Interview Questions That Are Commonly Asked
The big day is finally arriving. You’ve been searching for a while and finally found your dream position. All that stands between you and landing the role is acing the interview.
You think you’ve done everything you can to prepare. But then the hiring manager drops a question on you out of left field at the end of the interview. Your hands get clammy, you fidget, and you trip over your words. You sigh to yourself: I blew it.
Interviews can undoubtedly feel like anxiety-inducing, stressful experiences if we don’t always know what to expect. Luckily, there are many ways you can prepare to make a lasting impression.
Join us today as we discuss the most common interview questions and how to answer them with clarity and confidence.
Be Prepared for Behavioral Interview Techniques
Throughout your academic and professional career, you’ll be facing various interview styles and techniques that you may encounter for the first time. In many cases, hiring managers will incorporate behavioral interview questions.
Behavioral interviewing is a technique used to evaluate past behavior to predict future behavior in workplace scenarios based on the applicant’s last job. The S.T.A.R method (Situation, Task, Action, Results) is a unique formula for answering these queries flawlessly.
The S.T.A.R method helps us construct organized and concise examples to behavioral questions about past work-related experiences and how we handled them. Ultimately, the interviewer wants to know how well you deal with stressful situations, take criticism, solve problems, and think critically.
The S.T.A.R method is structured as:
- Situation: In your example story, set the scene for what is happening.
- Task: Explain your responsibility in the situation.
- Action: Reveal the steps you took to address the problem.
- Result: Share the outcomes of the actions you took.
Besides preparation, a huge factor of a successful interview boils down to confidence, a positive attitude, and an understanding of how your future career goals align with what the company is offering to determine if it’s the right fit.
There are millions of open jobs in light of The Great Resignation, and many job seekers are likely preparing for interviews these days. So, let’s explore the most common interview questions and how to answer them best so that you can nail your next interview with ease.
The Most Common Job Interview Questions
“Why Do You Think You’re a Good Fit for This Position?”
This common question can be intimidating to answer. The good news is that you have an excellent opportunity to sell yourself on why you are the best candidate for this new job.
How do your skills, experiences, and past achievements align with the job description and the company’s mission in general?
First, compare the role requirements to your skill sets and find similarities. Then take it a step further and highlight previous examples of you showcasing these skills. The hiring manager wants to see if you have taken the time to review what they are looking for and can show them that you are confident in your abilities.
You also want to avoid giving basic answers such as “strong work ethic” or “team player.” Instead, think about how you can stand out and show the interviewer what makes you unique or can prove that you are the most qualified.
Consider your certifications, work experience, or glowing performance reviews. Maybe you’ve helped build a team at your current company, developed new processes, or hit a sales milestone. These are all examples that show a track record of ambition, hard work, and success.
“What Are Your Professional Qualifications for This Role?”
The best way to wow the recruiter or hiring manager when answering this question is to show them that you did your homework. So take out a pen and paper and write down some bullet points on your strengths to prepare.
Some questions are: How many years of industry experience do you have? What level of education and training? Do you have experience performing tasks or duties? Use your answers to these questions to make a running list.
Next, you can list all of your technical skills, such as the programs and software you’ve used. For example, if you’re skilled at data entry, they may want to know how many words you can swiftly type per minute. If you’re in accounting, a good answer would include your handy QuickBooks skills.
Soft skills are also essential, particularly for management positions. A hiring manager will want to know if you have soft skills such as emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, and organization skills. If you’re interviewing for a sales position, they will want to know how well you communicate and build rapport. Be prepared to showcase these problem-solving and decision-making competencies in your previous work history.
“What Are Your Top Three Career Goals?”
While it might be tempting to talk about how you want to become the company’s best ping pong player, it’s essential to give this question some deeper thought. It would be a good idea to take some time to reflect on what your goals are and how this position and company align with your desired career path.
Asking future-related questions in the interview process is expected. They want to see if you are serious about your longevity with the company and learn about your ambitions and long-term vision. It is also costly to hire and train employees, so they want to ensure that you intend to stay for a while and grow with the company.
“How Would You Resolve a Conflict or Handle a Difficult Situation?”
