the 10 interview questions you’re most likely to be asked

The absolute best thing you can do to prepare for a job interview is to practice and practice your answers to the questions you’re most likely to be asked. Saying your answers out loud over and over – or even writing them down, which for a lot of people will ingrain them more deeply in your brain – will significantly improve how well you perform when you’re sitting in that interview chair.

Here are the 10 questions you’re most likely to be asked in a job interview.

1. Tell me about yourself. (No idea how to answer this? See these suggestions.

2. What interests you about this opening? (Or why do you want to work for us?)

3. What do you know about our company so far?

4. Why did you leave your last job? (Or why are you thinking about leaving your current job?)

5. Tell me about your experience at ___. (Fill in past job.)

6. What experience do you have doing ____? (Fill in each of the major responsibilities of the job.)

7. Tell me about your strengths.

8. Tell me about a time when… (Fill in with situations relevant to the position. For instance: Tell me about when you had to take initiative … you had to deal with a difficult customer … you had to respond to a crisis … you had to give difficult feedback to an employee … You get the idea.)

9. What salary range are you looking for?

10. What questions do you have for me? (You can find ideas for your own questions here.)

Still have more time to practice? Bonus points if you practice answers to these additional five questions too:

* What things are most important to you in a new position?

* How does this position fit in with the career path you’re taking?

* What has been your biggest professional achievement?

* If I spoke with your previous boss, what areas would he or she say you should work on improving in?

* What are the first five things you would do if you got this position?

Remember, rehearse your answers out loud. Practice saying them out loud over and over and over, until your answers fly off your tongue automatically.

The more you practice, the better you’re going to get and the more comfortable you’re going to feel. And what’s more, I can promise you that if you do this, you will see a significant difference in your interview experience.

{ 16 comments… read them below }

  1. Mike

    “What are the first five things you would do if you got this position?”

    What is the point of asking this question, and what sort of answers should be provided? I don’t think my prospective employer is going to be interested in someone buying a new car or needing to cancel their unemployment insurance.

      1. sheila

        I have a interview next week,about CMS,trying to few the questions,where are the questions,please help

  2. Anonymous

    This is great, but very funny in an ‘it’s a small world’ sort of funny. I had a telephone interview yesterday afternoon and the interviewer asked those exact questions, in that exact order. I’m wondering if they just finished reading your article for some insight on what to ask the candidate (me!). I wish I had read this before the interview now!

    1. Anonymous

      Those were the 10 questions they said they had to ask first; in fact, they kept saying they needed to go down that list. I’ve been reading Ask a Manager long enough to know that I should have some questions of my own ready, so more was said based on what I asked. I think that would have been it for the interview if I didn’t have more to ask beyond their first 10 questions though!

  3. Evie

    Interview tips needed to get pass the 1st round!

    Recently, I have had gone for job interviews. Unfortunately, I often find myself struggling to give interviewer a “convincing” enough reply as to why I have had held so many CONTRACT jobs? To that end, I was even asked by one of the interviewers as to why I never considered permanent employment? (The last thing I wish for is to come across as an “inconsistent” or “unreliable” candidate in front of my potential employers.)

    My response to every interviewer who asked me the same question: “Usually jobs (re: Public Relations/Corporate Communications position) that I’m interested in hire candidates on a CONTRACT basis. I applied and took up the said position nonetheless, as I believe it would afford me the exposure and experience needed in the Public Relations/Corporate Communications industry.” Does the answer sound convincing enough to the interviewer that, despite my holding many contract positions/jobs (bear in mind that they were ALL within the same industry), my primary interest is to settle for a permanent employment with their firm.

    Meanwhile, I’m not sure about the said industry in other parts of the world, however it is a relatively small and niche market here in Singapore. Which is why I seriously need a strong answer to justify my so-called contract-basis employment for the past 1 year…

    ***ANY HELP/ASSISTANCE WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED!***

  4. Jamie

    I don’t know anything about your particular industry – but my field also has a lot of contract positions and if I were hiring I would love to see a variety of contract jobs.

    Contracting, like temping, if you’re in your field gives you experience and insight into a wide range of organizations and practices you can’t get working for one employer. And you did it without job hopping – assuming you’ve completed all of your contracts, you got a plethora of experience without burning bridges.

    If I were you I’d change your mindset from seeing it as something you need to excuse and present it as something which sets you apart from other candidates – you’re bringing something extra to the table. Let them know that you value how much knowledge this has given you of the industry and now you’re looking forward to committing to one company to do more indepth work with one organization.

    My wording is bad – but the point is valid, I think.

    I’m in IT and I temped for quite a while and that’s how I presented it when I was looking to go permanent. It wasn’t BS – that was how I saw it, and still do, I was exposed to a lot of different networks and software and corporate cultures – so I knew a good fit when I saw one.

    Maybe I was lucky in that I had no idea there was a stigma against temping/contract work when I was looking…I saw it as valuable experience and so that’s how I’d present it. Had I known some employers have a problem with the temping/contract jobs I’d have been more insecure about it. Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

    1. Evie

      Thanks for your advice and insight, Jamie!

      Although I’d like to reinstate my point that, maybe I havent expressed myself very properly, I wasn’t trying to excuse my contract-employment profile bef my employers. Like I said, they tend to write off candidates who have had held many contract-jobs as someone who sees the current job application as merely a “stop-over”, which isnt true on my end. Cos I think you raised a valid point by arguing that, through the contract jobs I’ve taken up, Im merely getting myself acquainted with the industry as I settle for a more permanent position with their company.

      Anyway, I appreciate your help here! Thank you.

      :)

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I think Jamie’s point is that you can reframe your experience for the employer, presenting it to them in a different light than they might otherwise see it in. It’s a great point.

  5. Evie

    Hi Ask a Manager,

    Thanks for your reply. Granted, I can’t say i disagree with you about Jamie’s point of view. However, how do i go about reframing my experiences for the potential employer, presenting them in a different light that they might otherwise see in it?

    My usual reply is: Although the Public Relations/Corporate Comms jobs that Im interested in applying are hiring candidates only on a contract-employment basis, I went ahead and took up the job for I believe this job will gain me the exposure and relevant experience required of in this Industry.

    That said, my employer usually counter-attack by saying: “Yes, but given that you’ve had held so many contract jobs (for one year) that are in-line with the Industry’s requirements, why havent you decided to settle for a permanent one instead?

    My reply: I did, and tried in fact. Unfortunately, these permanent-employment Public Relations/Corporate Communications jobs usually consider candidates who have had 2 years or more work experience for a long-term employment in the company.

    What should i do then? Any constructive advice is good! :)

  6. Anonymous

    I have an interview for an apprenticeship with a real firm on Thursday, what would most likely be asked. :)

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