Top 10: Common Interview Questions (and How To Answer Them)

The interview process can be a daunting task, but many job positions and academic offers require at least one interview. Some interviewers will ask a completely random question that defies all of your careful preparations, but there are some tried and true questions that continue to make an appearance in most interview sessions. Knowing these top ten questions and how to answer them can help you ace an important interview.


10. What kind of compensation are you seeking?

If you are lucky, you will have the salary information for the specific position before you reach the interview. If not, it is time for you to do some research. Try to find the local average salary and salary range for your job, and keep this information with you when you go to the interview. With many interviewers, your best bet is to turn the question around and ask about the range for someone with your level of experience. You can then use your research to ask questions and even negotiate a little if an offer is made.

9. What makes a job satisfying?

This question can test your commitment to your work, and it gives you an opportunity to display some genuine passion. If you work closely with clients, mentioning client satisfaction and client well-being is a good start. If you like working as part of a team, this is a very good answer. The best answer really depends on the position and your workplace interests.

8. Why are you leaving your previous position?

If you have a previous position, your interviewer might want to know why you no longer wish to work there. Do not start whining about the boss and coworkers, even if that is the reason you are leaving. You can mention that the company and position appealed to you. You might also say that you were looking for a challenge or a company with opportunities for growth. It is important to be positive about the new position without bashing your old job.

7. What are your goals?

The interviewer might ask about your long- and short-term professional goals. This is a good time to show that you have researched the organization and your intended position. Mention growing with the company and improving your position as you gain experience.

6. What is your ideal work environment?

This question is used to see if you are an ideal fit for the organization. You need to be honest about this question because a badly matched work environment will make you miserable. Not everyone is suited for a cubicle or a rowdy office full of constant distractions. If your work space is not a big deal to you, try not to be too vague. Being dismissive about any question in an interview can be a huge turn off for the interviewer.


5. What is a recent struggle you faced? How did you overcome it?

This question might sound like it is personal, but your answer should be about your professional life. The interviewer will use this question to determine your definition of a problem and assess your problem-solving skills. You need to pick a professional difficulty and give a thorough explanation of the problem. Once the problem has been outlined, detail the solution and how you arrived at that specific solution. Try to pick a problem that was not created by you. This is your opportunity to talk about breezing in to save the day.

4. Why did you apply to this position?

The company or school wants to make sure that you are not mindlessly filling out applications, and it is the interviewer’s job to make sure that you are actually interested in the organization. You need to do your research for this one. Talk about the mission of the organization and how it intersects with your own goals. Mention the ways in which your strengths and the organization’s strengths are related. It is important to emphasize that you are meaningful to the organization and the organization is meaningful to you.

3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Self-awareness is very important in the workplace, so the strengths and weaknesses you mention should be relevant to the workplace environment. When you are discussing your strengths, you need to convey your willingness to push a team forward. Things like excellent communication skills, patience, dedication to quality, attention to detail, and being a quick learner are all good strengths to have. Do not claim to have a strength that you do not actually have because this can haunt you in the future.

Being asked about your weaknesses is not an invitation to publicly flog yourself. You need to mention that you have weaknesses, but it is best if you can twist those weaknesses to seem like strengths. If your lack of experience is your weakness, mention your willingness and ability to learn. You can also mention how you have already improved on a weakness, such as a lack or organization.

2. Why should we hire/accept you?

Some companies and schools receive hundreds or applications for a single position, and this question is asking you to set yourself apart from all of the other applicants. This is the time to flaunt your past job experience and extra skills. This is also a good time to mention any relevant awards and recognition because those awards have already set you apart from the herd. Do not pretend to have skills that you do not actually possess.

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

This is not a question, but it is one of the most common things that an interviewer will say. It seems like a very broad request, so many applicants will stumble. The interviewer does not really want your full autobiography, so try to limit yourself to qualities that are relevant to the position. Things like your educational background, extra skills, and research interests are some of the things you should mention.