Imagine if you could know exactly what questions a hiring manager will ask you in your next job interview. While we can't read minds, we can offer you the next best thing: a list of 15 commonly asked interview questions and helpful advice on how to answer them.
15 Most Common Interview Questions and Answers
Instead of giving rehearsed answers to every question (which we don't recommend), we suggest you take some time to become familiar with the potential questions you might be asked.
Understand what hiring managers are looking for in your responses and how you can demonstrate that you're the right person for the job.
Think of this list as your study guide for interview questions and answers.
1) Tell me about yourself.
Many people underrate the importance of this seemingly simple question and fail to prepare for it properly. But here's the deal: Instead of giving a long, detailed account of your employment or personal history, you need to deliver a concise and compelling pitch that demonstrates why you're the perfect fit for the job.
According to Lily Zhang, a writer for The Muse and a career counselor at MIT, you can use a formula called "present, past, future" to structure your answer.
Start by briefly describing your current role, including its scope and a notable accomplishment. Then, provide some background on how you reached this position and highlight relevant experience. Finally, smoothly transition into explaining why you are interested in and well-suited for the specific role you're applying for.
Example of an answer to the question "Tell me about yourself":
"Well, I'm currently working as an account executive at Smith, where I handle our most successful client. Before that, I gained valuable experience working at an agency where I contributed to three major national healthcare brands. Although I enjoyed that work, I'm now seeking the opportunity to delve deeper into the healthcare industry by focusing on one specific company. That's why I'm thrilled about the potential to join Metro Health Center and make a significant impact."
2) Why do you want to work at this company?
Don't fall into the trap of giving generic answers! If your response could apply to any company or makes you sound like every other candidate, you're missing a chance to stand out.
Lily Zhang suggests four strategies to tackle this:
- Research and highlight something unique about the company that genuinely appeals to you
- Discuss how you've observed the company's growth and changes since you first learned about it
- Focus on the organization's future opportunities for growth and your potential contributions
- Share what has excited you about your interactions with employees so far.
Whichever path you choose, be specific. And if you can't figure out why you want to work at the company during the hiring process, it might be a sign that this position isn't the right fit for you.
Example of an answer to the question "Why do you want to work at this company?":
"I came across a job post on Talentport’s LinkedIn mentioning that there is a Singapore company that is hiring for new positions there. As I delved deeper into the details, I discovered your plans to establish a new data center, which really excites me because it means there will be opportunities to train and onboard new team members. Additionally, I read in a Wall Street Journal article that the company is expanding in Hong Kong. I'm fluent in Chinese and would be eager to contribute by assisting with any necessary liaison efforts."
3) Why do you want this job?
Once again, companies are looking for individuals who are passionate about the job, so it's important to have a compelling answer about why you want the position. (And if you don't have a good reason, it's probably best to seek opportunities elsewhere.)
Start by identifying a few key factors that make the role a perfect fit for you. For example, you can say something like, "I enjoy customer support because I love the constant interaction with people and the satisfaction of helping them solve problems."
Then, express your enthusiasm for the company itself. For instance, you can say, "I've always had a strong passion for education, and I believe your company is making significant contributions in that field, so I want to be a part of it."
Example of an answer to the question "Why do you want this job?":
"I've been a huge fan of SG Junior's products for a long time, and I've spent countless hours immersed in your games. What initially attracted me, and many other fans, is your focus on unique storytelling, which keeps us coming back for more. I've been following SG Junior on social media for quite some time, and I've always admired how different departments within the company engage with users. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I stumbled upon this job posting for a social media manager with TikTok experience. In my previous role, I successfully launched and grew our TikTok account to 10,000 followers within six months. Combining that experience with my passion for gaming and extensive knowledge of your games and fanbase, I am confident that I can create something truly special and exciting with this TikTok account."
4) Why should we hire you?
This interview question might seem direct and even intimidating, but if you're asked it, consider yourself fortunate!
It's an excellent opportunity for you to showcase your skills and convince the hiring manager why you're the best choice.
Your goal is to provide an answer that covers three important aspects:
- demonstrating that you can not only perform the job well but also deliver outstanding results
- showcasing how well you would fit within the team and company culture
- proving that you would be a stronger candidate than anyone else.
