The Best Answers to the
Most Common Interview Questions
- What are your weaknesses? Don’t answer this question with a weakness that’s not really a weakness, e.g. “I care too much”, or “I’m a perfectionist. I can’t rest until everything is just right.” While this might seem like a good idea, it’s not. It comes off as phony. And phony, especially in an interview, is bad. A better approach is to pick a weakness that won’t kill your chances of getting the job. For example, one that will kill it is: “I’m not a detail-oriented person” probably wouldn’t work during an interview for a position that depends on you catching the critical details. Once you’ve got a non-critical weakness picked out, spend time emphasizing the steps you’ve been taking to overcome it (you have been taking steps, right?). This approach shows the interviewer that you likely have a realistic sense of your capabilities, and that you are proactive in dealing with personal weaknesses.
- What would you say is your greatest strength? It’s time to brag a little. But do so with confidence, not cockiness. Tell them one or two things you are absolutely amazing at (again, keep it relevant with the current position you are interviewing for in mind).
- Tell me about yourself… This is really more a command than a question. It’s not an invitation to divulge your entire life story. The interviewer is looking for the same thing in every question will ask you: To know how your past experience and achievements will be of benefit to them if they hire you. Before starting the interview, take some time out to map out a few key talking points that you can focus your conversation on.
- What are your long-range goals? Hopefully, by now you understand that your long-range goals should be realistic to your career. This means don’t answer with: “I really wanna be a writer” while interviewing for a (insert fancy title here) position. Do, however, answer with realistic goals within the scope of your career, as well as actionable steps you are taking to achieve those goals (education, certifications, etc.).
- Have you ever had a conflict with your boss? How was it resolved? Important: Answer without making reference to the “competence” of your (former or current) boss. No matter your personal opinion, the focus of your answer should be on the conflict itself and not so much your feelings surrounding the conflict. In fact, focus your answer on the resolution of the conflict, the actionable steps you (or you both) took to resolve the conflict. This will demonstrate that you are a person who is actively looking for ways to solve problems and move forward.Make sure to show that, whatever it was, it had a productive outcome and it was a learning experience that made you a stronger professional. Don’t say you’ve never had a conflict — even if it wasn’t a big conflict, you can say so, but provide an example.
- Are you interviewing anywhere else? This isn’t the time to flex your muscles, crack your knuckles, and paste a too-confident smile across your face that says: “I’m wanted everywhere. You’re lucky to have the chance to interview me!” But neither is it the time to discretely cover up your calendar that’s full of interviewing appointments and pretend like you’ve got nothing else going on.Be honest, but somewhat of a brown-noser at the same time. Meaning, go with some version of: “Yes, but you are my first choice.” And never say “I haven’t decided yet”. It also comes across as arrogant and yet indecisive.
- Why are you the best person for this job? This is one of THE most common interview questions. Show them why you are going to rock this job through examples of your passion for the industry and how your previous jobs have prepared you to be an asset for their company. At the end of the interview, see step 6 from our Prepare for the Interview article and learn about the 3-part close.
- Why do you want to work here? Whatever you do, don’t reference the Ping-Pong table downstairs and that you get to wear jeans to work — even casual environments are serious about interviews. Instead, do your homework on the company and mention the positive things about the organization that you are excited about.
- If I were to ask your current or past colleagues to describe you in three words, what would they say?You can prepare for this answer by actually asking past colleagues or bosses how they would, in fact, describe you. Perhaps you can even reference the words they used in recommendations that they wrote for you on LinkedIn. Speaking of LinkedIn, watch this video we made called Updating Your LinkedIn Profile.
- Why are you leaving your current job? Even if you have major issues with your present situation, do not say anything bad about your employer, boss, coworkers, nothing. That just reflects badly on you. It’s similar to the concept in the phrase “Small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events, but great minds discuss ideas”. Keep your focus on ideas first and opt for a reason that relates to your abilities, such as you are looking for a growth opportunity to be able to do X, Y and Z.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? This one is notoriously difficult to answer. Here’s your super-simple response: “I hope that, in 5 years, my hard work will lead to more responsibility and a larger role within the company.” DO. NOT. SAY: “I hope to have your job.” Ugh. We guarantee that if you say that, you will have just wanted a everyone’s time 😊.