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GuidesEmployee experience8 common interview questions with example answers (2024)

8 common interview questions with example answers (2024)

Last updated

3 October 2023

Author

Claire Bonneau

Reviewed by

Shawnna Johnson

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So, you’ve landed a job interview. Do you have a game plan to nail it?

No matter your background or area of expertise, you need to make a great first impression. Answering your interview questions well is essential for getting your dream job.

Years of experience, training, and great references are only part of landing high-quality jobs. Top performers understand the importance of coming across as strong, confident, and competent during the initial interview process.

While your personality needs to shine during your introductory interview, that’s not all that matters. Most interviewers seek candidates whose answers align with the company’s values and mission.

Thankfully, most interviews include similar questions you can plan for, regardless of your industry and job position. That’s where interview preparation (and this article) comes into play.

Use this resource as your secret weapon to a stellar first impression, and answer these common interview questions with charm and confidence.

Let's get into it!

The eight most common interview questions

The goal of a job interview is for the interviewer to better understand what you bring to the table. It also shows them if you're a good match for their needs. 

Different industries will have niche, specific questions. But in most cases, the standard job interview will include at least some of the following questions which you can prepare for:

Tell me about yourself

This seemingly easy introduction opportunity trips up more potential job candidates than it should. It’s probably the most common first question of any job interview, too!

The reason? Most people approach this question too casually. While it may seem like a simple icebreaker to warm everyone up to the actual interview, this is your chance to pitch yourself and your skills to the hiring manager.

Think of this question as your elevator pitch. What would you tell someone about yourself if you only had a 30-second elevator ride to get your point across?

A strong answer to this question is direct and personable. Ideally, you want to avoid rambling and irrelevant details that don’t concern this potential job. 

You can streamline your answer by following this simple outline:

  • Briefly introduce yourself in 2–3 sentences. What is your name, profession, and years of experience in the field?

  • What are your top 1–2 career achievements? The more directly related to the job you’re applying for, the better.

  • Share some of your passions. Why do you like this line of work? What do you like to do for fun outside of work?

Sample answer

Hello! My name is [X], and I’ve worked as a product developer for the past three years at [X and Y companies].

While working as a product developer, I worked with my team to release the company’s top-performing app feature to date. I was also the youngest developer promoted to an upper management position within the company.

My favorite thing about product development is the adrenaline rush during a tight sprint deadline. My love for adrenaline definitely transcends my work life—I’m an avid rock climber and mountain biker during the summer months.

Dos and don'ts

Key takeaways for answering this common interview question:

Do:

  • Organize your thoughts beforehand

  • Keep it short, sweet, and direct

  • Limit yourself to 1–2 minutes

  • Remember to smile while you answer

Don’t:

  • Ramble on endlessly about your life story

  • Share personal information (kids, spouse, medical issues, etc.)

  • Read a pre-written script word-for-word

  • Answer in an unconfident or unsure tone

Why do you want to work at this company?

As another common early interview heavy hitter, it can be tough to know how to approach this style of question. The truth behind your answer heavily depends on your situation.

Is this your dream job at your dream company? Is this your first job ever? Is this a new position you are looking to explore? 

While the specifics of your answer may vary, the general sentiment remains the same. Your interviewer wants to see your passion and interest in the company’s work.

To better show your passion and interest in this particular organization, your answer should include the following points:

  • How you heard about this company

  • The specific reasons why you chose to apply

  • What you know about the company

Sample answer

I’ve always had a passion and interest in UX research. In my last position, I got the opportunity to spearhead a UX research project for my team, and I was immediately hooked. 

Once it was done, I started researching top companies that are leaders in the UX space, and that’s when I became aware of [X company].

After reading up on the company’s mission and seeing your work, specifically your recent press release about [X topic], I knew I had to apply for this position.

Dos and don’ts

Key takeaways for answering this common interview question:

Do:

  • Research the company before the meeting

  • Highlight specific things about the company you like

  • Answer genuinely about your areas of interest

Don’t:

  • Answer vaguely about needing money or wanting to leave your past position

  • Recite the company’s mission or vision statement 

  • Show disinterest or ambivalence to the company

What are your greatest strengths?

Many hiring managers ask this question to learn more about how you perceive yourself and what you think the role needs. 

This can be a very tricky question for many people. They may assume they need a specific HR-approved answer to ace their response. More often than not, the particular strengths you list are less important than you may think.

