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Build Your Career Get the Job

Why Hiring Managers Really Ask These 12 Common Interview Questions

Why Hiring Managers Really Ask These 12 Common Interview Questions
Credit: Baranq/Shutterstock

Some companies might ask off-the-wall job interview questions like, "What color crayon would you be?" but new research finds that most interviewers would rather ask straightforward questions than ones that are designed to throw candidates for a loop.

According to a study from the staffing firm Accountemps, 39 percent of senior managers said their favorite questions to ask are about the job and their company, 22 percent like to ask about the candidate's previous or current experience, and 18 percent like asking about the applicant's personal attributes and characteristics. Just 6 percent of those surveyed said they like to ask theoretical questions during job interviews.

Bill Driscoll, district president for Accountemps, said that although job candidates can't predict every question they may be asked during an interview, they are best served by practicing answers to those that are commonly asked. [See Related Story: Want the Job? Schedule a Morning Interview]

"Knowing your audience is crucial," Driscoll said in a statement. "Learn as much as you can about the company and position by conducting research, reading relevant news and reaching out to your network for insights."

To help job seekers, Accountemps compiled a list of senior managers' favorite interview questions, and provided insight into what they are trying to learn by asking them:

Company or position


  • "Why do you want to work here?"
  • "What do you know about this company?"
  • "Why are you interested in this position?"

Trying to learn: Candidate's level of enthusiasm; whether the candidate did his or her homework; and the applicant's fit for the position.



  • "What did you like or dislike about your last job?"
  • "Tell me about your work experience."
  • "Why did you leave your last job?"

Trying to learn: The applicant's fit for the position; the candidate's patterns in work history; and the candidate's transferable skills.

Personal attributes or characteristics


  • "What are your strengths and weaknesses?"
  • "How do you interact with a team?"
  • "How do you handle stress at work?"
  • "What are your hobbies outside of work?

Trying to learn: If the candidate has the right mix of technical and soft skills, the applicant's work style, and how the candidate manages various situations.

Personal goals


  • "Why did you choose this career?"
  • "Where do you see yourself in the future?"

Trying to learn: If the position would contribute to the applicant's overall career goals; if those objectives align with the company's; and if the applicant's ambitions fit the role.

The study was based on surveys of more than 300 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees in the United States.

Chad  Brooks
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.