To your interview bring a pen, 3 copies of your resume, and a list of references. Optionally, take a folder or portfolio, pack of chewing gum, and a list of question to the interviewer.
Here are 35 common interview questions and answers. But—
That interview stands between you and your dream job.
Each of the job interview questions below has a right and wrong answer.
Give the right one and get hired.
Fail, and it’s back to job search sites and waking up at 3am.
This guide will show you:
- The 35 most common interview questions.
- Right and wrong answers to help you ace the interview.
- Lists of top behavioral interview questions, phone interview questions, questions to ask in an interview, and more.
- How to answer job interview questions so they’ll call back.
Maybe your interview answers are fine, but your foundation has cracks.
Great answers to interview questions start with a great resume.
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Here’s the ultimate list of mock interview questions and sample answers. Click on a link to learn how to answer most common interview questions.
Top 40+ Most Common Job Interview Questions and Best Answers
- Tell me about yourself
- Why are you applying for this position?
- Why do you want to work here?
- What motivates you?
- Why are you a good fit for this position?
- Why are you the best person for this job?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What interests you about this position?
- Tell me about how you dealt with a tough challenge
- What are your strengths?
- Why should we hire you?
- Describe what you do in your current position
- Tell me about a time you went above and beyond for work
- Why did you leave your last job?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- What is your management style?
- Tell me about a time you reached a goal at work
- What are your salary requirements?
- What are you passionate about?
- How did you hear about this job?
- How do you deal with pressure?
- What are you most proud of?
- What do you know about our company?
- What’s your dream job?
- Why is there a gap in your resume?
- Why are you changing careers?
- Are you open to relocating?
- Tell me about a mistake you made
- Walk us through your resume
- Do you have any questions for me?
- Common Phone Interview Questions
- STAR Method for Acing Behavioral Interview Questions
- Illegal Interview Questions Employers Cannot Ask
- Bonus: What Makes You Unique?
- Bonus: How Would You Describe Yourself?
- Bonus: What Are Your Hobbies?
- Bonus: What Is Your Management Style?
- Bonus: What Are Your Career Goals?
- Bonus: Introduction 101: How to Introduce Yourself
- Bonus: Sell Me This Pen
- Bonus: 15 Best Informational Interview Questions to Ask
- Bonus: 20 Situational Interview Questions and Answers
- Bonus: 25 Teacher Interview Questions and Best Answers
- Bonus: 25 Nursing Interview Questions and Best Answers
How to Answer Common Interview Questions
Let’s be blunt.
It’s hard to answer job interview questions.
You’re under mountains of pressure and you don’t know the right answers.
Well, now you do.
See the best answers to 35 common interview questions below.
They’ve all got one thing in common.
They make it clear you’re inevitable for the job.
- They start with a skill or quality the interviewer wants.
- They tell how you used it.
- They show how it helped your company.
Here’s a typical interview question example:
Q: Tell me about yourself.
Background: A software engineering job wants machine learning and big data skills.
|A: You want someone who can use machine learning to process big data. At NinesCube we had data files of over a million customer transactions a day. I wrote five machine learning algorithms to handle them. From the insights gained, we improved our customer experience and increased repeat business 20%.|
Which of those tell me about yourself sample answers would you rather give?
Pro Tip: You can’t give great answers to interview questions unless you know the job requirements. So read the job description. But—research the company before the interview process starts.
Not sure how to learn about the company to give great interview answers? Do some interviewing of your own. See our guide: 15 Best Informational Interview Questions to Ask (& Why They Matter)
Tell me about yourself
About me questions are the most common interview questions on Earth.
They mean, “Why are you perfect for the job?” Is it in line with your career goals?
See these tell me about yourself sample answers. They fit a job that wants efficiency and collaboration.
|I worked at a small shop for two years doing 50 projects a year, meeting 100% of my deadlines. Then I worked for a bigger firm with clients like Disney and Netflix—with 99% client satisfaction. I collaborated with the team to win an A’ Design Award. I’m excited to step into a role like this that’s designed around that kind of efficiency and collaboration.|
|I was born in Central Maine and spent summers swimming on a lake. After college, I worked bartending jobs. I knew I had graphic design talent, so I tried it. I’ve worked for seven years now at two different firms. I’ve gotten really good.|
Which of those marketing interview questions answers will get the job?
