The job interview process can seem grueling, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right preparation, attitude and knowledge, you can feel confident and ready for any job interview that comes your way.
This job interview guide will provide the advice and examples you need to maximize your chances of job interview success. From researching the company and its culture to preparing answers to common questions and compiling a list of questions to ask, you’ll find all the information you need to make a great impression and land the job.
- Common interview questions and answers.
- Questions to ask in an interview.
- How to prepare for an interview.
- Various interview formats.
- Job interview tips.
10 Common job interview questions with answers
Finding the right job can be a challenge but preparing for a job interview can feel even more daunting. To help you get ready for your upcoming job interview, we’ve compiled a list of the top interview questions with example answers for each one.
Tell me about yourself
This is not a question so much as a way to get an overall sense of who you are. It allows hiring managers to hear your professional story in your own words, as well as gain insights into your job qualifications and personality. Hiring managers often assess your verbal communication skills and self-confidence when they ask this question.
To answer this interview question, briefly introduce yourself and what brings you to the interview. Then, provide a brief overview of your professional work history, your key academic or job accomplishments, and the skills you have that make you a great candidate for the position.
A great way to distinguish yourself from other candidates is to mention job-relevant hobbies and interests that show your personality and add depth to your job qualifications.
Most importantly, finish your response with a question for the interviewer about the position or the company. This will show the interviewer that you are interested and engaged in the conversation.
Here’s an example answer:
“I am a self-motivated professional with five years of experience in accounting. I’m highly skilled in budget administration and forecasting and possess excellent negotiation and organizational skills, which have helped me save money for my previous company. For example, last year I reduced company expenses by 10% by improving internal processes and negotiating better supplier terms.”
What are your greatest strengths?
Hiring managers are likely to ask this interview question to gain a better understanding of your relevant abilities and skills. This question reveals your hard and soft skills, confidence, enthusiasm and motivation.
Use storytelling techniques to briefly tell the hiring manager how you have used your strengths to make a positive impact on previous employers.
Here’s an example answer:
“My greatest strengths are my ability to think and work independently and my willingness to take initiative. I am comfortable working with a team, and I am highly motivated to go above and beyond to achieve the desired results. I have a track record of consistently contributing to every organization I have been part of, demonstrated by my numerous awards and recognition. As a software engineer, I am also a creative problem-solver, and I am always looking for innovative solutions. Overall, I always strive for excellence, and I am confident that I can bring the same level of success to any new project.”
What are your greatest weaknesses?
Hiring managers might ask the question “What are your greatest weaknesses” in a job interview to gain insight into your self-awareness, honesty and capacity for self-improvement.
In your response, emphasize that you have been working on improving the weakness and highlight your positive attributes.
Here’s an example answer:
“My greatest weaknesses are my tendency to be overly critical of my work, as well as my difficulty in delegating tasks. I often spend more time than necessary refining details and ensuring accuracy in my work, and I can become overwhelmed if I’m not able to adequately delegate tasks to others. Despite these weaknesses, I have been able to achieve great results in my past roles as a benefits administrator by making sure I’m organized and working within the limits of the resources available to me. I’ve developed a knack for staying focused and organized under pressure, and have been able to use this skill to meet tight deadlines and exceed expectations.”
Why should we hire you?
Hiring managers ask the question “Why should we hire you?” in interviews to gain insight into your goals, self-perception and qualifications. By asking this question, hiring managers can evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, determine if you are a good fit for the job, and gauge your enthusiasm for the role.
Here’s an example answer:
“Over the last eight years, I’ve worked my way up from dishwasher to line cook in fast-food restaurants, diners and family chain restaurants. In that time, I have honed the ability to focus while adapting quickly, paying attention to safety and cleanliness, and working with others in a fast-paced environment. I’m adept at preparing meats, fish and vegetables, I can plate meals quickly, and I can cook an array of dishes, including burritos, hamburgers, steak dinners, pasta, pizza and grilled sandwiches. I prioritize safety and cleanliness and am OSHA Safety certified. I can multitask efficiently and delegate when necessary, but I am the first to help other staff when needed. I just completed my Certified Kitchen Cook (CKC) certificate, and I would be honored to learn new techniques from a master chef such as yourself.”
