The Best Interview Questions and Smart Answers for Them

Tips and hacks to give great answers to the most common interview questions and land your dream role. March 04, 2021 · 15 min read

After months of scouring, you’ve come across your dream job and sent in a perfectly polished resume and cover letter.

You get an email.

They want you to go for an interview!

The only thing that stands between you and your perfect job is one meeting.

How can you actually get prepped for interview questions?

What can you do to make sure you know everything they’ll ask so you can walk out of there with an offer in hand?

Don’t let it worry you. We promise it’s not as scary, hard, or daunting as it feels.

Still unsure?

We’ve gathered together a list of the best interview questions and figured out great sample answers for all of them.

To top it off, we’ve even got some general tips and tricks to help you prepare for your job interview.

Let’s get right into it...

Job interview questionsExplore the most frequently used interview questions along with sample answers to help you succeed.

Ultimate Job Interview Preparations

You hear top athletes and business people say it all the time — preparation is the key to success.

This is as true when it comes to job interviews, so take the time to prepare and you’re more likely to get the job.

  1. Go through the job posting in detail and figure out what the company wants to see in an ideal candidate.
  2. Note down the knowledge, skills, professional and personal qualities that your future employer is looking for in a successful applicant.
  3. Next, make a list of all your professional skills, personal qualities, and your skills and knowledge that match up to the requirements of the job. That’ll be super useful when you get asked why you’re perfect for the job.
  4. Then, swot up on the company. Read articles about them, check out the website — understand the strategic goals of the company, and what exactly it makes or does. Finally, find and remember the names of the leaders and executives.
  5. Finally, check out the standard interview questions you’re likely to get asked, as well as the role and industry-specific ones that could crop up in your interview.

Work out the best answers that you can give, and always have an example from your previous work experience to back up your claims when you’re talking with the hiring manager.

By doing this, when you’re asking to tell the interviewer about when you were able to demonstrate one of your skills, you’ll have a great answer ready for them.

It’s not a memory game and you’re not expected to know answers by rote.

You do need to be ready and prepared, though, so you’re not put on the spot.

Pro-Tip
No matter what type of job you’re interviewing for, first impressions go a very long way. For a professional role, make sure you’re dressed for the occasion in business-formal clothes. Apply for a more relaxed and casual place? Still make sure you’re looking tidy and well-groomed, even if you’re ok to wear slacks and a polo shirt.

How to Answer the Top 3 Weird Job Interview Questions

It’s something we’ve all been through.

You’ve got to the interview. You’re prepared for smart questions about your career and knowledge.

Then, you get a stupid question that you’re not ready for and you crumble into a million tiny pieces, none of which have any confidence.

Remember here, the interviewer knows this is the standard reaction.

They want to see your problem-solving skills in action and how well you use your judgment to get to the crux of a problem.

Knowing this, let’s take a look at a few of the best answers to interview questions, even though they feel completely irrelevant.

1. What’s your favorite movie? Color? Farm animal?...

This is the type of question an interviewer throws at you because they think it offers insight into your character. Questions may vary from "What is your favorite color?" to "What is your favorite movie?". However you choose to answer this one, make sure you get across your qualities that make you great for the job.

Here’s an example of what we mean:

"My favorite color is blue because it’s a calming color that has ideas of creativity and originality. I think outside the box to solve problems and don’t let challenging situations change my cool demeanor."

2. How many windows are there in San Francisco? How many cars are in New York?

Clearly, you’re not going to know the exact answer. Rather than getting flustered and avoid the question, take the chance to show your problem-solving skills. You don’t need an exact answer, but you need to talk through your thinking to show how you jump into a problem.

It’s ok to ask for a few moments to pull your ideas together, then note down an outline that looks something like this:

"I’ll take on this problem with a three-step solution. I’ve got my assumptions, then I need to split up the problem into categories. The final step is to do the calculations. There are lots of different buildings in San Francisco, so I’ll work with three general types — houses, shops, and offices. Rounding up, there are 3.5 million people in San Fran, I’ll give them an average of three windows each at home. For retail..."

It’s a lot less scary than it seems.

What superficially looked nigh-on impossible now has some logic injected into it, plus you get to show off how logical you are in the process.

This type of question, whatever the parameters, are all about process — the interviewer isn’t fussed about the number you give them at the end.

3. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Feels like a trick question?

You might be inclined to go with "in a different job", "sitting in your chair", or even "working at an even more successful company than this one". These aren't quite the perfect answers the hiring manager wants to hear.

