Top 12 Common Job Interview Questions and Answers

Practice and get comfortable with these Top 12 Common Job Interview Questions and Answers samples before our interview and we’ll feel more confident while giving much better answers. We recommend spending some time getting comfortable with what we might be asked, what hiring managers are really looking

1. What is your dream job?

Career counselors like to think about good jobs as the intersection of our skills, interests, and

That’s a good way for us to approach it as well. Talking about our skills will give us an
opportunity to sell them a bit—after all, it’s an interview.

Our interests will show our investment and our values can help illustrate our fit with the

Good answer sample:

“I’ve thought about this before, and I know I would want to keep honing my skills in … as well
as learn more about…. ”

“In terms of job content, I’m interested in work that involves … and ……I’ve been curious about
things like this ever since …, so I would definitely want that to be part of my dream job.”

“Based on my skills and interests, in my dream job, I would want to … as related to …, ideally in
a company where I could … and….. These are both really important to me, and I’m excited to see
that they seem to be equally important to this company.”


2. Why did you leave your last job?

If we chose to leave on our own terms, stay positive, and focus on what we wanted to gain from
the decision, rather than bad-mouthing or focusing on negatives we wanted to avoid.

Good answer sample:

“I left for an opportunity to advance my career.”

“My department brought in a new manager and I felt it was the right time to leave.”

“I was hired for a certain role, but over time that changed, and I was no longer being given the
opportunity to do the work I was interested in.”

“I didn’t feel there was an opportunity to grow or advance further in that role so I decided a
the change would best for my career.”

“I had been with the organization for a number of years and wanted to experience a new
environment to continue growing.”

3. What other companies are you interviewing with?

Hiring managers are curious about what other companies we’re interviewing with for a few

They might want to scope out the competition, see how serious we are about the industry, or
even gauge their likelihood of landing such a star candidate.

Good answer sample:

If we’re Interviewing for Competitors:
“I do have a couple of interviews coming up soon with ….for senior marketing positions.

But I can tell you that, based on what I know, this position has exactly the kinds of challenges

I’m looking for in my next role.”

If we’re Interviewing in Other Industries:

“I’m interviewing with a few companies for a range of positions, but they all come down to
delivering an excellent customer experience.

I wanted to keep an open mind about how to best achieve that goal, but so far it seems that this
The role will really allow me to focus all of my energy on customer experience and retention, which I
find very appealing.”

If we’re Not Interviewing Anywhere Else:

“I’m still pretty early in my job search. I’ve applied to a number of opportunities that will allow
me to use my skills in data visualization to help educate clients, but this position is most exciting
to me.

In fact, I think this position is a particularly good fit for my skill set because I can leverage my
significant experience working with complicated data sets.”

4. What is your greatest weakness?

We never want to say we struggle to work with others, or we’re bad at resolving disagreements
taking direction from a manager, etc. Those things will get us rejected in the interview.
So pick a specific skill, but pick something that won’t severely impact our ability to do this job.

Good answer sample:

“I’m not particularly strong in social media marketing. For the first few years of my career, I
focused entirely on email marketing.

That’s still what I specialize in, which is why I applied for your Email Marketing Manager job.

But I’ve realized it’s also helpful to understand the principles of social media marketing because
some of the strategies that work there also work well in email.

So I’ve started spending a couple of hours a week of my own time studying and learning this new
area, and it’s helped me a lot.”

5. What type of work environment do you prefer?

Ideally, one that’s similar to the environment of the company we’re applying to. Be specific.

Although most places have a section on their sites devoted to explaining culture, they tend to be
filled with phrases like “dedicated to customer satisfaction” and “we encourage our employees
to grow.” That tells us a whole lot of nothing.

6. What’s a time you disagreed with a decision that was made at work?

Brainstorm a few more questions that could potentially come up based on the position we’re
applying for and our particular situation.

For example, say we tell that story about standing up to the director of marketing when asked to
talk about conflict with a previous supervisor.

We eloquently move through the story about how we shared our hesitation about the new
marketing campaign to no avail, but once the initial numbers came in, it was clear that we were

We triumphantly showed the performance to the director, and she agreed to scrap the campaign.

Good answer sample:

“I learned early on in my professional career that it’s fine to disagree if you can back up your
hunches with data.”

“In short, it’s not that I’m an amazing multitasker; I just set and review my priorities frequently.”

7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Pick a work-related goal of where we’d like to be five years from now, and make sure it’s
slightly challenging or ambitious-sounding.

And make sure to share a goal that is related to the type of job we’re interviewing for.

We want to sound like the experience we’ll gain in this job fits our long-term goals.

Good answer sample:

“I’m glad you asked. In five years I see myself taking on more responsibilities, either through
management or higher-level individual contributions.