Example of an answer to the question "Why should we hire you?":
"I'm aware that SG Tech has been going through an exciting period of growth and acquiring several startups. However, I also understand that this growth can pose challenges for the sales team in terms of integrating new products with existing ones. It's natural for salespeople to prefer selling products they are already familiar with, which may result in the newer offerings being overlooked, potentially impacting the entire company. With over a decade of experience as a sales trainer, I have worked extensively with sales teams facing the exact situation that SG Tech is currently in. While growth is fantastic, it's crucial that the entire organization keeps pace. I'm confident that I can ensure your sales team feels confident and enthusiastic about selling new products by implementing an ongoing sales training program that emphasizes the product lineup and their role within it."
5) What can you bring to the company?
When interviewers ask this question, they're not just interested in hearing about your background. They want to see if you understand the problems and challenges their company or department is facing and how you can fit into their existing organization.
To answer effectively, carefully read the job description, conduct research on the company, and pay attention during your early interviews to grasp the issues you would be hired to solve.
The key is to connect your skills and experiences with what the company needs and provide an example that demonstrates your past work in similar or transferable situations.
Example of an answer to the question "What can you bring to the company?":
"During my interview with Janet, we discussed SheHer's goal of expanding its market to small business owners with fewer than 25 employees. In this regard, I would bring my expertise in this specific area and my experience in guiding a sales team that is selling to these customers for the first time. Throughout my previous roles, I have consistently focused on serving this segment, and in my current position, I played a significant role in developing our sales strategies when we began targeting these customers. I collaborated with my managers to create an effective sales script, provided guidance and feedback during sales calls with other account executives who were new to this customer segment, and personally closed 10 deals out of the 50 new bookings our 10-person sales team achieved in the first quarter. I successfully guided my previous company through a similar expansion into small businesses, and I'm eager to do the same at SheHer."
6) What are your greatest strengths?
Here's an opportunity to highlight something that sets you apart and makes you an excellent fit for this position.
When responding to this question, remember that quality is more important than quantity.
Instead of simply listing adjectives, choose one or a few specific qualities that are relevant to the role and support them with examples.
Stories are more memorable than general statements. If there's something you were hoping to mention because it makes you an outstanding candidate but haven't had the chance yet, this is the perfect moment to bring it up.
Example of an answer to the question "What are your greatest strengths?":
"I believe one of my greatest strengths is my ability to bring organization to chaotic environments and establish effective processes that simplify everyone's work. In my current position as an executive assistant to a CEO, I implemented new procedures for various tasks, ranging from scheduling meetings to planning monthly all-hands meetings and preparing for events. By establishing clear structures, everyone in the company understood how things operated and how long tasks would take. These structures helped reduce stress and set expectations for everyone involved. I'm enthusiastic about applying the same approach to an operations manager role in a startup environment, where everything is constantly evolving and in need of just the right amount of structure to ensure smooth operations."
7) What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
When your interviewer asks this question, they want to assess your self-awareness and honesty, rather than looking for major red flags. Saying "I can't meet a deadline to save my life" or "Nothing! I'm perfect!" won't be suitable.
Instead, find a balance by mentioning something you struggle with but are actively working on improving. For instance, you could mention that public speaking has been a challenge for you, but you recently volunteered to lead meetings to enhance your comfort when addressing a group of people.
Example of an answer to the question "What do you consider to be your weaknesses?":
"One area I've found challenging is accurately assessing when the people I work with feel overwhelmed or dissatisfied with their workloads. To address this, I've implemented weekly check-ins with my team. During these meetings, I ask them about their workload management, how I can provide better support, if there's any task they'd like to take on or delegate, and whether they find their work engaging. Even if everything seems fine, these meetings help establish a solid foundation for a positive and trusting relationship."
8) What is your greatest professional achievement?
Want to impress your interviewer and show them why they should hire you? Highlight your track record of achieving impressive results in past jobs!
Don't be afraid to share your accomplishments when answering this interview question. One effective approach is to use the STAR method: situation, task, action, and results.
