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How to Answer 14 Most Common Interview Questions

How to Answer 14 Most Common Interview Questions [+ Sample Answers] These questions are the ones you’re bound to hear at just about any job interview – whether you’re an intern or a senior professional with a decade of work experience.Maswali na majibu ya interview,Jinsi ya kujibu maswali ya interview,maswali yanayoulizwa maa nyingi kwenye interview

All of these questions are used to learn more about you, both as a person and a professional.

You might have heard the popular idea that there’s no right or wrong answers for job interview questions.

Well, while that might be true, there ARE a set of rules you need to follow when answering these questions.

If you understand what, exactly, the interviewer is looking for with each question, you’ll be able to give the right answer (and rock that interview!)

In this section, we’re going to go through 14 of the most common job interview questions and answers. We’re going to explain what the HR manager wants to see in you, as well as give you sample answers you could use.

So, let’s get started!

1) Tell me something about yourself.

How hard can it be to talk about yourself? We do it on a daily basis without much thought to it.

However, recruitment managers are not looking for your whole life story, your third-grade achievements, or what you had for dinner last night. Instead, they are looking for a pitch.

This is usually the first question asked in an interview, so it acts as your introduction. Make sure your answer is relevant to the position you are applying for. What you should be aiming for here is to present yourself as the ideal candidate for the job.

A good rule of thumb is to structure your talking points as follows:

  • Briefly introduce yourself: What’s your name? How long have you been working as [profession]?
  • What do you love about your job?
  • What are your top 2-3 achievements that are relevant to the job you’re applying for?

Now, let’s go through some examples:

  • Sample Answer 1:

Hey! So, my name is John Doe and I’ve worked as a business analyst for 5+ years in Company X and Company Y.

I have some background in data analysis, having studied Information Systems at [Made-Up] University.

Throughout my career, I’ve done some pretty impressive stuff (if I do say so myself, haha). 

For example, at Company X, I led a project for migrating all operations data to a new data warehousing system to cut down on costs. The new solution was a much better fit for our business, which eventually led to savings of up to $200,000 annually.

  • Sample Answer 2:

I am Jane Doe, a recent college graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

I have just graduated with honors in Biochemistry. I know my way around a lab and have had multiple opportunities to put my knowledge into practice as a chemistry research assistant.

The lab felt like home, which is why I’d love to work as a lab assistant. I am passionate, hard-working, and extremely responsible. I am also looking forward to putting to practice all the things I learned during my time at university.

2) How did you hear about this position?

Although at first glance this might seem like a straightforward question, you should grab any opportunity you can to show your interest in the company.

Even if you haven’t been continuously refreshing the company’s website for job listings, make it seem like you have (in a professional way, of course). Show excitement and curiosity.

If someone inside the company told you about the position or recommended that you apply, definitely make sure to mention that.

You’ll have a much better chance at getting hired if someone credible can vouch for your skills.

So, mention his/her name and his/her position inside the company and give their reasoning for inviting or recommending you to apply for the position. Tell the hiring managers what excites you about the job opportunity or what exactly caught your eye.

  • Sample answer 1:

“I’ve known about [MadeUpTechnologies] for a long time – I’m a big fan of your products. I even own one of your latest phone models!

I love the company’s passion for creating super intuitive, beautiful hardware, and I would love to be a part of it.

So, when I saw your job ad at [RandomJobBoardWebsite], even though I wasn’t actively looking for a job at the time, I couldn’t help but apply!”

  • Sample answer 2:

“I heard from Jim Doe, my old colleague and college friend, that [Company X] was looking for a new sales director. He encouraged me to apply, saying that my experience managing a sales team at [Some Software Company] would be helpful for [Company X].

I’ve heard a lot about [Company X] from Jim, and I’m a big fan of the way you do things there. I’ve always wanted to work for a company with a flat organizational structure.”

3) Why did you decide to apply for this position?

Through this question, the interviewers want to assess how passionate you are for the position. And no, the answer isn’t:

“Well, I’m very passionate about not starving to death.”


“Well, I needed the money, and you guys tend to pay a lot.”

What the interviewer is looking for here is to see how passionate you are about the job or the company. After all, job performance is directly linked to job satisfaction. The happier you are about your position at the company, the more productive you’ll be.

And here’s the kicker – your passion will be very evident during the interview.

When you’re talking to a person that’s passionate about something, you can pretty much feel them glow as they talk. And if you’re an HR manager who’s interviewed hundreds of people, this is a very good sign to hire the candidate.

