Job Interview Guide
Looking to ace your next job interview? This guide will help you prepare for various types of job interviews, review common interview questions, and learn essential interview techniques.
Job Interview Guide

Common Interview Questions and Answers

Depending on the job, the position, the industry and individuals interviewing, there are a myriad of questions that a recruiter or hiring manager may ask.  A company not only wants to know whether you are technically qualified to do the job but also whether you will be a good fit for the organization - or with their customers.  There is no way to consider every possible question, but preparing for basic questions will provide you with the confidence and language to use during the interview process.  Make sure that you have read the job description thoroughly and that you are able to match your background against their key requirements.  Practicing the STAR (Situation; Task; Action; Result) method will help you organize your answers and provide the right amount of information.  Think about different situations where you have been successful,  experienced conflict, or worked under pressure, and prepare a story that uses the four components of the STAR response.  By preparing in advance, you will feel more confident when responding to various questions.

More importantly, be prepared to share information that will supplement some of your answers.  Know your numbers; how much revenue you may have generated; how many calls you may have answered; what percentage of sales you contributed - details that have added value to your current or recent job.

A few examples of basic questions and answers include:

1. Tell me why you are interested in this position?

Always respond by showing enthusiasm not only in the company but in the specific job.  Connect your answer to your career agenda; explain why this position is in the line of work that you sincerely enjoy.
I am really excited about this marketing position because I believe it offers the perfect balance of strategic thinking and hands on execution allowing me to contribute to the bottom line and leverage my past experience and make an impact on the company’s success.

I would be really proud to work at (company) and am motivated by the growth and opportunity this particular position has to offer. 

I conducted considerable research before applying for this job, and everything I have read suggests that (Company) will be a great place to work, and where I can make a contribution.  I appreciate your workplace values which align with my own values.  I believe I will be able to collaborate on challenging projects with forward-thinking colleagues.

After researching the company, let the recruiter know the specific responsibilities of the position in which you have a special interest.  Explain why this industry is important to you, and tell them what you like about their company.  If the interview is with the prospective supervisor, an answer might also include:

I would like to work on your team because you have a great reputation and are held in high regard.

2. Why do you believe you are a good fit for this position?

I am a good fit for this position because I have the experience and skills that align perfectly with the requirements of this role.  This isn’t just another job for me but a chance to take my career to the next level and add value to a team that I’m excited to join.

I am a great fit because you are looking for someone with experience in (…) and I offer over (#) years-experience of demonstrated experience in (…) and have delivered amazing results, leading teams and increasing sales.

What makes me uniquely different is my focus on the bottom line, while always looking for new and creative ways to attract new business.

3. What motivates you?

Answering this question properly will show the interviewer that you are qualified to do the  job and that you really enjoy working in this line of work.  Your answer will provide the recruiter with more insight about your potential fit within the organization, and will demonstrate why you are motivated to be successful.   Other similar questions include:  What inspires you?  What excites you about your job?  What makes you want to go to work every day?

Your answers might involve a few of the following ideas:

  • Working with colleagues in a team environment
  • Working independently
  • Leading a team
  • Supervising or training others
  • Creating new processes
  • Achieving goals and deadlines

As with any question, tailor your answer to the job you are seeking, by reviewing the job description in advance.  Decide which responsibilities inspire you to seek this particular job.  Include your strengths and share some specific examples from your current, or previous position.  For example, a Project Manager might answer:

I am a highly organized and a very punctual individual.  I love to strategize projects, manage through the process and deliver on time and under budget. 

For someone who is in the business of Customer Support, an answer might be:

I have always enjoyed working with people, and have discovered that responding to customers’ requests and needs is my strong suit.  I have worked in several positions where my customer relations has been rewarding to both me and the company where I work.  I love it when customers provide positive feedback, and that motivates me to continue to work in this field.

A successful Team Leader may include:

I have had tremendous success leading teams on various projects.  We have, together, achieved our goals 100% during the past year.  I am motivated by the challenge of taking on complex projects, and successfully managing teams to attain the goals established by the division. 

These are just a few examples of ways to create a response to the question about motivation.  A clear and energetic response will demonstrate that you not only have the skills to do the job, but look forward to joining a team of like-minded colleagues.   Think of the things you love to do, and respond accordingly.

