also, I believe that greater success can be achieved if we work in unity to achieve a common goal.
With continuous progress, I feel successful. I am always joyous when allowed to put a new idea in place. I will like to define my success as the experience that I have gathered over the past years, and I can leverage them whenever the situation demands
Do you like traveling?
If the job requires constant traveling, the employer will be willing to know whether or not you detest traveling. This question is essential because it determines if you are suitable for the job. Also, note that this is a direct question; you are not meant to tell stories or beat about the bush. Once you are comfortable with the job and you don’t mind traveling, tell them you love traveling. Here is a sample answer:
Yes, I enjoy traveling. I love meeting new people. Traveling to places I have never visited would be a delightful experience for me
What motivates you?
You have to be honest here, if it is money, let them know that you get motivated with a salary increase or other remuneration packages. Other things that can serve as motivation are job satisfaction, the quest for growth, among others. You can answer this question like this:
What motivates me is my ability to work diligently and achieve my target goal.
What is your dream job
Answer this question honestly, and you should not lose sight of the job for which you are being interviewed. Here is a simple answer:
Working in this company will be a dream come through for me. My goal has always been to work in an oil company as chief engineer.
what are the relevant experiences that you have?
This question is straightforward; you need to tell the interviewer the experience that is most relevant to the job. Make sure you include the remarkable one to increase your chance of being employed. Here is a sample answer:
I have created different software that are still in use today in different organization. Some of the software that I have designed include …[Name them]
what do your colleagues at work say about you?
This question will allow you to make some high remarks about yourself. Check out the sample answer below:
My co-workers at WRE limited are never weary to telling others how knowledgeable I am when it comes to everything that has to do with a laptop. They call me laptop doctor
Are you a team player?
This is a direct question. You should answer with a Yes and then add a few points to bolster this. Since you are going to be working with other professionals, no one can do it alone; therefore team effort is instrumental to the success of any organization. Here is a sample answer to this question:
Yes. I am a team player. Though I can work independently, I work best in the company of colleagues and fellow professionals. I am always ready to reach out to my co-workers whenever the need arises, and it has always been an enjoyable experience working together as a team
What is your attitude towards work?
An employer will not hire a lazy person or a person with a wrong philosophy towards work. Be positive when answering this question and let the recruiter know that you have a positive attitude towards work. You may answer this question in this manner:
My philosophy concerning work has always been that every job is important, no matter the size and effort it requires, it has to be done on time and in the right way.
What have been your lesson from mistakes on the job?
A mistake is an occurrence that is not uncommon to everyone. You don’t have to narrate the mistakes you made here, go straight to the point by telling the interviewer the lesson you learned from it. Here is a simple way to answer this question:
I learned that orderliness and proper coordination is vital to the success of any project. I had this issue when I took up my first job. Since then, I have made sure I remain coordinated and follow every guideline
Can you work overtime? Nights? Weekends?
Here is a sample answer to this question:
Working overtime is an extra effort towards achieving a purpose that will be at the company’s advantage. I am willing to do anything that will promote the complete.
What will be your reaction if you are not employed here?
Rather than responding directly to the question, express optimism, let the hiring manager see your determination and high hope regarding the job. Here is a sample answer:
I am positive about this job. It has always been my dream to work in this prestigious organization, and if it turns the way around, I will have to keep the hope alive and search for another job.
What recents step have you taken to boost your knowledge?
Here is a sample answer that will guide you on how to answer this question:
I have attended safety training, and also gone for several self-improvement programs. Also, as an engineer, I do attend seminars and workshops that are related to oil and gas. (Give examples of seminars and workshop that you have attended)
Kindly state how you would be an asset to this organization if hired?
Below is a model answer to this question:
I have gone for a series of training and earned a lot of awards in financing. I have the unique ability to handle pressure and can work with little or no supervision
If we employ you, how long are you willing to work for us?
Answer this question like this:
I am willing to stay for as long as the management see me as an asset.
Are your skill related to this job?
Here is a sample answer:
I am confident that my skills are the best match for this position.
Share your disappointment about a job with us?
You can consider this model response:
I was once disappointed about my job because I was not given enough challenges that will bring out the best in me.
what would you look for if you were the hiring manager for this position?
Below is a sample answer:
I will consider two essential factors – the ability to perform excellently on the job and the right attitude to do it.
Tell us the hardest decision you have made?
Consider this model answer:
I ended up mediating when I was had to choose whether to join the protesting employees or to feel unconcerned about the issue. I was glad the issue was resolved amicably
Can you make a sacrifice for the company?
Answer the question like this:
I would be willing to do my best in this regard.
What attributes do you desire in a boss?
Consider this model answer:
I will like my boss to be firm in decision making and to have a good sense of humor. Ultimately, he/she should be able to relate well to me.
Are you applying to other companies as well?
Here is a sample answer:
I have applied to several companies, but I would be glad if I am able I am hired here because this company has always been my priority.
Do you know any worker in this company?
Check out this model answer:
No, I don’t know anyone in this company. I found about this opening on the internet.
How do you make up for your lack of experience?
Answer this way:
I am a fast learner, so I am quick at adapting to something new.
Have you worked in a job that you detest?
Here is a model answer to this question:
I cannot say I hated the job, but it did not match my experience and qualification at that time. I was glad I learned something new from there.
What would your former supervisor say if asked to state your best point?
You can respond to this question like this:
Some of my best points at work are team spirit, diligence, and I am a quick learner.
Would you prefer to be feared or liked?
This is the model answer:
I prefer to be liked and respected.
What do you prefer between job satisfaction and money?
Here is a sample answer:
To me, I am happy once I am satisfied with my job. Money flows naturally when I am productive.
What are your suggestions that were implemented in your former place of work?
Here is a model answer:
I suggested that the staff and the management should hold a monthly meeting instead of having it once in four months. The administration yielded to this suggestion, and they commended me for the wonderful initiative.
Where do you see yourself in seven years?
When answering this question, stress on your goals and interest. Not only that analyzes a possible career path which should not deviate from the position you are applying. Here is a model answer to guide you:
In five years, I would have progressed tremendously in my career; I see myself taking up a supervisory role in this company if I am employed
Do you have any question for us?
This question signals the end of your interview session. This is where you can show the employer or the interviewer that you know more about their organization. You should be ready to ask your hiring manager a couple of questions. It is essential that you ask question at this point so that it doesn’t seem like you are not enthusiastic about the job. Here is a sample answer for you:
How does the company review the performance of its employee? How soon will I have my performance reviewed after hiring?
On a final note, your success at a job interview depends primarily on how well you listen to the hiring manager. Therefore, pay rapt attention to the interviewers, you should not interrupt or try to preempt them.