What’s the one thing we all dread about job interviews? It’s answering all of those tricky questions they throw at us!
That said, you shouldn’t fear going into an interview. Accept the fact that you’re likely to get hit with a few questions out of left field – that’s just the way it works.
However, 80% of the interview will follow a pretty linear flow. There’ll be some general introductory chat where you and the interviewer discuss your work history, as well as the role and the company.
Then they’ll dive into more of the behavioural based questions. Luckily, most of these questions are pretty stock-standard, and you can prepare for them. In this article you’re going to learn some of the most common job interview questions, and how to answer them.
About The Company And Role
These type of questions usually appear at the start of the interview. It’s where you and the interviewer get a chance to build some rapport. They’ll talk more about the role you’re going for, and what they’re looking for in the candidate. Then the focus will likely turn to you.
What Do You Know About The Company?
I’ve never been in a job interview where they didn’t ask me what I knew about the company. I was asked every single time, hands down. They want to see that you’ve done your homework. Your don’t need to understand every intricate detail of their business – just the broad overview. You can easily find this information from their website, or LinkedIn.
Tell Me About Yourself?
Here they’re looking to learn about your career journey. Depending on how old you are and how far through your career you are, you want to paint a BRIEF picture of the different kinds of jobs you’ve had, what your responsibilities were, and why and when you changed positions. You want to finish up by providing context for why you’re sitting across from them today.
What Are Your Salary Expectations?
This will come up in almost every initial interview. They may not want a hard figure, just a range. Either way, you need to be prepared to state the figure you want. And to state it with confidence.
Behavioural Based Questions
Behavioural based questions are also a staple part of job interviews. These are the tricky questions that many of us dread. They’re asked both to extract valuable information from you as an applicant, as well as to see how you react and handle them.
These are questions about topics including:
- Time management
- Stress management
- Handling conflict
- Your professional values
- Organisational skills
- Problem solving & reasoning
- Decision making
- People & stakeholder management
22 Examples Of Common Behavioural Based Questions
- How would your co-workers describe you?
- How do you manage your time?
- How effective are you at managing stakeholders?
- What’s your proudest professional accomplishment?
- Tell me about a time you had to solve a complex problem?
- How do you prefer to work? As part of a team of individually?
- How would you describe your approach to your specific role?
- What do you believe is your greatest strength?
- What area do you need to improve the most in your professional development?
- Tell me about a time you had to resolve a conflict in the workplace
- Tell me about a time you made a mistake and how you handled that situation
- What’s been the most stressful experience you’ve had at work, and how you overcame that challenge?
- Tell me about a time you had to use your communication skills to influence a manager/executive
- Tell me about a time you had to think creatively or “out of the box” to solve a particular problem
- Tell me about a time when you had to make an important decision, and how you came to that decision
- What do you value in a business or workplace?
- Tell me about a time when you led or managed a project on your own, and what was the outcome?
- How do you prioritise tasks to ensure you’re making progress with projects and meeting deadlines?
- Tell me about a setback you experienced in a previous role, and how you dealt with that process?
- How effectively did you hit your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) in your previous role?
- If three different companies offered you the same job, what would make the difference in terms of the job you’d choose?
- Tell me about a team you knew you weren’t going to meet a project/task deadline, and how you handled it?
How To Get Better At Answering Interview Questions
I suggest taking some time to really consider how you’d answer each of these questions. You never know what line of questioning will come up in an interview, especially since some will be more relevant to certain jobs/industries than others.
Literally go through each question one at a time. Take some time to sit back and think them through. This can actually be a really beneficial exercise for getting insight into your own thoughts, beliefs, and views on certain aspects of your career. For example, asking myself what my “career values” were actually made me stop and think about what they were. How many of us take the time to stop and reflect in that way? Probably not enough.
I would personally suggest starting with these broad, stock-standard and common interview questions:
- Tell me about yourself
- What do you value in your career?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- What are your core strengths and weaknesses?
- Tell me about a stressful problem you encountered and how you resolved it
- What was your biggest achievement in your previous role?
- What do you know about our company?
Remember Practice Makes Perfect
If you’re going for your first ever job interview, you’ll probably make some mistakes. I certainly did, and it’s normal. No-one gets it right the first time, and don’t expect yourself to.
Sure, doing plenty of preparation before the job interview is a great start towards making it successful. But if you’re new to the experience, or it’s been a long time since you were in one, then don’t become overwhelmed or anxious if you get thrown with a weird question.
The more interviews you do, the better you’ll be at answering new questions on the fly, as well as traditional questions phrased in a new way. Also, the more you reflect on your responses to these questions, the more natural they’ll feel to you. Which will also help you communicate them with confidence in your interview.
Anticipate And Embrace The “Curveball” Question
I’ve never been in an interview where they didn’t throw a “curveball” question at me. What’s a curveball question? It’s a question that seemed to come out of nowhere, that I’d never heard before, and stopped and made me think.
Like I said, at least one of these has come up in every single interview I’ve been in. Some examples were:
- How would your coworkers describe you? (they asked me this in the interview for my current job)
- If 3 companies were offering you the same job, what’s the x-factor that would make you choose one company over another?
- How do you manage your time? (this is a common question but it threw me the first time I heard it)
- What books have you read on content writing (this one really threw me – I just went blank)
The important thing is to not let it throw you. Go into the interview EXPECTING it (this makes it easier to handle when it comes up). If you need to take a moment to think and answer it, then take a moment to think.
In many cases, the interviewer isn’t as interested in the content of your answer, as they are in HOW you answered it. Some of these questions are meant to throw you, and they want to see how you handle yourself. It’s a mini-challenge, embrace it.
Important Things To Remember
When answering job interview questions, it’s easy to become a little too focused on crafting the perfect answer. Remember that successfully answering interview questions is as much about HOW you answer them, not just the words you use.
So with that said, always remember to:
- Be polite
- Be honest
- Don’t cut anyone off
- Ask questions if you need clarification
- Hold eye contact
- Keep your composure
- Ask great questions in general
So that’s it for my ultimate guide to answering job interview questions. What did you think? If there’s anything else you’d like me to cover or explain in more detail, feel free to leave a comment below.
As always, I hope these tips serve you well!
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- How To Prepare For A Job Interview The Right Way
- Questions To Ask In A Job Interview
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- How To Have Rock-Solid Confidence In Job Interviews
Will Vaughan is the Founder & CEO of Your Career Mastery. He’s dedicated to helping young professionals discover and land the job of their dreams using a mix of proven strategies, tips, tools, and mindsets. He currently works as a Content & SEO manager for a 100 million dollar tech company in Melbourne, Australia.