The Most Common Interview Questions: How to Give the Best Answers

Dr. Ryan Giffen

There is hardly anything as frightening in a life of a job-seeker as going to an interview. The uncertainty, need to be perfect, and give the best answers can shatter even the bravest individual’s confidence. Indeed, knowing what to expect can ease your anxiety and help you focus on being the best version of yourself and leaving a professional impression. It is why we have gathered everything you should know about the interviews, including the most common questions and how to answer them.


The interview process itself lasts between 45 minutes and one hour. Still, it’s the first seven seconds that matter as that’s when the recruiter will form their first impression about you. For instance, 71 percent of employers wouldn’t hire someone who doesn’t follow the appropriate dress code.

Learn all the necessary information about the company. Research their background, mission, and objectives because 47 percent of candidates failed the job interview due to not having enough information about the company.

The overall confidence level is also significant for the interview because 39 percent of candidates who didn’t smile or have a confident tone were rejected.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many interviews will be held via the video platform. For example, 85 percent of recruiters have resorted to video interviews. But the same norms and expectations still apply. You should dress professionally, smile, and show confidence.

Be enthusiastic about the prospective job role because that’s what helped 78 percent of hiring managers decide. Ask questions, be interested, and encourage interaction.

After you nail these, you will feel more self-assured no matter what the recruiter asks. Even though it depends on the hiring manager, job position, and company, some questions will for sure emerge.

If you prepare yourself, it will be much easier to establish rapport and sound confident and honest. It is why we are sharing with you the most common interview questions with tips on how to answer them.


Even though we give you guidelines on what the recruiters typically look forward to hearing, personalize the answers and tweak them to correspond to your personality, objectives, and prospective job role.

Here are the usual interview questions and what to keep in mind when answering.

1. Tell me more about yourself.

It is typically the first question during an interview, which recruiters ask to get a deeper understanding of your qualifications. That doesn’t mean you should speak about every job you ever had or, worse, personal history.

The recruiter has probably already skimmed through your resume and checked your background. Be concise and answer in a manner that convinces them you’re the right person for the vacancy.

Talk briefly about your current or the last job you held and include your highest achievement. Thus, you can mention what led you to that position and what experience you gained that is useful for the prospective job role. Then move on to why you want this job and what makes you the ideal candidate.

If you have little or no experience, talk about your latest school or college accomplishments and mention why they are relevant for the position you want.

2. Why do you want to work at our company?

Careful with this one or any leading to finding out whether you researched the company (e.g., how did you find this vacancy, what attracted you to us). Your answer will also indicate whether you are the right cultural fit and do your goals align with the organization’s mission.

To prepare for this question and all its variations, conduct in-depth research about the company objectives, culture, products, services, target audience, achievements, etc. That will also help you confirm whether you’d feel at home working in this workplace.

Talk about the aspects that convinced you that your professional goals and sensibility match with the company. For example, you can mention one of their initiatives or projects that resonate with you and explain why that makes you eager to work there.

3. Why do you want this job position?

Hardly any other question is as crucial as this one. It speaks about the recruiter’s desire to identify whether you’re passionate about this job and if you would be successful in this position.

It is why this answer should ensure whether you stand out among other candidates, but you should also be honest. After all, if you are not excited about this job, how will you spend eight hours completing the tasks you don’t like?

Pick those aspects of the position that align the most with your qualifications, skills, and expertise. Make sure you mention particular responsibilities to show you’re aware of your future daily activities.

For instance, if you’re applying for a social media manager position, you could say that you’re an innovative professional who loves interacting with people and who is capable of setting clear objectives and developing content strategies.

4. What do you bring to the table?

It is no longer about your motivation, passion, and background. Instead, it is about clear examples and how familiar you are with the company’s needs, weak points, and challenges.

The recruiter wants to know whether you are the right fit who could help them solve the problems and incorporate stellar strategies, products, or initiatives.

The company background research you conducted is crucial here. Pay attention to details in the job description, read about the latest struggles a company had, and try to identify what the ideal candidate should solve or improve.

Mention relevant skills and experiences that you used to solve similar issues and think about how you would do it this time.