“Tell me about yourself” tops the list of behavioral interview questions. Use specific achievements and don’t ramble.
Read our complete guide to tell me about yourself answers.
Why are you applying for this position?
“What prompted you to apply for this job?” means, “Why are you so perfect for it?”
It’s one of the easiest job interview questions to answer if you research the company.
|You’re looking for someone experienced in pairs programming and Scrum. I’ve been part of two programming pairs in six years. In the first we raised code efficiency 45%. In the second we helped the team win a BOSSIE Award. In that job I was on a Scrum team that delivered 15 projects 20% under budget.|
|I’ve been applying to just about every job I see on LinkedIn. This looked like a good fit, depending on the salary.|
The first of those programming interview questions answers nails it.
The next of our common interview questions asks, “why do you want to work for this company?”
Read our complete guide to the why are you applying for this position interview question.
Why do you want to work here?
“Why do I want to work here?” means: “Why will you be our best employee yet?”
Check out these answers:
|This is a high-end office with a great team. Your employees voted you the best place to work in New Hampshire. I know you’re looking for an administrative assistant good at resolving customer complaints. At CRM Mineral, I did that 43% faster than the previous assistant by triaging complaints and quickly escalating larger issues.|
|I need work and I’ve applied to 200 jobs in the past month. I’m ready to work hard and I’m a skilled admin assistant.|
The second of those administrative assistant interview questions is from the gut. The hiring manager will hate it.
The first is how to answer why this company.
Read our complete guide to the why do you want to work here interview question.
What motivates you?
This is another of those tricky behavioral interview questions.
It means, “Will this job motivate you to be a great employee? Do the career paths here excite you?”
Look at these answers:
|I’m motivated by a student-guided learning environment with great co-workers like you have here. I loved that at my last school. It drove me to double my professional development hours. I learned a lot about test-taking strategies, and my kids raised their averages by 20% in six months.|
|I’m motivated by helping young minds grow. I think it’s so important for our future to have engaged, happy kids. That’s why I got into teaching in the first place.|
That wrong example sounds nice, right?
It shows passion, but it doesn’t show how passion translates to achievement. Read our guide to the what motivates you interview question.
Why are you a good fit for this position?
Why would you be a good fit for this position means: What have you done that proves you’ll do a good job?
Reply like this:
|I’m a good fit because you need an efficient nurse who is professional under pressure. At Harrison Memorial, we had a full ward and fast-paced schedule. The charge nurse commended me five times for efficiency and teamwork.|
|I’m a great nurse and I’d work very hard to do the best job possible here. I’ve always fit in very well with nursing teams I’ve worked with.|
Why doesn’t that wrong example work? It says you fit, but it doesn’t offer proof.
Read our guide to the why are you a good fit for this position interview question here.
Want more nurse interview questions and answers? There’s a guide for that too: 25 Nursing Interview Questions and Best Answers
Why are you the best person for this job?
“What makes you a good candidate for this post” isn’t on the list of behavioral interview questions.
Answer it like a behavioral question, with a problem, solution, and how it helped.
See this Why are you the best candidate for this position sample answer:
|You need a business analyst who knows how to redesign customer communication protocols and fulfillment processes. I did that at Huffman Barco when outdated systems pushed our costs up. I was able to save the company $2 million a year.|
|I’m a top-notch business analyst, highly skilled in future state assessment, business process re-engineering, and gap analysis. I’ve been on the job for nine years. At Huffman Barco, I was responsible for all business analysis functions.|
That second example looks fine. But it doesn’t show how you helped.
Read our guide to the why are you the best person for this job interview question here.
Here’s the toughest of all common interview questions:
What are your weaknesses?