To crush this question, we recommend structuring your answer to include the following points:

  • 2–3 strengths that describe your work process—any more is overkill

  • Short, specific anecdotes about how these strengths served you well in your past position and apply to the position you’re interviewing for

Sample answer

One of my greatest strengths is being able to roll with the punches during periods of stress. When I was a marketing lead, we often had tight deadlines when a client would provide one too many rounds of feedback.

In these situations, it can be easy to get frustrated or overwhelmed when the agreed-upon plan goes out of the window. From my past experiences of getting these types of projects across the finish line, I am more comfortable and open to sudden changes. I look forward to using this strength in this role with [X company].

Dos and don’ts

Key takeaways for answering this common interview question:

Do:

  • Say no more than 2–3 strengths

  • Give specific examples of the benefits of this skill

  • Pick personal skills you are proud of

Don’t:

  • Provide an unending list of strengths unless you’re interviewing for Lead Ego

  • Lie about your skills during the interview

  • Say you are strong at every aspect of the job

  • Be arrogant

What are your biggest weaknesses?

Your interviewer may ask about your weaknesses as the negative counterpart to the strengths question.

But how do you do this without sounding like a less-than-ideal candidate?

It is tempting to take a humble-brag route when answering this question. “Yeah, one of my greatest weaknesses is that I’m a huge perfectionist!”

Don’t do this. It comes across as disingenuous and lacking introspection.

Instead, the trick to approaching this question is to realize your interviewer isn’t expecting you to be perfect. They want to learn more about your self-awareness and ability to improve on your weaknesses.

When answering this type of question, we advise including the following points:

  • Share a true weakness or area you want to improve upon

  • Elaborate on ways you are working to improve this skill

Sample answer

As a new grad, one of my current weaknesses is my lack of real-life work experience. While I joined summer internships and worked collaboratively with classmates throughout my degree, I still need the hands-on experience of working with a professional team.

This being said, I have always been a quick learner, and I am very interested in jumping into the workforce to get experience and learn on the job.

Dos and don’ts

Key takeaways for answering this common interview question:

Do:

  • List something you feel is a true weakness that the interviewer can appreciate

  • Be earnest, honest, and open

  • Highlight ways you are working on improving this skill

Don’t:

  • Give a vague, humble-brag answer

  • Fabricate a weakness to sound more appealing

  • Say you don’t have any weaknesses

  • Go into elaborate detail or provide a list of weaknesses—leave that for your therapist

How do you perform under pressure?

Stress and pressure will likely be a part of your average day in any modern workplace. But how do you respond to higher-than-average levels of stress? And how can you word your response to impress your new potential boss?

If you work in high-stress industries like healthcare, product development, or marketing, you’ve probably developed skills to cope during periods of crunch and stress. The trick is showing off these skills in your answer without making it sound like you love constant pressure (unless that’s your speed and style).

To best answer this question, we recommend including the following points:

  • An acknowledgment of how you respond to stress: You don’t have to say you love pressure, but mention you can handle periods of pressure well.

  • An example of a stressful time at your previous job: Include what you did to manage this pressure.

Sample answer

I have experienced my fair share of pressure while working in healthcare. I don’t always want to be working in a super stressful environment. But I do find that added pressure can enable more efficient decisions and get my brain firing on all cylinders!

When I worked on [X medical unit], managing new patients while balancing my existing patient load often created a lot of pressure and stress. I can’t say I always handled it perfectly, but breaking my tasks into small, manageable lists is always my priority. It keeps me moving forward when I get overwhelmed.

Dos and don’ts

Key takeaways for answering this common interview question:

Do:

  • Explain that you can handle stressful situations

  • Provide a specific example of a high-pressure environment you worked in

  • Acknowledge that you don’t always love being in high-pressure situations

Don’t:

  • Say you cannot handle any stress at all

  • Make up a story to impress the interviewer

  • Share that you love working under pressure if this is not true

Tell me about a time you conflicted with a coworker. How did you resolve it?

No matter how pleasant and friendly you are, you’ve probably disagreed with a coworker. Despite these instances often being unpleasant, they’re great for interviews. Many interviewers like to ask candidates about their approach to dealing with coworker conflicts.

As one of the most straightforward interview questions, a strong answer lies in building an effective story (something we recommend using the STAR interview method for). 

Breaking down this question into four simple segments helps you build a compelling narrative that answers the question directly and powerfully:

  • Explain the situation

  • Detail your assigned task

  • Describe the action you took

  • Share the results you achieved

Sample answer

At my last job, my senior manager had a bad habit of talking over me during meetings with our CEO. At first, I thought it was because they were nervous, but after they spoke over me at an important performance review, I knew I had to do something.

