Sample Questions & Answers for Job Interviews

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The best interview answers are based on researching the company ahead of time.
The best interview answers are based on researching the company ahead of time. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Job interviews often include a number of common questions or question types that attempt to uncover your transferable skills as an employee, along with your technical proficiency. The specific questions you get based on your chosen career are often easy to research. Serious job candidates not only learn the common questions about their basic abilities, by they practice responses ahead of time.

Personal Story

Perhaps the most common opening question, or request, in a job interview is "Tell me about yourself," or some variation. Sometimes, the interview simply offers this as an ice breaker to give you a chance to share some basic things about yourself. However, your response to this question is important. Sometimes people say too much and risk sharing things that have high risk and little reward. The interview does not want your life history. Instead, offer a concise response that ties your education and experience to the current position.

Sample answer: "My passion for medicine started when I was young as my father is a doctor. I went to college in pursuit of a medical degree and interned in one of the finest hospitals in New York to get familiar with the emergency-room setting. Now I am looking for an opportunity to further my career in ER medicine."

Teamwork

Teamwork is a pervasive element in many 21st-century workplace cultures. Research the company ahead of time and you should know if you are applying for a job in a team-oriented environment. An interviewer may ask you to "Provide an example of a time that you have worked through a difficult situation as part of a team." A good answer shows how you have overcome a team obstacle for measurable success.

Sample answer: "In my last job, I was selected to participate in our new mission statement development. This was a challenging process, but I knew my role was to offer a front-line employee perspective. So I offered some feedback on how I felt employees viewed our mission in our jobs. This ultimately contributed to the direction of our new corporate mission."

Strengths

One common job interview question you can count on hearing is "What are your greatest strengths?" Some interviewers may ask, "Why should we hire you?" In essence, either question asks you to sell your abilities as they relate to the job. Do not simply rattle off all of the things your mom told you are amazing about you. Instead, before the interview, identify three of your best strengths that match the position and provide an example for each in the interview.

Sample answer (for one strength): "I learned early in my customer service career the importance of patience in helping resolve a customer's problems. I realize that if I am in too big of a hurry to react to the customer's concern, I cannot fully understand the situation. My patience is a major reason I was named customer service employee of the month twice at my last job."

Weaknesses

Often more challenging than identifying strengths is addressing the question "What are your biggest weaknesses?" As a general guideline, identify one genuine weakness that is not damaging given the nature of the job, and show how you have improved. Also, do not lose all humility points and say you have none. If a job requires a high level of creativity, you would not likely get penalized for struggling with organizational skills in the past.

Sample answer: "My obsession for my creative pursuits has, at times, made it difficult for me to stay organized. However, I have developed a time- management system using a digital planner that has really helped me balance my creativity with effective organization."

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