top 12 interview questions

Wouldn’t it be great if you knew exactly what questions a hiring manager would be asking you in your next job interview?

We can’t read minds, unfortunately, but we’ll give you the next best thing: a list of 50 of the most commonly asked interview questions, along with advice for answering them all.

While we don’t recommend having a canned response for every interview question (in fact, please don’t), we do recommend spending some time getting comfortable with what you might be asked, what hiring managers are really looking for in your responses, and what it takes to show that you’re the right person for the job.

Consider this list your interview question and answer study guide. (And don’t miss our bonus list at the end, with links out to resources on specific types of interview questions—about emotional intelligence or diversity and inclusion, for example—and interview questions by role, from accountant to project manager to teacher.)

12 Most Common Interview Questions and Best Answers
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is your biggest accomplishment?
  • Why are you the best person for this position?
  • Why are you leaving your current job?
  • How would you explain this gap in employment?

How many pennies, if stacked on top of each other, would equal the height of the Empire State building? (Or other questions with no right or wrong answer)

Employers may ask questions like this to understand your thought processes. They want to gauge whether you can think analytically, deal with ambiguity and communicate clearly. It is completely appropriate and even encouraged to ask for a few minutes to gather your thoughts. Even if your answer seems silly or wrong, employers are simply looking for an answer with logical support. It is also appropriate to ask follow-up questions for more information or context, though they may or may not provide the answer.

Example: Start by breaking down a solution based on related information you might already know. What is the approximate height of the Empire State Building? You can probably deduce that 500 feet is too short and 5,000 feet is too tall. Let’s say you guess roughly 1,500 feet. From there, consider the thickness of a penny. To do this, you might think about how many stacked pennies equal one inch. Let’s say 15. Next, since you know there are 12 inches in a foot and you’ve estimated the building’s height at 1500 feet, you multiply to get an approximate answer of 270,000 pennies to equal the height of the Empire State Building.

Do you have any regrets?

Employers might ask this question to get a self-assessment on possible shortcomings in your life. To answer this question, you might choose to say that you do not have any regrets in life for a certain reason. Be sure to let them know that you have made mistakes, you have learned from them to become better. If not, you might select a regret or shortcoming that is both professional and would not hinder your ability to perform the job in any way.

Example: “I do always wish I had known what I wanted to do very early on in my career. Having more years to grow and advance would help me be even better at my job. However, I learned skills in my previous career that I wouldn’t have otherwise learned that help my in me in my job today.”

1 What’s your greatest achievement?

Employers might ask this question to understand what you consider to be your most valuable accomplishments. To answer, think about a recent example that is ideally related to the job in some way. Briefly explain the achievement, your role in it and why it is valuable to you.

Example: “Last year, my team won an award for most innovative process improvement. My role was to organize the team to brainstorm ways we could speed up the production process. We tested three proven ways and implemented the one that worked best for us. The change in processes decreased time to production by 20%, allowing us to double our output.”

While some interview questions are common and expected, others may surprise you. It is important to prepare as much as possible for unexpected scenarios. You can do this by preparing a few examples and asking others in your industry for unexpected questions they’ve been asked in interviews. You can also ask for a moment to come up with a thoughtful answer.

1 Why should we hire you?

What They Want to Know: The best way to answer this question is to discuss what you can do for the company. What do you bring to the table? What skills and attributes do you have that will benefit the organization? What will you achieve if you were to be hired? This is an opportunity to sell yourself to the hiring manager.

Example Answer

I am a superb consultative salesperson, never failing to surpass my quotas and break prior personal sales records because I truly enjoy working with customers to match them with the brands I know they’ll love as much as I do.

More Answers: Interview Question: Why Should We Hire You?

1 Why are you leaving or have left your job?

What They Want to Know: There are many different reasons for leaving a job. You could be moving on because you want more opportunities for growth, you may be looking for a salary increase, perhaps youre relocating, or you have another reason youre leaving your job. Be consistent in your answer when meeting with representatives of a prospective employer, because they may compare notes.

Example Answer

Our business was sold and, although I was invited to transition to the acquiring company, I decided that this was the perfect opportunity for me to explore new career opportunities.

More Answers: Interview Question: Why Are You Looking For a New Job?

Do you have any questions for me?

What They Want to Know: The last question at a job interview is usually one about what you want to know about the job and the company. Be ready with a list of questions to ask. You may seem disinterested if there isnt anything you want to learn more about.

Example Answer

Do you have a formal schedule and mechanism for performance reviews? How soon after hiring would I receive my first review?

More Answers: Best Questions to Ask in a Job Interview

Why Are You the Best Person for the Job?

Are you the best candidate for the job? The hiring manager wants to know whether you have all the required qualifications. Be prepared to explain why youre the applicant who should be hired.

Make your response a confident, concise, focused sales pitch that explains what you have to offer and why you should get the job. This is a good time to review the qualifications and the requirements in the job listing, so you can craft a response that aligns with what the interviewer is looking for.

Read More: Examples of the Best Answers

What Is Your Greatest Strength?

This is one of the questions that employers almost always ask to determine how well you are qualified for the position. When you are asked about your greatest strengths, its important to discuss the attributes that qualify you for that specific job, and that will set you apart from other candidates.

When youre answering this question, remember to “show” rather than “tell.” For example, rather than stating that you are an excellent problem solver, instead tell a story that demonstrates this, ideally drawing on an anecdote from your professional experience.

Read More: Examples of the Best Answers

What Are Goals for the Future?

Are you a job hopper? Or do you plan on staying with the company, at least for a while? Where do you envision your career going? Do your plans for the future match the career path for someone typically hired for this position?

This question is designed to find out if you’re going to stick around or move on as soon as you find a better opportunity. Keep your answer focused on the job and the company, and reiterate to the interviewer that the position aligns with your long-term goals.

Read More: Examples of the Best Answers

Can you tell me about yourself?

Don’t give your complete employment or personal data. Start off with a couple of accomplishments or experiences that are the most suitable for the job. Afterwards, talk about how you prior job has positioned you for this specific role.

50+ most common job interview questions

This question seems simple, so many people fail to prepare for it, but it’s crucial. Heres the deal: Don’t give your complete employment (or personal) history. Instead, give a pitch—one that’s concise and compelling and that shows exactly why you’re the right fit for the job. Muse writer and MIT career counselor Lily Zhang recommends using a present, past, future formula. Talk a little bit about your current role (including the scope and perhaps one big accomplishment), then give some background as to how you got there and experience you have that’s relevant. Finally, segue into why you want—and would be perfect for—this role.

FAQ

What are the 10 best interview questions?

Top 10 Interview Questions and Best Answers
  • Tell Me About Yourself. …
  • Why Are You the Best Person for the Job? …
  • Why Do You Want This Job? …
  • How Has Your Experience Prepared You for This Role? …
  • Why Are You Leaving (or Have Left) Your Job? …
  • What Is Your Greatest Strength? …
  • What Is Your Greatest Weakness?

What are 15 good interview questions?

15 Interview Questions You Should Be Prepared to Answer
  • Tell me about yourself? …
  • Why do you want to work for [insert company name]? …
  • How did you hear about this job? …
  • Tell me about something on your resume. …
  • Why are you looking for a job? …
  • Why should we hire you? …
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

What are the top 20 interview questions?

top 10 most common interview questions and answers
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What is your greatest strength?
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What’s something positive your boss would say about you?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • Why are you leaving your current role?

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