8 common interview questions you should always be prepared for


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The Great Reshuffle continues: Millions of Americans leave their jobs each month in search of new opportunities, creating a flood of open positions and ensuring employers must compete for top talent.

Even in a job seeker’s market it’s crucial to stand out in the interviewing process, especially if you’re new to the industry or applying for a position at a high-profile company. If you’re in the market for a job, here are the most common interview questions you can expect employers to ask, no matter the position or industry you’re applying for.

8 Most Common Interview Questions

Interview questions vary greatly depending on the industry, company culture, and role expectations. There are some you can expect to hear in almost every interview, though, so it’s always wise to prepare. Here are eight common interview questions to be ready for before your next interview.

1. Tell me about yourself.

Tell me about yourself” is often the first thing an interviewer will ask. This question breaks the ice and allows the interviewer to get to know you. Your answer can show that you have the qualities and experience to be successful in the role.

2. What is your greatest strength?

Answering, “What is your greatest strength?” in an interview can be tricky. You want to show you’re a good fit, but you don’t want to appear arrogant. You can find the right balance by thinking strategically and showcasing hard and soft skills relevant to the position while using examples to support your answer.

3. What is your biggest weakness?

As challenging as discussing your strengths may be, answering, “What is your biggest weakness?” may feel even more uncomfortable. Fortunately, you can use this question to show you’re self-aware. Speak transparently about the areas you need to work on and the steps you’re taking to improve.

“Don’t try to be clever here and try to position a strength as a weakness,” says Alan Edwards, writer and coach at Undercover Recruiter. “For example, don’t say you’re too much of a perfectionist or that you tend to work too hard and demand too much of yourself. Interviewers can see right through it.”

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4. Why are you applying for this position?

Interviewers want to know if you’re there for the right reasons, so they’ll often ask why you’re applying for the position. Companies look for passionate and excited people who are likely to produce great results and stay for the long haul, so tailor your answers to the specific position and company. 

5. What are your salary expectations?

The best way to prepare for the “What are your salary expectations?” question is to research the expected salary range for the position. “You can refer to that research when you answer, but it’s equally fine to pick a specific number in the middle of the range,” Edwards says. “Follow your answer up by saying something like, ‘Compensation isn’t the only factor I’m considering in a new job, though. I’m looking forward to learning more about the company and the role.’”

Keep your experience, skills, and education in mind when deciding on your expected salary. “An experienced applicant should ask for a salary on the higher end of that range and less experienced applicants on the lower,” says Archie Payne, president of CalTek Staffing.

6. Why are you qualified for this position?

Answering “Why do you think you are qualified for this position?” in an interview can be tricky, because you’ll want to make sure you’re confident without overdoing it. 

Fortunately, if you stay humble, make sure your answers correlate  directly to the job’s qualifications and responsibilities, and refrain from comparing yourself to other candidates, you’ll be on the right track.

7. What motivates you?

Although it’s tempting to talk about everything that motivates you in your life, it’s important to keep the answer to the “What motivates you?” interview question work-related. For example, you can talk about what’s exciting to you about the job, company, and industry. Be specific and go beyond talking about salary or benefits as a motivator.

8. Why are you leaving your job?

Your reasons for leaving your most recent position are probably varied, so answering “What are your reasons for leaving a job?” in a job interview can feel overwhelming. After all, do you tell a new potential employer that you left because of a toxic work environment or low pay? Or do you keep things vague?

Keeping your response brief, professional, and positive — while tailoring your answer to the new job and company — can help you find the sweet spot.

The Bottom Line

Practicing and preparing answers to common interview questions is the best way to make sure you’re ready to ace an interview. And don’t forget to come up with smart questions to ask the hiring manager as well. After all, you’re also determining whether the position is the right fit for you, so feel empowered to interview the company right back.

This article originally appeared on Forage and was syndicated by MediaFeed

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Interview red flags you should watch out for

My friend Emma recently interviewed for a position with a company she’s always admired from afar. She showed up (virtually) excited, well-prepped and hoping for the best.

She called me right after the interview to debrief. But there was flatness where the excitement should’ve been. She sounded way more “meh” than “woohoo.”

