Common Job Interview Questions and Answers: Tips To Get Hired

by Jacques Sprenger on 2012-08-2512

You have reached that all-important milestone; you finally got somebody out there to invite you in for a face-to-face interview. Do you know what you will answer? Are you prepared with concise and focused replies? Or are you going to stammer and stutter, peppering your remarks with “You know”, “I mean” or even worse, some prolonged “ehhh” which President Obama himself is trying to eradicate from his speech?

Getting Ready For The Job Interview: Know A Little Q & A

Whether you’re hoping to land your dream job or just looking to get any job in any employment market, you’ll need to get ready for that moment. When preparing for a job interview, there is only one solution if you are not quick witted and an accomplished orator with a fabulous memory: practice, practice, practice! Let me offer a few tips on how to prepare for that fateful moment:

1. Why do you want to work for our company? is one of the most tricky and fundamental questions you will face. That’s why you should never go empty-handed, or rather, empty-minded if you’ll pardon the pun. Do extensive research of the business in general and the company in particular. An unfavorable answer is evidently “because I need the money”. The smartest answer has to do with what you can offer that will benefit the business. Be concrete and detailed, showing the interviewer that you came prepared; rehearse in front of a mirror or with a capable friend till both of you are satisfied. Do not use “You know” (if they knew what you are thinking they wouldn’t even ask) or “like” unless it is needed. The teen expression “I am like” comes across as juvenile and unpolished, and shows a weak command of the formal English used in such situations.

how to prepare for a job interview
Job interview at IKEA

2. Give me some idea of who you are can be a tricky question with some dangerous traps. Hiring managers and interviewers are not interested in your trophies as a boy scout: you’ll want to prepare a short description of your main accomplishments and include some positive traits. When asked about your weaknesses, the response “I am a perfectionist” plays very well in most cases. When asked about your achievements, the response “I saved my last company hundreds of dollars by suggesting X and Y” is a clear winner. Be careful not to come across as a vain and pretentious candidate, more interested in his/her image than in the good of the team. So don’t overdo the achievements and be truthful in every aspect.

3. You left your last job because… is also a loaded question. Many candidates will flatter themselves while putting down the old boss. Serious mistake! If you don’t show loyalty to the previous employer, why should they expect anything else once they hire you? Tell the truth but be tactful. If you had a problem with a supervisor, say so frankly, calmly and objectively. Most interviewers will appreciate your honesty, though they’ll wonder whether you are difficult to deal with within a team. So add that you fully understand what the new company wants and that you’ve become a better employee who’s able to learn from past mistakes.

4. Do you have a figure in mind? touches the delicate area of salary negotiations. The advice here is not to answer directly. Employers already know how much they want to pay you and they know that a weak job market allows them to pay less. Prepare yourself by researching the salary ranges for your intended position and answer in a broad manner: “I have a general idea but I am flexible. I know I have a lot to learn as the new guy (or gal) in the company. Can you give me an approximate number?”

5. Is there anything you wish to add? gives you the chance to fill them in on information that you have determined is important for them to know and that they haven’t asked. Keep it brief so that they won’t think you are desperate to get the job. Be professional and make a convincing argument explaining why you can be a great asset to the bottom line.

When you leave, make sure you give the interviewer a firm handshake (even if you are a lady) and keep eye contact. Smile as you take your leave. They must sense strength and confidence in you. Then ask them if you may call after a couple of days to find out about their decision; this will show them your persistence and interest.

Other writeups that may be of interest:

Here are more job interview techniques to get you hired!

Created December 7, 2009. Updated August 25, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Mihai December 8, 2009 at 3:53 am

some good pointers there. i recently went for an interview, and to my surprise i got it.
i think the trick is as you point out not to act too desperate for the job. if they throw some difficult questions, there’s nothing wrong with taking a minute to think about them.

all the best.

Craig December 8, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Be prepared and have confidence. Salary is hard but ask for fair market value and have an idea of the range you are aiming for so when they give you a number you know if you can try for hire or not.

Edwin December 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm

For the question “what is your biggest weakness?”, I think it’s a bad idea to answer along the lines of “I’m a perfectionist” or “I just care too much”. It’s just a generic answer similar to “I’m a people person” for the strength question.

An interviewee would be better off answering with something like “I have a tendency to focus on too many projects at once, which in the past has been a problem. But it’s something I’ve been working on”. This shows that you are conscientious of true weaknesses you have and are willing to work on things. This is far better than the canned response of taking a strength and making it a weakness.

John DeFlumeri Jr December 8, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Any one question can be the whole interview, and every interviewer is different. The ability to read the person interviewing you is important. Luck and the number of applicants applying are huge factors these days too.

John DeFlumeri Jr

Caleb Menskill December 15, 2009 at 9:25 am

Okay, after seeing your cartoon above I have to comment… directly to the left of my desk is a chair that I have to assemble for my office… but I think you just inspired me to have the next person that I interview to put it together. 🙂 I think this will give me an idea of who they are.

SteveYeap December 16, 2009 at 9:10 pm

If you have any idea what job interview questions would be asked, then one best way for you to deliver your answers properly on your interview day is through writing the questions and answers down, and practice delivering them with a friend to act as an interviewer. The person you are practicing may provide you some comments regarding things that may look awkward while you deliver your piece. This would help you a lot on the big day.

FinanciallySmart December 24, 2009 at 3:16 pm

Confidence is very important while doing an interview. Over confidence or lack of confidence persons should leave at the door way of the interview room. I like your pointers they are good.

Andrew May 23, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Confidence does really matter for interviews, as does preparation.

Jake (Got Hired) Getton August 27, 2012 at 11:16 am

Very good stuff! One additional suggestion to answer the question “tell me a little about yourself” is to ask what specifically they would like to know. Something like “Sure! What about my background would you like me to start with?”. Maybe they do want to hear where you came from, or maybe they want to hear about something they really liked.

Veronica @ Pelican on Money August 27, 2012 at 8:17 pm

You know, I’m often baffled why employers ask silly questions such as “why do you want to work for our company”. I mean… they know you’re there for money, why bother asking something so redundant? Then again, they could be just testing to see how you handle yourself and what your response may say about your other qualities. Does anyone know exactly why this question is often asked?


Finance Fox September 12, 2012 at 12:44 am

Now what if you go through this exact situation given above? If you were the applicant, would you bother trying to make a chair?

Mark @ Occupational therapist September 22, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Research is the key to getting hired. Be knowledgeable about the company and about the salary range that the company pays out.

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