The 30 Top Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
Walk into a job interview prepared. Get to know these top job interview questions and use our tips to come up with answers to impress employers.
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Job Interview Questions and Answers
Job interviews can be challenging at times. You have to impress a hiring manager, show that you work well within the company culture, explain your work experience and ace the interview questions to show that you’re the best candidate for the job. To help you prepare for the job interview, we’ve compiled a list of:
- Common interview questions
- Expert tips on how to answer each interview question
- Example answers for each job interview question
30 top interview questions and how to answer them
The best way to answer interview questions is with the STAR interview method, which stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. Bring up a specific situation, indicate the task you needed to perform, talk about the action you took and show how the result benefitted your previous job.
Below you’ll find common interview questions with example answers using the STAR method.
- Tell me about yourself.
- Tell me about a challenge or conflict you faced at work and how you dealt with it.
- What are your greatest strengths?
- How did you hear about this job?
- What are your greatest weaknesses?
- Tell me about an experience when you demonstrated leadership skills.
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- Why should we hire you?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- What motivates you?
- How do you respond to stress?
- How do you define success?
- What do you hope to get out of the job?
- I can see that your resume has an employment gap. Would you like to explain why?
- Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
- What do you like to do outside of work?
- How do you stay organized?
- Why did you change career paths?
- Why do you want to work at this company?
- What are you passionate about?
- Why did you choose this career?
- Do you prefer working independently or with others?
- Describe a time when you went above and beyond at work.
- What is your proudest accomplishment?
- Describe a time when you had to provide difficult feedback.
- Tell me about a time when you had a disagreement with a colleague. How did you handle it?
- What are you looking for in a new position?
- Are you willing to relocate?
- What are your salary expectations?
- Is there anything else you want to ask us?
This is a general question that offers some insight into who you are. It’s one of the most common first questions you’ll experience in a job interview. A good answer to this question will typically include a few of your top skills and previous work or activities related to the job you’re applying for.
“I’m a creative person who loves new challenges, can rise to the occasion and works hard. As a copywriter, I’ve been tasked with creating all sorts of text for different types of clients, from pharmaceuticals to retail, so I know how to pivot and adapt myself.”
Read more: How to Describe Yourself in a Job Interview
This question helps an interviewer understand how you handle problem-solving needs. Have a few challenges and conflicts you’ve previously experienced and use the STAR method to discuss how you approached the problem.
“Tax season tends to be particularly busy for everyone. My boss was on maternity leave and one of the new hires was tasked with filing taxes for a handful of our clients. They made a mistake with the numbers that upset one of our biggest clients and threatened to hire someone else’s services. I quickly offered them solutions and personally met with them to correct the situation quickly. In the end, they were satisfied with the service, my boss wasn’t stressed and when she returned, I got awarded a bonus for my performance.”
Showcasing your greatest strengths indicates what you’ve done with those strengths. You don’t want to brag about a strength you don’t have. Talk about what you’ve done in past jobs and how you can use these strengths in your next job.
“I’m great at managing time. I’m expected to have several jobs due on the same day or close to each other, so the first thing I do when I get to work is see the day’s deliverables. I organize myself, make a list in order of prioritization and get started. My excellent time management skills have helped me meet deadlines, and keep my team and clients happy.”
Recruiters typically want to know what works best for their job applications. Additionally, if you heard about this job offer through a friend who works there, you may have a work style that fits the company culture.
“My friend Joanne, who works in your creative department, told me about the job opening. I’ve heard her talk about her job and how much she loves the company culture many times, and she thought I’d be a good fit. After reading the job description and seeing that I meet the qualifications, I thought the same thing.”
Questions about your weaknesses show self-awareness and help an interviewer understand what work environment you’ll thrive in. Be honest about your shortcomings and explain what steps you’ve taken to improve on them. Avoid red-flag answers that indicate a weakness in a necessary skill or trying to present a strength as a weakness.
“I’m naturally an anxious person. Growing up, I struggled with public speaking and presenting to others because of my anxiety. I knew I had to overcome my fears so I enrolled in a public speaking class seminar in college and joined the debate team. It was a big learning experience and I felt like a fish out of water but also learned how to control my nerves better, speak clearly and articulately. Now, I’m comfortable presenting in front of clients and have better control of my anxiety.”