Why do you want to work here?
“Why do you want to work here?” is another way of saying “What attracted you to this company?” Hiring managers often ask this interview question to understand your motivations and level of commitment to the job. They want to know if you are truly passionate about the position and the company and this question helps them see if you know and fit with the company’s values and culture.
Here’s an example of a good answer to this job interview question:
“I want to work here because I have a passion for teaching and I believe this school aligns with my values and teaching philosophy. I am excited about the opportunity to positively impact students’ lives and contribute to a supportive and collaborative learning environment. I am also impressed by the school’s reputation for academic excellence and the dedication of the staff and administration to improving and continuously innovating education. I am confident that this school will provide me with the resources and support I need to excel as a teacher and help students reach their full potential. I am eager to join this team and contribute my skills, knowledge and enthusiasm to help students grow and succeed.”
What are your salary expectations?
This interview question is usually asked early in the interview process, often during phone screen job interviews. The biggest reason potential employers ask about salary expectations is to determine if your expectations match the salary range for the position.
Sometimes, potential employers ask this question to gauge your motivation for the job. If you ask for a lower salary than expected for the position, it could indicate that you are very interested in the job or are not confident in your abilities.
Here’s a sample of an acceptable answer from a job seeker interviewing for a customer service position:
“My salary expectations for a registered nurse job would depend on the specific responsibilities and requirements of the role, as well as the company’s compensation and benefits package. However, I am seeking a fair and competitive salary that reflects my skills, experience and the value I can bring to the company. I am open to discussing salary expectations further during the interview process.”
What is your greatest professional achievement?
Hiring managers might ask this job interview question to get a better understanding of your skills, motivation, problem-solving abilities and communication skills, which are all important factors in determining their fit for the job.
To answer this interview question confidently, share an example of an accomplishment that relates closely to the job. Be specific and use details to illuminate your reply.
Here’s an example of how a sales manager might answer this question in an interview.
“One of my greatest professional achievements was successfully leading a team of 10 individuals in a project that resulted in a 20% increase in sales for my company. I was able to effectively delegate tasks, motivate team members and make strategic decisions that ultimately led to the project’s success. It was a challenging yet rewarding experience that showcased my leadership skills and ability to drive results.
Tell me about a time when you overcame a challenge.
There are several reasons why potential employers might ask this question in a job interview. They might want to assess your problem-solving skills and get a sense of your resilience and adaptability, or they could be looking for potential red flags. For example, if you have trouble answering this question, it might mean that you don’t have concrete experience overcoming challenges in the workplace or lack problem-solving skills.
Think back to a time when you had to overcome something at work; be specific and explain in detail the steps you took to get through the challenge. Wrap it up by highlighting the positive impact you made from getting through it.
“During my time as a project manager, I faced a challenging situation when one of our key team members unexpectedly resigned a week before a major project deadline. This team member was responsible for a crucial project component and their departure left us in a difficult position. I knew that I had to act quickly to ensure the project’s success. Without hesitation, I jumped into action and reassigned tasks among the remaining team members. I also reached out to my professional network and was able to bring in a skilled contractor to fill the gap. Through effective communication and delegation, we were able to complete the project on time and with high quality. This experience taught me the importance of adaptability and resourcefulness in overcoming challenges and reinforced my belief in the power of teamwork.”
If you have no work experience, then think of a challenge you overcame in school or in a volunteer position.
How do you handle stress and pressure?
Stress and pressure are inevitable in any job, and the hiring manager wants to understand how well you deal with them. This question helps the manager gauge your resilience, coping mechanisms, problem-solving skills and ability to perform under pressure.