How can you say what you’re not good at and still get the job? You don’t need a list of weaknesses to say in an interview.
To nail typical interview questions like this, show how you’re working with your greatest weakness.
There’s a massive difference in these what are your weaknesses answers:
|I haven’t traditionally been great at leadership. At Sintertron, the DevOps manager wanted to put me in charge of two programming pairs, and it was terrifying. I enrolled in three Dale Carnegie classes and learned a lot. It was a challenge, but I ended up enjoying it. My teams outperformed the company speed average by 5%.|
|I’m not very good at teamwork. Every time my last boss put me with someone else to work with, we never got along. I work better by myself.|
The first of those DevOps interview questions answers tells a great story. It’s got a problem and a solution that helped the company.
Read our guide to the what are your weaknesses interview question.
What interests you about this position?
How to answer why are you interested in this position:
- Learn the job’s key skills.
- Show how you’ve used them.
- Say how that helped.
|The job offer jumped out at me. You need someone who knows about app prioritization and network monitoring. At AccuRight Solutions, I used those tools to boost network performance 38%.|
|It looks like a good opening at a good company. The pay is right, and it’s local to me and I need a job. I’m really interested in working here.|
Look at the first of those IT interview questions answers. It’s got exactly what the interviewer wants.
See our guide to the what interests you about this position interview question.
Here’s another of the most common behavioral interview questions. Watch how we link it to the job:
Tell me about how you dealt with a tough challenge
This is one of the top interview questions for a reason—
It shows how you deal with adversity.
|We had a big last-minute order come in from a valued customer. I called a meeting and laid out the problem. We found a way to get it done with zero overtime. We made an extra $1.1 million in revenue that month.|
|A crucial machine broke down right in the middle of a big run. I called in maintenance and they fixed the issue.|
That first example shows you had a major positive effect. The second only shows you know how to use a phone.
When it comes to common interview questions and answers, always add a benefit.
Read our guide to the tell me about a time you faced a tough challenge interview question here.
What are your strengths?
One of these what are your strengths examples answers soars. The other flops.
Both are for a job that needs a Python programmer good at collaboration
|I’m a strong Python programmer and I excel at collaboration. In my last job I worked closely with a team of five software engineers that turned out 10 Python projects in two years, end-to-end. We raised customer retention by 20%.|
|I’m an excellent Java programmer and I’ve got great communication skills. In my last job I worked with six software engineers. Our team created 11 software solutions in Java in two years. We boosted customer retention by 22%.|
Those job interview questions answers are almost identical. The first wins because the greatest strengths fit the job skills.
See our guide to the what are your strengths interview question.
Why should we hire you?
Typical interview questions are easy for the interviewer—hard for the applicant.
This one makes you prove yourself.
|You need an accountant who can support general accounting functions in the monthly close process for a high-volume firm. I did that at Amex for five years. I spotted a hidden issue that saved $3 million. I also redesigned our cloud computing policies and saved $300,000 a year in labor hours spent on security.|
|I’m an experienced accountant skilled in financial statements, asset management, and account analysis. I worked for five years at American Express as an accountant. During that time I worked on cross-functional teams and improved our account analysis policies. I think I’d be a great fit.|
That first example shows how you helped the company, with details. The second is generic. It tells your function, but were you good or bad at it?
This is one of the best interview questions. Only applicants who “get it” answer well.
Pro Tip: You’ll need lots of job-fitting accomplishments for a great interview. So—make a list. Before you go, rehearse your answers to these basic interview questions.
Read our guide to the why should we hire you interview question.
Describe what you do in your current position
Here are two Scrum Master interview questions and answers examples.
The job wants automation, Kanban, and velocity.
|I’m a Scrum Master in a team of nine SaaS employees. In my daily work, I shield the team and improve process efficiency. When I first took the job the team wasn’t hitting deadlines. I implemented an automation drive and Kanban system that raised velocity 23%.|
|I’m a Scrum Master. I focus on forecasting, removing impediments, and daily standup facilitation. I initiated our new idea collection system. I also used unit testing and pair programming to raise quality measures by 20%.|
Why does the first of those common interview questions answers work? It proves a skill set central to the job.
