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The Job Interview: Job Interview Questions and Questions to Ask

Updated on February 13, 2015

Knowing job interview questions and what questions to ask can help you ace an interview. Interviews can be very unnerving. Being prepared ahead of time is the key to success. Knowing what questions will be asked of you during an interview can make you feel at ease. Having your answers prepared and memorized ahead of time will help you not be so nervous and will help you seem more confident in your answers. Interviewers typically ask if you have any questions towards the end of an interview. If you draw a blank to that question, you may seem un-knowledgeable about their company or about the position. Having questions prepared ahead of time shows you are intelligent and eager to get the job.

The Top 3 Questions Asked During an Interview

Tell me about yourself.
What is your greatest strength?
What is your greatest weakness?

Tell me about yourself.

Look at the position and company, and have a tailored answer ready for this question. Tell them about your strengths. If you have special skills or knowledge, express that as well. Talk about your computer skills. Don’t talk about yourself personally, unless you are specifically asked. Keep it short though, and do not ramble. Don’t talk about where you are from, where you went to school, and how you ended up in this field. Use this opportunity to point out things that might not be asked in the interview. Some examples: I’m very organized and detail oriented. For example, I label all the boxes and drawers in my house! I truly enjoy organizing. I volunteer in my free time. I went on to school to expand my business skills and knowledge. In my previous positions, I was able to showcase my analytical skills, innovate ways to make the companies more efficient and effective, and learn leadership skills. I am quite proficient in Excel. I can create Macros; I know the short-cuts and the formulas. I am flexible and adjust to change well. Show off some of your best skills as the candidate they are looking for. This is why it is important to do your research ahead of time, and tailor your answers to the position.

What is your greatest strength?

Make sure it is something that is important for your field. For the business world, you should say ethics and productivity. Add any additional strong points you have. Examples: I am extremely honest and ethical. My mother taught me the value of integrity. I adjust well to change and can fit into other cultures and work well with a variety of co-workers. I always maintain a positive attitude, even in a rough situation. I’m very confident in what I do, I am dedicated to doing a good job, I'm very motivated when it comes to learning new things, and I master new technology with ease. My organizational skills help me finish tasks on time, and I prioritize well. I tend to be an over-achiever and enjoy finding ways to make things more efficient and effective. I like to stay busy and am a very hard worker. I am creative and work well in a fast paced environment. These are just some examples. Whatever your strengths are, memorize them, so that you will be prepared during the interview. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be during the interview.

What is your greatest weakness?

This interview question should be answered in the opposite realm of your field. For example, if you are going to be doing a job that won’t be dealing with customers, you could say that you aren’t always sure that you have answered customers' questions to the best of your ability. Looking bad as a customer service representative for a position that has no contact with customers won’t look bad. Explain a weakness and how you have overcome it, or pick a reason that really is a positive. Example: I sometimes push myself too hard and don’t give myself as much of a break as I should. I can be a work-a-holic. Sometimes I think too much. I over-analyze. Another example: I can sing the praises of the organization, but I do not have sales experience, and I do not enjoy being persuasive to customers who do not want something. However, I do have collections experience and know how to be diplomatic. This would be good for a business position that did not relate to sales. Another example: If there is chaos, I like to get things under control and organized. I like things to be in an efficient order. A final example: I focus too much on my current task and do not always see the big picture. Try to disguise weaknesses as strengths, but don't overdo it, or they will see right through you.

What is your biggest regret?

This should not be a life answer. Instead, just mention that you remember a customer or client that you wished to follow up with and forgot to one day. You can turn this interview question into a positive that will help you land the job. Something simple that shows you care about your work. Example: I don’t really have any. I think everything that I’ve done has made me the person I am today. Occasionally, after work I’ll remember a conversation I had with someone that I meant to follow up on.

Why should I hire you?

You should have this interview answer tailored for the position before you walk in the door. Show that your background, qualifications, and skills match the job perfectly. Explain that you are well qualified, because you are smart, dedicated, ambitious, organized, you get the job done, you’re a fast learner, very efficient and effective, and detail-oriented (or whatever special skills you possess). Example: Because of my strong educational background, excellent grades, and 10 years of <your field> experience, I feel that I am very qualified for this position. I’m smart, dedicated, ambitious, and organized. I can get the job done! I’m very detail-oriented, can prioritize, and I’m good at making things more efficient and effective if an opportunity presents itself. I’m extremely advance in Excel, can make Power Point presentations and databases in Access. I learn new computer programs quickly. Again, make sure that your best answer meets directly to the interview’s needs. Walk through the position’s requirements as you understand them, and follow each one with a reason as to why you meet that requirement perfectly. Example: As I understand your needs for this position, you need someone with a strong background in <specifics of the duties of the position>. I have <number> years of experience exactly in this area and have become more advanced in my field as the years have gone by. Show that you are the candidate they are looking for.