A great way to answer this question might be:
“I handle stress and pressure by utilizing a combination of time management, communication and self-care techniques. First, I prioritize my tasks and create a realistic schedule to ensure I can meet deadlines without feeling overwhelmed. I also make sure to communicate openly with my team and superiors to keep everyone informed of my progress and any potential challenges. Additionally, I take breaks and engage in activities such as exercise, meditation, or spending time with loved ones to maintain a healthy work-life balance. By implementing these strategies, I have been able to successfully navigate high-pressure situations in previous backend developer roles and remain productive and focused.”
What kind of work environment do you prefer?
Hiring managers ask this interview question to gain insight into your personality, working style, and potential cultural fit within the company. It also allows them to make a more informed decision when selecting the best candidate for the job. Prepare to answer this question by thoroughly researching the company and the team dynamic and tailor your answer to your findings.
Here’s an example of how a graphic designer might answer this question:
“I thrive in a collaborative and dynamic work environment where I can work closely with a team and bounce ideas off one another. I value open communication and a supportive atmosphere where everyone’s ideas are valued and respected. I also enjoy a fast-paced and challenging environment that allows me to continuously learn and grow. I can adapt well to different work environments, but I find that I am most productive and motivated when I am surrounded by positive energy and a strong sense of teamwork.”
10 Questions to ask in a job interview
During a job interview, the hiring manager will ask you various questions to get an in-depth understanding of your qualifications, experience and fit for the position. However, they will likely expect you to be prepared with questions for them. Asking thoughtful and relevant questions in an interview demonstrates your interest in the company and the role and lets you gather important information about the job and the company culture.
The following 10 examples of good interview questions to ask should help you get started on the right foot.
- What are the top priorities in the first few months for this position?
This question gives you a better understanding of the expectations and responsibilities of the role. It also shows the interviewer that you are proactive and eager to contribute to the company’s success from day one.
- Can you tell me more about the company culture?
Ask this interview question to assess whether you will fit in with the company’s values and working style. It also gives the interviewer the opportunity to highlight the company’s values and what they look for in their employees.
- How does the company support and invest in employee development and growth?
This question shows that you want to advance your skills and career within the company. It also gives you an idea of the opportunities available for professional development and advancement within the company.
- Can you walk me through the company’s goals and how this role contributes to them?
This job interview question shows that you are interested in the bigger picture and how your role fits into the company’s overall objectives. It also gives you an idea of the company’s priorities and what they are looking to achieve in the near future. This knowledge can help you tailor your answers and highlight your skills and experiences that align with the company’s goals.
- How do you measure success in this role?
Knowing how success is measured for the role gives you a clear understanding of what will be expected of you and how your performance will be evaluated. It also helps them set realistic goals and expectations for themselves.
- Can you walk me through the typical day-to-day responsibilities of this position?
Ask this interview question to gauge the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of the job, and get a better idea of what the role entails and if it is a good fit for you. Doing so shows the manager you’re serious about the position.
- How does this role fit into the overall goals of the company?
Understanding how the role fits into the overall goals of the company demonstrates your interest in the bigger picture and how your work will contribute to the company’s success.
- What are the biggest challenges facing the company/department/team currently?
Knowing the specific challenges facing the company or team helps you see if you have the skills and experience to handle them and if they are up for the task. This interview question also gives hiring managers the chance to elaborate on their expectations for the role.
- Can you provide more information about the career growth and development opportunities within the company?
Asking about career growth and development opportunities conveys your interest in long-term growth within the company and displays serious interest in the job. It also allows hiring managers to discuss potential advancement opportunities in depth.
- Can you tell me about a recent project or achievement the team has accomplished?
This is an excellent interview question to ask a hiring manager because it gives you an idea of how you could use your skills to make an impact if you were
How to prepare for a job interview
A job interview can be a daunting experience because it is the deciding factor in whether or not one will secure a desired position. It is a crucial opportunity to showcase your skills, experience and personality to potential employers, so you’ve got to be prepared if you want to stand out.