Emotional intelligence is just as important in the workplace as technical skills. Being a great candidate involves much more than your qualifications and experience. Working for a company of any size can include communicating and interacting with multiple stakeholders, team members, and customers.
It is common for an interviewer to ask such behavioral questions to understand how you might handle a stressful situation and your level of emotional intelligence in a work environment. This is a perfect opportunity to utilize the S.T.A.R method.
Your response will reveal your personality and indicate how well you work within their team culture. To answer this question successfully, you’ll want to assure the hiring manager that you are a mature adult with good listening skills who can accept that people will have personality and work style differences from time to time.
In addition, you will want to show them exactly how you would resolve the conflict showcasing your ability to control your emotions. Finally, you may need to share an example, so it is best to prepare with past experiences.
Below you will find an example answer with the S.T.A.R method in action:
“In moments of conflict, I pause before I speak to ensure I manage my emotions properly. I readjust my attitude and actively listen to other points of view without being defensive. I will openly state what I need in terms of boundaries if I am not ready for confrontation.
For example, there was a disagreement between myself and my supervisor in my last role. We both agreed that we would settle our differences in a private space later on once we were in a calm state of mind. As a result, we understood where each other was coming from and came to a resolution.”
“What Is Your Greatest Strength?”
This question may seem simple to answer at first; however, it can be tricky for many interviewees. Often, you don’t want to sound like you’re bragging, so you end up being too modest or vague in your answers.
Other times, the strengths you share do not align with the job requirements. It is not a time to be shy. Instead, consider this your time to shine by getting comfortable with articulating what makes you an ideal candidate.
The interviewer asks this question to determine if there is a match between your skills, credentials, and personality needed to succeed in the role and within the company’s culture.
At this point, you should be well-versed in what they are looking for based on the previous exercises. Making an exhaustive list of your soft and technical skills, qualifications, accomplishments, and experience related to the job criteria and any other information found on their websites, such as company mission and core values, will best prepare you for this answer.
“What Is Your Greatest Weakness?”
There will come a time in your job-seeking journey when you will be asked this question without a doubt. The reason employers ask about your weaknesses is two-fold. First, they want to see how honest you are about it (because we all have weaknesses). They want to know how you plan to focus on it as an area of improvement.
Be sure to do your due diligence and review the requirements to formulate your answer. Ideally, you would follow up with the desire to take a course or get certified in technical areas you are weak in, and similarly, a soft skill should come with a supported plan on how you will improve.
In this part of the hiring process, you want to be careful. A wrong answer to this question would involve “I work too hard, and I love work too much.” That’s a potential red flag to employers who hear this over and over. Be real and honest.
Example Answer: “I struggle with perfectionism and criticism of my work. I have put a lot of pressure on myself to get things right in the past. I am currently learning how to accept feedback and that it is necessary for improvement.”
“What’s Your Activity Like on Social Media?”
More and more employers are turning to social media to see what their candidates are like. Research shows that most employers ask questions about your social media activity to understand your qualifications if you’re a culture fit and how creative you are.
Additionally, they want to make sure that you will positively reflect the company should you be hired. Hence, it is wise to scrub photos of your college partying days and consider posting industry-related news, quotes, or blogs that align with the company’s mission or brand.
Example Answer: “Other than sharing photos of my dog Sparky, my social media account is where I enjoy sharing my creative projects, New York architecture, and fun brainteasers.”
Who knows? Maybe you’ll find something in common!
“How Would You Respond to a Distracting Coworker?”
Even the most well-meaning coworkers can unknowingly distract you from being productive. For example, they may want to joke around with you, send you funny cat memes, or chat on slack when you have important deadlines to hit.
This question aims to assess your communication skills and understand how you enforce boundaries. To answer this behavioral question, explain that you value working relationships and collaboration so you always make an effort to get along with them. Then you would want to articulate how you’d approach the situation in a kind but firm manner.
Example Answer: “I value my relationships with my coworkers, and I always make an effort to get along with them. If one of them might be distracting me from my work, I would likely respond with, “I would love to catch up with you, Mary, but I am focused on completing a project for a deadline. I am free tomorrow at noon if that works for you?”