First, set the scene and describe the task you had to complete (e.g., "In my previous role as a junior analyst, my responsibility was to manage the invoicing process").
Then, explain what actions you took and the outcomes you achieved: "Within a month, I streamlined the process, resulting in saving 10 person-hours per month for our team and reducing invoice errors by 25%."
Example of an answer to the question "What is your greatest professional achievement?":
"One of my proudest accomplishments was assisting the street lighting company I worked for in persuading the town of Singapore, Chong Pang Garden to transition from outdated street lighting to energy-efficient LED bulbs. I was assigned the role of promoting and selling these bulbs while emphasizing long-term cost savings. It was a challenge because our products had a higher upfront cost compared to less efficient lighting options. To overcome this, I developed an informative packet and organized local community events targeted at city officials and the general public. During these events, I showcased our products, addressed inquiries, and emphasized the long-term benefits of LED bulbs. Engaging the public was crucial, and these events helped reach a wide range of community members. As a result, I not only achieved my first-year sales goal of S$100,000, but we also secured another contract in a neighboring city. Furthermore, our community-focused approach gained attention from national media outlets. Within one year, I earned a promotion to senior sales representative due to my success in this endeavor."
9) Tell me about a challenge or conflict you’ve faced at work, and how you dealt with it.
You may not be excited to discuss conflicts you've encountered at work during a job interview, but it's important to be honest if asked directly.
Instead of avoiding the question, share a challenging situation without going into excessive detail. The interviewer is mainly interested in seeing how you handle such issues and if you make genuine efforts to resolve them.
Stay composed and professional as you share the story, focusing more on the resolution rather than the conflict itself.
Additionally, mention what you've learned from the experience to demonstrate your willingness to grow and learn from tough situations.
Example of an answer to the question "Tell me about a challenge or conflict you've faced at work, and how you dealt with it":
"Interestingly enough, last year I was part of a committee that organized a workplace training on conflict intervention. We faced some resistance when it came to requiring attendance, especially from a senior staff member who expressed strong objections. I took the time to actively listen and understand his perspective. It became clear that he believed the training wasn't the best use of his time considering his heavy workload. I acknowledged his concerns and then focused on addressing his main objection. I explained how the training aimed to enhance not only our company culture but also improve overall efficiency, ultimately lightening everyone's workload. Eventually, he agreed to attend the training. During the session, I emphasized the importance of identifying the root causes of conflicts and addressing them directly, without involving unrelated issues. This is the approach I strive to take when dealing with disagreements in the workplace."
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10) Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership skills.
You don't need a fancy job title to show leadership qualities. Think about a time when you took charge of a project, suggested a different approach, or motivated your team to accomplish something.
Use the STAR method to share a story with your interviewer, providing enough details to create a clear picture without going off-topic. Make sure to highlight the outcome and explain why you chose this particular story, connecting all the dots for the interviewer.
Example of an answer to the question "Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership skills":
"I believe a good leader is someone who can make decisions while also listening to others, admitting mistakes, and making necessary adjustments. In my previous role, my team and I had a crucial presentation for a potential client. I assigned tasks to team members, but the project didn't progress as expected. Realizing this, I encouraged everyone to share their thoughts and concerns. It turned out that some team members were struggling with the roles they were assigned. I decided to reassign a few people to better suit their strengths. Meanwhile, the team member responsible for delivering the presentation was nervous but willing to give it a try. I worked closely with them, providing support and organizing practice sessions to boost their confidence. When the actual presentation took place, they delivered an outstanding performance. As a result, we secured the client, and our company still retains its account to this day. Additionally, that team member became our go-to person for important client presentations. I'm grateful that I took the time to listen to my team's concerns, reassess my approach, and help them excel."
11) What’s a time you disagreed with a decision that was made at work?
The best story to share here is one where you handled a disagreement professionally and gained a valuable lesson from the experience.
Zhang suggests paying attention to how you start and end your response. To begin, make a brief statement that sets the stage for your answer, hinting at the main takeaway or the reason behind telling this story.
For example, you could say, "I learned early in my career that it's okay to disagree as long as you have evidence to support your insights." And to conclude strongly, you can either provide a one-sentence summary of your answer ("In short...") or briefly discuss how what you learned from this experience would benefit you in the role you're interviewing for.
