Last updated: May 1, 2023
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In this article, we’re covering 15 top job interview questions and how to answer them to help you go into your next interview well prepared.
Don’t you wish you knew what questions the hiring manager was going to ask you during your next job interview? We can’t give you an exact list of interview questions they’ll ask, of course, but we can give you the next best thing.
In this article, we’re covering 15 top job interview questions and how to answer them. While we urge you not to prepare a canned response ready for every question, we do recommend studying up on these interview questions and considering your answers.
Spend some time getting comfortable with what you might be asked, what interviewers are looking for in your answers, and how best to show that you’re the right fit for the role.
Consider this list your study guide — let’s get into it.
Many job interviews start off with this question. Though the question seems simple, don’t be fooled — it’s still important to prepare for.
When interviewers ask this question, they’re not looking for a complete history of your professional and personal life. They want to know what’s most relevant to the job you’re interviewing for. To give them that, you need a pitch — a concise, compelling summary of who you are that shows exactly why you’re the right person for the job.
MIT career coach Lily Zhang recommends a simple formula to answer this question:
This is by no means the only way to build your response. For example, if you have a particularly potent story about how you came into this field, you could choose to start with the “past” story before getting into what you’re currently doing.
Whichever order you choose, just make sure to ultimately tie your response to the job you’re interviewing for.
“I’m currently a software engineer for Company X, where I’ve worked for almost two years. In my time here, I’ve contributed to numerous projects and managed several myself, including projects for some of the company’s most high-profile clients.
Before this, I completed a two-year internship with Company Y, where I honed my skills in mobile app development. This was how I discovered that I want to specialize in mobile software engineering — an area in which I know that your company excels. When I saw that you were hiring, I knew I had to apply.”
Employers want to know whether you actively sought out their company yourself, were referred by someone, or heard about the job from a recruiter. This is both to learn more about you and your relationship with the company, but also to learn which of their marketing efforts are yielding the best results.
No matter how you found the role, your answer should show your passion for and connection to the company:
“I heard from my old university friend, John, who works in your marketing department, that Company X was looking for a new sales director. John knows that I have previous experience managing a sales team at Company Y, and he encouraged me to apply.
I’ve heard a lot of good things about Company X from John, so I’m very excited about the opportunity to work with you.”
Job performance is directly linked to job satisfaction. The happier you are about your role, the more productive you’ll be. When interviewers ask this question, they’re looking to see how passionate you are about the position — because the happier you are about the role, the better your performance will be.
Ideally, your answer to this question should include two things:
If you don’t know much about the company yet, that’s not the end of the world. Just make sure your passion for the job shines through — that’s the most important part.
“I’ve always been very passionate about sustainability and renewable energy. I minored in Environmental Science at University X because I wanted to connect my engineering degree to that passion. That’s why, when I saw that you were looking for a Sustainability Coordinator, I knew it was the perfect opportunity for me to take my career in the direction I’ve always wanted. I know your company is working to change the renewable energy landscape in America — I find that very inspiring, and it’s a journey I want to be part of.”
This question is a great opportunity to stand out. This means you want to avoid generic answers that can apply to a slew of other companies. There are a few different ways to go about this.
Zhang recommends choosing one of four angles:
Tip: The people are every organization’s most valuable asset. That’s why at The Org, we want to make it easier for you to see who those people are and how they fit into the company. Explore more than 400,000 organizations and see the people behind them with The Org.
“While there are several reasons I’m interested in working here, I’m particularly impressed by your commitment to the growth and development of your employees.
I researched Company X before coming here, and your investments in ongoing education for your employees really stood out to me. That you offer onsite training, mentorship programs, and education reimbursement tells me that you’re committed to creating a workplace where employees want to stay and grow into the best professionals they can be. I’d be proud to work at a company like that.”
Ideally, your answer to this interview question is the type of work environment the organization offers. (If not, this might not be the right company for you.)
Study up on the organization and its workplace culture before the interview. For example, if you’ve seen on the company’s website that they have a flat organizational structure, or that they prioritize collaboration across departments, these are great things to mention in your answer.
“I really like the environment where I currently work. My team leader is always available if I need their input or help with something, but they also trust me with my responsibilities. This gives me a lot of freedom in how I schedule and prioritize my work, which I appreciate.