“I’m still not sure what just happened,” she said. “They want me to meet with an executive panel next, but something about the experience is making me hesitate.”

Right now, we’re living in a buyers’ market—meaning companies are having to work twice as hard to attract talent, and if you indeed are a talent, you’ve got all the leverage. So, if you’re on the hunt for your next gig, you can—and absolutely should—be very choosy.

Of course, there’s a lot you won’t know about a company until you’re already inside it. But there are some signals you can keep an eye out for during the interview process. And if, like my friend, you feel your spidey sense tingling, definitely give it a listen.

Here are some red flags worth watching out for.

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Whoever is interviewing you—regardless of their level or title—should be showing up as an ambassador of the company’s brand.

People express energy in different ways; I’m not suggesting that you expect choreography and jazz hands. But I am saying that you deserve to feel like the interviewer wants to be there and is fully engaged in your conversation.

Have they shown up, whether in person or on-screen, calmly, with smiles, seeming to have time for you? Or do they seem anxious, frantic, racing around or exhausted?

Even in a virtual interview, you can watch for signals of focus, eye contact, and how calmly they’re breathing. One frantic person may be an exception. But if it seems like the norm, be wary.

Emma told me her interviewer seemed distracted and anxious—and was not-so-discreetly multi-tasking. Which left Emma feeling like a to-do needing to be handled rather than a talent to be courted. Not a good look for that company.


When I graduated from college, certain big companies were infamous for asking questions like, “How many dog hairs are there in the world?” or “How long would a piece of string need to be in order to circle the earth twice?”

Crazy, right? Granted, answering these questions well didn’t mean answering correctly. Because who could possibly know? These questions were designed to give the interviewer a glimpse into your thought process.

But also, let’s be honest: They were a little bit designed to make you sweat, to show the interviewer how you showed up under pressure.

The good news is that you don’t have to put up with that line of inquiry anymore. An interview should challenge you for sure, but also create a space in which you feel safe and can leave feeling good about yourself.

Pay attention to the nature of the questions you’re being asked. Do the questions feel designed to trip you up, or are they coming from a place of curiosity about your experience, your point of view, and your interests?

Be wary of a company that seems like it’s testing you rather than getting to know you.


In this day and age especially, an interview should feel like a dialog—you should have questions to answer, but also an invitation to pose your own.

Great companies understand this is your opportunity to get to know them as much as theirs to know you. So, pay attention to how much time the interviewer leaves for you to ask questions of them.

Emma told me that with two minutes left in their hour, her interviewer said, “Well, we’re just about out of time, but if you have a really quick question, I can try to answer it.”


You deserve to join a company that wants to know what’s on your mind as much as what value you can offer them. And candidly, if they’re a great employer, they should want every opportunity to showcase that.

Hold out for an interviewer that wants all of your questions about their culture, their leadership, their participation in the community, their employee affinity groups, and whatever else you prioritize.

These are great signals of a great experience to come.

Emma had a lot of questions! And this was a huge missed opportunity for the company.


When an interviewer references a colleague or a leader within, do they speak well or poorly of them? What kind of signals or body language do they give off?

Every company is filled with flawed people. But a willingness to highlight these flaws in an interview designed to attract you may signal a culture of disrespect or unhealthy competition.

Emma caught a couple of eye rolls as her interviewer touched on the work one of her colleagues was leading, and it was really off-putting to her.

You deserve to lean into a culture that is collaborative and collegial. Your colleagues will have flaws, but those should be yours to discover in time.


Don’t trust a company that won’t admit failure, whether individual or collective.

A company without failures to speak of is a company lacking either in honesty, or in creativity, risk tolerance, and a willingness to innovate. And we should all be looking for places that will grow, challenge, and ready us for the next-next thing.

So be sure you ask about a failure they’ve survived, big or small. They should be able to share an example. And it’s important to listen to how they describe it. Are they pointing fingers or embarrassed? Or can they highlight a lesson learned and a teamwork approach to righting the wrong?

If you’re on the hunt for your next professional move, remember that first impressions are critical. Make a great one yourself, but hold any company to the same standard. You deserve to land in a place that will delight you.

This article originally appeared on QuickandDirtyTips.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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