Updated: May 28
Author: Michael Scaletti
Being 100% prepared for every potential interview question is next to impossible, but with a little bit of research you can absolutely be prepared for some of the more common question. There are some questions that will get asked in almost every interview. Make sure you know how you’re going to answer them before you head in. One of the easiest ways to do that is to make yourself a list of potential interview questions before hand and know how you’re going to answer each of them.
1) Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Most interviews start this way. It’s an interviewers way of taking a look at a potential candidate and quickly assessing their eloquence, personal demeanor, and confidence in themselves. If you stumble here, you could be hurting your chances right out of the gate.
Here are some good ideas for how to answer:
Prepare an elevator pitch about who you are. Skip your personal history and give about 2-3 sentences about your career path and how you ended up in this interview, applying for this job. You don’t need to be too detailed, there are plenty of more questions coming. You just want to leave enough curiosity that the interview becomes excited to learn more about you throughout the interview. –Glassdoor The worst way to approach this request is to tell them your life story, which is something they’re definitely not interested in. The best way to approach this is to only discuss what your interests are relating to the job and why your background makes you a great candidate. –Forbes Here’s a little secret: When an interviewer says, “Tell me about yourself,” he or she really wants to know how your experience is pertinent to the job you’re interviewing for. –Monster Your answer to this question is your opportunity to share with the interviewer whatever you think is important about you in their hiring decision. More importantly, it is your chance to differentiate yourself from other candidates. In most cases, the standard questions offer the same opportunity. –Job-Hunt If you’re the candidate, talk about why you took certain jobs. Explain why you left. Explain why you chose a certain school. Share why you decided to go to grad school. Discuss why you took a year off to backpack through Europe, and what you got out of the experience. –Inc.
2) Why do you want to work for us?
This interview question serves a duel purpose for most hiring managers. It simultaneously tells them what your interest is in their industry, and them specifically, and lets them know how much research you’ve done on their company. If you’ve done your research it shows you are prepared and committed, and those are two things every hiring manager wants to see.
Here are some ideas about how to answer this question:
The best way to answer this question is to be prepared and knowledgeable about the company. Your answer will show that you will fit in well with the company culture and mission, and that the job itself is relevant to your skills and interests. –The Balance Careers “Why do you want to work here?” is one of the most important questions in an interview. Your answer helps the recruiter or hiring manager gauge your interest, and gives you a chance to prove you’re well-informed about the company and role. By sharing the facts you’ve discovered through your research while also displaying authentic enthusiasm for the organization and industry, you’ll leave the employer with a favorable impression and get one step closer to landing the job. –Indeed The way you answer the question will show the recruiter three main things:
Why you’re interested in joining this company rather than any other.
What you find interesting about the job you’re pursuing.
How you can contribute to achieving the company’s goals. –Zety You may be tempted to answer this question frankly, but saying that you “need the money” or “saw that the company was hiring” will not give the interviewer any insight into who you are. Every person your interviewer calls in to discuss the position has bills to pay, too. Instead, focus on why you chose to apply to this particular company. Be sure to mention something specific such as the company’s main product or one of their core values. –Wayup While it’s always good to demonstrate your enthusiasm, employers ask why you want to work at their company to find out how your skills and experience can help them meet their business objectives, whether you’re a good fit for the company’s culture, and how your career goals align with what they’re looking to accomplish. –inhersight
3) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This is a tough interview question that can seem a bit intense and personal, especially if you haven’t prepped for it. But like most interview questions, it’s more focused than it may at first seem. It’s unlikely that your interviewer wants to know about your personal plans, whether you want to buy a house, do some traveling, or get married, so avoid telling them about that. Instead, focus on your career goals, being concise and realistic.
