20 Top Job Interview Questions and Answers

Explore typical job interview questions and how you can prepare

Photo: Thinkstock

By Adam Jazairi

There are quite a few tricky steps in the job search process, but for many newcomers, the interview is the most daunting. If you haven’t been to many interviews, it can be hard to know what to expect.

Though often overlooked, a list of typical job interview questions can be one of your best weapons in your career search. The more interviews you go to, the more you’ll notice the same types of job interview questions popping up. If you keep track of these and make a list of interview questions and answers, you’ll quickly be prepared for even the toughest of interviews.

We’ve put together a selection of some of the most common questions, so you’ll know what to expect even if you’re heading into your first interview.

Fortunately, you don’t have to sit through a dozen interviews in order to compile a list of typical job interview questions. We’ve put together a selection of some of the most common questions, so you’ll know what to expect even if you’re heading into your first interview.

Top Interview Questions and Answers

1. Tell me about yourself.

This is the kind of open-ended job interview question that can take a lot of candidates off-guard. Instead, view it as a chance to share your positive qualities, recent accomplishments, and so forth. In short, job interview questions like these are a chance to sell yourself as the perfect employee. Don’t miss that opportunity!

2. What’s your ideal work environment?

With job interview questions like this one, employers are trying to find out if the candidate will be a good fit in the workplace. This is where research comes in to play. Knowing about the company is crucial to know how to answer this question properly.

3. Would you rather work on your own or as part of a team?

Almost always, employers are looking for team players. Don’t neglect to mention experience you have working on group projects.

4. Do you consider yourself a leader or a follower?

If you’re applying for a managerial position, you’ll definitely want to talk up your leadership qualities. Still, even in an entry-level job, employers like to see people who take initiative. A safe answer is to suggest that you’re comfortable taking orders, but are also capable of stepping into a leadership role.

5. What would you say is your best quality?

A good strategy for these types of job interview questions is to brainstorm a list of your top ten best qualities. Different qualities may be more desirable to different employers, so it’s good to have a few potential answers to this question depending on the company you’re interviewing at.

6. What would you say is your worst quality?

Usually, when interviewers ask this question, they want to see self-awareness and maturity. Don’t be afraid to be honest; it’s pretty obvious to an employer when you’re telling them what they want to hear.

7. Tell me about your typical workday/week.

This sort of job interview question is designed to get a broad sense of who you are as a worker. Be sure to present yourself as productive, helpful, and easy to work with, highlighting any special details that may set your typical day apart from the crowd.

8. Describe a situation in which you were faced with a crisis. How did you manage it?

Crisis management is key in the workplace. Since supervisors can’t be everywhere all the time, leadership and initiative are sought-after qualities in prospective employees. Brainstorm a few times when you handled a tricky situation with poise and efficiency.

9. How do you handle stress in the workplace?

Similar to #8, this is one of those job interview questions that targets a specific quality. Interviewers are looking for candidates who are calm and collected in the face of pressure and deadlines.

10. Have you ever had to resolve a conflict between colleagues?

Since the workplace dynamic is an essential component of productivity, employers like to see people who can get along with their coworkers. Knowing how to solve conflicts is equally important, whether it means intervening yourself or directing it to an HR specialist.

11. What’s your five-year plan?

Having a plan for your future demonstrates motivation and ambition, both of which are important qualities. Make sure to have a specific idea of where you envision yourself in five, ten and even twenty years.

12. Why did you leave your past job?

If possible, make sure to avoid speaking negatively about your former employer. This can indicate that you don’t work well under supervision or with other employees.

13. Why are you interested in this job?

Job interview questions like this demand specifics. Point out aspects of the company that you find appealing. The more unique your answer, the better!

14. What are some of your hobbies/passions?

Few companies want mindless drones in the office. This is your chance to show your depth and dimension as a person.

15. Have you ever had any experience in “x” (production, corporate, etc.) environment?

Obviously, the best answer to job interview questions like this is “yes.” But even if you don’t have formal experience in a particular work environment, try to think of a comparable situation you’ve been in that shows your familiarity.

16. Tell me about the last time you were upset at work.

Like #9 and #10, this question helps an employer gauge your ability to work under pressure. Everyone gets upset, but it’s your response to adversity that’s important. Highlight past situations where you’ve managed frustration effectively.

17. What was it like working with your past boss?

If your experience was positive, explain what made the relationship work well. If it was so negative that you can’t highlight a positive, try to focus on what you’ve learned from the experience.

18. Describe your perfect supervisor.

This is a tricky question, and your answer will depend on the type of work environment. If you’re interviewing at a heavily supervised company, for example, you’ll want to give a different answer than a more laid-back office where everyone’s pretty self-motivated.

19. Describe your worst possible supervisor.

Of all the typical job interview questions, this is probably the most despised. It’s hard to know exactly how to answer it, but do your best based on the type of company you’re interviewing at. If in doubt, be honest.

20. Why should we hire you?

Much like #1, this is the type of question that can seem confounding at first, but in reality it’s a great opportunity to showcase your finest qualities. Without sounding pompous or arrogant, list concrete accomplishments and personality traits that you believe are in sync with the company’s vision and needs.

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