What is your ideal job?

Employers often ask this question to see how well of a fit you will be in their organization and in the position that is open. Ideal answers would be: one that I can stay with, be happy at, have stability, and retire with. I want a job that I can make more efficient and effective. I want a long term commitment, something I like what I do, and something I can do well.

What is your greatest achievement?

Try to think of something you created or a way in which you went above and beyond in a job. Have this answer ready in advance. Example: I created a Website or I got my Master’s Degree. If the interviewer asks why such and such is your greatest accomplishment, you can use phrases like “they made me feel proud, like I had achieved something” and/or “getting good grades motivates me to do well in life and gives me encouragement.”

What is your work style?

Choose positive words and make sure they match well with the job. If the job requires a lot of teamwork, then say you enjoy working on a team. Other examples: flexible, positive, and stable.

Why did you leave your last job?

This is a tricky question, because regardless of your answer, it could swivel around and look bad on you. Saying the company went out of business, began lay-off’s, or a new company took over are good answers. Be truthful, but don’t say something thing like, “Well, I was about to be fired, so…” Instead, say you were undertrained and wanted a better position. Example: At <company>, <company> bought out the company and was laying off most of my department, so I looked for a better opportunity and found one. The next company went out of business. The next company was bought out by a huge corporation, and they laid off my boss and his boss in order to bring in their own staff so I decided a better opportunity was out there. As a temporary employee at <company>, I did not take a permanent position because there wasn’t an opportunity that caught my eye. Never badmouth your previous jobs. For prior positions, the best reasons are more money, a better opportunity, increased responsibility, or a growth in your career, skills, or education.

Describe a time when you handled a customer's complaint effectively. What did you do?

Have a great example in mind of when you went above and beyond for your company. End with, “I resolved the issue by verifying with the customer that their needs were met.”

Describe a situation in which you had difficulty getting along with someone. How did you handle it?

(They are asking about co-workers usually). Don’t bad mouth others. Explain a misunderstanding that occurred and how you resolved it. Explain that the relationship was fine, if not better, after the misunderstanding was taken care of.

When were you most satisfied in a job? What did you like or dislike about it?

Example: I enjoyed staying busy and feeling useful. There were times of high stress I did not like, but I enjoyed the challenge of the speed during those times too. Example: Some interviewers will ask you what you liked and disliked about every job you’ve held, so be ready. I liked the leeway and trust I was given. I enjoyed the variety. I liked having a structured schedule. It gave me a great foundation for my career. I wished they had done performance evaluations or feedback of any kind. I thought they made poor business decisions (obviously, since they went out of business). For one position, I did not receive adequate training and the previous worker was already behind in her work.

Describe your worst and best boss and what you liked and disliked about them. What did you like/dislike about your other jobs?

For the best, I would say they were a good role model and did not micromanage. For the worst boss, I would say I didn’t get proper instructions on how to do my job and was micromanaged too much. I received unclear instructions and inadequate training.

How many times did you unexpectedly miss work in the last 6 months?

My suggestion is 2, but always be honest in your answers!

What is Your Work Style? How do you problem solve situations?

Example answers: Organized, enjoy a variety of duties, working in a positive atmosphere, and the ability to improve tasks. I have practiced the process of resolving conflict immediately rather than letting them stew. This relieves anxiety and reduces conflict.

You seem overqualified for this position.

Example answer: Because of my strong experience in <field>, I would be able to contribute immediately, perhaps much faster than someone who would have to be brought along more slowly. Another example: This position is exactly what I love to do and am best at. My salary and title are not as important to me as my happiness in a job. Another example: I am currently looking for a long term commitment in my career right now. I am looking for a permanent position in my career. I am really looking for a stable, long-term commitment. Show the sincerity of your commitment to the company.

What do you know about our company? Why do you want this position?