4. Tell me about yourself?

The response to this question is exactly the same as an “Elevator Pitch”.  Answering this question is very important and sets the tone for the whole interview.  There is a formula to follow:  tell them who you are; where you have been/what you do; and why you are here/what you want.  This response should be brief -  30-60 seconds - no longer than two minutes, and you should practice variations of this answer in advance.  Some examples include:

Hi, Nice to meet you.  I’m (Name) and I am currently a (Title/Company) and am passionate about my industry (technology; marketing; human resources; sales; banking; server, etc.).  I am an expert at building business for my organization through multiple markets globally.  I am really excited to learn more about this position because I’m looking to advance my career at a company like (Company name).

Absolutely!  Hi, my name is (Name), I’ve been in the (Industry) field for over 10 years.  In my experience I have worked with (List names of Companies) creating communications plans and strategic initiatives as well as working with stake holders.  I’m in a place in my career where I feel ready for the next challenge.  I’m hoping to bring the skills that I acquired throughout my experience to this organization.  (Then, be silent)

I spent the last eight years developing my skills as (xyz) manager where I have won several performance awards and was promoted twice.  I love managing and working with people.  I ended up with a 90% satisfaction rate from my team.  Although I love my current role, I am ready for a more challenging assignment.  This position really excites me, and I can’t wait to learn more.

When considering your response to this important question, try to pick your top 3 qualifications, and summarize those items in a minute or less.  Also, choose one specific task or requirement in this job that excites you.  For example,

What I really love is social media marketing, and have had a chance to develop social media strategies in my current position.  And this is why this role looks like a perfect fit because it will allow me to expand more on my skill set in this area.

Do not restate your resume when responding to this question.  The recruiter has already seen your resume.  Briefly restate what you do; what you have accomplished (include metrics); and tie your experience to the current role.

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

It is never a good idea to dwell on any negative aspects of your career history; however, you should provide an answer that satisfies the question.  Everyone has an area in which they would like to improve. An example about weaknesses might include:

I used to struggle with saying “No” to people, which meant that I sometimes took on too much work.  As I have become aware of this, I have taken steps to manage my time and assess each request before adding to my workload.  As a result, I am able to complete projects on time and avoid too much additional stress.

Your strengths might derive from skills such as communication, leadership, project management or customer service.

Some of my strengths include consistency, my ability to listen and a concern for others.  I arrive early every day and make an effort to do my job at the highest level.  I listen to my customers and am therefore able to address their needs.

6. Where do you see yourself in five years?

If you have a specific career agenda, such as partnership, degree, management role, you can respond to this question honestly and relay your ambitions.  Otherwise, you can speak about your long term goals in general.  Being too specific without really know what future opportunities exist, may eliminate you as a candidate.  Consider the following responses:

Although I am not specifically sure where I will be in five years, I am deeply passionate about my job (function of the job) and enjoy learning and developing new skills. I see an amazing opportunity for me to grow and achieve success here working in (…..) where I can bring my skills and experience and add value to the team.

While I cannot be certain where I will be in five years, I am flexible; I have an open mind, and have specific goals and ambitions to learn and grow with an organization.  I am passionate about (projects) and love working on all aspects of an assignment,  from inception to delivery.  Five years from now I would love to be leading a team and take on more projects that will make a difference to the organization.

In five years I hope to assumed additional responsibilities and made a meaningful impact in my field.  I am dedicated to personal and professional growth and hope to find a role that allows me to continue learning, developing my skills and making a positive contribution to my organization.

7. Why should we hire you?

Recruiters asking this question usually want to know how qualified you are for the position, while assessing your personality.  They want to see you sell yourself.

Assuming that you have all the skills and qualifications that match the job description, you should answer this question restating that information.  However, you should add your passion and motivation to join a new organization and how you would love to continue working in your field or industry.  This question can be answered in a number of different ways, so preparing a response in advance will be of benefit.  You can always restate the elements of your resume and explain how your experience makes you an excellent fit for the organization.  Make an effort to support any information you share with examples or achievements.

Because of my excellent sales skills, I have been able to improve on our sales results in the past year by 20%.  I believe this ability will easily transition into this new role.

One of my strengths that sets me apart from other managers is that I am a great team player.  I have been very successful in motivating teams of 10-12 individuals to complete various projects on time and under budget, without conflict or disruption.

