12 Questions You’ll Hear in Every Job Interview

Posted: 02/18/14 | Category: Interviewing

Most job interview questions don’t break the mold. Companies need a standard measuring stick to evaluate candidates and anything too extravagant can be detrimental. If they ask you what breed of dog you are or how many marbles would fit in a blue whale’s mouth, what real information do they learn about you?

That’s why most companies stick to 12 basic job interview questions. And for job seekers, that means a pretty standard practice script.

1.) Tell me about yourself

This job interview question is pretty common due to its open nature. The most effective responses have a professional focal point but a quick surface-level look at your life outside of work doesn’t hurt (just don’t air your dirty laundry). 

2.) What attracted you to the company?

Basically, are you interested in the company for the right reasons? This question gets to the heart of a candidate’s motivation. Money is a bad response. A detailed answer about culture and the chance for new challenges is the best way to go (this is where research beforehand helps out).  

3.) What makes you an ideal candidate for the job?

This is where the bulwark of your salesmanship comes into play. In-depth knowledge of the position, the company culture, and industry challenges can make any pitch resonate with a hiring manager. 

4.) What is your greatest strength?

You may have any number of strengths but the key is to pick one that aligns perfectly with what the company values. If you can, boil it down to the most important company value and give examples of that strength in action. 

5.) What is your biggest weakness?

It may be tempting to dodge this question or provide a weakness that’s a strength but avoid that allure. Pick an actual weakness, one you’re working to fix with a clear strategy. Avoid any weaknesses that the company needs as strengths.

6.) What is the biggest problem you’ve faced and how did you solve it?

Companies rarely can view you in action beforehand but this question shows how you handle problems on the job. A good job interview response gives a step-by-step recap with a concrete problem and measurable results.

7.) How have you made a difference at your last company?

Growth metrics get companies excited. If you can give concrete examples of the ROI you’ve provided to your former employer, a hiring manager will start to imagine your potential on the job.

8.) What work environment is the best for you?

Explain that you’re adaptable and can handle any healthy work environment. In a job interview, those who show they can shift between independent and team work will go far.

9.) How do you handle conflict at work?

Show ways that you’ve remedied conflict and worked with others to do it. Place no blame and convey that your compromise was a team effort.

10.) How do you handle failure?

Even billionaires and business magnates fail from time to time. Do you curl up in a ball and cry or take the lessons you’ve learned onto the next challenge? If you can show it’s the latter, you’ll be hard pressed to find a manager uninterested in hiring you.

11.) Where do you expect to be in 5 years?

Stay professional and keep your response to this question in line with the company’s. Responses that go off in a completely different direction can give the impression that your time there will be fleeting and end with an empty chair in no time at all.

12.) Do you have any questions for us?

Make a list of questions in advance. It’s also good to take mental notes of things to ask during the interview but prepared questions are a good safety net if you’re too caught up in your responses.

by James Walsh