You’ll want to prepare for each of these common interview questions. And while there’s no way to predict exactly which ones you’ll be asked, you can arm yourself with a selection of stories, examples, and answers that address the key themes behind these questions.
What is your greatest weakness?
More than any other question, this is the one that almost guarantees that a hiring manager won’t make a good decision about you. No matter how good your answer is, it’s difficult to really explain your weaknesses in a way that helps a manager assess whether you’re a good fit for the role.
The truth is that this is a terrible question to ask, but you still need to have a strategy for answering it. We suggest you respond with a negative trait that isn’t actually a weakness, such as “I’m a perfectionist.”
If you’re asked to elaborate, explain that it’s not that you’re unwilling to compromise or that you’re inflexible; rather, you care deeply about doing a good job and want to make sure you do everything you can to succeed.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
This question gives the interviewer insight into what you value and what motivates you. You can talk about something from your professional life (e.g., having brought in new business, landed a new client, improved a process, launched a product or service). Or you can talk about something from your personal life (e.g., raising a child, building a successful business, volunteering, helping out in your community).
How would your boss and co-workers describe you?
Your answer should be based on what you’ve heard from your manager and your co-workers rather than on what you think they might say. Practice describing yourself on your own, but then get feedback from your manager and co-workers to see if you’re on the same page. This question also gives you an opportunity to talk about what you value in your work, the type of culture you fit in, and what you’re looking for in a job.
What are your long-term goals?
This is an opportunity to share what you really want to do. Maybe it’s to move into a leadership role, or maybe it’s to work with a specific client. Maybe you want to be working in a certain industry, or you want to be in a different part of the country. Whatever it is, you have the chance to let the interviewer know what you want, so make sure you take it.
What were your responsibilities in your last position?
This is another opportunity to show why you’re a good fit for the role you’re applying for. You want to make sure you focus on the responsibilities that are most relevant to the job you’re interviewing for, even if that means you need to leave some out.
What do you know about our company?
Be specific. Have you researched the company? What do you like about it? What do you think its goals are? What do you like about its products or services?
What are your salary requirements?
Don’t discuss your salary requirements during the initial interview. Instead, ask the interviewer, “What is the salary range for this position?” If the interviewer provides a range, ask if you can have a few days to consider the offer before you respond.
What is the next step in the interview process?
Ask this question to show that you’re interested and engaged. Let the interviewer know you’re excited about the opportunity and that you’re eager to move forward.
What are the biggest challenges facing the company?
This question gives you insight into the company’s biggest challenges and opportunities. It also might give you an idea of what’s going well and what needs improvement.