50 COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
(Excerpted from the book The Accelerated Job Search by Wayne D.
Ford, Ph.D, published by The Management Advantage, Inc.)
Tell me about yourself:
The most often asked question in interviews. You need to have a
short statement prepared in your mind. Be careful that it does not
sound rehearsed. Limit it to work-related items unless instructed
otherwise. Talk about things you have done and jobs you have held
that relate to the position you are interviewing for. Start with the
item farthest back and work up to the present.
Why did you leave your last job?
positive regardless of the circumstances. Never refer to a major
problem with management and never speak ill of supervisors,
co-workers or the organization. If you do, you will be the one
looking bad. Keep smiling and talk about leaving for a positive
reason such as an opportunity, a chance to do something special or
other forward-looking reasons.
What experience do you have in this field?
Speak about specifics that relate to the position you are applying
for. If you do not have specific experience, get as close as you
you consider yourself successful?
You should always answer yes and briefly explain why. A good
explanation is that you have set goals, and you have met some and
are on track to achieve the others.
What do co-workers say about you?
prepared with a quote or two from co-workers. Either a specific
statement or a paraphrase will work. Jill Clark, a co-worker at
Smith Company, always said I was the hardest workers she had ever
known. It is as powerful as Jill having said it at the interview
What do you know about this organization?
question is one reason to do some research on the organization
before the interview. Find out where they have been and where they
going. What are the current issues and who are the major players?
What have you done to improve your knowledge in the last year?
Try to include improvement activities that relate to the job. A wide
variety of activities can be mentioned as positive self-improvement.
Have some good ones handy to mention.
Are you applying for other jobs?
Be honest but do not spend a lot of time in this area. Keep the
focus on this job and what you can do for this organization.
Anything else is a distraction.
Why do you want to work for this organization?
This may take some thought and certainly, should be based on the
research you have done on the organization. Sincerity is extremely
important here and will easily be sensed. Relate it to your
long-term career goals.
Do you know anyone who works for us?
Be aware of the policy on relatives working for the organization.
This can affect your answer even though they asked about friends not
relatives. Be careful to mention a friend only if they are well
What kind of salary do you need?
A loaded question. A nasty little game that you will probably lose
if you answer first. So, do not answer it. Instead, say something
like, Thatís a tough question. Can you tell me the range for this
position? In most cases, the interviewer, taken off guard, will tell
you. If not, say that it can depend on the details of the job. Then
give a wide range.
Are you a team player?
of course, a team player. Be sure to have examples ready. Specifics
that show you often perform for the good of the team rather than for
yourself are good evidence of your team attitude. Do not brag, just
say it in a matter-of-fact tone. This is a key point.
How long would you expect to work for us if hired?
Specifics here are not good. Something like this should work: Iíd
it to be a long time. Or As long as we both feel Iím doing a good
Have you ever had to fire anyone? How did you feel about that?
serious. Do not make light of it or in any way seem like you like to
fire people. At the same time, you will do it when it is the right
thing to do. When it comes to the organization versus the
individual who has created a harmful situation, you will protect the
organization. Remember firing is not the same as layoff or reduction
What is your philosophy towards work?
The interviewer is not looking for a long or flowery dissertation
here. Do you have strong feelings that the job gets done? Yes.
Thatís the type of answer that works best here. Short and positive,
benefit to the organization.
If you had enough money to retire right now, would you?
yes if you would. But since you need to work, this is the type of
work you prefer. Do not say yes if you do not mean it.
Have you ever been asked to leave a position?
have not, say no. If you have, be honest, brief and avoid saying
negative things about the people or organization involved.
Explain how you would be an asset to this organization
You should be anxious for this question. It gives you a chance to
highlight your best points as they relate to the position being
discussed. Give a little advance thought to this relationship.
Why should we hire you?
out how your assets meet what the organization needs. Do not mention
any other candidates to make a comparison.
Tell me about a suggestion you have made
good one ready. Be sure and use a suggestion that was accepted and
was then considered successful. One related to the type of work
applied for is a real plus.
What irritates you about co-workers?
a trap question. Think real hard but fail to come up with anything
that irritates you. A short statement that you seem to get along
with folks is great.
What is your greatest strength?