So, use this knowledge to your advantage.

When asked this question, your answer should include 2 things:

  1. What motivated you to apply for this position, specifically.
  2. Why this company? Have you heard of them before?

I’m very passionate about sustainability and renewable energy. In fact, I minored in Environmental Science at [XYZ University].

I’ve always wanted to put my engineering degree to a good cause – and the position as a Sustainability Coordinator at [Company XYZ] is just the right thing.

I’ve been following your company for the past few years, and I love how you’re changing the renewable energy landscape in America. 

Keep in mind, though, that if you don’t know much about the company or the position – that’s OK too. Just be honest and show your passion for the job. However, it’s always better to do your homework before going to an interview..

I’ve always wanted to get into marketing. Having done promotional jobs here and there, I never had an opportunity to do something more serious.

I do believe, though, that I have just the right skills to get started: copywriting, basic photoshop, and of course, lots of creativity.

So, I thought that an internship at [Company X] would be an awesome start to my career in marketing.

Want to find more samples answers to this question? Check out our article on 10+ best answers to “Why do you want to work here?

4) What are your biggest strengths?

There are two answers you could go for here: what your actual strengths are, and what you think the hiring manager or HR representative wants to hear. We would most certainly suggest you go with the first answer.

For this question, you would want to narrow your answer down to at most three strengths. Pick 1 or 2 skills that would help you really excel at the job, and 1 or 2 personal (more or less unrelated) skills.

Not sure which ones are your top strengths? Check out the table below to learn which one’s perfect for your field:


After picking your strengths, back it up with a situation or story that shows how you have used it to benefit you on the job.

After all, words are just that – words. The HR can’t know whether your “natural leadership” is an actual strength, or just means that you were super active in your high school class.

As you probably already know, this is one of the most common interview questions out there, so make sure you’re prepared for it before facing the HR manager!

  • Sample Answer 1:

My biggest strength is that I’m good at picking up new skills. I’ve worked a variety of different odd jobs – things like working as a waiter, house-keeper, cook, and a lot more (as you’ve probably seen on my resume).

For most of those jobs, I ended up picking up all the needed skills within 1 or 2 weeks (with basically no previous experience). 

So, I’m pretty sure while I don’t have any experience as a bartender, I have the right certification, and I believe I can get good at it within a week or two.

  • Possible answer 2:

My biggest strength is that I’m very efficient at working under pressure. No matter the crisis or stress, I can make the right decisions on-the-spot.

As an event manager at Company X, we were organizing an IT conference for a client. There were a ton of last-minute hiccups – some speakers canceled and the catering company said they’d be late for the lunch break. On top of that, we were understaffed because 2 of our volunteer organizers got sick and couldn’t show up.

At that point, things looked so bleak that we were considering canceling the event or postponing it. Instead, I took the initiative in my hands and sorted through the problems one by one.

5) What is your biggest weakness?

Ah, this is always a tricky one!

After all, you don’t want to mention your flaws during an interview, so it’s guaranteed to be a tough question.

The trick to answering this one is realizing that the interviewers don’t expect you to be perfect. Everyone has flaws, weaknesses, and things to improve on.

When asking this question, the HR manager is actually seeking to learn:

  • Whether you have the right skills for the job. If you’re applying for the position of a server in a busy restaurant, and you say your biggest weakness is performing under pressure, then you’re definitely not getting a callback.
  • If you’re self-aware and really know what your sticking points are.

And NO: fake humble-brag weaknesses don’t count as weaknesses. You can’t just say that your biggest weakness is that you work too hard, or that you’re a perfectionist.

The key here is to mention a weakness that’s real, but not something that would get in the way of you doing your job. You wouldn’t want to say you’re bad at math if you’re applying for an accountant position, would you

It’s also good practice to mention how you are working towards overcoming this weakness and realizing how it affects you negatively. If you can, just balance it with a positive side effect: treat it like two sides of the same coin.

  • Sample answer 1:

My biggest weakness has always been my communication skills. I’ve been pretty shy and anxious as a kid. Over the years, however, I’ve been really working on the issue.

At this stage, I’m much better than I’ve ever been, but I’m still far from perfect.

This, however, won’t have any impact on my job as a programmer. Despite lacking communication skills, I’m very good at working in a team.

  • Sample answer 2:

Well, as a recent graduate, I’d say my biggest weakness is the lack of real-life work experience.

While I’ve worked on a dozen software projects in the university, I don’t have the experience of working in a fully agile environment with an experienced team.

