Woman responds to interview questions

The Most Popular Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Are you in the market for a new job? If so, it’s time to brush up on your job interview skills as part of your interview preparation. While we don’t have a crystal ball to tell you the exact interview questions you’ll be asked, we can provide you with some of the most common interview questions that you can review, with some sample answers. 

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And be sure to check out the last section that offers some good questions for you to ask in an interview!

Common Job Interview Questions

You’ll get the most out of these tips by making it interactive—as you read the questions and answers here, begin to craft your own responses. Once you have them written down, make sure to also practice answering out loud. Doing so will help you walk into your job interview with a lot more confidence! (And a lot less sweat!)

“Tell me about yourself.”

Most people will say that the way to respond is a quick overview of your present, past and future formula, providing a glimpse of: 

  • Present: What you’re currently doing
  • Past: What you were doing
  • Future: What you’d like to do in the future.

But ZipRecruiter’s Co-founder and CEO has a hack for this answer. Because, as Ian says in his book, Get Hired Now!, there is a one sentence response that will supercharge any interview you’re in. The goal is to turn the conversation from yourself to your interviewer. 

This “magical sentence” has 3 parts:

  1. Say the interviewer’s name. 
  2. “I’m so excited to be here because…”
  3. Share something you love about the business and ask a question about it.

Saying your interviewer’s name will help them focus on you. Sharing something you know about the company will show that you did your research, and asking the question will get your interviewer talking—and the conversation is off to a great start!

Alex…I am so excited to be here because I love great customer service, and I have personally experienced great service here as a customer. Is that something you train or is it just the kind of person you hire?

“How did you hear about this position?”

Here is another question that might seem insignificant—but if it’s being asked, it matters. Every question is an opportunity to highlight who you are and why you’re the right fit for the job.

When  you answer this question you also have an opportunity to share why you’re so excited for the role. If you found your job on ZipRecruiter, let them know that they are using the right tools to find the right people.  If you came to know about the role through a referral, that’s a chance to name drop your connection to the company.

I heard about the position on ZipRecruiter and applied since it was a perfect match for my skills as a salesperson. Then I realized that a friend’s former coworker, Janice Johnson, works here, so I reached out to her to hear about her experience. Since I’m a fan of the type of work you all do in online sales, I thought it would be the perfect job opportunity for me to pursue.

“Why are you looking for a new position?”

Be careful on this one! Sure, interviewers ask this question to understand your reason for applying, but also to assess your honesty and integrity. Be honest and positive, and use it as a way to focus on expanding your opportunities to reach your career aspirations. DO NOT talk negatively about your current boss, co-workers, or company. The interviewer will assume that if you do it now, you’ll do it if you come aboard too.

It’s been a privilege to work with an award-winning creative team, and I’ve learned a lot about UX design in my current position. With that said, I’m interested in being with a firm where I can work with multiple clients vs. a single business. This position and organization would allow me to do that.

“Why should we hire you?”

Here’s where you solidify why you’re the perfect candidate to hire and why you’ll fit in perfectly at the company. Make sure the answer is specific to the company and the job. Tell them what about the company intrigues you and how you want to help when you join. It also helps to throw in some compliments about the company employees you’ve met over the course of the interview. 

Note: The following answer could also work for the question, “What are your greatest strengths?”

From my research as well as the people that I’ve met during the interview process, I could not be more excited. I am the type of person who thrives on collaboration and the company, so the company value of “teamwork with accountability” speaks directly to me. While I’ll be responsible for interacting with clients, I know that nothing I present would be possible without the full creative and strategy team behind me. Meeting Bill and Linda from each of those departments makes me even more eager to join because it seems like they have the same outlook on collaboration. Plus, I think I’d be the ringer on the company dodgeball team.”

“What are your salary expectations?”

Questions about salary often make people uncomfortable. They can also be difficult to answer. Employers ask the question because if you’re way out of their range, then there’s no need to move forward. Plus, if you are a top candidate, they want to be able to do their best to meet your expectations.

Still, if it’s early in the interview process, it’s appropriate to respond in a way that suggests you’d like to learn more about the responsibilities of the job before you share your salary expectations.

You can learn more about how to approach this topic here. And to get a sense of what average salaries are in your area, visit the ZipRecruiter Salaries page.

Note: Questions about salary are illegal and prohibited in some local areas and states.

Based on my current understanding of the position, I’m open to a base salary range of $80,000 to $90,000. That could change based on the overall compensation and benefits package and any additional information provided about the job. I’m open to discussing it further, as we continue the interview process and I learn more about the company.

“What part of this job will be most challenging for you?”

A question like this provides hiring managers and recruiters with insight into your qualifications, as well as how self-aware you are and how much thought you’ve truly given to the position. Be specific and use quantifiable examples that align with the job requirements. Also, when discussing challenges, always mention how you overcame them, or how you plan to address them.

Note: The following answer could also work for the question, “What is your greatest weakness?”

Earlier in my career I had trouble balancing multiple clients at a time, getting overwhelmed and not knowing how best to prioritize needs. I addressed this challenge by assessing my work responsibilities and tasks each morning, so I’m clear on my workload. It’s become an essential part of my morning routine, helping me prioritize my tasks and know who I will need to pull into my projects. I’ve also taken training courses on efficient and effective time management and forging successful and collaborative relationships with clients. Sticking to this process has helped me stay focused and organized while keeping my clients happy .

“How do you handle failure?”

Employers understand that, while you should always aim to succeed, failure happens. They want to know that you appreciate that, too.

I understand that failure is inevitable. When a perceived failure occurs, I first own up to it and then assess what the issues were. From there, I determine what solutions will help remedy the failure, if necessary, and proceed with them.

“Why are you interested in our company?”

Interviewers want to know that you’ve fully considered why you might want to work for their organization. Research the company in advance so you can honestly answer this question when it’s asked.

I’ve done a lot of research on this firm, including reading your mission statement and core values. Of course, as an accountant, there are a lot of numbers and budgets involved in the work we do, but the way that this firm picks its clients based on their environmental records—even turning away large revenue opportunities in order to do the right thing—is the type of place I want to be. Protecting the environment is a big part of the charity work I do outside of work, and the opportunity to work together with others who prioritize it would be an incredible opportunity.

Good Questions to Ask in an Interview

In almost all interviews, time permitting, the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions. The rule of thumb is to have two to three substantial questions to ask. If you don’t have any questions prepared, it could be a red flag for the interviewer. Some good questions to consider asking include:

  • When last did you promote somebody, and why?
  • Where do you see the company in five years?
  • What current initiatives are priorities for the company to achieve?
  • What do you enjoy about your position?
  • What do you like least about your job?
  • What is the office environment like at the location where I’d be working?
  • Do you have any concerns about our interview that would prevent you from hiring me?
  • When do you plan to make a hiring decision?

Interview Preparation is Key

Taking the time to craft responses to common interview questions ahead of time gets you one step closer to landing the job. Once you’re sitting in the room for your interview, you’ll be thankful you took the time to prepare, and the prospective employer will be, too.

Written by

Benny Spiewak is a Senior Content Strategist at ZipRecruiter. He writes about the latest news and trends in the job market.

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