30+ Popular Job Interview Questions with Answers [for 2020]

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30+ Popular Job Interview Questions with Answers [for 2020]

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Joanna Ryś

Sourcing Specialist

Joanna Ryś

Updated:

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So you managed to write a great resume and cover letter combo so good you’ve now been invited into the office for an interview. Good for you!

Now let’s roll up our sleeves and get ready for that interview, shall we? The better prepared you are, the more confident you come off, the better your interview will go.

Here is a list of the 30 most popular job interview questions you can use to really prep for that upcoming interview and give it your all. Let’s get started!

Popular Job Interview Questions

Tell me about yourself

This question is probably one of the most common ones out there. But what is this question really asking about? Definitely not about whether you had a dog as a kid or what kind of movies you like.

This question is asking for information about you that can demonstrate your fitness for the job. So be prepared to talk a little about your career, especially experience relevant to the job you are applying for.

Tying that together with a sentence or two on what you are passionate about is just fine, but don’t make this a long monologue about your life story.


What is your greatest strength?

Again, relevance is key. You might be a great public speaker, but that is not all that relevant if the position you are applying for is that of remote graphic designer —  and that makes talking about your public speaking prowess a bit of a waste of precious time.

Make sure the quality you bring up when asked this question is one that is either directly tied to the position in question ,or would be very useful in it.


What is your greatest weakness?

Ah yes, the dreaded weakness question. How can I possibly answer this to avoid looking bad? I can hear you mutter. True, this one might seem tricky at first. But luckily, I’ve written a whole guide on how to deal with this most despised of job interview questions. Check it out here, and then come right back, because we have lots more to talk about!


Why are you the best person for this job?

Don’t JUST answer this question with a list of your best qualities.The right way to answer this question is quite similar to the question about your greatest strength discussed above: show the interviewer how your qualities would benefit their business. Like, we know you’re great but what’s in it for us?

So highlight the traits that you have that are necessary to be good at the job in question, maybe add a short story about how you were able to leverage those traits to make big wins for your previous employers, and you’re set!


What has been your biggest professional achievement so far?

This question is your time to shine, so make sure you have a good answer for it in case it is asked. Of course, the closer your story can align with what the job you are interviewing for entails, the better!


What is the greatest challenge you have faced in your career?

Of course, this question is not just about hardships you have faced, but about how you dealt with them.

Never just finish your story on a description of the problem. You don’t want to leave the interviewer with the impression that you were faced with a challenge you never did anything about. 

The STAR method is always a good way to go here:

  • first, describe the Situation,
  • then talk about your Task or role in said situation,
  • then the Action you took,
  • and the Result it gave.

Why are you leaving your current job?

This booby trap of a question tells the interviewer a lot about your personality, so don’t mess it up by talking smack about your current employer, tempting as that may be.

First off, that makes you look bitter and miserable, and nobody likes bitter, miserable people.
Second, it shows you are fine with blaming your dissatisfaction on others.
And third, it is surprisingly likely that the person interviewing you might in fact know your current employer personally. AWKWARD!

So how should you answer this?

Talk about how you want to develop, and how though you learned a lot where you are, you are ready to take the next step. The best part is, this lets you tell what is likely the truth without actually saying anything negative Win-win.


Describe what you do in your current position?

Are you getting tired of hearing me talk about relevance? Well get used to it, because that is really the most important thing to keep in mind when answering almost any of these questions.

That’s why, when asked about your current job, think about what tasks you do and what skills they require that could be useful in this next position. Eyes on the prize!


How do you deal with pressure?

First, last and most of all, don’t pretend you don’t get stressed. Everybody does, and denying it means you are either lying or headed for a breakdown. 

Every happy, balanced person has healthy ways of dealing with stress, from sports to meditation to a self-care day every now and then, so be upfront about yours.

We’re only human.


Tell me about a conflict you had with a colleague and how you solved it.

The abovementioned STAR method is a perfect fit here, too (see question 6). This question is not about checking if you have EVER had a conflict — we all have at one point or another — but about how you resolved it.

So make sure you have an example ready, and when the time comes, fire away!


What do you know about our company?

This question is meant to check 2 things — whether you did any research at all on the company before applying, and whether you will fit in.

Hopefully this is a complete no-brainer, but just in case it’s not: RESEARCH THE COMPANY YOU ARE GOING IN TO INTERVIEW WITH. Virtually nothing could make you look worse than demonstrating you don’t know the first thing about the company you supposedly care so much about working for.


What other companies are you interviewing with?