Numerous answers are good, just stay positive. A few good examples:
Your ability to prioritize, Your problem-solving skills, Your
ability to work under pressure, Your ability to focus on projects,
professional expertise, Your leadership skills, Your positive
Tell me about your dream job.
Stay away from a specific job. You cannot win. If you say the job
you are contending for is it, you strain credibility. If you say
another job is it, you plant the suspicion that you will be
this position if hired. The best is to stay genetic and say
something like: A job where I love the work, like the people, can
contribute and canít wait to get to work.
Why do you think you would do well at this job?
several reasons and include skills, experience and interest.
What are you looking for in a job?
answer # 23
What kind of person would you refuse to work with?
be trivial. It would take disloyalty to the organization, violence
or lawbreaking to get you to object. Minor objections will label you
as a whiner.
What is more important to you: the money or the work?
Money is always important, but the work is the most important. There
is no better answer.
What would your previous supervisor say your strongest point is?
There are numerous good possibilities: Loyalty, Energy, Positive
attitude, Leadership, Team player, Expertise, Initiative, Patience,
Hard work, Creativity, Problem solver
Tell me about a problem you had with a supervisor
Biggest trap of all. This is a test to see if you will speak ill of
your boss. If you fall for it and tell about a problem with a former
boss, you may well below the interview right there. Stay positive
and develop a poor memory about any trouble with a supervisor.
What has disappointed you about a job?
Donít get trivial or negative. Safe areas are few but can include:
Not enough of a challenge. You were laid off in a reduction Company
did not win a contract, which would have given you more
Tell me about your ability to work under pressure.
You may say that you thrive under certain types of pressure. Give an
example that relates to the type of position applied for.
Do your skills match this job or another job more closely?
Probably this one. Do not give fuel to the suspicion that you may
want another job more than this one.
What motivates you to do your best on the job?
This is a personal trait that only you can say, but good examples
are: Challenge, Achievement, Recognition
Are you willing to work overtime? Nights? Weekends?
This is up to you. Be totally honest.
How would you know you were successful on this job?
Several ways are good measures: You set high standards for yourself
and meet them. Your outcomes are a success.Your boss tell you that
you are successful
Would you be willing to relocate if required?
should be clear on this with your family prior to the interview if
you think there is a chance it may come up. Do not say yes just to
get the job if the real answer is no. This can create a lot of
later on in your career. Be honest at this point and save yourself
Are you willing to put the interests of the organization ahead
a straight loyalty and dedication question. Do not worry about
the deep ethical and philosophical implications. Just say yes.
Describe your management style.
avoid labels. Some of the more common labels, like progressive,
salesman or consensus, can have several meanings or descriptions
depending on which management expert you listen to. The situational
style is safe, because it says you will manage according to the
situation, instead of one size fits all.
What have you learned from mistakes on the job?
have to come up with something or you strain credibility. Make it
small, well intentioned mistake with a positive lesson learned. An
example would be working too far ahead of colleagues on a project
and thus throwing coordination off.
Do you have any blind spots?
question. If you know about blind spots, they are no longer blind
spots. Do not reveal any personal areas of concern here. Let them do
their own discovery on your bad points. Do not hand it to them.
If you were hiring a person for this job, what would you look for?
careful to mention traits that are needed and that you have.
Do you think you are overqualified for this position?
Regardless of your qualifications, state that you are very well
qualified for the position.
How do you propose to compensate for your lack of experience?
if you have experience that the interviewer does not know about,
bring that up: Then, point out (if true) that you are a hard working
What qualities do you look for in a boss?
Be generic and positive. Safe qualities are knowledgeable, a sense
of humor, fair, loyal to subordinates and holder of high standards.
All bosses think they have these traits.
Tell me about a time when you helped resolve a dispute betweenothers.
specific incident. Concentrate on your problem solving technique
and not the dispute you settled.
What position do you prefer on a team working on a project?
honest. If you are comfortable in different roles, point that out.
Describe your work ethic.
Emphasize benefits to the organization. Things like, determination
to get the job done and work hard but enjoy your work are good.
What has been your biggest professional disappointment?
that you refer to something that was beyond your control. Show
acceptance and no negative feelings.
Tell me about the most fun you have had on the job.
Talk about having fun by accomplishing something for the
you have any questions for me?
have some questions prepared. Questions prepared where you will be
an asset to the organization are good. How soon will I be able to be
productive? and What type of projects will I be able to assist on?