My workplace offers remote work, and many people enjoy working from home a few days a week. However, we communicate frequently via Slack and have regular check-in meetings, so we always know what’s going on with the team. For me, this is a great combination of individual and more collaborative work, which I really like. Is this something you offer here?”
This question is an opening to talk about your best qualities and to show why they make you a great fit for the role.
When answering this interview question, think quality, not quantity. Don’t just list a bunch of positive adjectives. Instead, pick a few specific qualities (no more than three) relevant to the job. If you can, illustrate them with examples — stories are always more memorable than generalizations.
Tip: Questions like this one are personality interview questions. Read more about personality questions here.
“I’d say my greatest strength is that I’m good at working under pressure and making the right decisions on the spot.
When I was an event manager at Company X, we were organizing a marketing conference for a client. There were a lot of last-minute hiccups. Some speakers’ flights were canceled, and two of our volunteer workers got sick and couldn’t make it, so we were understaffed. On top of that, the catering company notified us a few days before the event that they’d be late for the lunch break.
Everything looked pretty bad at that point, and we were considering postponing the event or simply canceling it. However, I decided to take the initiative and sorted through the problems one by one. Though the circumstances weren’t ideal, the event ended up going well. My ability to stay focused under pressure played a great role in making that happen.”
The first thing you need to know about this question is that it’s not a trap. By that, we mean that the hiring manager isn’t looking for perfection, and talking about your weaknesses won’t hurt your chances of getting the job.
The hiring manager isn’t just looking to see if you have the right skills for the job — they’re also trying to gauge your self-awareness and honesty. Of course, saying “I can’t meet a deadline to save my life” isn’t how you want to answer this question, but neither is, “I don’t have any weaknesses.”
The key to answering this interview question is to talk about a weakness that’s real, but which won’t get in the way of you doing your job. Talk about how you’re working on overcoming that weakness, and, if you can, balance it with a positive side effect.
“I’d say my greatest weakness is that I’m prone to procrastination. I didn’t consider it a problem when I was in university, because I never missed a deadline — I just had to pull an all-nighter every now and then. Once I got my first job, however, I saw how my procrastination affected the productivity of my team, as well as the quality of our projects, and I realized it was a weakness I needed to work on.
I started working on my work ethic, and I changed my approach to tasks and how I motivate myself to work. I’ve improved a lot since then, and I’ve found a pretty good balance. I know that if I have to, I can meet a tight deadline, but I no longer rely on last-minute panic to get my tasks done.”
Though some roles require you to work on your own, most work environments will require teamwork in some capacity. When you answer this interview question, it’s a good idea to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of both situations. Your answer should also show that you’ve read the job requirements thoroughly, and that you have a good understanding of the company culture and the job in question.
“I like a blend of the two. I value having a team to strategize with, get feedback from, and bounce ideas off. I’m also comfortable working independently, and I find that I do some of my best work when I can focus alone without distractions. So ideally, I like to collaborate with and get ideas from my team, and that boosts my creativity and productivity when I’m working on my own.”
Hiring managers usually ask this question because they want to see that you’re willing to face challenges and conflicts head-on and make a sincere attempt to resolve them.
When you tell the story, stay calm and professional. Don’t talk about the conflict too much — spend more time focusing on what you did to resolve it, what the outcome was, and, if applicable, what you’d do differently next time.
Tip: Questions like this one are behavioral interview questions. Read more about behavioral questions here.
“I was managing the programming team when recently, we had a situation where a new piece of software was causing more delays than it was meant to solve. I stepped in to learn more about the issues the team was having and how they were affecting each team member’s workflow.
I found a solution, but it required everyone to take on more work for a short time. Some of my team members weren’t too happy with this, so I held a meeting to allow everyone’s issues to be voiced and heard and to ensure that they all felt respected throughout the process. I then delegated tasks, and everyone, including me, worked extra hard for a week. We managed to successfully troubleshoot the issue, and we avoided anyone becoming burnt out in the process.
The new piece of software ended up being a valuable addition that sped up our processes by almost 20%, so it was worth the effort we put into resolving the issue.”
When asking this question, the interviewer wants to make sure that when the pressure is on and the deadlines are looming, you won’t have a meltdown. They want to see that you have the ability to keep calm under pressure.