Tell me about a time you went above and beyond for work
Behavioral interview questions like this hunt for a diamond in the rough.
These answers are for a job that needs business storytelling skills:
|We needed star power for a big marketing campaign. We got a minor star involved but we couldn’t afford the one we really wanted. I got her on the phone and used business storytelling skills to get her engaged at half her normal rate. The campaign’s ROI exceeded targets by 39%.|
|We had a big email campaign going on and our agency was behind. I worked overtime for two weeks and got everything done, but it was hard.|
That first example answer shows exactly how you helped. In the second you made an effort, but did it help in some way?
See our guide to the tell me about a time you went above and beyond for work interview question.
Why did you leave your last job?
Or—why are you leaving your current job?
Standard interview questions like this are booby-trapped.
Don’t answer negatively. That’s a red flag. Use it as a chance to show a skill they want.
|My last job as an account manager was great. I got to do a side project in process improvement that saved $20,000 a month. Now that I’m trained as a Six Sigma Black Belt, I’m ready to make that the center of my career.|
|It just wasn’t a good fit. Management made some poor decisions that made it hard to get any traction. Plus I’m always looking for the next new thing.|
Read our guide to the why did you leave your last job interview question here.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This job interview question means: “Will you ditch us next year?”
The interviewer wants to hear, “No way! If you hire me, I’ll work hard for you for life.”
|I’d like to be a key player in a cutting edge agency like this. At Flexor I prototyped 30 product features a year. One of my sites received the 2017 Webby. That’s great, but there’s so much more I can do. A job like this would challenge me to be my best.|
|I’d like to be making six figures and have a wife and a couple kids. I want to live somewhere like Tibet and maybe write a novel. Plus I’d like to be working 20 hours a week and take two months off a year.|
Ouch! That second of those common interview questions answers is a flight risk.
The first says, “This is the perfect work environment for me.”
Read our guide to the where do you see yourself in 5 years interview question here.
What is your management style?
The management style interview question means, “Would you be a good manager?”
For non-management jobs, it means, “Could we promote you later?”
|I support the team, and let them do their jobs. They put me in charge of five analysts once at Marper Hills. I laid out our goals and got us access to a data analyst for a month. We found 35 low-margin projects and saved $2.9 million for the company.|
|I’ve never really had a managerial job before, but I guess I’d want to be sort of hands off. I think you should hire smart people and then let them do good work, not tell them what to do.|
That first answer gives details. The second is a guess about what might happen.
See our guide to the what’s your management style interview question.
Here’s another of those tough behavioral interview questions:
Tell me about a time you reached a goal at work
Behavioral or situational interview questions are a great way to prove yourself.
Talk about a problem, a solution, and how you helped.
|My boss wanted me to triple our video sales. I coached our videographers to focus on making customers look beautiful in every shot. In one season sales quadrupled. We were able to hire additional staff for the next season.|
|Management wanted to double sales. I put together a new plan based on solid research. We hit the target.|
The second of those typical interview questions answers is generic. To sell yourself, you need details.
Read our guide to the tell me about a time you reached a goal at work interview question.
What are your salary requirements?
This top interview question means: “Are you good AND can we afford you?”
Answer too low and you look cheap. Too high and you could scare them off.
So—be expensive, but with wiggle room. You’ll look like a deal.
For this interview questions example, the average salary is $26,000.
|I’d like to make $30,000, but that’s negotiable. I talked with three of your current CNAs and they love working here. That’s worth a lot.|
|Anything is fine. I need the money.|
Not sure about their price range? Check Glassdoor for a ballpark figure.
The next of our common interview questions seems personal. It’s not.
See our guide to the what are you salary requirements interview question.
What are you passionate about?
Interview questions like this sound like an invitation to ramble. But—stay focused on accomplishments.