Don’t worry! You’ve got this! Preparing for an interview isn’t complicated. Use our guidance and sample interview questions to increase your chances of success and make a positive impression during your next job interview.
Follow our interview preparation steps and be ready to ace the interview.
- Research the company. Before going into an interview, it is important to have a good understanding of the company you are applying to. This includes their mission, values, products or services, and any recent news or developments. This will not only show that you are genuinely interested in the company, but it will also help you tailor your answers to align with their values and goals.
- Review the job description. Make sure you thoroughly review the job description and understand the key responsibilities and qualifications required for the role. This will help you anticipate the type of questions that may be asked and prepare your answers accordingly.
- Review your job history or relevant experience. Study your resume thoroughly and think about highlights from your past employers. Write down specific achievements that pertain to the job you’re interviewing for and align them to the job requirements and company culture.
- Practice answering common interview questions. It is always a good idea to practice answering common interview questions beforehand. This will help you feel more confident and prepared during the actual interview. You can search online for common interview questions or ask a friend or family member to conduct a mock interview.
- Write down some great interview questions for your interviewers. Asking questions shows your interest and engagement in the position and allows you to gather more information about the company and the role. Some great interview questions to ask could include inquiring about the company culture, and asking about the specific responsibilities and expectations of the role.
Job interview formats
You might be familiar with phone, video and in-person job interviews but did you know there are several different job interview formats? Let’s look closely at some of the most common job interview formats and review strategies for succeeding in each one.
This type of job interview is conducted over the phone and is usually used as a first step in the hiring process. It allows the interviewer to screen candidates before inviting them for an in-person interview.
Strategies for a successful phone interview:
- Find a quiet and distraction-free place to take the call.
- Have a copy of your resume and job description in front of you for reference.
- Speak clearly and confidently.
- Use a friendly and professional tone.
- Avoid rambling and keep your answers concise.
The video job interview format is a type of job interview where the interviewer and the interviewee interact through a video call instead of meeting in person, but sometimes a video interview might be a step before a face-to-face interview. Video interviews have seen a rise in popularity in recent years due to advancements in technology and the rise of remote work.
Strategies for a successful video job interview:
- Prepare and practice beforehand, including researching the company and potential questions.
- The setup is important for a video interview. Create a professional and well-lit background.
- Test your technology and internet connection beforehand.
- Dress professionally as you would for an in-person interview.
- Maintain good eye contact and proper body language.
- Minimize distractions and background noise.
Traditional face-to-face interviews
This is the most common interview format where you meet with one or more interviewers from the same or different departments and levels, one-on-one in person. It usually takes place in a formal setting, such as an office or conference room.
Strategies for a successful face-to-face interview:
- Research the company and the position beforehand to have a better understanding of what they are looking for.
- Dress professionally and arrive on time.
- Make eye contact and maintain good body language.
- Listen carefully and answer questions concisely.
- Be prepared to talk about your strengths, weaknesses and relevant experiences.
This format involves a group of three or more interviewers asking you questions simultaneously. The panel may consist of individuals from different departments or levels within the company.
Strategies for a successful panel interview:
- Research the backgrounds of the panel members to understand their roles and potential questions they may ask.
- Greet each panel member individually and make eye contact with all of them during the interview.
- Address each panel member by name when responding to their questions.
- Speak clearly and confidently.
- Be concise and avoid rambling.
This job interview format focuses on your past experiences and behaviors to assess your potential for success in the role you are interviewing for. The behavioral interview format is based on the belief that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Here are three types of behavioral interview formats:
Strategies for a successful behavioral interview:
- Research common behavioral interview questions and write down specific examples from your past experiences that demonstrate your relevant skills and abilities.
- Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) when structuring your answers to ensure you respond clearly, accurately and concisely.
- Review the job description to identify the key competencies the potential employer wants and tailor your examples accordingly.
