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7 common interview questions and how to answer them (with examples)

7 common interview questions and how to answer them (with examples)

Knowing what questions to expect and preparing your responses can greatly increase your chances of acing a job interview. As part of your preparation, carefully consider these seven common interview questions with an eye for understanding why interviewers ask them, how to answer, and what goes into making an impactful response. 

1. Would you tell me a little bit about yourself?

This question helps the employer gauge how you align with their needs. The ideal response is a brief introduction that hits all the major points of your candidacy, such as:

  • Experience
  • Skills
  • Key achievements, which can support your response and provide a foundation for later questions

Example answer: "Well, I'm a beginner at management roles, but I have over 10 years of training in the field. In my current role, I proposed and executed a few technical overhauls that improved team cohesion. Lately, I've been very excited to enter a management position that would allow me to use my skill set fully in transforming a team of my own."

2. What is your biggest weakness?

Most likely, when an employer asks about your biggest weakness, they are assessing your capacity for self-awareness and improvement. Your response should:

  • Honestly reflect on one of your weaknesses
  • Demonstrate a desire to improve
  • Point to your use of problem-solving skills in addressing it

Example answer: "As a team leader, my biggest weakness is that I sometimes overlook the importance of positive reinforcement. I correct my team members on mishaps but have often neglected to praise them, which does nothing good for their morale. That's why I've been consciously working on offering the most encouraging balance of critical and positive feedback to everyone I work with. Celebrating success truly helps get an amazing performance out of the team."

"Most likely, when an employer asks about your biggest weakness, they are assessing your capacity for self-awareness and improvement."

3. Why did you leave your last job?

This question is about digging into your motivations and assessing your risk level. Your answer here should center on professionalism and positivity, even if you were let go.

Example answer: "I had my last job for five years and it was highly rewarding, but the business eventually reorganized under new leadership. As a result, my role no longer supported my professional goals. So, I've decided to take a forward step in my career. I strongly respect your company's policies with its workers and would love to contribute to your mission."

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

This question examines your motivations and explores the possibility of saving money on a hire. The best approach is being honest about your flexibility and financial boundaries. 

By the way, a good tip to apply here is to go into your interview knowing how much a person with your qualifications can earn in the role you're competing for, which you can do by searching CareerBuilder salaries.

Example answer: "I feel that the salary indicated on the job posting matches industry expectations and my expertise. It would be a challenge to work at a lower salary, though I'm happy to consider it on a trial basis that would end once I met certain performance goals."

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

This question's purpose is to assess key soft skills, such as: 

When you respond, support your answer with at least one example from your work history.

Example answer: "I'm accustomed to handling high degrees of stress on the job. For example, in my last office manager position, team members often pushed workloads to the limits of the deadline. I've found the best way to manage such situations is to remain calm, maintain perspective, and gently lead others back on track. That way, we resolve the problem without weakening our team dynamic."

6. How do you handle conflict in the workplace?

According to a report by the Myers-Briggs Company, more than one-third of professionals report frequent dealings with workplace conflict, which can seriously harm morale and productivity. With that in mind, the employer wants insight into your capacity for containing a major risk factor.

Example answer: "A lot of conflict has its roots in underlying factors, so I strive to ease tension by addressing the primary cause. For example, at a previous job, we had an associate who frequently lashed out at others for their feedback on his work. This was a competitive environment, and I soon learned his defensiveness was due to the belief that others were trying to outdo him to advance themselves. 

"So, as the team lead, I made a point of praising his excellent work, which eventually reassured him enough that he could take criticism with a cool head. Broadly applying this strategy helped create a closer-knit and more productive team."

7. Why should we hire you?

This is another way of asking, "How well do you understand our company, this job, and your place in both?" Therefore, it's your opportunity to make your pitch explaining how your qualities align with the employer and position.

Example answer: "My detail-oriented nature is essential to editorial work, so you can be confident that I'll deliver error-free copy every time. My diverse background has acclimated me to a wide range of subject material, a key factor when dealing with clients across many industries. Moreover, my expertise with AP and Chicago styles ensures that I'm equipped with foundational knowledge from the start, so I'm ready to dive into the work on day one."

When you land an interview, all that's left is to make a good impression. To that end, you must do all you can to be prepared. Study questions and rehearse your responses to present yourself as confidently as possible.

Of course, before you can get to the interview stage, you must get your resume noticed. To do that, upload your resume to CareerBuilder to help employers discover you in their talent search. 

More tips about acing your next job interview

Making a good impression relies on how you present yourself. Put your best self forward by avoiding common interview mistakes.

Do you have a case of interview-day jitters? Take steps to calm your nerves as the hour approaches.