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Updated Dec 18, 2023

The Most Common Interview Questions Hiring Managers Ask

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Max Freedman, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst

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Some hiring managers like to ask off-the-wall job interview questions, such as “What color crayon would you be?” or “How would your archnemesis describe you?” to see how the job candidate reacts under pressure. However, most interviewers would rather ask straightforward questions that apply to relevant work experience and skills than questions designed to throw unsuspecting candidates for a loop. Below, find the most common interview questions and examples of good answers.

How to answer common interview questions

Questions about the company and position

The interviewer has the candidate’s resume and cover letter and has likely already scoped out their social media accounts. However, the goal of the interview is to determine how good of a fit a person is for the open position. In all likelihood, every applicant has relevant experience and could be a strong candidate on paper. These hiring manager interview questions give you an opportunity to connect the dots on your resume by explaining, for example, why you chose to attend a specific university or why you left a previous position.

Question: “Why do you want to work here?”

Answer: “I want to work here because what your company does aligns with my values and interests in …”

Explain these interests in a few short sentences.

Question: What do you know about this company?

Answer: I know that [founder’s name] founded the company in 2023 and that your biggest [products or services] are … 

For an especially powerful answer to this common interview question, you could share what you know about how the company’s products or services differ from competitors’.

Question: Why are you interested in this position?

Answer: I’m interested in this position because … 

Describe how the position’s responsibilities match your interests. You should also mention how anything unique about the company ties into your interest in the position.

Question: What makes you a good fit for this position?

Answer: The answer to this question could be roughly the same as the one above, but replace your interests with your skills, background or other qualifications.

FYIDid you know

Learning to give concise but meaningful answers is one of the most important job interview skills.

Questions about your experience

Just about every resume the interviewer receives should explain the applicant’s relevant career experience. The interviewer already has a list of your previous jobs and skills, so these questions about your job experience allow you to delve deeper and be specific. Rather than reiterate the information the interviewer already has, take this opportunity to state how your previous experience would directly transfer to this new company and how that could benefit the company.

Question: What did you like or dislike about your last job?

Answer: I liked that I got to …” Name a few favorite tasks. Don’t be afraid to give details, but keep it brief. 

Name one thing you disliked, and keep it short. You don’t want to come off as ungrateful, snobby or difficult to work with.

Question: Tell me about your work experience.

Answer: I got into this field with [describe your first job a bit]. I moved on to [describe your next job a bit].” 

If your resume is long and includes many positions, you don’t need to share extensive details about each one. Focus on the most meaningful, relevant jobs you’ve held.

Question: Why did you leave your last job?

Answer: I was ready for a change. I liked what I was doing, but I knew I was capable of more and needed to go elsewhere to achieve that growth.” 

Of course, if your reason is different, state your actual reason — just do what this example does and stay general but meaningful without saying anything negative.

Questions about your personal attributes and characteristics

These are some of the most notoriously difficult questions for job candidates to answer in interviews, because no one is truly comfortable talking about themselves. Interviewers know that as well, but these questions can provide valuable insights.

This part of an interview is an excellent time to demonstrate how you stand out from the rest of the candidates. Providing examples of a time you overcame an obstacle at work or came up with a new system or solution the company used — for example, maybe you led the charge on custom software development — will make a lasting impression on the interviewer.

Question: What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

Answer: I’m [give about three descriptors]. My greatest weakness is that I’m [describe a minor weakness], and I make up for it by [describe how you address this issue and are continuing to work on it].

Never mention more than one weakness.

Question: How do you interact with a team?

Answer: I’m a great team player who knows how to communicate with others, follow my supervisor’s guidance, and lead whenever necessary.

Question: How do you handle stress at work?

Answer: I handle stress by …

Discuss how you prioritize certain tasks over others, communicate if you’re feeling overworked, and remain calm through it all.

Questions about your personal goals

When asked some of the questions listed here, candidates often spin their answers into how they can benefit the company and help achieve its goals. However, these questions are some of the most valuable an interviewer can ask, because a good fit between the potential new hire and the company is just as important, or perhaps even more important, than skills. After all, job skills can be taught via new-hire training plans. Take special care not only to explain your immediate ambitions but to illustrate how the position aligns with your long-term goals.

Question: Why did you choose this career?

Question: Where do you see yourself in the future?

Question: What are your hobbies outside of work?

Question: Why should we hire you?

Rather than providing examples for all of these questions, we advise just being honest. No, you don’t want to say, “I’m in this for the money,” but you do want to paint a clear vision of your career trajectory and how the employer might fit into those plans. In doing so for the first three questions, you subtly answer the fourth.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway

Tactful honesty makes for a good job interview.

Interviewing is a two-way street

Whether you are currently seeking a new position or do not intend to go into interviews for quite some time, you will benefit by being prepared to answer them thoroughly.

Remember that an interview goes both ways; you need to find out if the position and company will be a good fit for you as well. As such, don’t be afraid to ask questions of your own, to request clarifications, or to return to an earlier question if the relevant information didn’t come to you in time. Interviewers are human too, and they understand that no one is perfect, especially in stressful situations. Good luck out there.

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Max Freedman, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
Max Freedman has spent nearly a decade providing entrepreneurs and business operators with actionable advice they can use to launch and grow their businesses. Max has direct experience helping run a small business, performs hands-on reviews and has real-world experience with the categories he covers, such as accounting software and digital payroll solutions, as well as leading small business lenders and employee retirement providers. Max has written hundreds of articles for Business News Daily on a range of valuable topics, including small business funding, time and attendance, marketing and human resources.
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