I am, however, willing to do my best and catch up as fast as I can.

Looking for more samples answers about your strengths and weaknesses? Check out our full guide!

6) What do you know about this company/organization?

A quick search in the “About” page of the company/organization you are applying for should be enough, right? Well, yes and no.

Think of this as an open-ended question. There’s no real wrong answer here, other than:

I don’t know anything about this organization. In fact, how did I end up here? Can you guys call me a cab real quick?

However, the more you actually know about the company, the better your chances of getting hired.

Imagine 2 equally competent candidates:

  1. One who doesn’t particularly care much about your company, and is only applying because they know you pay good salaries
  2. Another who’s been following your company blog for ages, loves your product, and has several friends already working in the company

Which one would you pick? Exactly, the second one!

So, with this job interview question, you want to convince the recruiter that you’re the candidate #2.

Now, how do you do that? Well, a rule of thumb here is to do some Googling before the interview and learn the following about the company:

  • What does their product or service do?
  • What impact does the product / service have?
  • What’s the company culture like?
  • What are the latest news about the company? How are they performing?
  • …And pretty much whatever other type of info you can dig up.
  • Sample Answer 1:

I hadn’t heard about you until recently, actually. I found out about [Company X] through your job ad on RandomJobBoard.

After doing some brief research on you guys, I ended up falling in love with your software and your mission.

Now, I’ve worked with a ton of different project management software – Example Software 1, Example Software 2 – but none of them were as intuitive and as Example Software 3.

  • Sample Answer 2:

Well, I know that you’re one of the biggest investment banks in [town / state / country]. Company X pops up on news pretty often – I’ve read that you’ve invested in some of the hottest tech IPOs, and have several up-and-coming biotech companies in your portfolio.

I got particularly interested by your recent investment in [Startup X], I found that interesting because of [Y Reason].

7) Why should we hire you?

Ah, the ultimate humble-brag question.

Now, the real question is, how do you sell yourself without trying to look arrogant, desperate, or needy?

A good rule of thumb here is to stay away from the extremes. Think you’re a good fit for the job? Say that “you have the right experience.”

Whatever you do, don’t oversell yourself:

“I’m the best salesman you’ve ever met!”

Instead, make a general statement (I’m a great fit for the position because…) and talk about your experiences and achievements.

Here are 3 general points you can mention:

  1. How you’re super passionate about working for the company (and why).
  2. How your skills fit their requirements.
  3. How you’re going to help the company solve their existing problems. Improve a metric, setup a process, etc.
  • Sample Answer 1:

Well, as a start, I have all the skills and work experience required for the job. I’ve worked as a Sales Manager for 5+ years, and over the past 2, I’ve closed several deals totalling in 6-figures.

Oh, and on top of that, I have experience working with tech companies, so I’ll be able to pick up all the product specifics much faster than the other candidates.

  • Sample Answer 2:

I have just the right skill-set to excel as an executive assistant. While I haven’t previously worked as a personal assistant, I pretty much fit the bill for the role.

I’m extremely organized, having managed several project teams in my university. I led the organization of Event #1 and Event #2. This involved continuous communication with 12+ companies, 30 speakers, and 15+ sponsors.

I’m very meticulous and organized, and I’m more than capable of helping the CEO get the most our of their free time.

Looking for more sample answers? Check out these 10+ answers to “Why should we hire you?

8) What are your salary requirements?

This is always a tricky question. You don’t want to lowball yourself, but at the same time, you don’t want to be told “No” because you gave such an outrageous number.

When answering, keep these 3 things in mind:

  • What’s the average salary for someone of your skill-level?
  • How much does the company pay employees of your skill level? GlassDoor should be super helpful here.
  • Finally, how much are you getting paid in your current company? In most cases, you can probably negotiate a pay bump from what you’re currently getting.

The final number you tell them should incorporate all 3 of the points we just mentioned. Do you know for a fact that the company is doing well (and compensates employees accordingly)? You’d quote a higher salary.

Is your skill-level above average? This should be reflected in your salary.

As a rule of thumb, you can figure out 2 numbers: what’s the “good” scenario, and what’s the “best” scenario?

Answer the interviewer with your “best” pay, and worst case scenario, they’ll negotiate it down.

Or, you can also answer with a range, and chances are, they’ll pick the number somewhere in the middle.

  • Sample Answer 1:

My salary expectation is around $70,000 annually.

  • Sample Answer 2:

My salary requirement is in the $30,000 – $40,000 range annually.

9) Do you have any questions for us?