This answer is for a customer service job that needs product knowledge skills.
|I love putting customers together with products that enrich their lives. At Chiller Outfitters we were tasked with maintaining thorough product knowledge. I got 98% positive customer satisfaction scores for that. As a result, my sales figures were 10% higher than the store average.|
|I’m very passionate about animal rights. I’m on the board for our local animal shelter and I go to meetings once a month. I walk dogs there every week because it makes them more adoptable.|
The first of those interview questions answers bolts you to the job. The second is really nice, but it won’t get you hired.
Read our guide to the what are you passionate about interview question here.
How did you hear about this job?
You can answer typical interview questions like this with, “I saw it on LinkedIn.”
That’s fine, but why not use it to sell?
|I saw it on LinkedIn. It was the perfect match because you need a UX designer skilled in gathering project requirements and working with Adobe Suite. In my last job, I designed 90% of our customer jobs with Adobe. I gathered all the project requirements myself and managed to keep customer satisfaction scores at 98%.|
|I saw it on LinkedIn and decided to give it a try.|
Next on the list of common interview questions, prove they can’t hire anyone but you.
How do you deal with pressure?
Interviewers need to know you won’t fold when the going gets tough. That’s why they ask typical interview questions like this.
|I meditate a half hour a day and go to the gym. It helps all the time. Once at Pizza Palace we were short-staffed. The cut-and-cash guy was behind and started complaining. I stayed calm and took a break to help. He came over later and thanked me. The next time we got slammed, he stayed calm too.|
|I go to the gym and meditate. It helps me stay calm in stressful situations.|
That second answer doesn’t show how your strategy has helped.
To answer behavioral interview questions like this next one, think hard before the interview.
What are you most proud of?
Job interview questions like this mean: “Convince us you can do the job.”
These answers are for a job that needs time-saving and communication skills.
|When I was an executive assistant at Kallas, our top execs were spending too much time on customer misunderstandings. I created a call system that eliminated 95% of those and saved 10 executive hours a week.|
|I’m very good at collaboration. I worked with my team at Kallas to redo our scheduling system. We saved $20,000 in travel costs.|
That second answer shows you helped the company. But—it doesn’t show the time-saving and communication skills the employer needs.
The next of our basic interview questions checks if you’re paying attention.
What do you know about our company?
Learn about the job before you apply. Typical interview questions like this will catch you if you don’t.
|I know you make the finest golf products in the world. I also know you’re looking to raise your market share, which is why I’m so excited about this job. At Phair Sports, I grew business 60% in two years and consistently exceeded sales goals.|
|You make golf balls, clubs, and hats, and sell them to major retailers like Walmart. I really like your products and in fact I use them exclusively when I play myself. I know you’ve got two plants—one here in Massachusetts and the other on the West Coast.|
That second example isn’t bad. But the first one lets you crow about a job-matching accomplishment.
Some common interview questions need prep work. Here’s one:
What’s your dream job?
Job interview questions about pie in the sky aren’t just for fun. The interviewers want to know if you’ll stick around.
|A job like this where I can do end-to-end project management for multiple projects in a Lean business environment. At Raytheon we had to cut costs drastically or lose $70 million in contracts. I managed our Lean training project that improved quality by 30% while cutting costs 45%. We kept the contracts and the client ordered $50 million in new work. I’d love to have that kind of impact full time.|
|I’d like a job with flexible hours, great pay, lots of vacation time, and a nice fat 401k.|
Some common interview questions get at choices you’ve made. Here’s one:
Why is there a gap in your resume?
For typical interview questions like this, show how your resume gap creates value.
|My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I took time off to help my father care for her. I learned a lot about stress management during that time. I also took continuing ed classes to keep my license up to date.|
|My mom was sick and I stopped work to help take care of her.|
Want more help for resume gap interview questions? See our guide: How to Explain Gaps in Employment
Why are you changing careers?
Career-changers need good explanations. Valid reasons are:
- More learning
- More job satisfaction
- More responsibility
- Less responsibility
|I’ve always been interested in tech. I loved my job as an office manager, but my favorite part was the system administrator duties. Saving the company $20,000 a year by automating our system monitoring and relocating our hardware was a real high point for me. I want to make that more central to my job.|
|I’m really tired of being an office manager. I’ve got solid tech skills and I want to use them. I think I’d really do well as a system administrator.|
Are you open to relocating?
