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12 Common Interview Questions And How To Answer Them

by | CAREER TIPS | 2 comments

We’ve all heard the stories about eccentric interview questions that some companies ask. However, chances are you’ll be asked some pretty common interview questions first, ones that you can prepare for in advance.

Here are 12 common interview questions and how to answer them well:

1. Tell Me About Yourself

Well, the most common interview question isn’t even a question! The dreaded “Tell me about yourself” is more like an open-ended command, followed by silence and an expectant stare. The trick to answering this question well is to have something prepared in advance. Understand the scope of the question, the interviewer simply wants you to give them a professional summary, not to retell your childhood or list of your hobbies. We recommend preparing a one-minute pitch that traces your career path to where you’re now. Be sure to emphasize your latest position and accomplishments the most, as well as mentioning what you hope to achieve in the future.

2. When Did You Last Use ____ Skill?

Interviewers want to assess your skills and competencies against those required for the job. The best way to do this is by asking for concrete examples of when you last used certain skills, e.g. negotiation, overcoming a challenge, turning a complaint around, fixing a budget issue, displaying leadership, etc. To prepare for these questions, take another look at the job description. What are the required skills for the position you are interviewing for? Note them down and think of one recent and concrete example where you displayed each skill in your current or last position.

3. How Much Do You Know About Our Company?

Employers want to know that you’re serious about working for them. If you show up for the interview not having done a bit of research, you run the risk of looking not only unprepared but disinterested in the position as well. Use their “About Us” page to discover the company’s history, culture, and exactly what the services or products on offer. Do a more in-depth study online to find out its competitors, what differentiates it from those competitors, and what its business model is, all of this demonstrates great research skills! 

🔑 Knowing the company’s culture is crucial. Find out how to answer these 7 key cultural fit questions!

4. Why Do You Want to Work for Us? / Why Do You Want This Job?

When the hiring manager wants to assess not only your enthusiasm for the position but also your motivation for joining the company, they’ll ask you this common interview question. Focus your answer on your passion for what the company does and what will be the day-to-day tasks involved in the position. Don’t discuss benefits, salary, or the easy commute as being among the reasons you want this job.

5. Why Should We Hire You?

This can be a curveball if you’re not prepared for it. Make sure you create and rehearse an elevator pitch that allows you to sell yourself confidently and eloquently. In preparation, make a list of your most positive qualities and how you’ve applied them in the professional world. Be specific and cite examples. The more confidently you deliver this answer, the more likely you are to impress the interviewer.

🤔 Want to know how to answer some real out-of-the-box questions? Here are 8 you could face one day. 

6. Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

Keep your responses positive and avoid bashing your old company, boss, or colleagues. Don’t lie about getting fired or laid off, but don’t go into great detail either. If you were fired, let the interviewer know that you acknowledge your mistakes, have learned from them, and that you see the positive impact the experience had on your career. If you voluntarily left your last job, or if you’re about to leave, acknowledge your accomplishments, and convey your readiness to take on new challenges.

7. What Would Your Last Manager Say About You?

This common interview question is all about self-awareness. The hiring manager wants to know if you’re aware of how others perceive you, and how this affects your performance. To prepare for this question, reflect on the conversations you’ve had with your manager and on your last performance review. What did your manager feel you were doing well? If anything negative came up, what steps did you take to turn it around?

8. How Would You Spend Your First 30/60/90 Days in This Role?

This question is quite common for management roles but can pop up in any type of interview as well. The recruiter wants to know what your goals are, how you will prioritize them, and how you organize yourself. That said, there is no one right answer to this question. Focus on conveying the fact that you have concrete goals and that you’re determined to attain them. For example, think about how will you get to know your team during the first 30 days.

9. What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?

While you may not be asked this question directly, it’s important to practice your answers, as other questions may lead you to discuss both. Start by reflecting once again on your past performance reviews. What skills and competencies are you consistently praised for? Don’t be afraid to acknowledge an area where you’ve been critiqued, but do be prepared to explain how you made changes to address the issue or how you plan on making changes in the future.

10. Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

The recruiter wants to know if this job is the right fit for your overall career goals. If you aren’t sure about how to answer, don’t say, “I don’t know.” Instead, say that you’d like to progressively grow and develop your career by advancing within the company where you’re applying. This is where knowledge about the internal structure of the company and about the industry as a whole can come in handy.

Spend some time researching higher-level jobs in the company. Look up those employees on professional networks, a good place to start in hospitality is Hosco’s members directory! What was their path? Do you see yourself following a similar path or doing something different?

11. What Are Your Salary Expectations?

It’s unlikely that this will come up in the first interview, but you’ll eventually have to talk about the salary, so it’s best to be prepared from the start. Read the job description carefully, and be sure that you understand all of the responsibilities you’ll be taking on so that you can justify your answer.

For example, will you be directly responsible for bringing in revenue or managing a budget? Your experience with specific tasks are negotiating points, so know as much as you can about the job before the interview. If the compensation that the company is willing to offer doesn’t appear on the job description, you’ll need to research the industry standard salary range. Finally, be confident in the number or range you give, but remain flexible until an official offer has been made.

12. Do You Have Any Questions for Me?

99% of the time, this is the last and most common interview question as it’s the perfect way to wrap things up. Even if the hiring manager has been thoroughly informative, you should prepare a couple of questions to ask. What’s the company’s take on work/life balance? What kinds of benevolent activities does the company participate in? What’s a typical day in this role look like? Keep the questions centered on the position you’re applying for and what it’s like to work for the company. Avoid questions about the salary unless the recruiter has already brought it up or if they’ve already made you an offer.

Discover these 9 good questions to ask at the end of an interview. 

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