- Be specific about your achievements and provide concrete details, such as numbers, to support your answers.
In this format, interviewers will ask you questions about specific skills or behaviors required for the job. These skills will depend on the job and industry and might include teamwork, communication, leadership, problem-solving, adaptability and time management. The interviewer will ask you to provide concrete examples of how you have demonstrated these competencies in previous roles.
Strategies for a successful competency-based interview:
- Research the job requirements thoroughly and match your skills. Prepare specific examples from different areas of your life, such as work, school, or volunteer experiences, that demonstrate your competencies.
- Use news articles, the company website and social media profiles company website to understand the company’s values and culture and how you fit in.
- Use the STAR method to structure your responses and highlight your job-relevant strengths and experiences.
Case interviews are commonly used in consulting and business-related roles. In this format, the interviewer will present a business problem or scenario and ask you to analyze and provide solutions. Your interviewer will expect you to ask clarifying questions and walk through your thought process while developing a solution. Your interviewer will look for your analytical and problem-solving skills as well as your ability to think critically and creatively on the spot.
Strategies for a successful case interview:
- Practice solving case studies beforehand to get familiar with the format and build confidence.
- Stay calm, organized and focused.
- Take your time to understand the problem, ask clarifying questions, and think out loud as you work through the case.
- Communicate your thought process clearly and logically to the interviewer.
- Be open to different solutions and be ready to adapt if the interviewer challenges your approach.
In a presentation job interview, potential employers will ask you to prepare and present on a specific topic related to the job. This format is often used for roles that require strong communication and presentation skills. A Q&A session with the interviewer usually follows the presentation.
Strategies for a successful presentation interview:
- Thoroughly research the topic and the company, and tailor your presentation accordingly.
- Use visual aids, such as slides or handouts, to make your presentation more engaging.
- Practice your presentation with friends or family and ask for their feedback.
- Mind your body language, tone and pace.
- Maintain eye contact and use a confident and engaging tone.
- Dress professionally and adopt an engaging yet professional demeanor.
- Prepare for possible questions and practice answering them before the job interview.
- Bring notes for answering questions.
10 Tips to ace a job interview
- Research the company.
Start by researching the company you are interviewing with. This will help you understand their values, mission, and recent news or updates. You can find this information on the company’s website, social media platforms and news articles.
- Review the job description.
Read the job description carefully and make a list of the skills and qualifications required for the job. This will give you an idea of what the interviewer is looking for and help you tailor your answers accordingly.
- Practice common interview questions.
Prepare for common interview questions such as “Tell me about yourself” and “Why should we hire you?” You can find a list of common interview questions online and practice answering them with a friend or in front of a mirror.
- Prepare your answers.
Based on your research and the job description, prepare specific examples and anecdotes that showcase your job-relevant skills and experience. This will help you give thoughtful and detailed answers during the interview.
- Dress professionally.
Make sure to dress appropriately for the interview. This shows that you take the interview seriously and are professional. If you are unsure about the dress code, it is better to be overdressed than underdressed.
- Practice good body language.
During in-person or video interviews, make sure to maintain good eye contact, sit up straight and use appropriate hand gestures. This will convey confidence and professionalism.
- Use the STAR method.
The STAR method is a time-proven way to answer job interview questions. It structures your answers to ensure you’re highlighting job-relevant skills and showcasing how you used them. It’s particularly effective with behavioral interview questions, but you can use it for most types of job interviews.
- Prepare questions to ask.
At the end of the interview, the interviewer will likely ask if you have any questions. Prepare a few questions beforehand to show your interest in the company and the position.
- Stay calm and positive.
On the day of the interview, try to stay calm and positive. Take deep breaths and remind yourself of your qualifications and preparation. A positive attitude can convey confidence and make a good impression on the interviewer.
- Look your interviewer in the eyes.