Here are some more great tips for this interview question:
Be sure to keep your answer for the “where do you see yourself in 5 years” interview question brief and general. Talk about how you want to develop yourself as a professional in the context of the position. For example, you want to learn an extra, relevant skill that will compliment your role. –Zety The interviewer wants to understand more about your career goals and how this position would fit into your grand plan. They care about your career goals because they want to hire someone who is motivated, proactive, and likely to stick around and work hard if hired. If succeeding in this role is important to you as part of your long-term career strategy, you are much more likely to perform well. –biginterview They do want an answer to the question. Yes, it’s all fine and dandy to show them that you are committed to the position, but they are still looking for an intelligent and well-balanced answer to the question. So firmly plant your answer in the reality, which is, doing your best to do the job they are hiring for. But make sure you show that you are a candidate that is ambitious and sees a future within the company, but is also a realist about what the future may hold. –The Interview Guys When asking this question, an interviewer isn’t expecting you to know 100 percent where you see yourself in the future, but they do want to know if you have ambition, goals, focus, and drive. They want to know you’ve at least considered your future and what you’d like to accomplish. –TopResume When an interviewer asks you, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”, they want to know one thing — whether your goals align well with the potential career path of the role for which you’re applying. Ultimately, they want to hire a candidate who they can hire and train for the long-haul. They’re asking this question to gauge whether you’ll likely want to stay with the company for a long time, and whether the company can fulfill some of your long-term needs. –HubSpot
4) How have you handled conflict in a previous position?
Conflict happens. Anytime you get multiple people, personalities, and goals working under a single roof there is a good chance that conflict will arise. Recruiters know this. As such, it’s important to nail this interview question so that they know you will be prepared to handle it productively if conflict DOES arise in the position you’re interviewing for. It’s also an example to show the hiring manager that you are a problem solver, not a problem causer.
Here’s some great examples of how to prepare for this question:
Once you have an example in mind, simply explain what happened, how you resolved the issue in a professional manner, and try to end the story with a happy note about how you reached a resolution or compromise with your co-worker. –Glassdoor To answer this question successfully, assure your interviewer that you are a good listener who can accept opposing views without getting upset. You could also mention how conflict resolution should take place in a private space. Aim to provide an example if possible. –Indeed Hiring managers are looking for someone they know will be able to rise to the occasion and do their job regardless of what’s going on around them, and a big part of that is how you handle conflict in the workspace. –The Interview Guys Start off by emphasizing communication and respectfulness as a means to resolution. For example, “I always take the person aside and discuss the issue privately. I listen actively to make sure I understand the other person’s point of view, and I work with the person to develop a solution together.” Stress that even if you both don’t completely agree on the end result, you tried to at least meet each other halfway. –Monster Talk briefly about the conflict, but focus on the resolution of the conflict. Give an actual example of a resolved conflict, walking through the situation which brought up the conflict, what actions you took to resolve the conflict and the end result. –CollegeGrad
5) Do you have any questions for me?
You’re going to be asked this interview question at the end of pretty much EVERY interview (assuming you didn’t crash and burn), and it is far more important than you think. It’s your chance to truly stand out from the crowd, your opportunity to shine. You may be tempted to answer with a simple “I don’t have any” or “I think you’ve answered them all”. Doing so is a mistake. You’re missing a golden opportunity.
Here are some examples of how to prepare for this interview question:
Develop a list of questions that you want answered and keep in mind that your questions may change slightly based upon your interviewer. If you’re meeting with someone from human resources, for instance, your questions might focus on the interviewing process or on the overall organization of the company. If you’re meeting with the person who will be your manager, you might ask specific questions about your intended role or about the hiring process for new employees. –Balance Careers Learning more about this job like why is this job open now and how long has it been open plus details about their hiring process, like how many interviews, the kind of interview, and how long their interviewing process takes, will give you insight into whether or not you want to participate and also an indication about how the organization operates. –Job-Hunt Your opportunity to ask questions usually comes at the end of the interview. You must prepare at least two questions that demonstrate your interest in the position, your drive to excel in the role, and the fact that you’ve done some homework (researched company, industry, department). –biginterview Don’t waste this opportunity. Ask smart questions, not just as a way to show you’re a great candidate but also to see if the company is a good fit for you — after all, you’re being interviewed, but you’re also interviewing the company. –Inc. Here’s the important thing to remember: It’s in your best interest to have at least one thoughtful question to ask. Not only does it show your level of engagement in the company and the hiring process, but it’ll also extend the conversation and give them something else they can remember you by. –ZipRecruiter
There are many, MANY more interview questions that are common in interviews, and you should do your best to prepare for as many as possible, but if you nail these 5 you’ll be in good shape to land a position with the company you’re interviewing with.
What interview questions have you struggled with in the past? Inquiring minds want to know!