You’ll hear this question in every interview you will attend.

While there isn’t a right answer, there IS a wrong answer:

Nope, all good! Thanks, I’ll go show myself out.

Instead, with this question, you want to show your enthusiasm about the company. Imagine they’ve already hired you and you’re starting tomorrow – what would you like to know about them?

Keep in mind, though, that the questions shouldn’t be too easy (So, what does your company do?).

Other than showing the recruiter that you’re really interested in working for them, this is your opportunity to really find out more about the ins and outs of the place.

The answers you get from the interviewer could also be an indicator of whether you really want to work there or not.

So, what kind of questions can you ask? Here are some of the most essential ones:

  1. What does a regular day in this company look like?
  2. What’s the best thing about working for the company?
  3. What’s the worst thing about working for the company?
  4. What would you say are the biggest challenges a person in this position might face?
  5. What are the most important skills and qualities one must have to succeed in this position?
  6. What do you like best about working in this company?
  7. What are the most pressing issues and projects that need to be addressed?
  8. Do you have training programs available to employees?
  9. What sort of budget is there for my department?
  10. What kind of opportunities do you have for future development?
  11. What are the performance expectations for someone in this position?
  12. Do departments usually collaborate with one another?
  13. Do you celebrate birthdays or retirements in the office?
  14. Do employees usually hang out with each other outside of work?
  15. Is there anything else I can help you with at this stage?
  16. What is the next step in the hiring process?

For the complete list of all the questions you can ask the interviewer, check out our article!

10) What are you looking for in a new position?

The easiest way to answer this question would be to simply say that you’re looking for whatever the company is offering.

Look at it from the point of view of the potential employer. Would they hire someone if they answered this question with:

A good salary. And uhh, well, that’s about it!

This answer pretty much says that the moment they get a higher paying offer, they’re going to jump ship!

Instead, explain to the interviewer that this job at this company is the perfect fit for you. Mention what your short-term and long-term career goals are, and how this position ties to them.

I’m looking to further apply my machine learning skills that I developed during my 2+ years of work at [Startup X]. There, I used to do programmatic ads model design.

Now, I’m looking for an opportunity to work on a larger scale project that involves setting up programmatic ads for audiences of more than 10 million people.

I believe that worked with such a large-scale project will allow me to progress significantly faster in my career.

11) Are you considering other positions in other companies?

Here’s a tricky one: How much does the HR manager need to know here?

If you admit to having interviews with other companies, it might look like you’re not 100% dedicated to this one.

On the other hand, if you say you are not considering other positions, it might make you seem like you don’t have other options (and the company has the upper hand in salary negotiations).

The right way to go about here is to find common ground between the two answers.

The interviewer is probably asking because they want to know whether they have competition in hiring you. They also want to know if you are serious about the industry and are legitimately looking to be employed in this field of work.

If you do have other interviews lined up for other companies, express that you are keeping your options open but that you favor this job in comparison to the others.

Don’t have many other options? Stick to the same approach.

Whatever you do, don’t make it seem like you’re desperate or that you don’t have any other options.

  • Sample Answer 1:

I have had two interviews during the past week with companies in X and Y industries.

However, as I’m very passionate about both your industry and the work you have done during the past several years, I am more inclined toward working for you, if everything works out.

  • Sample Answer 2:

Not yet – I wasn’t really actively looking for a job until my friend, [name], recommended your company. I’m not looking for just any company – I’m interested in an interesting, engaging project such as yours.

12) What is the professional achievement you’re most proud of?

This is another version of the “Why should we hire you” question, but with a focus on one very specific achievement.

This one’s pretty straightforward, just mention your #1 professional achievement and you’re good to go.

As a given, the achievement has to be related to the job you’re applying for. Let’s say you’re applying for the position of Sales Manager:

  • [Incorrect Example]

“I’m very good at underwater basket-weaving, having woven 20+ baskets in the past year.”

  • [Correct Example]

“In my previous sales position, I managed to hit and exceed department KPIs by 50%+ for 6 months in a row”

Keep in mind, though, that you want to be very specific with your answer. To get this right, try using the STAR method. It goes something like this:

S: Situation – Set the scene and context.

T: Task – Describe what your challenge or responsibility was.

A: Action – List and dwell on all the actions you took towards addressing the challenge or responsibility.

R: Result – Explain what the outcomes were and how they fit with the overall goal of the project or company.

So, find a work-related achievement that showcases your contribution through your skills and experience to something that matters to the company.

