50 Interview Questions and How to Answer Them (Part 1)
Interview preparation doesn’t have to feel vague or intimidating. Just like studying for a test or rehearsing for a play yields the best results, the surest way to ace your next job interview is to research a comprehensive list of interview questions and answers.
For that reason, I’ve collected 50 interview questions you’re likely to face in your next interview. Over the course of a three-part series, we’ll be exploring how to answer each one. Part two is out now. Look for part three early next week!
How to Answer Interview Questions
Before you begin reviewing the list of questions contained in this guide, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on how, exactly, you ought to prepare and practice your personalized answers. While it may feel safest to script a series of polite and professional responses to the questions below and memorize them verbatim, this is not recommended. If your responses sound formulaic and robotic, your interviewer is sure to lose interest.
Instead, write down a few possible answers to each question, read them over, and then ask a friend to act as a mock interviewer. During the mock interview, respond to questions in a conversational style. Don’t read off your paper. Repeat this process until your answers sound natural but not overly rehearsed.
Now, onto the first 16 interview questions:
1. Can You Tell Me a Bit About Yourself?
This is a very frequent interview opener. To answer it, you should prepare a short statement that summarizes your professional life rather than your personal life. Don’t just repeat what is on your resume. Make sure your answer is given in a story format, starting with what drew you to your field and covering your journey to where you are now in your career.
2. Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?
If you left your last job due to a problem with management, a coworker, or the organization itself, tactfully omit the details. Remember, if there is one absolute rule for how to ace a job interview, it’s “Never speak ill of your former employer.” An answer such as “I was let go due to company downsizing” or “I decided to change directions with my career and look for new growth opportunities elsewhere” should be perfectly sufficient.
3. What Experience Do You Have in This Field/Industry?
This is a fairly straightforward question for most candidates, but it’s important to note that if you lack specific experience, you absolutely should not attempt to “skip” this question by saying something like “I don’t have any experience yet.”
Instead, prepare an answer that relates experience from outside your chosen field to the position you’re applying for. For example, if the job you’re applying for lists organization skills as being of paramount importance, you can describe how time spent volunteering at an animal shelter helped you learn to manage multiple commitments effectively.
4. Would You Rate Yourself as Being Professionally Successful?
There’s only one good answer to this question: “Yes,” followed by an explanation of why you feel this way. Describe professional goals you have already met and those you are in the process of achieving, then mention any awards or accolades you have received.
5. What Would Your Coworkers Say About You?
Prepare for this question by asking a coworker for a direct quote about what makes you excellent to work with. Repeat this quote during the interview. Just like positive online reviews are the best way to sell a business, glowing referrals from your colleagues provide the perfect way to market yourself without sounding arrogant.
6. What Do You Know About Our Company?
Before walking into any job interview, you should be able to list the organization’s recent accomplishments, talk confidently about its history, understand its current goals, and name its major players.
7. How Have You Improved Your Knowledge or Skills in the Last Year?
Mention new skills you have learned at work, any training you have received (on the job or otherwise), and/or material you have studied on your own time in order to further your professional knowledge.
8. Are You Applying for Other Jobs?
Stick to a simple “yes” or “no” answer and then change the subject by focusing the conversation on the organization you’re interviewing with. It’s best not to discuss which other positions and firms you’re applying to.
9. Why Do You Want to Work for Us?
Use your knowledge of the company’s current endeavors and recent achievements to explain how you feel the organization’s goals and your goals align perfectly. Be specific and sincere while also emphasizing the fact that you wish to grow with the company over the long term.
10. Do You Know Any of Our Current Employees?
This question can be tricky to answer; if you have a relative working in the organization, be aware of the company’s policy on hiring relatives before you answer. If you have a friend in the organization, make sure they have a good reputation at the company before you name them.
11. What Kind of Salary Do You Expect?
This is another tough question, and it’s one that you’re probably better off not giving a direct answer to. Instead, state that money is not your primary motivation for seeking the position, or turn the question around and ask the employer about the range they offer for the position (then agree to it as long as it’s fair). Always research the salary range for a position before you interview.
12. Are You a Team Player?
This is another “Yes” question, but that doesn’t mean you need to lie about your unique working style if it’s more solitary. Instead, say that you are indeed a team player, but then give examples of how, exactly, you have acted in your team’s best interest before. If that entails listening to team members’ concerns and then working on your own to solve problems they present to you, that should be perfectly satisfactory.
13. How Long Do You See Yourself Staying With Us If Hired?
Unless you’re applying for a temporary position, you can rest assured that the company is looking for an employee who will stay on board for as long as possible. It costs a great deal of money to interview, hire, and train new employees, after all. Say something like, “I’d like to stay with the organization and grow my skills for as long as possible.”
14. How Would You Fire Someone? (Alternately: Have you fired anyone?)
Make sure that your answer aligns with the organization’s policies on handling dismissals. Don’t make light of the situation or try to skip the question; give a comprehensive, competent answer, and then express polite regret at the idea of having to perform the duty.
15. What Is Your Professional Philosophy?
There’s no need to invoke the Ancient Greeks or give a long, flowery speech. Keep your answer succinct. Focus on the value you can add to the organization rather than espousing your personal beliefs and ideals.
16. If You Could Retire Right Now, Would You?
Be honest about what you would do in this situation. If you do say “yes,” make sure to follow it up by showing a continued interest in your industry. For example, a professional pilot might express a desire to travel for enjoyment and a copywriter might mention a wish to segue into writing fiction.
Robert Moment is the “Get Hired Expert and Interview Coach” at www.HowtoInterviewTips.com.
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