For the candidate with less experience for the job in question, discussing other attributes that would be desirable to the recruiter will gain attention.

While I may not have extensive experience in this particular field, I have a high level of enthusiasm, dedication and loyalty that will add value to the organization.  I have always wanted to work in this industry and received my degree in (degree).  I am a fast learner and believe I can apply the skills I acquired (in college, prior jobs), to the new organization and will quickly meet the responsibilities of this role.

8. Can you describe your most successful project? Least successful project?

This is considered a standard Behavioral question, and all candidates should be ready with stories that talk “about a time when…” certain things may have happened during their career history - both positive and negative.  You should always be able to discuss your most successful and least successful projects or work experiences.  Sharing this information will tell the recruiter about your leadership skills, how you handle yourself in difficult situations; how you work on a team or prioritize tasks.  Using the STAR response method will provide a foundation for your answers.

9. How do you handle pressure and time limitations?

Answering this question with specific examples will immediately let the recruiter know how you will react to certain situations.  Such as: 

Thank you for this question.  Throughout my career, when faced with stressful situations, I have  really tried to focus on a few key strategies.  I try to maintain a calm and composed demeaner.  I believe that staying calm is crucial for making rational decisions and finding effective solutions.

To manage pressure, I make an effort to prioritize my tasks and create a plan of action by breaking down complex projects or tasks into smaller, more manageable parts. 

Focusing on one step at a time helps alleviate feeling overwhelmed.  I also try to establish clear deadlines and milestones which allows me to track my progress and stay motivated.

I handle stress and pressure by remaining calm, by staying positive and by planning and organizing my work, based on the needs of the team.  I also try to anticipate what potential problems could occur that might derail our progress.

10. Do you have any questions for us?

In order to stand out, especially at the end of an interview, it is important to ask questions.  You don’t want to be caught off guard, so it is very important to have a plan and prepare a few questions for the recruiter. 

If not already answered, you will want to ask why the position is open; whether it is a newly created role or whether someone quit or was terminated.  Asking questions of the recruiter will give you an opportunity to decide whether the job is right for you, while also proving that you are qualified to do the job.

Questions like: What would a typical day in this role, for me, look like? A question like this allows the recruiter to visualize you in the position, which is a positive step in the process.

Try to ask questions that seem like a continuation of the interview, by drawing from earlier discussions or from the conversation; ask about specific projects or responsibilities to gain more understanding and show that you have been listening.

Questions at the end of the interview to consider:

What would be your expectations of me in the first 90 days?

What is the performance review process, and when would I have my first review?

Are there metrics against which I would be evaluated?

What are the biggest challenges I might face in this position?

Can you tell me about the team with whom I will be working?

How long have you (the boss; other professionals) been at the company?

What is your favorite part of working here?

Just ask one or two final questions that will build out the interview, provide more information about your relevance for the opportunity, and will offer more insight into the organization and job.

11. What are your salary expectations?

This is a tricky question, and it is best to avoid answering with specific numbers.  If you present an amount that is too low, you risk being offered a lower salary than might otherwise be available.  If you say a number that is to high, you might be out of their compensation range.  One answer might include:

Thank you so much for bringing that up.  I would love to know the salary range for this position.

What is the position paying?

If the recruiter does not answer with a proper range, a response could include:

My salary range is flexible, depending on other elements of the compensation package and specific requirements of the role. 

I am currently interviewing for jobs in the (x-y range).

I am looking for a package that aligns with industry standards.  Is there a salary range for this position, so that I can let you know if I’m comfortable with that?

In order to avoid awkward responses when asked the salary question, it is best to do research on the industry, location and other similar positions.  Use reliable sources like Glass Door or  Consider your own skills and experience.

I’ve done some research for this position, and I have found that a position at this level averages between (x-y) per year.

Always avoid providing a specific number.  Instead give a realistic range, and start with the higher number and end with the lowest number you might accept.

Based on my skills and experience, I’m looking for a salary range between (x-y) per year.

Avoid accepting an offer at the first interview, and learn more about the company before making any decisions.

In summary, when answering any Interview Questions, try to respond by connecting your experience and skills to their job description, thus highlighting your relevance for their position.  Statements that you should include in any interview:

Where I have had the most success is ……

I believe I can add the most value in…..

These last statements highlight how your skills align with the job description, and how your past experiences and successes will add value in the future.