Example of an answer to the question "Can you share a time when you disagreed with a decision made at work?":
"As a personal assistant, part of my role involved creating reports for potential company investments. Accuracy was crucial to ensure that our leaders had the best information for decision-making. On one occasion, my boss asked me to generate a new report on a Monday morning and requested it to be completed by Tuesday at 5 PM. Because I value delivering high-quality work and felt that my boss might not fully grasp the effort required for each report, I knew I needed to speak up. I found an opportunity to discuss my concerns with my boss and express the challenges I foresaw. Despite her insistence on the report's deadline, I suggested if there was anyone who could provide assistance. After considering the situation, my boss arranged for another assistant to contribute a few hours to the task. Although it was a tight timeline, we managed to complete the report, and the committee was delighted with the results during the meeting. My boss appreciated my commitment to ensuring the report's quality, and I felt satisfied that we didn't compromise on its accuracy. This experience taught me the importance of being a team player while also understanding when and how to seek help. Furthermore, after explaining the time and effort involved in each report, my boss was more considerate when assigning them in the future."
12) Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
When you're trying to impress an interviewer and secure a job, you may not be enthusiastic about discussing past mistakes.
However, talking about a mistake and winning someone over are not mutually exclusive, as Moy suggests. In fact, if handled correctly, it can actually work in your favor.
The key is to be honest without blaming others, explain what you learned from the mistake, and outline the actions you took to prevent it from happening again.
Ultimately, employers are looking for individuals who are self-aware, receptive to feedback and committed to improvement.
Example of an answer to the question "Tell me about a time you made a mistake":
"Early in my career, I missed a deadline that resulted in losing a major account. Although several factors contributed to this, I take full responsibility for dropping the ball. From that experience, I took a step back and critically evaluated what I could have controlled and what I should have done differently. It became clear that I wasn't as organized as I had believed. I approached my boss, seeking suggestions to enhance my organizational skills, and over the next few months, I was able to secure an even bigger account for the department."
13) Tell me about a time you failed.
When asked about a time you failed, approach it similarly to discussing a mistake. Choose a genuine failure you can honestly talk about.
Begin by explaining your definition of failure, such as being caught off guard as a manager. Share a story that aligns with this definition and describe what occurred. Lastly, emphasize what you learned from the experience.
It's normal to fail sometimes, but it's crucial to show that you gained something from it.
Example of an answer to "Tell me about a time you failed":
"As a team manager, I consider it a failure when I'm unaware of my team's work and get surprised by problems. I strive to stay informed about their progress. For instance, during our annual training for new project managers, I didn't check in because we had done it many times before. Unfortunately, a scheduling conflict escalated into a dispute with another team. The issue was quickly resolved in a leadership team meeting, but if I had asked earlier, it wouldn't have become a problem. I learned the importance of setting reminders and staying updated on major projects, even if they are routine."
14) Why are you leaving your current job?
When asked why you're leaving your current job, it's important to stay positive. Avoid being negative about your current employer and instead focus on expressing your enthusiasm for new opportunities and how the role you're interviewing for is a better fit.
For example, you can say, "I'm excited to be part of product development from start to finish, and I believe this opportunity would allow me to do that." If you were let go from your previous job, keep it simple and say, "Unfortunately, I was let go," as it is an acceptable response.
Example of an answer to "Why are you leaving your current job?":"I'm ready for a new challenge in my career. While I enjoyed working with my colleagues and the projects I was involved in, I realized that I wasn't being challenged as much as before. Instead of becoming too comfortable, I decided to pursue a position where I can continue to grow."
15) What are your career aspirations?
When interviewers ask about your career aspirations, they want to know what kind of career would make you happy and fulfilled, considering realistic goals. Your aspirations may involve the type of company you want to work for, the tasks you want to perform, the people you want to help, or how you want to be perceived by your colleagues. To answer this question, talk about what energizes you and connects it to the position you're interviewing for. Explain specifically how this job will help you achieve your career aspirations.
