AFFILIATE DISCLAIMER: I may earn a small amount of money from some of the products that I have mentioned in this post at no extra cost to you. Please find the full affiliate disclosure here.
Why do we even need to know what the most frequently asked questions and answers are? Well, sooner or later we will all be faced with an interview and while a lot of these questions seem really easy, you’ll understand how difficult they can be to answer when you’re ACTUALLY facing the interview. So it’s always good to go prepared.
Bear in mind, there are MANY ways that you can answer these questions. After all, the employer wants to see if they can recruit you – not scare you away. So I will tell you the basic expectation from the employer then they ask you the questions. It will help you to get a better understanding. From there, feel free to change the answers to make them your own.
1. Tell me about yourself
The reason employers ask this question during an interview, despite already having seen your resume, is simply to ease into the interview. This question is supposed to be one of the easier ones on this list. Yet, so many candidates fail to answer this question properly. They just want to get to know you a little bit more. But remember, this is probably one of the first questions they will ask you, so take the opportunity and make the best out of it.
Bad Example: “Well, most of the details about me are already in my resume. It’s in front of you. But anyway, I’m 28, I already finished my studies long ago. I did a couple of jobs in the past, but I hated them – they never really worked out. So, I’m trying something new right now. I have a good feeling about this job and I hope I will someday become the president of your company and then work my way towards becoming a millionaire”
When answering this question, explain a little bit about your present, past, and future – and remember to include the company in your future. Keep your answer professional. This might be the first impression that you give your employer to remember that it matters!
Good Example: “After the completion of my degree in Marketing, I wasted no time joining the workforce. I have been in the marketing industry for over 3 years, and my focus has always been on managing social media marketing projects. I most recently worked as a senior manager for a large tech company and my main role was to manage large marketing campaigns and oversee other project managers. Now I’m looking to expand my experience across other industries, which is why I’m so excited to join a company like yours.”
2. What are your weaknesses?
This is definitely the MOST common interview question of all. If you’ve been to an interview at all, I’m almost certain that you’ve had this question thrown your way. While this is the most common, it is also the question that a lot of candidates struggle with.
Most candidates Google and memorize answers to give the employer:
Bad Example: “I am such a perfectionist and it’s my greatest weakness. I try to perfect a lot of things and I sometimes lose focus on my priorities due to it”.
While you might think that you gave the most perfect answer, this is not really what the employer wants to hear. (And I’m pretty sure they’re bored of hearing this answer from almost every single candidate).
When answering this question, the trick is in the phrasing. Tell them about a weakness of yours that you are already working on. Then proceed to say how you’re working on it so that they understand that you are making an effort to change it.
For example, you can say this:
Good Example: “Public speaking is something that I’ve had trouble with over the past few years but ever since I enrolled myself into this special program, I’ve seen a lot of improvement in myself”.
This will be a perfect answer to this question and the employer will be very satisfied because it’s not too lengthy, you spent very little time and you didn’t dread it.
3. Why should we hire you?
This interview question is one of the most straightforward ones. What the employer is trying to see is why you think you deserve a spot in the company. All you need to do is to elaborate on your education, skills, and work experience and show them how it fits well with their company – kind of like fitting a puzzle piece!
When answering this question, try not to be too boastful or overconfident and say things like:
Bad Example: “I’m the best in the field. I guarantee, you will never be able to find someone like me. I’m so perfect for this job. If you don’t hire me, it’s your loss”.
Instead, be humble. A good answer to this question would be something like:
Good Example: “I have extensive experience in the field and have an excellent track record of consistently helping every company that I’ve worked for in the past. I am certain that I will be a great addition to the team”.
4. Why do you want to work here?
This question is very similar to the previous question. In “why should we hire you?” the employer is trying to ask how YOU fit into the company. In this question, however, they’re trying to ask you how you think the company is suitable for you.
When answering this, you can say something like:
Good Example: “I carefully selected several companies that have a vision that goes in line with my values. So, I think that working here will always be a pleasure and this company is one that I highly desire to work with.”
Sometimes, it is possible that you wish to join a company because of the benefits and perks that come along with the position. Make sure that you do not say these out loud to your employer as it might sound like you want the job just for the incentives and not add any value to the company. So avoid saying anything close to:
Bad Example: “I saw that employees here get 20% discount at Walmart and free insurance coverage.. and I really need that.”
5. What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?
In this question, the employer is trying to understand what’s unique about you. The best way to answer this question is by highlighting the skills and experience that you have.
Good Example: “The skills that I have combined with the experience that I’ve gained over the years allows me to have a unique combination of strong technical skills and the ability to complete any task much more efficiently and effectively.”
As much as you should be trying to show the employer that you’re suitable for the position, try not to give an answer like:
Bad Example: “I can do so many things. Actually, I’m suitable for all the positions and I never make any mistakes in anything so I definitely can do more things and do them much better than other candidates”
6. Why did you leave your previous job?
Employees ask this question for two reasons. One, to genuinely find out the reason why you left your previous company. The second and most important reason is to see how you speak of a company that you left.
Bad Example: “My previous company was just horrible. The management was so disorganized and they didn’t care for their employees at all! I didn’t even get paid on time”
It is very important that you remember not to speak poorly of any company regardless of how they treated you in the past. Speak only about the changes that you wanted to make or the experience that you wish to add to your career.
If your previous company is from a different field/sector, you can answer in this manner.
