At times, the most common job interview questions can be the toughest to answer. Many candidates go into an interview thinking they can quickly respond to basic job interview questions, only to find themselves fumbling for a coherent response once the heat is on.
Preparation is critical
In order to shine during the interview, it's important to have some idea ahead of time about what you may be asked. While you can gain some indication of targeted questions you can expect based on the position you're seeking, common job interview questions can arise in practically any hiring situation.
Before talking with the hiring manager, prepare by rehearsing — either mentally or out loud, perhaps by role-playing with a friend — your answers to common interview questions. Even if you aren't asked these questions directly, having your answers in mind can help you make a good impression overall and give strong responses to the questions that are asked.
Common interview questions
Following are some common job interview questions you might be asked the next time you meet with a hiring manager, along with tips on how to avoid becoming tongue-tied:
Q: Can you tell me a little about yourself?
A: This is one of the most common interview questions. Your answer should be brief yet include enough information about your relevant skills and experience that the hiring manager understands how you could benefit the company.
Q: Why do you want to work for our company?
A: Your response should demonstrate that you have researched the organization prior to the interview and believe the job is a good match for your skills.
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Q: What are your strengths and weaknesses?
A: A standard among job interview questions, the first part is fairly easy to answer. But describing your weaknesses is a different story. A sound approach is to name an actual weakness, but be sure to follow it up with steps you are taking to overcome that particular shortcoming.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
A: With this question, prospective employers are hoping to get a sense of your drive and ambition. While avoiding sounding inflexible, demonstrate your goals for professional growth and career advancement.
Q: Do you have any questions?
A: Ask one or two targeted job interview questions yourself. Inquiring about the position's growth potential or the company's long-term objectives, for instance, demonstrates your interest in the position and may shed additional light on the intricacies of the job.
As you prepare for the interview, try to put yourself in the hiring manager's position by giving some thought to what you would ask a candidate. This should prove useful on at least two levels: It gives you another perspective on how to answer, and it helps you see reasons why asking common job interview questions can be helpful to the people doing the hiring. The more you know about the "whys" behind the questions, the easier the "hows" will become when you're in the position to give answers.
Learn how to ace your next job interview by reading expert career advice on the Robert Half blog.