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What are the most common interview questions?

Most Common Interview Questions

If you're about to interview for a job, there are basic questions you must be prepared for.  Below is a list of the 5 most common interview questions along with quick tips for how to answer them.

1.  Tell me about yourself.

This is the opening question in almost all job interviews.  It sounds like an icebreaker, but it is not.  It is your first opportunity to sell yourself for the job.  Give a complete but concise explanation of why you're a great candidate for the job.  Start with your education, hit the highlights of your experience (concentrating on those things that will be most impressive to this particular hiring manager).  Talk for just a minute or two and deliver a very targeted message that says "I have the skills you need, I have accomplished some great things in my previous jobs, and I'm ready to put that to work for your benefit."

2.  Why do you want to leave your old job?  (Or, Why did you leave your previous job?)

Be brief when answering this question.  If you must give a reason why you left or want to leave, try to give a neutral one that is a factor in your old job but won't be in this one:  your travel schedule, the location, the opportunities available.  And then bring it back to how excited you are about the opportunities or circumstances available to you in this job.  Give a positive answer that focuses on how you're not really running AWAY from that old job...you're running TO this one.

3.  Why do you want to work here?

If you've done your company research, you should be able to give about 3 specific examples of why this company is a great fit for you--professionally and personally.  If you haven't done your homework, it will show up here.

4.  Why should we hire you?

Think about this:  when they go back into their huddle to weigh the merits of each candidate and decide who to offer the job, what do you want them to be thinking and saying about you?   What's going to make them say, "We can't let this one get away?"  That's what you should tell them.

5.  What are your weaknesses?

This is not just a question about your fatal flaw.  This uncovers a little bit about how you react to a difficult situation.   So stay calm and be smart.   Don't talk about your perfectionism or how you care too much.  Talk about a real weakness that causes you a problem in your personal life but is an advantage to you at work.  For instance, my impatience upsets my husband, but drives me to succeed quickly at work.   It is a real flaw, but it's not a negative for the job.

Get in-depth answers to these and 96 other tough job interview questions in my series How to Answer Interview Questions