Good Example: “I worked at the previous company for several years and somewhere in the past year I decided that I wanted to make a change to my career path. So, I made the decision to leave my company and join a different sector that I can add value to”
If your previous company is from the same field/sector, you can answer like this:
Good Example: “I worked at the previous company for several years and somewhere in the past year I noticed that my room for growth within the company was very limited. So I made the tough decision to leave and join a company that I can grow together with.”
7. What are your goals?
This interview question is quite common and can be phrased differently from employer to employer. Some might ask you “what are your long-term goals” while others could ask what your short-term goals are instead. If it was not specified, it’s best if you focus on talking about your short-term to mid-term goals rather than the long-term future goals.
Some candidates understand this question completely wrongly and start speaking about their personal life goals instead.
Bad Example: “I hope I can afford to get married in 2 years and then hopefully, I’ll be able to buy a house in 5 years. Maybe a husky too someday.”
While this sounds like a reasonable answer (because the employer DID ask about your goals), this is not how you answer it.
What the employer really wants to know is your goals that align with the company. When answering this question, it is crucial that you include the company in your goals. A good way to answer this question would be something like:
Good Example: “My main goal is to start working at a company that is growth-oriented and fuel the company’s progress while growing into a position of responsibility in the long run.”
8. What is your expected salary?
Just reading this question makes you nervous, doesn’t it? Haha.
“What amount does the employer want to hear?”…
“I know what the salary was in the advertisement.. should I say a value lower than that?”
It is very normal to freak out when this question gets thrown your way. The bad news is, this gets asked in almost 95% of job interviews. The good news is, I’m going to make that fear go away for good.
First, you need to understand that the employer is fully aware of how much they are willing to pay for your position. They probably already discussed that figure before they even put out the applications. So the reason why they’re asking you this is to see if you are willing to settle for less, or simply to observe how you would handle this question.
One of the worst ways to answer this question is by trying to appear flexible and desperate but coming across as rather ignorant.
Bad Example: “Actually… I’m not too sure. I just need a job so I’m okay with anything, honestly. How much do you want to pay me?”
It is very important that you do plenty of research on your position before you make it to the interview. First, find out how much your position gets paid on average. Next, remember that unless you’re changing fields, you now have way more experience in your position compared to when you applied to the previous company. So, the last salary you received should probably be the benchmark. So you can answer with something like this:
Good Example: “The average salary for this position for someone with my level of experience is between $5,000 – $10,000 a month. So, that would be my salary expectation for this role. I am sure that in due time, we can eventually agree on a reasonable amount.”
9. How would your boss and coworkers describe you?
Before you answer this question, remember that it is very likely that after your interview ends, your employer calls your ex-boss to find out if everything you said was true. So make sure you answer this question honestly. What the employer is trying to ask is “apart from what you think of yourself, how do you think others perceive you?”
A quick tip – when answering this question, refer to your strengths and the times that you’ve helped at your previous company. Also, think of the times when someone had said “great job” to you. This will help you to craft out a nice little summary of what they possibly think of you.
Good Example: “I’m pretty confident that my colleagues would describe me as thoughtful and hardworking. Thoughtful, because I’m always the one to remember everyone’s birthdays and hardworking because I always go above and beyond to meet deadlines. My boss, in particular, would say that I am an expert in what I do because I’ve been able to handle every task that he’s assigned to me without fail”
The only way that you can go wrong with this question is if you don’t be honest. Some candidates take this is an opportunity to sell themselves by lying about it.
Bad Example: “My boss probably thinks of me as the best employee in the company. I also heard some coworkers say that I’m the best colleague they have ever worked with. They think I’m a star!”
10. Why is there a gap in your employment history?
It’s very common for gaps to exist in a resume. Gaps are time periods that are missing in your resume. When an employer goes through your resume, they will most likely notice them and would be curious to know how you’d account for them. So, unless you’ve explained it in your cover letter, your employer is most definitely going to ask you about it. So, go prepared!
Bad Example: “Wait, there’s a gap? I have never even noticed. I can’t remember what I was doing at that time.. Really don’t recall. Sorry”
The best way to answer this question is by being plain honest. Tell them the truth. For most people, the gap is due to the inability to find a job. A lot of people spend a long time finding a job, they don’t even notice the months going by. Sometimes, people take a gap year intentionally to focus on their physical and mental health. You do not have to go into specific details if you don’t wish to. Briefly explain why the gap exists and that should be enough.
Good Example: “The gap was during the summer of 2020, I was actually going through a personal crisis and had decided to take some time off work in order to get things back on track. I really needed it to cope with the emotional stress I was going through at the time. It was tremendously helpful to me as immediately afterward, I got my first promotion in my career.”
There is a good chance that your interviewer might use different ways to get you to answer their questions. One such great technique you need to know of is “mirroring your opponent”. This technique was beautifully explained by sanuth.me. Check it out!
And so, these are the top 10 most frequently asked interview questions with good examples and bad examples so that you can have a GOOD idea of how to and how not to answer them.
I highly recommend that you read my article on ‘How to Face an Interview’ immediately after you read this article because apart from answering these questions properly, there are so many other things that you need to know before you go for your interview.
If you haven’t received your interview notice yet, maybe it’s time to change up your resume a little bit. I have written another article on ‘How to Make A Professional Resume (and get hired)’. You should definitely check it out as well.
All the best!
Hey! I’m the founder of Smartiac – and I’m really happy to see you on my blog. I write articles on business, marketing, and other passive income streams and teach creatorpreneurs to make and sell digital products online! If you find any of my articles helpful, please share!
Thank you ♥