There’s nothing worse than going blank in the middle of a job interview.
The interviewer stares at you, waiting for an answer. Meanwhile, you’re racing through memories, trying to find the right one to share.
By preparing for common interview questions and answers beforehand, you can make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Read on to learn how to answer job interview questions like a pro and get the job you deserve.
7 common interview questions and answers
1. Tell me about yourself.
This prompt, or some version of it, is one of the most common ways for interviewers to begin. It’s very open-ended, so you can go in many directions. However, you don’t want to ramble or share your entire life story. So how should you answer?
First, reframe the prompt as, “Tell me about yourself as I evaluate you for this position.” Think about the interviewer’s goal here: She’s trying to gauge whether you’d succeed in the role and be a good cultural fit.
Therefore, tell the interviewer about yourself as you relate to the new job. If you’ve had relevant experience, share it. Even if you’re entry level, you can talk about skills you have that would transfer into the new role. Share your personality, but also make sure to customize your answer to the new position and company.
2. What are your strengths?
Here, the interviewer wants to make sure you possess the “core competencies” to succeed in the new role. Before answering interview questions about your strengths, learn as much about the position as you can.
What skills and strengths are listed in the job description? Look them over and pick two or three that you have. If you can share specific examples from past jobs, all the better.
Let’s say you’re applying to be an English teacher. You could vaguely say that you’re skilled at devising creative projects that get students engaged. Or, you could talk about the time you had your students write and perform original plays set in a dystopian future.
By giving an example, you won’t sound like you’re just telling the interviewer what you think she wants to hear. Instead, you’ll prove that you possess certain strengths with a memorable anecdote.
3. What are your weaknesses?
This interview question is always a tricky one. You spend time preparing to sell yourself, and then the interviewer wants you to talk about your weak points. How can you discuss your failings without undermining yourself for the job?
You should be honest about your weaknesses, but also strategic. Don’t choose a weakness that’s a core competency of the new job. If you’re interviewing for a position in human resources, for example, you probably shouldn’t say you have poor communication skills or are wildly disorganized.
Instead, pick a weakness that wouldn’t affect your job performance very much, then talk about the steps you’ve taken to overcome that weakness. That way, you can turn a conversation about weak points into one about growth opportunities.
4. Describe a time that you failed.
Like the weakness question, talking about your failures probably isn’t at the top of your mind when answering interview questions. Again, interviewers are trying to feel out how you respond to failure.
Do you just throw in the towel and give up? Or do you own up to your mistakes and take proactive steps to fix them? Here’s a chance to show how you react to setbacks.
This is an example of a behavioral question; you’re being asked to provide a specific example or anecdote. These can be hard to answer on the spot, so it’s useful to come up with examples before the interview.
5. Describe a time you contributed something to your team.
This is another behavioral question that asks for a specific story, but it’s also a question about cultural fit. The interviewer wants to see how you’d mesh with your new team.
This question is especially important if the new company values teamwork and collaboration. Consider this prompt an opportunity to show you’re a team player.
6. Why are you leaving your current job?
Interviewers often want to hear about what compelled you to leave your job. Did something drive you away? What are you looking for now? Can the new company meet your needs?
They don’t want to hire someone who will jump ship in a few months. Hiring a new person is a significant investment and they want someone who will last.
In answering interview questions like this one, don’t disparage your last company. Instead, focus on what the new company can provide, like new challenges, opportunities for leadership, or an inspiring mission.
Overall, you want to communicate enthusiasm to your interviewer. Bad-mouthing your last company or employer will just introduce negative energy.
7. Why do you want to join our organization?
Interviewers want to see that you’ve done your homework. What do you know about the company? What about its vision or culture appeals to you? How do you see yourself fitting in?
To prepare, do some serious research. Check out the company’s website, learn its founding story, follow their social media accounts, and educate yourself on the company’s industry and competitors.
Companies want to hire people who will propel progress. In answering interview questions like this one, you should show the interviewer that you’re the one for the job.
How to answer job interview questions: final words of advice
As you prepare, keep the following three principles of answering interview questions in mind.
- Be strategic in your answers. Show that you possess the core skills to get the job done.
- Prepare specific examples. Interviewers will likely ask you to describe instances of achievement, collaboration, or even failure. They want to hear about how you’ve behaved in the past to get a sense of how you’ll act in the future.
- Be open, honest, and enthusiastic. Show that you’ve done your research and are excited to join the new team. You don’t want to produce canned responses, but you should be prepared with your very best answers to interview questions.
By reading common interview questions and answers, you can ace your interview and get the job.
Are you on the hunt for a new position? If so, check out this article to learn how to market your skills to new employers.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.47% – 5.87%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.95% – 6.37%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.72% – 8.32%6||Undergrad & Graduate|