Example of an answer to "What are your career aspirations?":"I have a strong passion for making healthy food more accessible, especially in areas with limited options. Solving complex problems is something I enjoy. Currently, as a project manager, I excel in strategic planning and stakeholder engagement, ensuring timely and cost-effective delivery. This role aligns with my aspiration to contribute to a cause I deeply care about. I am determined to utilize these skills to help your organization provide affordable and nutritious food options to our community, empowering them to make healthy choices. In the next few years, I aim to take on more responsibilities and play a decision-making role to expand this mission beyond our community, positively impacting even more families."
16) What’s your current salary?
In some cities and states, like New York City, Louisville, North Carolina, California, and Massachusetts, it's now illegal for employers to ask about your salary history.
However, in Singapore, companies are allowed to ask about your salary and request your latest payslips to verify your previous salary. But, there is no rule that requires job applicants to disclose their last drawn salary, and employers cannot force them to do so.
This question can be stressful no matter where you live. Don't worry, there are strategies you can use. For example, you can deflect the question by saying something like: "Before talking about salary, I would like to learn more about the responsibilities of this role. I've researched [Company] extensively, and I'm confident that if it's the right fit, we can agree on a fair and competitive number for both of us."
You can also reframe the question by discussing your salary expectations or requirements or choose to share your current salary if you think it will benefit you.
Example of an answer to "What's your current salary?":"Before discussing salary, I'd like to understand more about the role and its responsibilities. I've done thorough research on [Company], and I believe that if it's a good match, we can reach a fair and competitive salary agreement."
17) What are your salary expectations?
When it comes to answering the question about salary expectations, the number one rule is to know your requirements beforehand.
Research similar roles using websites like Glassdoor and ask people in your network for guidance. Consider your experience, education, skills, and personal needs.
Jennifer Fink, a career coach, suggests three strategies:
- Provide a salary range: Make sure the bottom of your range is closer to the higher end of what you hope to earn.
- Flip the question: Ask the interviewer about the salary range for the role.
- Delay your answer: Express your interest in learning more about the position or the complete compensation package before discussing pay.
Example of an answer to "What are your salary expectations?""Based on my experience and Meta Ads certifications, which you mentioned as valuable for the team, I am looking for an annual salary between $42,000 and $46,000 for this role. However, I also value benefits. The on-site gym, commuter benefits, and other perks you offer could make me flexible with the salary."
18) Do you have any questions for us?
An interview is not just about answering questions—it's also a chance for you to decide if the job is a good fit for you. What information do you want to learn about the position, company, department, or team?
During the interview, you will cover some of this, but it's good to have a few uncommon questions prepared. One idea is to ask the interviewer about their favorite part of working there.
You can also inquire about the company's growth and any new products or plans they have. If you're interviewing for a remote role, there are specific questions you may want to ask related to that.
Example of best questions to ask:
- Can you describe a typical day or week in this role?
- What are the current priority projects that need immediate attention?
- Could you provide examples of the projects I would be involved in?
- What specific skills and experiences are you looking for in an ideal candidate?
- What qualities are essential for someone to be successful in this position?
- Are there any particular skills that the team lacks and is seeking to find in a new hire?
- What are the major challenges that someone in this role would face?
- Can you provide information on the budget I would be working with?
- Is this a newly created position or a replacement for someone leaving?
- How does this role contribute to the overall goals of the company?
- Do you anticipate any changes in the main responsibilities of this position within the next six months to a year?
Overall, mastering common interview questions and providing effective answers is crucial for a successful job interview. By understanding and preparing for questions like discussing strengths and weaknesses, handling conflicts, or explaining career aspirations, you can confidently showcase your abilities and suitability for the role.
Remember to provide specific examples, focus on positive attributes, and highlight how you have learned and grown from past experiences. With thorough preparation and thoughtful responses, you can make a strong impression and increase your chances of securing the job you desire.
If you want to work remotely and pursue a global career with international companies, Talentport is an excellent platform to consider. It offers a user-friendly interface and a diverse array of job options, enabling you to apply for positions and connect with employers worldwide. By completing the form and demonstrating your skills and experience through an online assessment, you can enhance your chances of securing your ideal job and embarking on a thrilling global career.