Show that you’re committed and loyal to your employer, with an answer that looks a little like this:

"In the next five years, I’d aim to bring in new complaint management processes, in line with the company’s aim to be the best in the industry at service. Within five years I’d want to see strong progress in overall customer satisfaction and a reduction in complaints as the complaints manager. I’d be happy to say I was the manager who always exceeded their KPIs and it’d be great to start mentoring future managers, too."

The truth isn’t the most important thing here — how you field the question is what matters.

You need to demonstrate your commitment to your career, that you’re ambitious and want to improve, and that you value the opportunity that the job would give you.

Job interview advice - use STAR method to answer the questions.The STAR method is a technique used to answer behavioral interview questions like "tell me about a time" or "describe a time when".

Typical Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Now we’ve got the strange and scary interview questions covered, let’s look at the sedate and most common interview questions you’re likely to encounter.

There are some standard categories that job interview questions fall into, specifically:

  • Verification questions: these confirm factual information about you, like your GPA, your major, how long you worked in your previous roles, etc.
  • Competency or behavioral questions: this is when you get asked to use an example from your past to demonstrate a skill or quality.
  • Situational questions: you’ll be presented with a hypothetical situation and you need to explain how you’d take on the task.
  • Case interview questions: you get given a scenario in the business and you need to describe how you’d have handled the situation.

Plus the weird, wonderful, and somewhat confusing questions we’ve just covered.

To help you through your interview preparations, here are some common job interview questions each with an example answer you can model yours around.

Read them carefully to know how to nail job interview questions with ease!

Answers to frequently asked job interview questions.

Why do you want to leave your current job?

"When I left college, I went straight to work at Trusted Bank, where I found my passion for satisfying customers and delivering great service. It’s been fantastic to work handling complaints and to be a part of the project to improve our workflow systems. Now, I’m in the right place to take on more responsibility and direct change from the front in a management role. Everyone over at Trusted is great in their roles and aren’t planning on moving, so it’s time for me to move to bigger opportunities."

Why would you be a good fit for this position?

"The job opening matches with the responsibilities I already have as a senior complaints handler. As well as three years in the bank, I worked at the helpdesk for a small tech firm for two summers, so I have a grounding in your company’s industry. My major is in management so as well as having strong experience in being in a senior role, I well-versed in the theory of managing a team and controlling processes."

How will you adjust to working within a new company?

"I’m a warm and friendly person — I pride myself on building rapport with colleagues as well as the customers I work with. I’ve developed strong communication skills and I’m not afraid to speak up when I don’t understand something, you won’t see me nodding whilst filled with panic! I started my last role straight out of college, with no direct corporate experience yet I was able to learn the ropes quickly and work my way into a senior role within 18 months."

Give me an example of when you made a mistake?

"Just after getting promoted to a senior complaints handler, I received a big complaint that required a complex investigation and liaising with other teams, I thought I’d be able to take the whole task on myself. I soon realized that I needed to make connections with new people as well as draw on the time of my colleagues to be able to resolve the complaint quickly for the customer. It was a lesson in two ways — first I learned that you need a deep bench of contacts to really get a job done, and also that it’s ok to delegate tasks in the best interests of customers."

What are your salary expectations?

"When I checked the salary range on Glassdoor.com and Salary.com, for here in California, the median salary is $55,000. I’m aware I’ve not got a management role at the moment, so I’m open to negotiation and would love to learn about the benefits package you offer, too."

What motivates you?

"I love to know I’ve turned a complaining customer into an advocate. The challenge of taking on a problem, figuring out what caused it, putting it right, and communicating that to a customer can be a great journey when it’s done right. Designing processes to get the best out of a team and the resources at hand are something I’m passionate about, after being on the team reworking out complaints flow at Trusted Bank, which reduced resolution times by 25%."

What are your future goals?

"I’m really keen to work as the complaints manager here at BrightTech. I’d love to work in a growing company to be able to really design things from the ground up and get your customer service working to build loyal consumers. Long-term, working in operations management is really appealing to me since I love processes and project work."
Job interview advice - explain how you will benefit the businessJob interviews are stressful. You can get nervous and start mumbling. To gain more self-confidence, review common questions and prepare your answers.

Some Other Popular Interview Questions You Can Expect

Check through this list of good interview questions and think about positive ways to respond.

Remember to always draw on your past experience, the skills you have, or the things you’re interested in.

Questions About You

Your potential employer wants to understand you as a person to see if you’ll slot into the company and your future team well.

  1. What’s your biggest strength?
  2. What would you say is your biggest weakness?
  3. How are you unique?
  4. Tell me how you work under pressure?
  5. In five years time, where will you be?

Questions About Your Previous Role

Invariably, you’ll be asked about how or why you left your last role, or intend to leave. Be sure you’ve got a good explanation about why you want to change jobs.

