How to Answer Typical Interview Questions

Learning how to answer the most common job interview questions is a great way to start preparing for your next job interview. The author presents the 10 common questions that come up in job interview. He also sugest things to do and things not to do, as well as offering a sample response.

Tell me about yourself.


  • Keep your answer succinct and to the point.

  • Be work specific and tell the hiring manager about where you are now professionally, what you have learned from your past work experiences and then talk about what makes you excited about this specific opportunity.

  • Do your company research and find out exactly what strengths and qualities this specific company is looking for and in your answer try and show the hiring manager you possess those traits. You can discover these strengths or qualities in the job description or on their website.

  • OPTIONAL; After answering the question ask the interviewer a question that demonstrates that you are aware of the problems and issues you are being hired to solve.


  • Don’t recite you biograph.y.

  • The hiring manager doesn’t want to hear about you “growing up on 28th avenue down the road from the Trader Joe’s and how it was a coincidence because you had a brother named Joe! (etc…)”.

  • Don’t spend much time if any haring work experiences unrelated to the job and/or company you are interviewing for.

Why should we hire you?

Leverage your company research and the job description to find exactly why the company is hiring someone for this position. What problem/pain points does the new hire have to solve? You need to show that you are the perfect candidate that can solve those problems/pain points.

We have written an in depth blog post on why should we hire you here.


  • Be specific

  • Know what problems you will be hired to solve and demonstrate how you will solve them, have solved them and/or how you solved similar problem in the past.

  • Show you know some significant details about the company and their general practices because you have researched the firm and are prepared.

  • Tell a “success story” that highlights how you have the ‘qualities’ needed to fill their specific needs.


  • Don’t get discouraged if the hiring manager mentions that “they have lots of very well qualified candidates…” before they lead into this question. Such a remark is a common “lead in”.

  • Don’t be arrogant but don't be too modest, either. This is your chance to shine. Make it count.

  • Do not be vague or general. Make clear and specific statements.

  • Don’t answer the reason you the job. Answer with “why you are the perfect fit” for the job..

What is your greatest strength?


  • Talk about a “strength” that you know the company puts a lot of value in. This your chance to relate your most impressive success story, so take advantage!

  • Highlight a strength that is crucial to the position youi are applying for.

  • Find out what strengths the company values. This can be found in the job description and on the copany website.


  • Don’t make claims that you can’t illustrate with a brief example or with a fact

  • Don’t make false claims.

  • Don’t name a strength that is irrelevant to the job at hand.

What is your greatest weakness?


  • Select a weakness that isn't a key competency for the job you want.

  • Show that you are aware of your weakness and what you have done to overcome it. This shows that you are “self-aware” and that you have the ability to take steps to improve yourself.


  • Don’t say that you weakness is that you are a perfectionist

  • Don’t highlight a weakness that is a core competency of the job.

Why do you want to work for us?


  • Talk about specific things you like about the company. Include some company specific fact that you discovered in your research.

  • Show how your wants coincide with the future employer's needs.

  • Show how your strengths perfectly align with the job position and company culture.


  • Don’t say you are there for the money.

  • Don't try to be funny.

Why did you leave your last job?


  • If you were fired from your last job, show what you learned from the experience and what measures you have taken to address the reasons you were let go. Words like “downsizing” and “budget cuts” and “bad economy” are good defenses if they are true and are the reasons for departure from the job.

  • If you left voluntarily explain why.. Reference specific characteristic that the company and/or position you are interviewing for has that you are attracted to.

  • Give a pointed, Positive reason for why you want to head off in a new direction.


  • Don’t say anything negative about a previous employer or a previous boss.

  • Don’t say, “It’s time for a career switch and I’d like to try my hand at the job you are offering” or “I’m tired of doing the same old thing.”

  • If you were fired do not say you left voluntarily

What is your greatest accomplishment?


  • Pick an accomplishment that shows you have the qualities that the company puts value in and that are desirable for the position you’re interviewing for.

  • Show genuine passion when you’re talking about your accomplishment.

  • Explicitly highlight skills that would be useful in the job you're interviewing for "...which is why I'm so excited for the possibility of working in this type of team environment. As you can see, I think I thrive in collaborative situations and I'd love to bring that here to XYZ company..."


  • Don’t fall think your accomplishment is “too small”.

Describe a difficult work situation and what you did to overcome it.


  • Relate a story that shows you exhibiting the qualities/skills required at the job and company you are interviewing for. where you dealt with a problem successfully.

  • Be specific and fairly concise. STAR = situation, task, action, result.

  • Tell a success story that not only shows you handling a problem that could arise in the position you're interviewing for, but also shows you have multiple other desired qualities you know from your research the company desires. For example, you could tell a problem solving story about you handling a productivity problem at your last job by exhibiting leadership and your ability to handle conflict between coworkers. (In other words, combine multiple desired qualities into one answer.)


  • Don’t speak badly of anyone.

  • Don’t ramble.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?


  • First demonstrate that you are committed to the position they are interviewing you for.

  • Outline a realistic growth strategy that is directly tied to the position you are applying for and the needs and values of the hiring company.

  • Stress your interest in a long-term career at the company.

  • Withhold information that the interviewer might find threatening or outrageous


  • Don’t say per that this job is just a stepping stone although obviously it it is, unless your 5 year plan is to be in the same position with the same company.

  • Don’t say you want to be CEO of the company in 5 years.

  • Don’t say you want the interviewer's job.

Do you have any questions for me?


  • Focus your questions on the company and what you can do for them.

  • Ask about something you’ve discovered in your company research. This will show your passion and knowledge of the company.

  • Ask if there is any reason the hiring manager wouldn’t hire you. This allows you to address something they may be thinking but haven’t brought up.


  • Don't not have a question

  • Don’t ask questions that you could easily find the answer to.

  • Don’t ask about time off and benefits too early in the process.

  • Don’t ask how soon you can start applying for other positions in the company.

Remember is to focus on the needs of the company instead of your own when answering any job interview question. As we always say every job interview and every one of your answers to any job interview question should be “tailored” to the company you’re interviewing with.

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