The Most Basic Interview Questions For a Job

You know that every time you go into a job application, you will be asked those tricky, cliche questions. Does “What is the greatest weakness of yours?” sound familiar? Instead of squirming around in your chair trying to come up with an answer, prepare smart answers that highlight your strengths and explain why you are the ideal candidate for the job. How to create personalized, fresh answers to the most tedious questions and get a callback.

Related Article: 8 Questions to Ask Your Boss to Enhance Your Career Growth

1. Tell me a little about yourself.

You can introduce yourself with this open-ended icebreaker. Ilene Siscovick is a partner with the New York-based HR consulting firm Mercer. She says that rehashing resumes out loud won’t get you a positive response from hiring managers.

You Answer: You can highlight your professional achievements while also showcasing your passion and personality. Explain why you enjoy what you do—what motivates you to get up every morning and go to work. Next, explain why your abilities and achievements make you a great hire. Stefanie Wichansky is the CEO of Professional Resource Partners and says that three to five-minute speeches are enough.

2. Why have you held so many jobs within a short period of time?

Siscovick explains that employers will ask this question if you have moved around frequently. They want to be sure new employees are going to stay for the long term — at least 2 years.

You Answer: Wichansky suggests that you give your history of job-hopping a positive spin. You could say, “I needed to acquire a variety of skills, and changing jobs allowed me to do this.” Next, explain how you will use these skills in your current role to reinforce your commitment to your company. You can also mention that you are very adaptable because you have worked in different jobs. This will help you tackle new challenges quickly and learn new skills.


3. What would you say about your working style?

Would you rather work alone or in a group? Do you prefer to work until 5 pm or stay up all night? Are you more comfortable socializing with your coworkers than keeping personal matters separate? This can tell you how well you will fit in with the culture of the company, which includes the office atmosphere and the core values.

Your answer is: Do some research before the interview if you have no idea about the culture of the company. Siscovick suggests reading the mission statement of the organization on its website. Browse through the profiles of the founding members to see what kind of philanthropic projects they are involved in. Google or LinkedIn searches for the company can help you get a better picture.

After the interviewer asks this question, relate your work style and values to those of the organization. If employees work together in teams, you can describe how your best work is done when you collaborate with other talented and engaged staffers. You can also mention how volunteering is encouraged at your workplace and that it aligns with your own values.

4. What are your strengths?

In a job interview, you are primarily promoting yourself. There’s a thin line between promoting yourself and boasting. You should be aware of your flaws, but not to the point that you eliminate yourself from consideration.

You Answer: Wichansky says it’s easier to quote someone else than to brag about yourself, so you should tell the hiring manager what your former manager said to you during your last performance evaluation. As for your weaknesses and shortcomings, be honest. Then explain how you plan to overcome them.

You know that you lack the top-notch skills required for the position. You could say, “I am not as skilled in SEO as I would like to be, but I have enrolled in some classes that will get me up to date.” You should not brag about your accomplishments. Wichansky says that interviewers are looking for humility. So, don’t brag about your overachieving or how hard you work.

5. What are you bringing to the table?

New hires are expected to bring new ideas and fresh perspectives. Hiring managers want to know how you will innovate and grow the business.

Your Answer: Do your research and see where the company stands in their field. Wichanksy suggests that you then highlight your skills and achievements to boost the bottom line of the company. When you are applying for a position to lead a department, you should highlight your experience in project management and how you implemented new creative initiatives that increased profits by a certain percentage.

You might be applying for a position at a firm that isn’t using social media to its fullest. Prepare for the interview with some ideas on how to improve your organization’s social media presence.

6. What is your salary expectation?

You don’t want to pay too much for your talent. But you do want to make sure that it is compensated fairly.

You Answer: Payscale and Glassdoor are great sites to compare salaries based on experience, location, and other factors. Robin Pinkley, professor of management at Southern Methodist University and co-author of “Get Paid What You’re Worth,” recommends that you present a figure in the interview rather than wait for the HR representative to do so.

Ask for a range of numbers instead of a specific dollar amount. Set your salary target at the lower end of the range to avoid underselling yourself. For example, if you want a $60,000 salary, you should ask for a number between $60,000 and $75,000 Your interviewer will see that you are a serious candidate who is familiar with the job and industry, but you’re also willing to negotiate.

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