Your long-term goals may include leadership positions even if you’re not applying for a leadership career path. Plus, a good team player should typically have leadership skills.
“There were several simultaneously-ongoing projects and the art director couldn’t lead all of them, as he was tasked with the biggest project. The creative team was divided into smaller teams, each assigned to one of the projects. Knowing we had a deadline to meet, I quickly gathered my team members to brainstorm ideas and delegated tasks evenly. We created the social media campaign our client needed and got really good results.”
This question helps interviewers see how you talk about your last job, gives some insight into your career goals and explains what type of work you prefer. Don’t talk badly about your current employer. Instead, showcase how you hope to move forward with a new employer and what about the company or job inspires you.
“I’m ready for new challenges. I’ve been with my current employer for a while and I’ve learned a lot. I know it’s time to venture into bigger, newer challenges while positively impacting others. It’s why your company’s job opening caught my attention. I read about your goals and mission, and knew I had to apply.”
The wrong answer to this question is anything related to salary expectations. If this is your dream job, definitely mention that, but showcase more of what makes you unique as a perfect fit for the company and less how the company can benefit you.
“My experience as a graphic designer directly aligns with the position’s requirements and the company culture. I have experience creating original illustrations for clients, know how to edit videos in Premiere Pro and possess a unique style that can set your clients apart. In my previous employer, I designed campaigns that won awards and recognition from other peers in the industry. I’m confident that I can use my abilities to further your company.”
Read more: Answering the Question “Why Should We Hire You?”
A hiring manager wants to hire a long-term worker. They don’t want to have to go through this interview process again in two years. You should have a professional achievement in mind that you hope to achieve at this company to answer this question.
“I see myself growing into a leadership position. I want to hone my skills, get better at what I do and eventually, start leading teams. I hope to inspire others like my previous managers and directors have inspired me.”
By asking this question, employers want to ensure that the things that motivate you align with the role, the company and its culture. The best way to answer this question is by being as specific as possible and tying your example to the job position and the company.
“Knowing that my job can make a difference in the lives of others motivates me to continue doing my best. I look forward to what the day offers and seeing my students every morning. I know elementary education is the foundation of their future, so I continuously strive to improve, learn more from veteran teachers and continue motivating them.”
Stressful situations are bound to happen at work. Deadlines might get pushed, your manager might ask you to work on more projects or you have to pivot to take care of new tasks. Whatever the case, hiring managers need to know that their team can handle stress without it compromising their job.
I’ve learned that the best way for me to handle stress is by organizing myself. At my previous job, a potential client requested a spring campaign with a deadline of only a week. I was already working on other projects but instead of letting the stress freeze me, I organized all the due work, prioritized and approached my manager to see if another colleague could take care of the smaller tasks. Ultimately, the potential client hired us and my manager praised me for staying cool-headed during those stressful days.
Your definition of success directly impacts your goals and how you achieve them. Employers seek to understand candidates better and determine whether your goals, ways you define success and determination to achieve them align with their values. Give an example of your proudest accomplishment, always relating the answer to the job and company.
I define success as providing the best care possible and fulfilling my role as a nurse compassionately. I complete my daily tasks, I’m there for my patients and their loved ones and respond quickly when emergencies arise. There are a lot of moments in health care that aren’t planned and sometimes things don’t go the way we anticipate, so for me, success comes down to my ability to make just one person’s life better.
When hiring managers ask this question, they want to see what you hope to achieve by getting hired. It can be a little tricky to answer but the key is to focus your response on what the experience working there can give you that will ultimately benefit the company.
I hope to improve my skills and learn new ones that will help me grow as a professional. I see myself eventually stepping into a senior management position, so I hope to be of value to the team now with the skills I currently have and continue being an asset to the company with the skills I’ll learn along the way.
Employment gaps in resumes are noticeable and hiring managers will want to know why it’s there, regardless of how long the gap is. If your employment gap exists because you took a sabbatical or decided to focus on other things, talk about relevant skills or experiences that tie in with the new job. If you have an employment gap for personal reasons, such as caring for a family member, the potential employer can’t force you to explain — the law protects you.
Share only what you feel comfortable with others knowing.