I am not sure which path will make sense to pursue, but I know my goal right now is to build a
strong foundation and gain valuable experience so that I’ll have a successful future in this

8. Can you explain why you changed career paths?

Have a target audience, and speak directly to it. It’s super important for any job seeker.

We’re not going to be able to just list out our job history and expect a financial services hiring
manager to instantly deduce what we have to offer.

Instead, we will need to angle all of our messaging in a way that makes it obvious what we’re
trying to achieve, and why we’re heading in that direction.

A good rule of thumb is that if we’re worried about how a certain position or experience is going to be
perceived on our resume, there’s a good chance that someone is going to make the exact
conclusion we don’t want them to make.

That said, we should plan to go on the offense and manage the message.

For instance, say the moves we’ve made along the way make us look, at least on paper, like a bit
of a job hopper.

It’s best to add a quick statement in each section of our resume that briefly explains the jump.
Think through how we’re going to present our choices and career path to a potential employer,
present them briefly and confidently, and then refocus the discussion on our commitment to this
role and what we can walk through that company’s doors and deliver.

Good answer sample:

“Following a family relocation to Dallas…” (makes the job switch obvious) or “After a
significant corporate restructure…” (makes it clear that our job was axed).

9. Tell Me About a Time You Failed

This is a common interview question that employers ask to see if we’re able to learn from
mistakes and bounce back when things don’t go our way.
Ideally, talk about how we used that lesson to get a different outcome next time we were
presented with a similar challenge (e.g. how we turned a past failure into a future success).

Good answer sample:

“In my most recent position, I had recently been promoted to Supervisor and was managing the
department on my own right before the department closed.

An employee was acting out and I confronted him in front of everybody. It made the situation
worse and caused a lot of distraction for every employee on the floor.

I failed to lead properly in this situation and spoke to my manager the next day to discuss what I
could have done differently.

We both agreed that I should have handled this in private with the employee, by asking them to
step inside my office with me.

If I had done this instead of reacting the way I did, the situation would have turned out much

From that point onward, I am always conscious of whether a discussion with a team member
should occur in public or behind closed doors, and it made me a better leader.”

10. How would our boss and co-workers describe you?

This is our chance to use the words of others to talk about our own positive traits.

Good answer sample:

“Actually, in my most recent performance review in May, my direct supervisor described me as
someone who takes initiative and doesn’t shy away from hard problems.

My role involves a lot of on-site implementation, and when things go wrong, it’s usually up to me
to fix it.

Rather than punting the problem back to the team, I always try to do what I can first. I know she
appreciates that about me.”

“One thing I’ve noticed is that I’m always the one people turn to for recommendations on how to
handle a new event or program—the latest fundraiser that I just told you about would be one.

I have a lot of institutional knowledge, which helps, but I think the reason people come to me is
because I work through what a new program might look like very methodically.

If you were to ask my colleagues, I’m confident they’d describe me as logical, organized, and

“I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but I’m pretty confident my colleagues would describe me
as thoughtful I’m the one in the office who remembers everyone’s birthdays—and hard-working,
since I never leave my office until it’s been dark out for a couple of hours.

My boss in particular would say I’m very knowledgeable about audience development it’s why I
kept taking on more and more responsibilities in that domain.”

11. How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?

A great approach is to talk through our go-to stress-reduction tactics (making the world’s greatest
to-do list, stopping to take 10 deep breaths), and then share an example of a stressful situation
You navigated with ease.

The thing people assume about these questions is that they’re all about the story. And it’s a
critical component.

But even if our story isn’t exactly what the interview question asked for, if it’s framed well and
we go the extra mile to tell the interviewer what he or she should take away from it, we’ll
Actually ends up making a stronger impression.

So, don’t stress too much about having the perfect stories lined up or the exact relevant
experience. Instead, focus on the messages we’re trying to communicate to the hiring manager
and back them up with the stories that we have.

12. If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?

Seemingly random personality-test-type questions like these come up in interviews generally
because hiring managers want to see how we can think on our feet.

There’s no wrong answer here, but we’ll immediately gain bonus points if our answer helps us
share our strengths or personalities or connect with the hiring manager.

Since this question almost never has a “right” answer, the key to responding well is mostly
about answering enthusiastically and coherently – not what the content of our answer is.

If being funny comes naturally to us, this is a great outlet to use some SFW humor. (If it doesn’t,
Now’s probably not a good time to start working on it.)

Once we’ve shown that we’re game and excited to tackle new problems, we’ve won half the

Come up with a stalling tactic to buy yourself some thinking time, such as saying, “Now, that is a
great question. I think I would have to say… ”

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