If you want to make a great impression at a job interview, there are quite a few things you’ll want to consider as your prepare, like what you’ll wear, what time you’ll arrive, and how many copies of your resume you’ll need.
But while these are all important considerations, none of them will matter quite so much as what you’ll say.
Different employers might have their own unique approach to the interview process, but there are some standard questions that you’re likely to run into sooner or later on your job hunt. Having a thoughtful response in mind for these questions can help boost your chances of nailing a job offer.
The Most Common Job Interview Questions
It’s hard to predict exactly which questions your interviewer will ask, but there are a few classic standards that you should be prepared for.
1. Tell me about yourself.
This one seems so simple—yet if you’re not prepared for it, it can be hard figuring out where to start.
You can start by offering a brief overview of where you are now—your current position, or what you do with your time if you’re unemployed. Then explain what got you there (you might reference your education, relevant past jobs, or even personal experiences). Conclude with a goal for the future, like what kind of work you want to do and why.
Your answer will show the interviewer how you handle open-ended questions and how well you can think on your feet, since there is basically an infinite number of ways to answer this question.
2. What do you think of our company’s current work?
This is where your pre-interview research can really come in handy. Your future employers will want to know that you’re at least vaguely familiar with their work, so come prepared with a few specific examples to discuss.
Be open and honest with your thoughts, without being too critical (if you really hated their work, you probably wouldn’t be applying there to begin with).
3. How do you keep up with industry trends?
Staying on top of industry trends shows employers that you are truly passionate about your craft and don’t just view it as a job.
If you read any relevant publications or know any important influencers, definitely mention that here.
4. How would your co-workers (or friends) describe your personality?
This question offers interviewers a sense of your self-perception and your soft skills so they can judge how well you’ll fit in with the office dynamic or company culture.
When crafting an answer, think about which soft skills would be most valuable to the organization. Are you dependable? Self-disciplined? Flexible?
To prepare for this question, you might ask some of your current or former colleagues how they would describe you. Identify patterns in their feedback and select the ones that best match the job description.
5. What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
Everyone faces challenges at some point in their careers—the important thing is that you learn from them.
This question—along with the almost-interchangeable “What’s your biggest weakness?”—offers a chance to demonstrate your self-awareness and show how you overcome challenges.
Be honest when answering this question, but also try to turn negatives into positives when you can. You might discuss skills you have improved on, or explain what you learned from a past mistake or challenge and how it made you a stronger employee.
Your prospective employer will appreciate your honesty and your ability to learn from your experiences.
6. What are your hobbies?
If an interviewer asks you this question, they want to know how well-rounded you are and if you’ll fit well with the company culture. It’s also another way to get insight to your personality.
Your hobbies and interests make you unique. If you have any hobbies that overlap with the industry, or if you plan on continuing your education or professional development, definitely mention it here.
If you like to work on your fitness or do fun activities with your family, that will illustrate your ability to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Employers are ultimately searching for extra bits of information here to give them an idea of what kind of person you are outside of work, so be honest (but thoughtful) in your response.
7. How are you different from the competition?
In most cases, you probably won’t know much about your competitors, but you can still answer this question by summarizing your most relevant strengths and any assets that might set you apart.
Highlight your most valuable skills and experiences and be prepared with specific examples of when you really rose to the occasion. If any of your achievements can be measured, provide numbers or data for solid support.
If you have any skills that might make you unique, like knowledge of a foreign language, now is your time to emphasize that.
8. Why should we hire you?
While you’re preparing for the interview, study the job description thoroughly and note any qualifications that you match. These are what you should focus on throughout your interview, but especially when answering this question.
But instead of just listing your every qualification that matches the job description, explain how you can add value. Reference specific occasions when you used your skills or knowledge to really shine.
Having studied the company, you should be able to explain how your unique assets could bring added value. Focus on what you will bring to the table, not on what they can offer you.
Job Interview Tips
Before your next job interview, brainstorm your own answers to these 8 common questions and jot down your notes on our job interview questions worksheet. Then check out these job interview tips to make sure everything goes smoothly on the big day.
Already got a job offer? Congrats!! Before you give your answer, be sure to read our tips on how to accept a job offer.
Do you have any job interview tips that have worked for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!