During job interviews, you’ll often be asked a number of questions that are meant to test your skills, abilities, and fit for the job and company. Here are 10 popular questions asked at job interviews and tips on how to answer them well:
- Tell me about yourself.
This question gives you a chance to give a short summary of your past, focusing on applicable skills and experiences. Start with a short introduction about yourself, then talk about your professional journey, focusing on your successes and key qualities for the job. Make sure your answer fits the job standards and the way the company works.
Example: “I am a focused marketing worker with five years of experience creating and running great digital marketing programs. I have a track record of using smart social media projects to raise company recognition and get customers more involved. I am very interested in using data-driven ideas to improve marketing strategies and get results that can be measured.
- What are your strengths?
Showcase your most important skills and how they fit with the job’s needs. Choose skills that are important to the job and show what makes you a unique option. Back up what you say with real examples or things you have done.
Example: “One of my biggest skills is that I can talk and work well with teams from different departments. I am very good at encouraging open conversation, creating a joint workplace, and using different points of view to get projects done well. For example, in my last job, I was in charge of a group of designers, coders, and content writers who worked together to start a new website. I made sure everything went smoothly and increased user interaction by 20% in the first month.
- What are your weaknesses?
When talking about flaws, focus on things that could be done better instead of things that directly affect the job. Choose a real weakness, but stress what you’re doing to fix it and show that you’re committed to learning and growing all the time.
Example: “I used to have trouble speaking in public, but I knew it was important for my job, so I actively looked for ways to get better. I joined a public speaking club and signed up for classes on how to give speeches. Through constant practice and exposure, I’ve greatly improved my public speaking skills, and I’m now positive that I can give talks that people will enjoy.
- Why are you interested in this company/role?
Show that you really want to work for the company and that you understand how the job fits with your business goals. Talk about certain parts of the company, like its purpose, culture, beliefs, or image, and explain how they match up with your goals.
Example: “I’m really excited about the chance to work for this company because of how committed they are to innovation and sustainability. I’ve been following the company’s progress in making goods that are better for the earth, and I’m impressed by how hard it works to make a difference. The job is a great fit for my interest in sustainability, and I’m excited to use my skills and knowledge to help move the company’s sustainability efforts forward.
- Describe a challenging situation you faced and how you overcame it.
Structure your answer using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Start by explaining the difficult situation or problem, then talk about the jobs you had to do, describe what you did to solve the problem, and end with the good results you got.
Example: “When I was a project manager before, I had to deal with a case where a key team member left the project without warning just a few weeks before a very important date. To deal with this problem, I quickly figured out how much work was left and moved jobs around so that the project wouldn’t move along too slowly. I also talked to other groups in the company and got more tools to help with the project. We met the goal and went above and beyond what the client expected thanks to good communication, strategic planning, and teamwork. As a result, customer happiness went up by 20%.
- Why did you quit the work you had before? (Or: Why do you want a new job?)
Be honest and diplomatic when describing why you quit a job or are looking for something new. Focus on the good things, like how your job is growing, how you’re taking on new tasks, or how it fits with your long-term goals. Don’t say bad things about your former boss or coworkers.
Example: “I enjoyed my last job, and I’m thankful for the chances it gave me. But at this point in my work, I’m looking for new tasks and ways to grow as a professional. I’m especially interested in joining a company that values innovation and has a fast-paced work setting, which fits with my job goals.”
- How do you handle pressure or tight deadlines?
Show that you can work under pressure and meet goals by giving examples of how you have handled tough situations in the past and done well. Talk about how you stay organized, decide which jobs are most important, and stay calm and focused.
Example: “I thrive in fast-paced settings and am used to working under tight limits. To deal with pressure well, I put the most important and time-sensitive chores at the top of my list. I break big projects down into smaller, more doable jobs, set realistic deadlines, and talk to the team ahead of time to make sure everyone is on the same page. I also take care of myself with things like daily exercise and awareness to keep a good mix between work and life, which helps me do well under pressure.
- Describe a time when you demonstrated leadership skills.
Choose an example that shows your leadership skills, such as leading a team, organizing a project, or getting other people to do what you want them to do. Show what you did, what problems you had to deal with, and what good things happened because of your guidance.
Example: “When I was a team leader before, I had the chance to handle the launch of a big project. To make sure it was a success, I led a cross-functional team, making sure everyone knew their jobs and tasks and making it easy for people to talk to each other. I helped the team work together and use each person’s skills, giving advice and help when required. By putting together a team that worked well together and was driven, we were able to launch the product smoothly, which led to a 15% increase in sales and good comments from customers.
- How do you handle conflict or difficult situations?
Show that you can deal with disagreements or tough situations in a professional and helpful way. Focus on how well you can communicate and solve problems, as well as how well you can keep your cool.
Example: “When I’m in a disagreement or a tough situation, I put open and honest conversation at the top of my list. I try to see things from different points of view and listen to everyone engaged. I think it’s important to find areas of agreement and work toward an answer that works for everyone. For example, on a project I worked on before, team members didn’t agree on the best way to do things. I ran a meeting where everyone on the team could share their ideas and worries. We were able to come to an agreement and move the project forward because we listened carefully, talked respectfully, and worked together.
- What are your long-term career goals?
Talking about your long-term job goals will show how ambitious you are and how much you want to grow professionally. Align your goals with the growth possibilities in your business and at your company.
Example: “In the long run, I want to take on more leading roles and make a big difference in the area of business. I’m really interested in new developments in digital marketing and data analytics, and I want to learn more about them. I’m excited about the chance to work with a trainer and keep learning in this company, which I think will help me reach my job goals.
Remember that the best way to answer interview questions is to be ready, to give specific examples or accomplishments to back up your answers, and to tailor your answers to the company’s needs and culture. Practice your answers, keep a positive attitude, and show how excited you are about the chance.
How do I prepare for a job interview?