  • Sample Answer 1: 

My biggest achievement is the fact that I went from being an intern to managing company X’s entire marketing over 2 years.

As an intern, I basically had 0 instructions on what to do – it went like “hey, go learn social media advertising and get it going.” The founders didn’t exactly expect me to achieve much, and didn’t particularly care, as they were 100% focused on making the product work.

Instead of just complaining about a lack of direction, I started reading up on digital marketing – pretty much anything I could get my hands on. I learned how to do content marketing for example, from Neil Patel’s blog, and started putting everything into practice.

My first success was getting an article to go viral, generating over $5,000 revenue in a single day. While that’s not much for a software company, it felt like a lot for an intern.

After that, the founding team gave me a lot more trust, and assigned me a small marketing budget of $1,000 per month. With a lot more confidence in my abilities, I started experimenting with other strategies.

Then, over the next 2 years, I got promoted to Head of Marketing. After making a couple of hires, I managed to scale up our marketing efforts, growing the company from $2,000 to $30,000 monthly recurring revenue.

  • Sample Answer 2: 

My greatest accomplishment so far is graduating from [University X] within 4 years, with a GPA of 3.9. My family was unable to support me financially, so I had to take care of all the university bills on my own.

Through hard work and dedication, I ended up graduating with almost no student loans. I managed this through a combination of:

  1. Working part-time while studying
  2. Doing seasonal full-time work during the summer
  3. Maintaining a high CGPA and winning 2 scholarships over 4 years

13) What kind of work environment do you like best?

The aim of this question is to assess whether you’ll fit in the company’s working environment.

For example, some organizations are pretty structured and hierarchical, they require tight organization and have a well-planned day filled with rules and guidelines on how to do things.

If you’re the creative, think-out-of-the-box type who likes to break the rules and innovate, this is probably not going to cut it for you.

On the other hand, some companies are more laid back, with a lot less bureaucracy. “Go get us more sales” can actually be your main duty for the week if you’re working in an early stage startup.

If you’re the type who prefers to have strict to-dos and objectives, you probably won’t enjoy such a job.

So, the takeaway? Different people work best in different environments, and that’s okay.

Before you go to the interview, go through the company’s website and social media pages to get a sense of the general vibe and environment there.

Look at employee reviews on GlassDoor, or if you know someone already working there, ask them.

Depending on what you learn, answer accordingly.

  • Sample Answer 1:

I work best in smaller companies. I really dislike the corporate world – rules, guidelines, SOPs, and so on. I perform best when I have a certain level of freedom to do things. Want to find innovative solutions to problems you didn’t even know you had? I’m your guy.

Want someone to just blindly follow instructions and do what they’re told? Then we’d probably not be a good fit.

  • Sample Answer 2:

I love working in a youthful, energetic environment. You know, when you’re working on a common goal with a team of people who are as passionate as you are?

I like to think of my work as a second home, and my coworkers as family. 

The last company I worked at had such an environment, and I excelled at the job.

I get that exact feeling about Company X, since the moment I walked in here for the interview. So, I’m pretty excited to get to know how you guys work!

14) Where do you see yourself in five years?

Sometimes the honest answer to this is “Hopefully not doing this.” especially with entry-level jobs.

Don’t think the hiring manager doesn’t know it, though. There are diplomatic ways to go around it.

In general, the motivation behind this question is for the interviewer to assess whether you are an ambitious person or not and whether you have realistic expectations for your career.

Make sure to avoid any of the cliche answers such as…

“In your seat!”


“As the big boss man”

Instead, think realistically about what the next step after this position is, and whether it is possible to reach it within the company you are applying at.

  • Sample Answer 1: 

Within the next 5 years, I’d like to reach the position of a Senior Business Consultant. During the time period, I would like to accomplish the following:

Help 20+ organizations improve their business

Create a personal network of highly specialized professionals

Learn as much as I can about optimizing and improving clients’ businesses, as well as the essentials of operating a company

  • Sample Answer 2:

As a start, I want to learn if accounting is the right field for me. While I loved what I studied at the university, I want to see if working in the field feels the same.

If I do end up enjoying it, I’d like to specialize in either internal auditing or forensic accounting, as I really like to discover and solve problems. From what I’ve seen from your job ads, you guys are hiring for both, so I hope it’s going to be possible to move up from the position of an “intern” within the next few months!

Still not sure how to answer this one? We don’t blame you! Sometimes, you might not know what you’re doing next week, let alone next year! Check out our guide to answering the “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” job interview question to find more possible answers.

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