Some common interview questions look for yes or no answers. They’re actually a new opportunity to sell:
|For this job, yes. I’m excited about it because it uses the multidisciplinary design process. At Doane & Daviau, I used that to develop two multi-million dollar projects with 15% less rework than my colleagues. I would definitely relocate to do that full time.|
|For the right position, yes.|
Why does that first answer win? It shares a job-fitting achievement.
Here’s another of those tricky behavioral interview questions:
Tell me about a mistake you made
This is similar to What are your weaknesses. You need to be very careful to show a benefit and not just a loss.
|I plugged in our rechargeable pallet jack to the wrong outlet and fried a $3,500 battery. I showed the manager the outlets look identical. We put a fixture on the outlet and plug so nobody can make that mistake again.|
|I plugged in a rechargeable pallet jack the wrong way and destroyed a $3,500 battery. I was pretty mortified, but my boss told me it could’ve happened to anyone.|
The next of our typical interview questions takes a longer answer.
Walk us through your resume
The interviewer wants to know if you understand the job. Don’t explain your entire career path.
This answer is for a nursing job that needs critical care experience and patient education skills.
|Well, at Northwest Medical Center, I worked in the ICU for three years. I received five commendations for efficiency from the charge nurse. Before that I was at Cornerstone Hospital for two years, where I helped raise HCAHPS scores 20%. Most of that was thanks to diligent patient education.xs|
|It’s got my summary at the top, which starts by saying I’m a Registered Nurse obviously. Then it talks about my last three jobs. In the most recent, I worked at Cornerstone Hospital, where I was responsible for handling all ward nurse duties and responsibilities...|
Here's a complete guide for more: Walk Me Through Your Resume
Here’s one of the hardest common interview questions. It can trip you up if you’re not ready:
Do you have any questions for me?
The interviewer can learn a lot from what you ask.
Ask questions that show your interest and understanding.
Top 5 questions to ask in an interview:
- What’s the next step?
- How long does your hiring process take?
- What would you expect me to accomplish in my first six months?
- What would my day-to-day routine be?
- What’s the key to succeeding at this role?
Pro Tip: Did you just blow it? Didn’t give answers to common interview questions like this? Learn from it. Research the company before your next job interview.
Need more questions to ask the interviewer? See our guide: 65+ Best Questions to Ask an Interviewer & Land Top Jobs
Common Phone Interview Questions
Typical phone interview questions are the same as the common interview questions above.
You don’t have to memorize answers to telephone interview questions. You can read them—as long as you don’t sound like you’re reading.
Want some examples? See our guide: 20 Common Phone Interview Questions and Answers
STAR Method for Acing Behavioral Interview Questions
The STAR method of answering interview questions has four steps:
- Situation. Start with a situation you faced.
- Task. Tell about a task you had to perform.
- Action. Say the action you took.
- Result. Explain how it helped your organization.
It works because it proves key skills in a convincing way.
The STAR method works best for situational interview questions. For instance, “Tell me about yourself.”
For a full list of STAR interview questions and answers, see our guides: STAR Method for Acing Behavioral Interview Questions and 20 Situational Interview Questions and Answers
Illegal Interview Questions Employers Cannot Ask
Some of the most common interview questions are illegal.
Which interview questions are off limits?
Generally, the interviewer can’t ask about:
- Marital status
Most of the time interview questions about those things are illegal. To see when they’re not, check our guide: Illegal Interview Questions Employers Cannot Ask
Summary: How to answer common interview questions:
- Research the company and the job offer. Know the skills they want.
- Show how you used those skills in past jobs.
- Say how your actions helped the company.
- Have questions to ask the interviewer that prove your interest in the job.
Did we miss a common interview question? Not sure how to answer behavioral interview questions? Leave a comment. We’ll be happy to reply!