Typical Job Interview Questions Employers Ask
Are you getting ready for a job interview? Whether you’re interviewing in-person or have a Zoom interview scheduled, it’s always a good idea to review the types of interview questions you will be asked. Answer the questions yourself ahead of time, so you know what you are going to say when you respond.
Make a list of questions and your answers so you can review them prior to interviewing. It will preclude you from fumbling around for words during the interview and feeling like you’re on the spot.
Tip: Having an idea of what you’ll be asked will make the interview seem much less scary.
Top Interview Questions Employers Ask
Here are some common interview questions that you might be asked:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What were your job responsibilities?
- Describe a typical day at your job.
- What were your expectations for the job, and to what extent were they met?
- How much did you earn?
- Which was most/least rewarding?
- What was the biggest accomplishment in this job?
- What could you have done better?
- Why are you leaving/did you leave your job?
Questions About Work
After you have been asked about yourself, the next set of questions will typically be about how you do your job and how you deal with situations that arise during work, such as the following:
- Tell me about the challenges and problems you dealt with. How did you handle them?
- How do you handle stress?
- Describe a difficult work project and how you overcame the problems.
- Do you prefer working on a team or independently?
- How do you measure success?
Questions About Your Experience
You will also be asked specific questions about your experience and credentials. Next, you will be asked about the job you are applying for and why you are qualified for it:
- Why are you interested in this job?
- What experience do you have?
- Why are you the best person for the job?
- Explain to me why you want the job.
Questions About the Company
- What do you know about this company and the job?
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- If you could describe your ideal position, what would it be?
- Can I answer any questions about the job or company for you?
- When could you start if we offered you the job?
You will also be asked questions about your skills and how they relate to the job.
Questions About Your Goals
Finally, you will need to be able to discuss your goals for the future and where you expect your career to be in a few years or even longer:
- What are your goals for the future?
- How do you plan to achieve those goals?
- How does this company fit with your plans for the future?
- What are your salary requirements?
Behavioral Interview Questions
Behavioral interviews are based on the premise that your behavior in the past predicts your success in the future. Rather than being asked typical interview questions like “Describe your weaknesses,” you will be asked specific questions about your experiences as it relates to the skills the employer is seeking.
For example, you might be asked how you act when something (like an equipment failure or an interruption) happens while you are working.
Some sample behavioral interview questions include:
- Tell me about a goal you achieved and how you reached it.
- Give me an example of how you deal with problems.
- Give me an example of how you showed initiative.
- Have you done more than was required on the job? If so, explain what you did.
- Have you had to overcome an obstacle at work? How did you do it
As you can see, all these questions are about what you actually did in certain circumstances, rather than just about you and what you’ve done in your career. The interviewer is trying to get at how you will act on the job if you are hired. When answering these types of questions, it’s important to include specific examples from your work history in your response.
You don’t know what type of interview you’re going to have until it starts. It could be a traditional question-and-answer interview, a behavioral interview, or a combination of the two.
Tip: best way to prepare for a behavioral interview is to review possible scenarios from your work history to use in your answers.
Compare your experiences to the qualifications the employer is seeking in the job posting. Write down a few possible answers of how you handled some work situations in case you need them.
What Not to Do When You Respond
Be careful how you answer every question, and make sure your response is reasonable and appropriate. I once asked someone about his last position, and he carefully took the time to explain to me that he hadn’t worked in a while because of an injury he sustained in a boating accident. He then (literally) started unbuttoning his shirt to show me the injury. That was much more than I needed to know!
Another job applicant told me she needed a minute to think of an answer, and then asked if she could borrow my phone to call a cab for the ride home. A third candidate, who was applying for a sales job, said that she hated prospecting and making cold calls. Obviously, she didn’t get the job either.
In all these cases, if the candidates had taken even a little time to prepare, they would have done much better in the interview process.
Tip: Here’s what not to do during a job interview when you want to make the best impression.
Questions to Ask in an Interview
Also prepare questions to ask the interviewer. Create a list of things you want to know about the job and the company. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask questions. In fact, the employer will expect you to have questions to ask and will think less of you if you don’t ask anything.
Ask about the job responsibilities, travel requirements, overtime, the company’s management style, growth and advancement prospects, and when you might expect to start if you were hired. If there is anything you’re not sure about or need more information on, now is the time to ask it. It’s much better to ask all your questions when you have the opportunity than it is to have lingering concerns after you have left the interview.
What Interviewers Shouldn’t Ask You
There are also questions the employer should not ask you, including questions about your age, citizenship, disability, gender, national origin, race, and marital or family status. The questions the interviewer asks you should be related to the job and your ability to do it.
How to Handle Inappropriate Interview Questions
If you have been asked questions that aren’t appropriate, you can choose not to answer the question, answer the question anyway or provide a partial response, or you can try to change the subject and avoid the question.
None of these is a perfect solution, especially when the question shouldn’t have been asked in the first place, but you need to consider which response makes the best strategic sense and how much you want the job.
There are a variety of options available, including legal recourse, if you feel you have been discriminated against. The U.S. Equal Employment Commission handles claims from workers who have been discriminated against by an employer, labor union, or employment agency either during the hiring process or on the job.