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Common Interview Questions

During a job interview, you will be asked about your qualifications, experience, and attitudes.

Being prepared is the best way to make sure you ace an interview. You will also have the chance to ask your own questions.

Questions You Might Be Asked

All interview questions are really the same question: Why should we hire you? Your task is to answer them in a way that convinces the potential employer that you are the right person for the job.

  • Tell me about yourself. This question is often used to break the ice. The important thing to remember is to keep the answer brief and make sure that it relates to the job.

  • Tell me about your education. Even though your resume includes this information, some employers like to learn more. Remember to mention any classes, seminars, workshops, and on-the-job training you've attended that support your job goals.

  • Why have you chosen this particular field? Answer this question in a way that illustrates your enthusiasm for and dedication to your career.

  • Why are you interested in working for this company? How do you think you will fit into this operation? State the positive things that you have learned about the company and how they fit with your career goals. This shows the employer that you cared enough about the interview to prepare for it.

  • How do others describe you? This is another way of asking "How do you think you will fit in?" You can prepare for this question before the interview by asking friends and/or people you have worked with how they would describe you.

  • What are your strengths? Or, if you were hired, what ideas/talents could you contribute to the position or our company? These questions give you an opportunity to sell yourself as the best candidate for the job. Be sure to show how your strengths could be used on the job and could benefit the company.

  • Give an example of how you solved a problem in the past. It is important to be able to show the process that you go through when presented with a problem. State the problem and describe the steps that you followed to reach the solution.

  • What do you consider the most important idea you contributed or your most noteworthy accomplishment in your last job? Give examples of ways in which you saved the company time or money or developed an office procedure that improved efficiency.

  • Give an example of a time you showed leadership and initiative. Even if you haven't had the title of lead worker, supervisor, or manager, give examples of when you recognized a job that needed to be done and you did it.

  • Give an example of a time you were able to contribute to a team project. If your work experience did not involve working on a team, use examples of teamwork from other aspects of your life, such as family projects or community activities.

  • What is your major weakness? Answer this is a positive manner by showing how you overcame a specific weakness. For example, "In the past, it was difficult for me to accept criticism from my peers. I have learned to value and solicit this input, however, and it has improved my job performance."

  • Describe your best/worst boss. Be careful not to present a negative picture of any past employers. If given a choice, always talk about your best boss. If pressed to describe the worst boss, pick a work-related characteristic that can be stated in a positive way. For example, "I had a supervisor who was vague when issuing assignments. I learned to ask questions so that I knew what was expected."

  • In a job, what interests you the most/least? Use this question to demonstrate how well you would fit the job being discussed. When discussing what you are least interested in, try to demonstrate a positive attitude.

  • What have you done to develop or change in the last few years? Use this question to show that you are willing to be challenged and to improve. Employers are looking for people who are willing to continue learning. Talk about formal and informal educational opportunities that you have pursued. Mention books and periodicals you have read that are related to your field of interest.

  • Where do you see yourself in three years? Telling the interviewer, "In your job!" is not a good idea. Instead, indicate that you hope to acquire sufficient skills and knowledge within that time to make a positive contribution to the company.

What's Legal?

All questions that you are asked in an interview should focus on your qualifications like the ones listed above. Learn more about the difference between legal questions and illegal ones.

Questions to Ask About the Job

  • What are the responsibilities of this position?
  • How would you describe an average day on this job?
  • How well defined is the job? Is there a written job description?
  • Can the duties of the job be expanded or changed?
  • What is the history of the position? Why is it vacant?
  • How will I be evaluated, and in what time frames? What performance standards will be used?
  • With whom would I be working? Who would be my supervisor? Whom would I supervise?
  • As you think about the position, what aspects of this job would you like to see performed better?
  • What are the key challenges or problems of this position?
  • Where can I go from here, assuming that I meet or exceed the job's responsibilities?
  • How would you describe the ideal candidate?

Questions to Ask About the Company

  • What are the company's short- and long-range objectives?
  • What is the common denominator in your successful employees?
  • What does the company consider unique about itself?
  • What are some outside influences that affect company growth?
  • Where does the company excel? What are its limitations?
  • What is the department's environment like?

Questions to Ask About the Next Step

  • When will a decision be made about this position?
  • What is the next step in the decision-making process?

Source: Creative Job Search, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.