Job Interview Questions [and Answers Employers Want to Hear]

Bad response

“I work too hard.” Interviewers will roll their eyes (figuratively, at least) when they hear this cliché.

Good response

“I used to struggle with [area of weakness] but have since fixed that problem by [actions you took].”

Here are two examples of how to answer questions about your weaknesses:

Example 1: If you used to be disorganized, tell the hiring manager what steps you took to create new habits and processes to keep yourself organized.

Example 2: If you used to work inefficiently, tell the hiring manager how you increased your work output by learning new skills or asking for help from more experienced team members.

If the hiring manager presses you for areas where you’re currently weak, talk about an area where you lack knowledge. Then outline the steps you’re currently taking to get yourself up to speed.

Tip

If you feel like you’re lacking skills and abilities, you can learn new skills on hundreds of free educational websites.

4. Tell us about a time you…

Chances are your interviewer will ask you behavioral interview questions to assess your problem solving skills and see how you handle stress.

These questions are also known as STAR method interview questions, because employers want you to answer by describing a:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

Here’s a quick mock interview for you. Think about how you’d answer each question using the STAR method (if you wrote a STAR method resume, expand on the examples you wrote about). Then click on the questions to reveal example answers, and see how your response matches up:

Mock behavioral interview questions and answers

Can you tell us about a time you solved a problem?

Answer: “When I was first hired in my current role, I was the only designer on my team. The company was rapidly expanding, and there was soon a bottleneck as my coworkers waited for me to create images for their projects (situation). So, I took it on myself to solve the issue (task). I proposed finding local college students who needed design internship experience, and, when I got approval, found three interns (action). I was able to triple the design output, which directly contributed to a 25% increase in revenue that year (result).”

Could you tell us about a conflict you resolved?

Answer: “While I was in grad school, I worked as a shift manager at a fast-food restaurant (situation). One night, one of my cashiers got into a shouting match with a customer over the fact that our ice cream machine was down for cleaning, and as manager, it was my responsibility to step in (task). Remaining calm, I told my employee to take a 15-minute break to cool off, and then I informed the customer that if they didn’t stop yelling, I’d be forced to call the police. When he calmed down, I gave him two coupons for free ice cream, and he left (action). He returned the next day, apologized to the cashier, and got his free ice cream to go with a large food order (result).”

Can you give an example of how you handle stress?

Answer: “I was a double-major in college, so I was constantly on the edge of being overwhelmed by intermingling project deadlines (situation). To keep myself from getting stressed out (task), I made a Trello board at the beginning of each semester, and listed all my projects from every class syllabus, noted overlapping deadlines, and made a work schedule to avoid procrastination (action). Consequently, when mid-terms and finals rolled around, my classmates would be pulling all-nighters and stressing out, while I was able to go to class fully rested — and maybe even a little extra tanned from a few leisurely trips to the beach (result).”

If you’re a recent graduate with little or no experience on your resume, the employer may give you a scenario-based question to get an idea of how you’d handle situations you haven’t been in yet. So study tactics for handling stress, solving problems, and resolving conflicts so you’re ready with a great hypothetical answer.

Tip

You may also get a job-specific behavioral question. For example, a sales job interviewer may ask you to tell them about a time you made a sale.

5. Why are you interested in working for us?

You need to research the company you’re interviewing with to respond to this question. You may be interested in working for a specific company because you:

  • believe in their mission
  • are interested in the industry
  • like their brand
  • have skills that can help the company succeed

These are all good answers because they show your buy-in to the company’s goals, but be prepared to expain what aspect of their mission you believe in, or what you like about their brand. Research is key to answering these sorts of questions.

On the other hand, avoid answering this question with reasons the company can help you.

Self-focused answer

“I’m interested in working for you because you pay more than my current company does.”

Organization-focused answer

“I’m a huge fan of the commercials your marketing department puts out, and I’d be proud to be part of that production process.”

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