Looking for a new job can be stressful enough, without the added worry of trying to make a good first impression in an interview. But as with many things in life, preparation is key. Below, we have eight commonly-asked job interview questions — plus tips on how to answer them!
Tell me about yourself.
It’s a common opening to an interview, and it should be easy. After all, we’re talking about ourselves! Nevertheless, it can be surprisingly tricky. Make sure you keep it short and simple, touching briefly on your work history without going too far into detail, and lead into what brought you here today. There will be plenty of time to work in everything you want to say about yourself in the next questions!
Why do you want to work here?
No hiring manager wants an employee who doesn’t care about the job. When answering this question, highlight how your values align with the company, or how passionate you are about the industry, or how you’ve been following and admiring the company’s work. This way, you’ll show that you’ll add value to the team beyond just your work skills.
What are your biggest weaknesses?
It’s tempting to answer this question by disguising a strength as a weakness. “I work too hard” or “I’m a perfectionist” are easy to see through, though. Instead, talk about something you’ve been working on improving. Maybe asking for help doesn’t come easy for you, but you’ve been taking steps to reach out more often. Or maybe you’re unfamiliar with a particular tool, but you’ve been teaching yourself or taking classes to get better at it. Nobody’s perfect — demonstrate that not only are you able to be self-aware, but also that you’re willing to put in the effort to make your work as good as possible.
What are your biggest strengths?
Similar to “what are your biggest weaknesses,” it can be tempting to use this question to oversell yourself. If you’re asked about your strengths, make sure to use ones that you actually possess and that are relevant to the role. It’s great that you’re so skilled in the kitchen, but if you’re interviewing for a marketing position, your culinary talents aren’t of much interest (that would be something to bring up if the interviewer asks if you have any interests or hobbies outside of work). Instead, talk about your experience using certain tools, your ability to collaborate, or anything else that would be beneficial on the job.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
This is one of the most common job interview questions, and one for which it can be tricky to find the right balance. You may be tempted to show your ambition by talking about how you plan to rise to the top of the company, or show your humility by saying you don’t plan to advance within the company at all. Think realistically about the trajectory of the career path this job would put you on, and set a goal based on that. Having a plan on-hand that’s both grounded and aspirational will show that you’ve put thought into your ambitions.
Why do you want to leave your current job?
Bad-mouthing current or former employers is always a red flag in an interview. Instead, turn the focus back onto the positives of your potential job: “I feel like I would have more growth opportunities at this company,” or “I want to gain experience at a larger company.” In a different vein, it’s also possible you may have been let go from your last job. In that case, being honest and simply saying “unfortunately I was let go” is perfectly alright as an answer!
What is your ideal work environment?
This is a chance to show that you’ll fit well into the role, so make sure your answer corresponds to the type of job you’re interviewing for. Have you applied for an office job? Don’t say you’d prefer to work out outside all day. Going for a position at a fast-growing startup? Don’t tell the interviewer that you work best in a more slow-paced environment. Not only does this demonstrate to the interviewer that you may not be happy working here, but it can also be an indicator for you as well that you might not want to work here.
Do you have any questions for me?
Finally, there won’t just be job interview questions that you’ll have to answer, but ones for you to ask as well. You’ll most likely be given time at the end of the interview for any questions you may have, so it’s important to come prepared with a few that show you’re interested in the company and the industry. Ask about the company culture, what the day-to-day of the role will be like, or what they’re looking for in a candidate. Or, you can even ask a question that references something said earlier in the interview. By asking insightful questions, you’ll both show that you’re engaged and also get a better understanding of the company — after all, this is a time for you to decide whether or not you want to work for them too!