Now is the time to shine with all the research you did on their company to show your enthusiasm. Research the company so you can answer this question intelligently.

Other related questions they may ask.

Why do you want to work here? <Research the company to have a solid answer>.What have you done to learn about our company? (They want proof you’ve done your research). Why do you want to work for this company? Again, relate your many talents and skills to what you researched about the company. Show that your style matches theirs.

What qualifications do you have for this position?

Match what you researched about the position and company to your skills and background. Examples: I like to stay busy and feel useful. I do not like high stress or tension in the office environment, but I enjoy a challenge.

or it may be phrased as:

Describe your qualities and the things that make you think you are qualified for this job. Tell us about your interests outside of work. I enjoy learning and self improvement. I’m an over-achiever. My main strength is organization. I am able to work overtime. My personal interests include volunteer work, self improvement, and crafts. I have strong ethics. Make sure you research the position thoroughly, and know how you are a perfect fit.

If you were hired, what are some ideas and talents that you could contribute to the position or our company?

Focus on your impressive strengths to show them how you could shine in their environment.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What are your career and personal goals?

Demonstrate your ambition to be with the same company and your flexibility to move around in that company. Try not to go overboard or reveal anything too personal. Instead, focus on stability and improving the company’s success. Show what skills you will bring to the company.

Other Questions

  1. What adjectives would you use to describe yourself? Be positive!
  2. What college subjects did you like best and least? Why? Make sure you answer this in relation to the job you are applying for.
  3. What have you read recently? What movies have you seen recently?
  4. Why are you looking for another job? Don’t bad mouth your previous employer.
  5. What questions do you have? (This is where you need to be prepared to begin asking the questions you have written down).

Great Questions to Ask an Employer in an Interview

When in an interview it is always a good idea to ask questions. However, they should be appropriate questions, and they should be questions that make you look good. I would recommend asking around three questions. These are just examples.

What are the most important skills needed for this position?

What are the details, duties, and expectations for this position?

How would you describe the atmosphere here? Ask specific questions about their company and the field. Discuss what you value about their organization. This shows you have a strong interest in this organization and are well prepared. Explain how you can benefit their company with your skills, talents, and past success.

Ask if there will be plenty to do, and explain you like to stay busy.

Is there much teamwork or is this mostly an independent position? Either way is fine with me.

I enjoy brainstorming on ways to improve my position. Will I be able to ask my supervisor or co-workers input on how to make my position more efficient?

I appreciate the value of taking notes as I learn new things and master my tasks. Will this be a problem in any way?

Are there any drawbacks you can think of in regards to working here?

Do you see me as a good fit?

Were there any questions in which I didn’t provide an adequate answer?

What are the company’s short and long term objectives?

What are the opportunities for personal growth?

What makes your firm different from the competition?

What do you see as the company’s strengths and weaknesses?

How would you describe your corporation’s personality and management style?

What is the overall structure of the department where this position is located?

What characteristics does a successful person within your company possess?

How often do you supply your employees with feedback?

What is a typical day like in this position?

How do you view the future and stability of this company?

What would be the most difficult part of this position?

What skills does the company currently not have but would like to see in the future?

When are you looking to fill this position?

What is the most challenging part of this position?

How many people would be in my department?

What is your favorite part about working for this company?

What is the next step in the interview process?

Top 5 Questions to Ask

Top Questions to Ask
What is the most difficult part of this position?
Ask a specific question about the company showing that you know something about their company.
What are the opportunities for growth in this position?
How soon are you looking to fill this position?
What is the next step in the interview process?

Questions Appropriate in a Second or Final Interview

What is the pay of this position? (if you do not already know)

The second interview is an appropriate time to discuss the salary of the position.

What kind of benefits does this position get? (Medical, Eye, Dental, ST and LT Disability, 401K)

How many days off do you get per year?

Do you get paid twice a month or bi-weekly?

Do you offer educational reimbursement?

What are the hours of the position?

Can you work from home via Logmein or are there any other work from home opportunities?

Are weekends expected ever?

Is there much overtime?

Is the lunch hour flexible or is there a certain time?

What is the dress code?

Will this be an office or a cubicle?

Can I bring a few décor items from home?

What is the earliest and the latest I can stay?

Are their raises, bonuses, commissions, or profit sharing?

Can I listen to music while I work?

How do the time sheets work?

What is my start date?


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