What are the Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions?

Dan Cavallari

When heading into an interview, it helps to know the most frequently asked interview questions in order to be fully prepared to answer them well. Be ready to answer the most common of all frequently asked interview questions: "Tell me about yourself." This question is essentially an invitation for the job candidate to highlight his or her best qualities and give the interviewer an idea of the candidate's personality. The candidate should make a short list in his or her mind of things that will highlight his or her best traits in a brief answer that encourages the interviewer to ask follow up questions.

While waiting for an interview, it helps to prepare answers to common questions.
While waiting for an interview, it helps to prepare answers to common questions.

The candidate should also be ready for other frequently asked interview questions such as, "What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?" When answering this question, the candidate should be sure to take advantage of the second half of the question: weaknesses. Interviewers want to know that the job candidate can look inward and recognize shortcomings, but more importantly, the interviewer wants to hear what steps the job candidate has taken or is taking to overcome those weaknesses. This is one of the most important of the frequently asked interview questions because it allows the candidate to showcase his or her ability to recognize weaknesses and draw up practical plans to overcome them, which is a quality almost all employers are looking for.

Interview questions often cover an applicant's past work experience.
Interview questions often cover an applicant's past work experience.

Other frequently asked interview questions will deal with the job candidate's past as well as his or her future. The employer will want to know why the candidate left his or her last job, and whether the candidate still has a good relationship with that company. This question will reveal much about the candidate's priorities and ability to build and maintain relationships. This question often leads into another of the most frequently asked interview questions: "What are your career goals and how will you attain them?" This is another good opportunity for the candidate to showcase his or her ambition, but it is also important to make sure to mention how the candidate intends to improve the company along the way.

One of the most uncomfortable and difficult questions to answer is the question of expected salary. Many candidates can panic and name a salary that is too low, while others may go too high and raise red flags for the employer. The best way to handle this question is to put it off if possible, and then ask what the salary range for the position is. Employers may or may not reveal an exact range, and the candidate is not required to name an exact salary, so it is often best to be vague to allow for negotiating later on.

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Discussion Comments

pleonasm

@Ana1234 - It depends on the company that you want to go for a job with though. If you are looking for a job with a logging company they probably aren't going to be impressed no matter what colors you put on your application.

My best interview tip is to be as straightforward as possible. If you are nervous, then admit it. If you need more time to think of an answer, then tell them that. If they'll penalize you for it, then you probably don't want to work with them anyway.

Ana1234

@croydon - I would add that it's really important to research the company before you go into the interview. If nothing else, look at their website. You will want to look at what their company values are and what they seem to be the most proud of, as well as any other information you can find.

Yes, it might feel a bit disingenuous to be mentioning the specific qualities that they are looking for, but it isn't. They will know that you researched them and most companies will take that as a positive thing.

I once had a school principal tell me that the reason he gave a particular teacher the job was because she had made sure her application was decked out in the school colors. It might seem over the top in other situations, but most of the time they are looking for someone who is willing to go that extra mile for the job.

croydon

Depending on the position, you might be able to ask for a list of questions before the interview. Some places will provide them and some won't. Sometimes they will only provide them on the day, or a few minutes before the interview, so if that's the case you'll want to have prepared a bunch of stock answers that you can adapt to specific questions.

That's the best way to navigate any interview though. There are only so many things they are going to ask you and most of the differences will just be variations on common questions.

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