“Why Do You Want To Leave Your Current Role?”
This tricky question can also be intimidating if you’ve never had to answer it before. So another way to frame this question would be to ask, “Why are you looking for a new role?”
This will help you develop positive responses such as wanting to learn and grow more, wanting more responsibilities or paths to advancement, or perhaps learning new skills.
To create even more of an impression, try aligning your answer with what this company has to offer so that they understand you have the ambition to advance in your career at their company.
Example Answer: “I am looking for opportunities for growth and more responsibility in my next endeavor. I would like to manage a team, and there are no leadership positions available at my current job. I enjoy building and training teams to be more effective. I know you have several leadership positions open and a clear path to advancement, and I’d love to be considered for one of these roles.”
How To Nail It in Your Next Job Interview
Now that we’ve covered how to answer the most common interview questions, it’s time to explore how to master your body language, appearance, and communication skills to exude confidence even if you are feeling nervous.
Beyond interviewing, these are valuable skills you will take far beyond landing your next job as it applies to online and in-person communications you will need throughout your professional career.
Using AI tools such as the Poised Communication Coach will take your interviewing skills to the next level. Offering real-time feedback and personalized lessons, Poised can help you assess and change poor communication habits such as wandering eyes, rambling, or using filler words.
Did you know that a face-to-face conversation is 35% verbal and 65% non-verbal?
Practicing how you interact and behave in an in-person or video interview is as important as what you say. For example, our eye movements, facial expressions, and voice inflection all play a part in how we present ourselves.
Prioritize Eye Contact
When interacting with the hiring manager, it is crucial to make eye contact. While it is not necessary to look them in the eye constantly, psychology shows that when you communicate critical points, you want to appear likable, elicit trust, and show confidence in what you are saying.
Establishing eye contact early on and maintaining eye contact at least 50% of the time is an easy tactic to boost your chance of landing your dream job.
Check Your Body Language
According to Albert Mehrabian, a UCLA professor and researcher, messages processed by the brain are based on a person's body language up to 55 percent of the time. Consider putting together a mental checklist before an interview to assess your body language.
Check your posture; make sure you’re sitting up straight, shoulders back. If you are in a virtual interview, ensure that your camera is at eye level and you are visible from the waist up. Eye contact and hand gestures will help create a meaningful connection.
Avoid Rambling and Filler Words
When your nerves get the best of you during your job search, a natural reaction is to start rambling. Sometimes you forget what you were trying to say and add filler words to the dialogue. The best way to prevent this from happening ahead of time is to practice by recording yourself answering some of these common questions.
Knowing where you need to improve can be challenging without hearing yourself speak. Once you’ve identified the common filler words you use and what triggers you to ramble, you can practice speaking without them.
The best strategy is to stop talking, take a deep breath, and maybe a sip of water to prevent or reduce rambling and filler words during an interview. Then, if necessary, tell the interviewer that you need a moment.
Remember To Smile
Smiling is a key part of making a good impression on the hiring manager. Of course, you don’t want to hold a smile the entire time, but it is a good idea to smile at the beginning and the end of the interview when you are thanking them for their time.
Remember to stay positive. Interviews can feel stressful, especially when you experience the sting of rejection. Some people may spiral into thoughts on what they did wrong, but it’s about consistently practicing and finding ways to improve your communication and interview skills.
Questions and Answers
This all sounds like a ton of work, but practice makes perfect, or close to it? We are human, after all. But what if you had a tool that could help you improve your speech and body language in virtual settings?
The Poised communication coach listens to you and only you and gives you real-time feedback on your confidence, clarity when using filler words, speaking pace, and speaking share ratio.
You don’t have to struggle with your nerves any longer. Poised will send you personalized lesson plans to help you improve in your areas of weakness, including lessons on breathing exercises, intentional pausing, managing nerves, speaking slowly, and more!
STAR Method for Behavioral Interviewing | Lehigh Edu
The Importance of Eye Contact in a Job Interview | Chron
Body Language Tips to Help You Ace the Job Interview | Forbes
How to Answer "What Is Your Greatest Weakness?" | The Balance Careers