For every job interview, there are basic questions asked. Nearly every interview will start off with these basic questions. So, when preparing for your next job interview, you should always know the answers to these basic questions. To help you ace any job interview, we have compiled 20  most common interview questions and how to answer them.

20 Job Interview Q and A

By Catherine Adenle

You will agree with me that it’s important that you persuade the interviewer that you are the best candidate for the job through your answers to the basic 20  most common interview questions. Here, we explore the typical questions along with adding appropriate answers for you in order to secure the job that you are after.

1. Q. Tell me about yourself
A. Frankly, you’ll get asked this question at nearly every job interview that you attend. Usually, they will kick off with this basic question. I’d be very surprised if you haven’t been asked this one at every interview in the past. Be careful how you answer this question. They are not interested in your life story. You don’t need to explain everything from your childhood to present day. No one cares about your upbringing or the swimming medals you won at in Primary School.  Relevant facts about your higher education, your career up to date and your current career situation are fine. This is your opportunity to positively introduce yourself. Focus on your attributes, career history, mention previous jobs, qualifications and achievements.

2. Q. Tell me about your main strengths
A. Focus on your skills that you can demonstrate by using the STAR method. Focus on your strength as demonstrated through your experience and other positive contributions you can bring to the job and the company. Give evidences of the skills and results.

3. Q. What are your weaknesses?
A. Never say you have no weaknesses. Trust me, you do just like everyone else. Try to turn this type of question to your advantage and talk about what you are doing to turn the weakness to strength. Be brief but be focused on work related issues. 

4. Q. Why did you apply for the job?
A. Never mention the perks, pay or other benefits as your reason. Let them know that you see the job as one that can offer an opportunity for career progression and new challenges. Also use the opportunity to further highlight your skills and the experience you can offer the company. As you have researched the company, this is when to show your knowledge, perhaps let them know how much you would like to work for them because of their corporate values, principles, organisational structure and culture. This will surely impress the interviewer.

5. Q. Why do you want to leave your current employment?
A. This is where you should not bad mouth anyone. Never the place and time to sling mud, throw anyone under the bus or personalise any grievance. Be very professional and explain candidly along the lines that you are simply looking for a more challenging opportunity that will allow you to further your career and professionally grow.

6. Q. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
A. Here the interviewer really wants to know how the company can benefit from the plans you have for yourself. Mention your desire for career advancement, taking on new challenges and greater responsibility.

7. Q. Why are you looking (or why did you leave you last job)?
A. Be positive about your last job or employer. Just let the interviewer know that you are looking for a new job because you want to advance your career and get a position that allows you to grow with the organisation. Again, do not mention money or perks.

8. Q. Tell me what you know about our product or our company.
A. This is where your research about the company will come handy. Tell  them the result of your research of the company. Get it right and this  will set you aside from the rest as it shows that you’ve come prepared, and that you are genuinely interested in the company and the role.

9. Q. What relevant experience do you have?
A. Hopefully if you’re applying for a position you have tons of related experience, and if that’s the case you should briefly mention them all. If you are a job hopper, you have to be careful and just focus on your experience at your last two jobs.

10. Q, If your previous co-workers were here, what would they say about you?
A. I am sure that I don’t need to tell you that this is not the time for full disclosure. If some people from your past are going to say how hopeless you are as a staff, you don’t need to bring that up. Have a few good quotes in mind from your last boss and few friends. “They’d say I am hard working” or “My manager has always said I was the go-to person for my team and that he trusted me to always manage any work related issues for him whenever he’s away”.

11. Q. Have you done anything to further your experience?
A. The answer to this must always be yes. So if you have never done anything to further your experience, now is the time to start. This could include anything from reading your job related articles on the web to know the trend and attending conferences, seminars or classes. If it’s related to your job experience, it’s worth mentioning. 

12. Q. How are you when you’re working under pressure?
A. For this question, If you say you crumble like aged cheese, this is not going to help you get your foot in the may say stress is part of life and that usually you are proactive and that you manage issues before they become stressful. Let them know that you work well under pressure, and that on few occasions that you worked under pressure, you  produced excellent results. 

13. Q. What motivates you to do a good job?
A. Again, not money! Even if it is, don’t mention it. You should be motivated by your career development and adding value to any organisation where you work. You want to be known for doing a great job. You want to become a leader in your role or become a SME (Subject Matter Expert).

14. Q, What is your greatest strength?
A. Now, this is a question you should relish in while answering. This is your chance to seriously shine. Tell them why you are the best person for the role.  Explain why the job should be yours, mention your prime selling points, don’t hold back demonstrate your capabilities with your past achievements. Remember that the interviewer is looking for work-related strengths not your past time escapades.

15. Q, Let’s talk about salary. What are you looking for?
A. This is where you should be careful. Even if you know the salary range for the job, don’t say it at first. You can buy time so that you can get them to reveal what they plan to pay. Buy time buy saying, “Right now, I am interested in talking more about what the position can offer me career wise more than how much I can earn.” That answer will buy you a little time to scope out the situation. However, before you apply for the job, look at the on going rate on the Internet for what someone with your specific experience should be paid. You can follow up by saying, “Do you have a specific figure in mind?”. Then later after they have given you an idea of the range, you may say, “Well, I think someone with my experience should get between X and Y.” 

16. Q. Are you good in a team?
A. Again, yes is the answer here. Follow up by mentioning the part you always play in a team; it’s a great chance to say that you are the ‘Go to’ person in a team and also explain that you’re a natural leader.

17. Q. Has anything ever irritated you about people you’ve worked with?
A. You may have a list as long as your arm. But be positive, think for a while and then say something like “I could work with anyone so I’ve always got on just fine with my colleagues actually. ”

18. Q, So, explain why I should hire you.
A. Well, this is where you have to knock their socks off! This is when you give the interviewer a long laundry list of your attributes that matches the job description. Focus on yourself and your past achievements. Reiterate your interest in the job and the value you can add.

19. Q. So, when can you start?
A. Immediately is the answer here if you are not under any contractual notice in your current role. If you are, explain that you have to give 1 or 2 months notice where you work.

20. Q. Finally, do you have any questions to ask me?
A. Never say no to this question. Before the interview, prepare 3 great questions that directly relates to the research you’ve done on the company and also gives you a chance to show how eager and prepared you are. Good generic ones are, “What do you expect of me in the first six months of me being in this role?”. “What are the challenges of this role?” and “What would success look like for you after one year in this role by the successful candidate?” 



Now that you have explored the 20 most common interview questions and how to answer them, are there other questions and answers to add? If so, let’s hear from you. Good luck and happy job hunting.


Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping you to explore your career at any stage.

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