I took some time to travel and volunteer in different countries. It was a very formative experience that taught me much about myself and what I can do. I learned new skills very quickly, learned how to work with people from different backgrounds and realized that I want to continue working for others in my community. It’s why your job posting and organization caught my attention.
We’re human, mistakes are bound to happen. What’s important about answering this question is letting the potential employer know how you handled the situation, what you learned from it and the steps you took not to make the same mistake again.
Earlier in my career I mistakenly sent the wrong artwork to a client for final approval. It had one or two typos that were corrected, some elements were moved to another place… — it wasn’t the final version we wanted the client to see. I quickly realized my mistake and told my manager what had happened, taking full responsibility for the situation. We were able to diffuse a possible escalation by emailing the client again with the actual version we wanted them to approve, joking about how we’re so passionate that we made another one. The client laughed, we got final approval and to this day, I triple-check my email attachments.
While this question might not directly relate to the job responsibilities, it’s a way for interviewers to get to know you better and see whether you’ll fit in with the other employees. After all, they’re not just hiring you for your skills and experience but for your personality and potential to get along with others.
“I love photography. Be it taking pictures of friends or landscapes, the idea that I get to capture a moment forever really fills my soul. I love exploring new places and looking at all the pictures I took later to appreciate or notice things I didn’t before. It’s a really fun and peaceful hobby.
Organization is a key soft skill for many jobs across industries. Not only does it allow you to complete your tasks more efficiently but it also helps you not to get overwhelmed. Employers ask how good you are at staying organized as a way for them to see whether you can work independently and meet deadlines.
“At my previous employer, I used JIRA to keep track of my overall tasks and a notepad. JIRA helped me see what I had in store for the rest of the week but writing a to-do list helped me prioritize tasks by due date. I kept track of what I had to hand in by end of day, strikethrough what was done and move on to the next task.”
Whether you’re a mid-level candidate or a senior-level job seeker, changing career paths is a big deal. Explain what led you to the decision, why you applied to that job and how the skills you know will be of value in the new job.
“I’ve always loved art and design. Teaching elementary school students gave me a creative outlet to explore color combinations, design classroom banners and make the space more inviting for my students but I always felt I could do more. When I saw a friend designing a website for a client, I asked her to teach me more about UX design and immediately signed up for online courses. I fell in love with the process, the possibilities and knew that I had to continue pursuing a career in design.”
To answer this question correctly, it’s important to research the company and find something that makes them unique. Read their website, find their social media profiles and learn as much as you can about their goals, mission, clients and culture. Focus on how you can contribute and be as specific as possible.
“I saw on your website the variety of clients you have and your previous work. I was drawn to your consistent push to create out-of-the-box ideas and executions and knew that my editing style would fit in nicely with the rest of your team’s. I also read through an interview with Ad Weekly that you’re looking to venture into high fashion. At one of my previous employers, I worked closely with an up-and-coming designer and got a chance to edit one of their campaigns.”
Read more: How to Answer “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”
There’s more to you than your professional life. Whether you decide to answer with something that relates to your work or talk about a hobby or passion that’s different from your daily tasks, the hiring manager wants to get to know you better. Do try to connect your answer to the new job though, but don’t worry if you can’t.
“I’m really passionate about conserving nature. I volunteer with a local organization twice a month to clean beaches and have even organized groups of friends and family to join. Luckily, it comes easy to me as a project manager!”
There’s a story behind your choice to follow that career path, tell it! Whether it has been a lifelong dream to become a doctor, you’re following in someone else’s footsteps or you changed paths mid-way through another career, show the recruiter that you’re where you’re meant to be.
“Like many kids, I grew up with my eyes glued to animated movies and TV series. Unlike my friends, however, my interest went from funny jokes to animation style and storytelling. I begged my mom to enroll me in drawing classes and then I started watching countless tutorials to animate what I drew — they were bad but I loved every second of it. I knew that I wanted to become an animator one day.
This is a tricky question to get asked but an easy one to answer if you choose your words carefully. On one hand, you want to assure the hiring manager that you can work without constant supervision but on the other hand, you don’t want to make it seem like you can’t work with a team. Balance it out and provide an example of a time when you did both.
“I prefer working independently but I have no problem collaborating with others. A few months ago, my department was tasked to complete a really big project and we were each given a portion of the work. I finished mine quickly and offered to help one of my colleagues with his. We worked together to complete everything and offered to help another team member.