Talk about a time when you remained calm despite the stressful situation. If it’s a skill you’re working on improving, acknowledge it and talk about the steps you’re taking to better deal with pressure and stressful situations in the future.
“Stressful situations are something I’ve definitely had to learn how to navigate throughout my career, but I think I get better at it with every new experience. For example, recently, I was working on a product launch when a few mishaps in my team resulted in us getting behind on tasks that were integral to meeting our deadline.
In my last job, I might have defaulted to panicking. Instead, I took a step back and figured out some strategies for how we could solve the problem and get back on track. I’ve definitely come a long way with remaining calm and collected under pressure, and it’s something I’ll continue to work on.”
Organization is an important soft skill. When interviewers ask how you stay organized, they’re looking to understand how you use your time and energy to stay productive and efficient throughout the day. They also want to know if you have your own system for staying organized beyond the company’s schedules and workflow plans.
Do you write a to-do list in the morning? Do you have specific apps on your phone that help remind you to complete daily tasks? Describe what works for you, and explain how you keep track of your time and get the most out of your day at work.
“For me, the best way to stay organized is to structure my workday. I used to be a bit of a multitasker, but as I’ve taken on more challenging work, I’ve found that it’s better for me to focus on one project at a time.
When I’m working to meet a tight deadline, I start the day by making a list of priorities. I’m usually more productive early in the day, so I approach the most challenging tasks first. During my focus time, I make a point to turn off email notifications and put my phone on silent mode so I can be as productive as possible. Then I move on to tasks that don’t require the same level of concentration. This helps me work more efficiently throughout the rest of the day.”
Achieving amazing results in past jobs is always a great selling point. To answer this interview question, we recommend organizing your response with the STAR method:
“My greatest professional achievement occurred in my current position as HR Administrator. Not long after I joined the company, I noticed that team members often had difficulty locating specific files. This was frustrating for them, and it reduced productivity a lot — particularly during busy periods.
So I took the initiative to implement a team filing system. I scanned every vital document and saved them all to shared folders in our computer system. At the end of the month, our time sheets showed that the time spent looking for files had been reduced by several hours. On top of that, a few team members personally thanked me for making their daily workflows a little smoother, which I found very rewarding.”
Every position is budgeted, so employers want to make sure that your expectations match the budget before they move forward with you.
Before going to the interview, you should have some idea of what the salary is for the role you’re applying for. On websites like Glassdoor and Fishbowl, you can look up salary information. On The Org, you can also read up on different job titles and their average salaries across various industries.
When answering this interview question, there are a few different strategies you can employ. We recommend that you choose one:
Finally, we advise not to bring up questions about salary until the interviewer does it, or at least not to bring up the topic too early during the interview.
“Taking into account my experience with social media management, which you mentioned earlier would be very helpful to the team, I’m looking for somewhere between $44,000 and $48,000 annually for this role. But for me, other factors are also important. Your commuter benefits, free on-site gym, and other perks and benefits definitely allow me to be a little more flexible when it comes to salary.”
This interview question is also sometimes phrased as, “Are you applying for other jobs?” Employers ask these questions for a few reasons. They might want to know how serious you are about the role, or they’re interested to see who they’re competing with to hire you.
To answer this question, you want to find a balance between expressing your enthusiasm for the job, but not giving the company more leverage than it already has by telling them that they’re the only one in the running.
Depending on where you are in your job search, you can talk about applying or interviewing for a few other positions that have XYZ in common. Then, explain how and why this particular role seems like a good fit for you.
“I’m interviewing with a couple of other companies for positions that focus on delivering an excellent customer experience. I wanted to keep an open mind about how to best achieve that goal. So far, it sounds like this role will really allow me to focus on customer experience and retention, which is something I’m very interested in.”
A job interview is a two-way street. It’s a chance for the interviewer to get to know you and to gauge if you’re the right match for the job — but it’s also an opportunity for you to determine if the job and the company are the right fit for you.
When the interviewer asks if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask anything that’s on your mind. What do you want to know about the role? The team? The department? The company as a whole?
A few question examples include:
And with that, we’ve come to the end of our list. By studying up on these interview questions and answers, you can make sure that you’re well prepared for what the hiring manager at your next job interview is likely to ask.
We wish you the best of luck with your job search!
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