Looking your interviewer in the eyes is crucial for building rapport with them. Not only that, it shows confidence and professionalism, demonstrates active listening, and conveys honesty.
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Job interview guide key takeaways:
Let’s review what you’ve learned from this job interview guide.
- Prepare for a job interview by practicing your answers to some of the most common interview questions, behavioral interview questions, and job-specific questions.
- Research the company thoroughly before going to the interview.
- The STAR method is a tried and trusted approach to answering most job interview questions.
- Always dress professionally for an interview.
- Confidence goes a long way in a job interview.
- Arrive early, not on time; but don’t arrive too early–it could backfire. Being 10 to 15 minutes early is appropriate.
Job interview guide FAQ
What should I wear to a job interview?
When you have a job interview, it’s not enough to prepare for answering interview questions. To make a great first impression, you have to dress the part. The key is to dress professionally, comfortably and in a way that aligns with the company culture. Remember, your appearance reflects your professionalism and can play a role in the interviewer’s perception of you.
How early should I arrive for a job interview?
We recommend that you arrive at least 10-15 minutes early for a job interview. This will give you enough time to check in, gather your thoughts and prepare yourself before the interview. Arriving early also shows that you are punctual and responsible, which are important qualities for any job. However, it is important not to arrive too early as it may inconvenience the interviewer or give the impression that you are overly anxious. It is best to plan your arrival time carefully and aim to be at the location a few minutes before the scheduled interview time.
What kind of questions should I expect during a job interview?
During a job interview, you can expect various questions that will help the interviewer get to know you and evaluate your qualifications for the position. These questions may range from general inquiries about your work experience and skills to more specific questions about your previous job responsibilities and how you handle certain situations. It is also common to be asked behavioral or situational questions that require you to provide examples of how you have handled past situations or solved problems.
What should I avoid in a job interview?
In a job interview, it is important to avoid certain behaviors or actions that may negatively impact your chances of getting the job.
- Avoid being late or arriving unprepared for the interview. This can give the impression that you are not responsible or take the opportunity seriously.
- Don’t talk negatively about previous employers or experiences, as this can poorly reflect your character and attitude.
- Avoid being overly casual or informal in your language and behavior, as this may be unprofessional.
- Don’t ask about salary or benefits too early in the interview process, as this can give the impression that you are only interested in the job for financial gain.
What should I bring to a job interview?
There are a few essential items you should never forget to be fully prepared for a job interview.
- A printed copy of your resume and cover letter.
- A notepad and pen to take notes during the interview.
- A portfolio or examples of your work if you have them.
- Any necessary identification or paperwork requested by the employer.
- Confidence and a positive attitude.
How can I make a good first impression during a job interview?
To make a good first impression in a job interview:
- Dress professionally, arrive early and maintain a positive attitude.
- Research the company and the position beforehand.
- Prepare answers to common interview questions.
- Maintain eye contact, speak confidently and show enthusiasm for the job.
- Listen actively, ask relevant questions, and highlight your job-relevant skills and experiences.
What are the best interview questions to ask a hiring manager in a job interview?
The best interview questions to ask in a job interview demonstrate your interest in the company and the role while also allowing you to gain a deeper understanding of the expectations and culture of the organization.
Some examples of effective questions to ask include inquiring about the company’s goals and priorities, asking about the team’s management style and communication methods, and seeking clarification on the responsibilities and challenges of the position. Additionally, asking about the company’s growth opportunities and future plans can show your long-term interest in the role.
How we reviewed this article
Since 2013, we have helped more than 15 million job seekers. We want to make your career journey accessible and manageable through our services and Career Center’s how-to guides and tips. In our commitment to bring you a transparent process, we present our Editorial Process.
- HR Magazine. Blog. Sulimko, Aleksandra. The Evolution of the Interview
- SHRM. Article. Yate, Martin. How to Crush Your Next Job Interview
- University of Toledo. Research paper. Prickett, Tricia. The Importance of First Impressions in a Job Interview