Interviewers may ask this question to learn more about your work ethic and commitment levels. Hiring managers want to hire people who will work hard and consistently improve their skills, so show examples of times when you exceeded expectations and the results of your work.
“My supervisor tasked me with debriefing our sales team on a new client that sells sodas. I was given several documents about the client’s background, expectations and how their sales have declined over the years. I knew I couldn’t just forward this information to my team, so I prepared a detailed presentation where I organized all the information into different categories, provided pie charts and included possible suggestions to get the brainstorming session going. My supervisor was so impressed that he asked me to create a similar presentation for another client.”
Hiring managers ask this question to understand your work experience and the achievements you consider to be important. It gives them insight into your core values, professionalism and work ethic. Use the STAR method to answer this question and tell them a brief story of a situation, your role within the situation, how you helped solve the problem and the positive results of your work.
“It was the busiest we’d ever been at the call center. There were over 40 phone calls in queue and all the customer service representatives were busy. It took us nearly thirty minutes to lower the queue into a manageable number for everyone and some clients expressed their dissatisfaction with the waiting time. Once everything was under control, I suggested to my supervisor to switch customer service agents that only provide chat support to phone calls during call spikes. Things began to run a lot more smoothly when they implemented my suggestion and the client’s waiting time never went above two minutes. I was awarded Employee of the Year and was graded 100 for my performance bonus.”
Providing — and receiving — feedback is part of every job, especially if you’re a manager or a supervisor. Anyone can provide good feedback but constructive criticism allows employees to grow, enhances teams and strengthens relationships. Give an example of a time when you gave someone else negative feedback, explain why you gave that feedback and how you approached the uncomfortable conversation.
“I had to schedule a meeting with one of my highest performing employees because they made a mistake that cost us $3,000 in losses and really upset the administration. Before the meeting, I looked at all the reports and the numbers to ensure the information was correct, and when I sat down with her, told her what happened, showed her everything and started by asking her if everything was okay. We discussed that day and what led to her mistake, and I explained that, due to the nature of the error, I had to give her a memo that would go on her permanent record. She was upset but understood. We then started talking about ways to improve communication, especially during busy days, to prevent something similar from happening in the future.”
Disagreements with coworkers are bound to happen, what’s important is how you handle the situation and reach common ground. Show hiring managers that you can stay level-headed during disagreements, resolve issues without involving supervisors, and keep the interest of the company — and clients — front and center.
“A few years ago, the flower shop where I worked got hired to decorate a school event. The school was expecting over 100 guests in attendance, so it was a big opportunity for us to get our name out there and increase our clientele. We knew how we wanted the big pieces to look but I wanted to use baby’s breath and my colleague was adamant about using eucalyptus. I listened to her reasoning, acknowledged her concerns about baby’s breath, and suggested we each create the arrangement we want and do a poll on social media. The friendly competition generated a lot of buzz among our followers. In the end, eucalyptus won and the school was really happy.”
If an interviewer asks you this question, your answer should reflect what’s in the job description. It’s as simple as that.
“I’ve been developing my skills as a copywriter for the last few years, so I really want to continue honing those skills, especially in social media copywriting. Another thing that I’m looking to do is better my presentation skills. My colleagues masterfully present and sell campaigns to skeptical clients, and I hope to one day be able to do the same. I want a new position where I can grow as a professional and positively impact others.”
Not every job will require you to relocate but just in case, ask yourself if you’re willing to move for a job. If the answer is no or not at the moment, reiterate your interest in the job and provide a brief explanation as to why you can’t move before suggesting an alternative, such as working remotely.
“Yes, I’m willing to relocate. I love living in Tampa but I’d be willing to relocate for the right opportunity and offer.”
This is probably one of the most awkward questions for a job candidate to answer. To help lessen the awkwardness, expect the question and do some homework before the job interview. Be ready and prepared to answer the question with a reasonable salary expectation. It’s better for you and the interviewer to know right away if your compensation level meets that of the new role.
Follow-up questions are extremely important during an interview. Do your homework on the employer and have some questions ready about the company and job. This can help showcase that you want to be the perfect fit for the job and are genuinely interested. Some questions you can ask hiring managers or recruiters include:
- How do you evaluate performances?