5. What is your biggest weakness?

It is often a trick question because recruiters know that candidates will probably use the one that transforms into a strength with ease.

For example, a job applicant might say they’re a perfectionist, which often takes too much time, making them forget everything else. But recruiters know they’re actually trying to say they’re dedicated workers, ready to go the extra mile.

Instead of trying to be the perfect candidate in disguise, be honest and wise. Talk about a weakness that you’re ready to improve, be self-aware and show your passion for personal and professional development.

For example, you could say that you’re insecure about public speaking but that you’re trying to put yourself out and talk more in front of people until you feel at ease and confident.

6. What are your greatest strengths?

It is not an invitation to brag about all your qualities or talk about yourself for 15 minutes. Instead, be concise and short, but always offer examples that give credibility to what you’re saying.

If you’re great at time management, talk about the situation when you had to juggle several responsibilities, but you completed all of them successfully.

7. Where do you see yourself in five years?

The crucial aspect of this question is to give recruiters something precise, clear, and tangible. Show that you are self-aware, ambitious, driven and that you know how to achieve your objectives.

Demonstrate that you’re aware of the industry’s trends and challenges. Don’t talk about your personal life. Explain how you want to grow professionally and how the prospective job role can help you reach your goals.

8. Tell me about the most complicated business or workplace challenge you faced and how you solved it.

Be professional, honest, and calm. Focus on how you solved the conflict instead of on the problem itself. The recruiter is trying to find out how flexible, sincere, and solution-oriented you are.

Talk about what you learned from this challenge, what you would do differently, and how that could help you if you ever found yourself in a similar situation again.

9. Talk about the time you failed or made a mistake.

The recruiter expects to discover if you can solve problems without blaming other people and how do you move on after that. First, define what do you consider failure and choose a situation that corresponds to your definition.

Show your self-awareness, openness to feedback, and tolerance. Explain what did you learn and what you would do to prevent the same situation from happening.

10. Why are you leaving your current job?

If you’re already employed and quitting, be sure this question will emerge. The worst answer you could give includes backlash and saying how your boss is terrible, intolerant, or unreasonable.

The right one includes explaining how making this step brings remarkable changes to your professional life and expertise. Focus on the goals you want to achieve, how you want to expand your knowledge, and why that is favorable for you and the future organization.

But never talk badly about your previous employer because the recruiter will probably think you’ll do the same to them.

11. Why should we hire you?

Out of all candidates, the recruiter wants to know why you’re the right person. Avoid perceiving it as intimidation. Instead, see it as an opportunity to sell your skills, expertise, and passion.

Talk about your skill set, qualifications, and expertise that could help you settle into your new job role swiftly. Mention what makes you a great cultural fit. Thus, explain how you could bring innovation and novel ideas to the team.

12. Do you have any questions for us?

Even though the anxiety might be crippling your ability to think fast, it is an opportunity you shouldn’t waste. Show your interest, be wise concerning the question, and try to identify whether this company is the right one for you.

For example, you could ask what do they expect you to achieve in the first three months. Or, perhaps, you can ask what are the company’s top priorities for this year?

It is recommendable to write a list of questions before the interview and ask the ones that feel best at that moment.


Recruiters generally tend to ask questions that will warm up the candidate, tell more about their qualifications, previous professional challenges, behavior, and objectives. Expect basic questions for establishing rapport, but also behavioral, work-history, goal-related, job-related, and wrap-up questions.

Pay attention to each question and ensure that all your answers point to why you’re the right person for the job position and what you bring to the company.

About Dr. Ryan Giffen

With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Ryan Giffen is an expert in human relations and business culture. His career began in hospitality, leading operations and human resource departments for Fortune 500 companies and the like. Not long after, Ryan found his passion for teaching and consulting. He earned a Ph.D. in Hospitality Management with a Human Resources focus from Iowa State University and now works as an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach. For over a decade, he continues to research and speak on organizational culture, relationship intelligence, and leadership effectiveness. Ryan is also the founder of Inospire, a company helping bosses and employees build stronger relationships with one another.  Lastly, Dr. Giffen is producer and host of the Corporate Shadow Podcast. a show helping everyday employees overcome workplace nonsense.