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The most common interview questions and how to answer them

If you want to prepare for an interview and increase your chance of getting the job, it helps to practice your answers to the popular questions that hiring managers ask. Check out these common job interview questions and examples of how to respond.

1. Tell me about yourself.

This question is a good opportunity to go into more detail on a couple of key points from your resume or to expand your elevator pitch. The common mistake is going too far into personal interests like favorite movies or anecdotes about home life. Instead, you can talk about the current state of your career and your current goals or motivations. From there, steer the answer into what you have to offer the company.

Example answer:

"Well, I'm a beginner to management roles, but I have over 10 years of training in the field. For my past few jobs, I proposed and executed a few technical overhauls that resulted in our teams working more cohesively. Lately, I've been very excited to enter a management position that would allow me to transform a team of my own and put my full skill set to use."

2. What is your biggest weakness?

As far as common job interview questions, this one is nearly a cliche, though no less important. An answer like "My biggest weakness is that I can't quit" is hard to take seriously. Needless to say, claiming you have no weaknesses is also hard to believe. Instead, show self-awareness, a desire to improve, and problem-solving skills with your best honest answer. There's no reason to explain too much, as the recruiter can ask for details if they want.

Example answer:

"My biggest weakness is that I can sometimes forget to leave positive feedback as often as I leave negative feedback. I've been working on offering the most encouraging balance of critical and positive feedback to everyone I work with. Celebrating success and improvement really helps get an amazing performance out of the team."

3. What made you leave your current position?

You probably shouldn't use this question as a chance to badmouth your current or past employer. Even if they were a nightmare, saying so can make the recruiter wonder if you'll also talk negatively about their company one day. Instead, be honest and explain why you want the position at their company.

Example answer:

"My last job was very rewarding for five years, but the business eventually reorganized under new leadership. Due to the new structure, my role changed to one that no longer supported my professional goals. So, I'm taking a forward step in my career by helping a new business. I strongly respect your company's policies with its workers and would love to contribute to your cause."

4. Would you be willing to start at a lower salary?

The average job has 118 people applying to it. When imagining that, it's understandable why some companies might try to save money and narrow down the competition by asking for a lower salary. The best move is to remain honest about your flexibility while respecting yourself. It's also wise to go in with accurate numbers about what people usually get paid, by searching job salaries on CareerBuilder.

Example answer:

"The salary shown on the job posting definitely matches the expectations for the industry, as well as my skills and potential. It would be a challenge to work at a lower salary, to the point where I may have to look elsewhere. Although, if it were on a trial basis that would end once I met certain performance goals, I believe we could work something out. Overall, I would feel best taking this job at the salary listed as it would make me feel that you recognize the value I bring."

5. How do you deal with stressful or high-pressure situations?

This can sound a little broad as a question, but that also means there are a lot of good points to hit upon. The best answers will be humble while also displaying problem-solving traits or leadership potential. It always helps to use examples from your work experience.

Example answer:

"In my last office manager job, there would be times when team members would try to find ways to push tasks onto each other. I helped dissolve these problems before they slowed the project down or caused problems between people on the team. I think I do a great job of remaining calm, keeping perspective, and leading others back onto the right track, even under pressure."

CareerBuilder makes it easy to upload a resume and get seen by recruiters. When you land an interview during the online job hunt, all that's left is to make a good impression. Figuring out how to answer questions in interviews can be kind of fun, challenging yourself to stand out. Even if you're going into your very first interview soon, rehearsing for these questions will help it go much more smoothly. Then, you can relax, show your best skills, and discuss your potential new job with confidence.

Interviewing and resume tips:

See a list of seven ways to calm interview nerves.

Remember these top 10 things not to do in an interview.

See both the best and worst words to have on a resume.

Learn the key tips to build your communication skills in the workplace.