  1. Why do you want to leave your current role?
  2. How come you’re changing jobs?
  3. What’s the reason you were fired?
  4. Why have you been unemployed for a long while?
  5. How have you filled your time since you left your last role?

Qualifications and Abilities Questions

Interviewers need to be sure that you’ve got the skills and abilities to actually do the role they’re potentially hiring you for. Be specific when you’re answering these questions.

  1. What’s your relevant experience?
  2. Do you think you’re overqualified for this role?
  3. What sets you apart from the other candidates I’m interviewing?
  4. What responsibility will be easiest for you?
  5. Where do you foresee your biggest challenge in the job?
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Questions About Your Work History and Job Performance

Have you got solid work experience to draw on? How has it prepared you for your interview? Can you give reasonable answers for any gaps in your work history?

  1. What were your key responsibilities with your last employer?
  2. Tell me the biggest challenges you had in your last role? How did you overcome them?
  3. What was your biggest achievement or failure in your last work?
  4. If you could choose, what would be your ideal working environment?
  5. Explain what you did during your employment gap.

Management and Teamwork Questions

Can you work in a team and do it well or are you the type of worker who wants to focus on your task and get the job done? Your future employer will want to understand this so might ask these questions.

  1. What would you like to see in your dream boss?
  2. When you see your manager is about to make a big mistake, what would you do?
  3. What are your expectations from your supervisor?
  4. Has there been a time you’ve not worked well with a manager?
  5. What are your thoughts on how you fit with the company culture?

Why You Should Be Hired and New Job Questions

The interviewer wants to find the perfect candidate, so they’ll ask you to make your case for getting the job above everyone else — this is where you sell yourself.

  1. Why are you interested in this job?
  2. What have you found out about the company?
  3. Tell me why I should hire you?
  4. How can you contribute to and improve this company?
  5. What salary and benefits do you expect?
Pro-Tip
Be honest in your interview. It’s likely your interviewer will be aware of at least some of the answers to these questions already. A lot of the questions are fact-checking your resume.

How Do You Answer "Do you have any questions?"

Being good in job interviews isn’t just about batting back questions with great, rehearsed answers.

It’s pretty much certain that the tables will be turned during the interview.

Ever been asked, "Do you have any questions?" It’s not just a matter of courtesy when you’re asked this.

The interviewer wants to know how interested, engaged, and informed you are.

Wondering, what are the best interview questions to ask an employer.

Luckily, we’ve got a list of some great questions to ask during a job interview:

  1. What challenges does someone in this role usually face?
  2. How will you expect the work to be prioritized?
  3. Do you have any concerns about me or my background in terms of being a good hire?
  4. Can you tell me about your company culture?
  5. What’s the team like that I’ll be working with?
  6. Where did the last person in this role move to?
  7. What are the strategic goals of the company in the coming years?
  8. Do you have training programs available to your team?
  9. After this interview, what are the next steps in the hiring process?
  10. Do you need anything else from me to help you make your decision?
Reasons to ask recruiters questionsYou want to show the interviewer how interested, engaged, and informed you are as well as making sure that the company suits you. Knowing the good is just as important as knowing the not-so-good.

It’s ok to ask about anything that’s not already been discussed during the conversation. You can also work to:

  • Uncover red flags — asking about the health and future of the business during your interview can prevent nasty surprises like lay-offs down the road.
  • Show that you’re invested in the company by asking about where it’s going and how you can grow within it.

Once the interview comes to a close, the final interview questions you ask should cover what will happen next in the process.

Pro-Tip
Not every question is a good question. Avoid asking questions that have been covered in the job posting or in easily accessible information. It’s not the right time to ask about salary either — you’ll negotiate this once you’ve had an offer made.

Summing Up

When you get invited to an interview, get yourself prepared . Check out the original job posting again, be confident of the skills you have that match the requirements, and learn everything you can about the company.

The next step is to study common interview questions to prepare for.

Go over basic interview questions about you and your background and think of the right answers for them. Have strong examples in your back pocket, ready to produce when asked to back up your claims.

Next, be ready for the weird questions that might not seem directly relevant. "What is your favorite color?" or "How many windows are in New York?" seem just a little odd, right? They may sound strange, but you can show off your creativity and problem-solving abilities.

Last but not least, don’t hold back when you’re asked to turn the tables and get: "Do you have any questions?" Ask about anything that didn’t come up during your conversation to that point. This is your chance to make sure that the job will be right for you, too.

Now we’ve armed you with the information about how to answer interview questions, you're ready to go land that perfect job!

Good luck!

Julia Tsarenok
Article by:
Julia Tsarenok