Sample Interview Questions and Answers
Interviews are not solely about how you answer the interviewer’s questions. Body language, dress code, manner of speech, personality – all of these play a role in affecting how successful your interview will be.
That said, the key to a successful interview is answering the interview questions with clarity, good examples and confidence. A great answer to a question can allow the employer to overlook any little shortcomings you may show, but a bad answer to a question is very hard to recover from.
It stands to reason, then, that the best way to prepare for an interview is to have an idea of both the common questions asked at interviews and the answers that you should supply. The more you prepare for these questions:
- The better your answers will be.
- The easier it will be for you to answer them.
Both of these will put you at a significant advantage over all other applicants that failed to prepare as well as you. Below are some common interview questions and answers to help you practice for your interview.
Ten Common Questions and How to Answer Them:
1. What Are Your Biggest Weaknesses?
When you are asked to name your weaknesses, focus on a positive trait that could have negative connotations, but can be supplied with a positive spin. For example “I have a need to see tasks to completion and would rather stay and complete a project than go home and complete it in the morning.” This is one of the most difficult interview questions.
2. Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?
It is vital that you focus on issues that put a positive spin on your abilities. One of the best answers you can give at an interview is “I would like to dedicate myself to a company with ample growth potential and the will to see their employee’s succeed.” Some acceptable reasons why you left your last job.
3. What Made You Apply At Our Company?
Here is where your interview preparation is important. Bring out specific numbers and accomplishments. For example “I find your eco-friendly product line to be fascinating, and easily represent the future of global industry.” In other words, why do you want to become part of our team?
4. Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?
Answers to these questions should always be about sticking with the company. Even if you are using this job as a stepping stone for your future career, employers only want to hear about a dedication to their company, and this dedication should be found in your answer. “My goal is to move up within the organizational rankings and hopefully take on a management role with greater responsibilities.”
5. What Can You Tell Me About Yourself?
Most interview questions are designed to allow you the freedom to answer however you please, so that the interviewer can do their best to get to know your personality. But with this question, it is very important you show you are always learning, but stick to work related items. “After studying macroeconomics at the University of State, I have been steadily working to expand my knowledge of empirical forecasting models to apply them to global organizational growth.”
6. What is Your Expected Salary?
The best answers to any interview questions about salary are simply to respond with “I base my salary expectations off of the exact expectations of my role in the company. What is the salary range you are expecting?” Answering questions like this can only lead to further discussion about pay, which reflects negatively on the interview, and can cause you to overshoot or undershoot the company’s target salary. See if you can get the company to answer this question or make an offer first.
7. What Didn’t You Like About Your Previous Company/Manager/Etc.?
Every interview answer you provide should be positive, regardless of how awful a workplace or boss may have been. “I found all of my experiences with the company to be rewarding.” Answers such as “I didn’t feel they appreciated my skills” are simply not going to win over prospective employers, and should be avoided at all costs.
8. Describe Your Dream Job in Detail
Many interview questions and answers ask about specifics where the answer itself may not be best for your chances. You cannot reply with your dream job is the position you are applying for, because that will obviously be pandering for the position, but if you state a position that either is not available at the company or taken by someone qualified, you risk alienating those individuals. Instead, focus on the non-specific aspects of the job, such as “A career where I wake up excited to go to work and leave every night satisfied with the events of the day.”
9. What Would You Do if You Were Asked to Do Something That You Know Will Hurt the Company?
The answer to this interview question will vary depending on the position you are applying for. For lower level (entry level) roles, you will want to answer something like “I will first suggest to the manager an alternative option that I believe will be more successful, and my thoughts on the pros and cons of the request. Should the manager decide they would still like to go through with their plan, I will defer to their decision but also prepare additional options should that decision not pan out as expected.” If you are applying for a managerial role or one of greater leadership, an adequate answer would be “I would need to know about the context of the request to understand how it may help or hurt the company. Additional meetings may be required to discuss the details, and decide on appropriate actions. This is one of the toughest interview questions – to describe when you faced an ethical dilemma.
10. How Well Do You Handle Criticism?
Keep this answer brief. An adequate answer would be “I view all feedback as an opportunity to exchange thoughts on ways to improve processes, so I welcome it.”
Additional Interview Questions and Answers:
- Keep Answers to Loaded Questions Brief – If you are asked questions that could lead to inadequate answers, see if you can shorten these answers to a simple “Yes” or “No.” The only reason to elaborate on any answers is if specifically instructed or if you have something powerful to say.
- Feel Free and Suffer From Selective Memory – In the interests of remaining positive, if you are asked about negative experiences with bosses, coworkers, companies, etc., feel free and suffer temporary amnesia being “unable to recall” any specific examples.
- Practice Thoroughly – Preparing for interview questions and answers is not limited to coming up with ideas and ways to answer them. You should also practice answering them to the point where the answers roll of your tongue naturally. The more you rehearse, the easier it will be to answer the question when asked.
- Research the Company – Researching the company allows you to give specific examples to a number of common interview questions. Pointing to specific examples shows a commitment and genuine interest to the company, rather than simply applying for a job that appeared to meet your criteria.
- Focus on Your Achievements (if applicable) – At any time you can go back to specific examples of your achievements will help you with your interview. For example, if asked how you handle stress, you can point to a specific example of a stressful situation at a previous employer and describe the efforts you took to manage it.
By practicing these common interview questions and answers, you will gain the upper hand against those that went to their interview winging it. And if you supply answers like those provided above, you are sure to impress the potential employers and leave them with a positive impression.