One of the most important steps in preparing for a job interview is anticipating which questions the interviewer may ask, and having appropriate responses at the ready. Granted, there’s no way you can anticipate every question that may come up. However, analyzing some of the most common job interview questions can help you put your best foot forward with your prospective employer.
Let’s discuss 11 of the most common job interview questions candidates face and how they can effectively navigate them during the interview.
Important Reminders About Job Interviews
Before we dive into the questions themselves, it’s important to note that you can set yourself up for success by observing some important interview reminders. For instance, remember to:
- Thoroughly research the company beforehand. That includes meticulously reading the job description and researching your interviewers (such as through their LinkedIn profiles), if you have access to that information.
- Do your best to find common ground with the interviewer. For example, do you have connections in common, such as shared acquaintances? Do you have a similar educational background, perhaps even attending the same school?
- For virtual interviews, make sure you have a high-quality setup. This includes having a good internet connection, a well-lit background, and a properly framed headshot.
Now, let’s examine 11 of the top job interview questions to prepare for and key principles on how to effectively answer them.
11 of the Most Commonly Asked Job Interview Questions
- What do you know about our company?
- Why are you interested in this position?
- Why do you feel you are qualified for this role?
- Based on the role, what would you want to accomplish in your first 30, 60, and 90 days if you join the team?
- How do you stay organized? Do you use any specific tools or software?
- What type of environment are you most successful in (e.g., fast-paced, self-motivated, etc.)?
- Tell me about a time when you had to lead a project. What was the project? What was your role on the team? What were the outcomes/successes?
- What are the three most important things you feel you’ve learned throughout your career?
- Have you ever received feedback from a peer or supervisor on how you can improve? And what did you learn from it?
- What goals do you have for yourself in the next year? In the next three years? five years?
- With X years of experience in the industry, what do you feel you bring to the table that sets you apart from your peers?
How To Answer Job Interview Questions
While each candidate will answer the above questions differently, there are several helpful guidelines that you can keep in mind as you do so. These include the following points:
Use the STAR method when answering open-ended questions.
The STAR method is a helpful way to organize your thoughts and formulate a logical, engaging response for each open-ended question the interviewer asks. “STAR” stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. In other words, you want to describe a situation you faced, the task that was set before you, the actions you took to complete the task, and the final result of your efforts.
“Take control” of the interview.
This doesn’t mean trying to force the conversation in a specific direction. Rather, ask the interviewer about their overall vision for an ideal candidate, what specifics they’re looking for, and how they want the person they hire to positively impact and add value to the organization. Carefully listen to what the interviewer says, and then adapt your responses throughout the rest of the interview to fit their remarks.
Be mindful of your body language, demeanor, and background.
Remember that cultural fit may be an important factor in how the interviewer rates each candidate. You want to demonstrate that you’d be a great fit for the employer’s culture, not only by what you say, but also by the way you say it and how you look. Maintain a relaxed, yet dignified posture. Smile often. And if you’re in a virtual interview, make sure you set a professional, neutral background that’s clutter-free.
Relax, and be authentic.
While you want to make a good first impression, don’t try to present yourself as someone you’re not. Relax, and be yourself. When appropriate, add a personal touch to your responses (e.g., mention hobbies or interests you have that may indirectly relate to the role under discussion). Also, never forget that while the company is interviewing you for the open position, you are also “interviewing” the company to see if it would be a good fit. So enjoy the process, and don’t get too stressed over the final outcome of the interview.
Take your time providing answers.
The words that leave your mouth can never be retrieved or taken back. Therefore, it’s always the course of wisdom to think about how to answer a question before providing your response. If you feel like a pause for thought is becoming uncomfortable for the interviewer, you can simply tell them that you’re still thinking about their question; or you can ask for a little more time.
Don’t just give “yes” and “no” answers.
When you respond to yes-or-no questions (such as #9 in the list above), it’s generally best to elaborate on your answer and provide specific examples of why you responded the way you did. Also, whether your question is open-ended or not, there may be times when you feel like you’re struggling through a response. If that’s the case, you can simply get some feedback from the interviewer by asking: “Did that answer your question?”
Be honest about your experience.
If you are unfamiliar with a program or project, it’s usually best to let the interviewer know instead of trying to “fake it.” Managers appreciate self-aware and honest employees, so demonstrate those qualities in your interview.
Get More Job Interview Tips
If you use these pointers during your next interview, you’ll no doubt leave a favorable impression on your interviewer and increase your odds of landing the job. For more helpful tips on ace an interview, check out our other resources at The Doyle Group today.