- Why is this position open?
- What should I expect from the first three months in this position?
- What are the company’s goals for the next five years?
- Can you describe a typical day or week on the job?
- What challenges should I expect in this position?
- How would you describe the culture here?
- What do you like about working at this company?
- What are your expectations for the role?
- What’s your timeline for the next steps?
Read more: Top Questions to Ask an Interviewer and Interview Questions for Managers.
More job interview questions and answers prep tips
Completing the job application with a professional resume and cover letter is only the first step. Make sure you ace your interview with the help of our resources.
- Job Interviews: General Tips: Explore our library with general job interview tips.
- How to Prep for a Job Interview: Impress recruiters by prepping for the interview with our advice.
- How to Deliver a Strong “Elevator Pitch”: Get all the tips and tricks to delivering a great elevator pitch with our article.
- Situational Interview Questions: Hiring managers want to know how you handle certain situations. Prepare to answer situational questions with our help.
- Phone Interview Tips: Chances are your first round of interviews will be over the phone. Use our advice to prep and impress.
- How to Follow Up After a Job Interview: You had an interview a few days ago, it’s time to follow up. Learn how.
- Follow-Up Email After a Job Interview: Look at our examples and tips on how to write a follow-up email.
FAQ: Job Interview Questions and Answers
Q: Should I memorize answers to frequently asked job interview questions?
No. Memorized answers typically won’t come off as very natural and you need to make sure your answers match your specific job search. Instead, prepare a few sample answers to the most common job interview questions, or have your resume and a few notes handy about your skills and the position. This way, you can adapt your answers to whatever questions an interviewer is asking.
Q: Are job interview questions and answers the same at every job?
They’re not typically the same, but they’re often very similar. If you’re applying for a job that prioritizes project management, every hiring manager will probably ask questions about project management duties and challenges. Looking into sample answers for common job interview questions can help you prepare for most job interviews because most interviews are very similar and so you’ll likely see the same question asked many different times.
Q: Should I reiterate my resume and cover letter information for job interview questions?
You don’t have to regurgitate every piece of information. You should assume the employer has seen your resume and cover letter. However, it is a good idea to talk about the strongest elements of your resume and cover letter. If teamwork and a strong work ethic are listed as two of your top skills, you need to showcase those skills through your interview.
Q: What is the best way to answer interview questions?
Listen carefully to what the interviewer is asking and take a moment to think about your answer, even if it’s just a few seconds. Answer honestly and concisely — after all, the hiring manager is taking time out of their busy schedule to get to know you better — and always round your answer to the position you’re interviewing for. Your answer must be relevant to the job posting and further assure the interviewer that you’re right for the job.
Q: What are the best questions to ask an interviewer?
- How would my success be measured?
- What are the expectations about managing workflow?
- What attracted you to the company?
- How did you get your role?
- How is the feedback process structured
Come ready with a handful of questions to ask the hiring manager. Remember, a job interview isn’t just for them to get to know you but for you to get to know them and the company.
Q: What is the STAR method when interviewing?
The STAR method is a structure used to answer behavioral interview questions. It stands for: Situation, Task, Action and Results. When an interviewer asks a behavioral question, they want to know how you respond to certain situations, such as giving an example of a time when you had a conflict with a coworker or describing a time when you had to handle a difficult customer or client.
By using the STAR method during an interview, you can quickly identify a situation, explain your role in the situation, how you took action and describe the positive outcome of your actions.
Q: What are trick interview questions?
Trick interview questions are designed to test your work ethic and core values. How you answer these questions will say a lot about who you are as a person and professional. Practice them at home, just in case the hiring manager asks them and try not to get flustered during the interview. Some trick interview questions include:
- Describe a time you have worked with a difficult person
- What motivates you?
- How do you handle working under pressure?
- Why do you want to work here?
- What’s something you didn’t like about your last job?
Q: What are the 5 hardest interview questions?
- What’s your greatest weakness?
- How would your former employer describe you?
- Why should we hire you?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- Tell me a little about yourself
The key to answering difficult interview questions is to keep them relevant to the job. Everyone has a weakness, we’re human, so tell the employer how you overcame that weakness and are a better professional now because of your determination. Speak about your skills, how passionate you are about the job and what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you.