When they spoke over me again, I pulled them aside after the meeting to mention that this behavior made me uncomfortable. They were initially defensive, but after I shared some examples, they apologized and said they would be more mindful of talking over me.

At our next meeting, they intentionally gave me the floor to share my points, and the rest of the presentation went off without a hitch.

Dos and don’ts

Key takeaways for answering this common interview question:

Do:

  • Share a real story and outcome

  • Focus on your problem-solving skills

  • Display your empathy and compassion for your coworkers

Don’t:

  • Bad-mouth a past boss or colleague

  • Add unnecessary backstory and ramble

  • Say you have never had a conflict with a coworker before

What are your salary expectations for this role?

Possibly one of the most challenging questions to answer during any interview, knowing how to negotiate your salary is always worth the stress and effort.

People usually have two primary concerns when approaching this question:

  • You’ll lowball yourself and get an unfair salary

  • You’ll immediately get shut down if you ask for a salary outside of the expected range

With this in mind, one of the best ways to address this question is by providing a salary range. The low end should be a number you are OK with and the upper limit your stretch goal. 

This way, landing in the middle (which often occurs with this type of answer) is still a number you’ll be happy with.

To best tackle this question, we recommend considering:

  • The average salary of the position

  • Your years of experience in the industry

  • Your current or previous salary

  • If you can advocate for annual raises and additional perks 

Sample answer

Based on my years of experience, I have a yearly salary expectation of $65,000–$85,000 for this position. Additionally, I’d love to discuss additional perks, like paid leave and health benefits.

Dos and don’ts

Key takeaways for answering this common interview question:

Do

  • Research salary ranges for your position in advance

  • Ask for a salary higher than your current position

  • Advocate for additional perks and benefits (but know the right time to do this)

Don’t

  • Provide a salary lower than you want

  • Ask for a salary well above the expected range

  • Avoid this question, simply state “It’s negotiable,” or ask what they can offer 

Why should we hire you for this position?

As one of the most common closer questions used by interviewers, nailing this last question can leave a strong impression after you go.

But how can you answer this question without sounding like you have a serious ego? The trick lies in being humble yet confident. It’s great to list specific, relevant achievements you haven’t brought up yet.

To nail this question, come to your interview prepared and organized. For the best possible impact, we recommend including the following points:

  • Why you’re passionate about the work and the company

  • How your specific sets of skills fit into company culture

  • How you can measurably help the company succeed

Sample answer

On paper, I am an excellent fit for your company’s needs. I have worked in customer service for [X years], and over the past few years, I have been promoted twice to management positions.

Additionally, I am passionate about [X company’s] mission and will use my organizational, project management, and conflict resolution skills. That’ll improve the company’s relationships with its customer base and translate into improved sales and brand reputation.

Dos and don’ts

Key takeaways for answering this common interview question:

Do:

  • Answer honestly

  • Share aspects about yourself that you are proud of

  • Mention how hiring you can benefit the company long-term

Don’t:

  • Claim that you are not the best fit for the position

  • State a long list of skills and attributes 

  • Come across as rude or aggressive

  • Be braggy

Other tips for crushing your next job interview

To get the best possible results during your interview, implement a few additional strategies into your interview preparation process:

Practice your answers in advance

While crafting your answers to these common questions, practice answering them out loud, ideally with a friend or family member. As awkward as this can feel, it allows you to find a good flow and feel more comfortable with your answers for the big day.

Connect with existing employees at the company

One of the best ways to stand out during your interview is to have internal connections. You can use a platform like LinkedIn to reach out for a quick coffee chat with existing employees. 

It’s a great way to learn more about day-to-day operations at the company. Plus, this can give you a leg up on your competition. 

Find common ground

Interviews are a nerve-racking and stressful experience, and it’s very easy to over-commit to being professional and polite and come across like a robot. 

To combat this and lighten the mood, we recommend starting the interview by asking your interviewer about their day or weekend. This effectively breaks the ice and builds familiarity before you jump into the heavier-hitting questions.

Land your dream job by nailing the job interview process

Are you ready to ace your upcoming job interview?

The job interview process can quickly become overwhelming if you don’t come prepared. Using this article as your guide and practicing your answers in advance can help you feel more confident. Plus, you can increase your chances of getting the gig. You’ve got this!

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