Very often, recruiters ask this question as a way of checking how serious you really are about working in this particular field — if it turns out you are applying for a job with this bank, the donut shop around the corner, and a babysitting gig, the recruiter may not take your interest too seriously.

So choose your words carefully.


What are you passionate about?

Ah, how refreshing! A question without any hidden meaning! If the recruiter asks you this, it’s probably just because they want to get to know you better.

This is one of the few questions where you don’t have to tie your answer in directly with what makes you a good candidate — but if you can show how, say, meditation has helped you calm down and see the big picture in all areas of your life, all for the better!


What motivates you?

No need to get all philosophical with this one — the recruiter is not so much asking about what gets out of bed in the morning as they are asking about what will keep you motivated at work.

So if you enjoy challenges like extra responsibility and independence, getting to represent the company at different industry fairs and events, or chances for self-development, go ahead and talk about that.


What are your pet peeves?

This one can be a little tricky to answer in a way that doesn’t make you look irritable and grumpy, while also staying truthful. I mean, let’s be honest, nobody is cheerful 100% of the time, and the recruiter knows this.

Make sure you’ve done enough research on the company to avoid contradicting what would be required of you if you got the job — if, say, the company is famous for a friendly employee atmosphere, saying you find small talk and office birthday cakes to be a complete waste of time will not be a good look. 

And whatever you decide to mention, make sure you do not come off as aggressive, no matter how much something does in fact annoy you.


What are your career goals?

They key to answering this question is to sound ambitious WITHOUT sounding like you don’t care about this job and are only using it to get your foot in the door of the company or industry.

What the interviewer really wants to know when asking this question is whether you are being realistic about how your career is likely to develop.

Be smart answering this question, and make sure to align the goals you do mention with ones that are in fact possible to achieve at the company.


What is your dream job?

Much like the question about career goals above, be careful when answering this one.

It might sound like just a bit of fun, but what the interviewer likely really wants to know is whether you are planning to stick around for longer than a few months, and whether you see this job as nothing more than a springboard towards something better.

So don’t start talking about how much you really just want to run your own chocolate shop one day! Don’t make your answer a wishlist of different perks, either — not everyone gets a company car, sorry.

Stay realistic. Think about what this job can offer you and incorporate that into your answer. Think of a way to talk about how getting the chance to use your skills to make a real impact on the company’s business is what will be fulfilling to you. And keep your dreams of being a world-famous chocolatier to yourself.


How do you organize/prioritize your work?

This question is meant to check how organized you are — it is not so much about WHAT method you use to keep yourself organized as it is about IF you use ANY method at all, or if you just wander about chaotically, starting things and then forgetting about them.

So talk about whatever works for you, be it an app that helps you keep track of things you need to do, or some sort of spreadsheet.

Throwing in an example showing you can be flexible if a sudden change of situation occurs and you need to change up your priorities to adapt is an added bonus.


What should I know that is not on your resume?

This open question is a great opportunity to add things that did not fit on your resume. Don’t let it go to waste!

You can use this opportunity to tell a story about a success you have not yet had the chance to mention that reveals a little more about your personality and working style.

Talking about a specific reason you are excited to work for this company is a win, too. Whatever you decide to talk about, make sure you don’t get caught off guard when this chance to sell yourself a little more comes up.


What do you think you could do better?

This is really a question of how open you are to self-development.

Nobody wants to work with a complete know-it-all, so emphatically stating that there is NOTHING you could be doing better will be like shooting yourself in the foot.

You can be both confident about your skills and still open-minded at the same time!

So if you know your Spanish could use some work, say that. 

The only thing you need to make sure you don’t do is bring up your shortcomings in areas crucial to the job you are applying for.

So if the position you are applying for is Spanish teacher, maybe don’t talk about how you need to work on your Spanish…you get the picture.


What’s your current salary?

In some places, it is illegal to ask about a candidate’s current salary, but in others, it is not, and this means you might have to answer this question.

How can you go about it?
The key word here is deflection.

If you don’t want to share this information, deflecting the question by saying something like,

“I would really prefer to know what this job entails before discussing money”

can work. You can also deflect by turning the question into one about how much money you’d like to be making.

Either way, let’s hope 2020 is the year people stop asking this nosy question altogether 😄


Are you open to relocating?

The only right answer to this question is the truth. Getting yourself into a job that might well require you to relocate to another city when you are not ready to do so is a disaster waiting to happen.

So give this one some thought before you go in for your interview.

Maybe you are willing to relocate, but not abroad?

Or maybe there is a certain distance from your current location that would work for you?

Or maybe you have, say, small children attending a school nearby and moving is completely out of the question?

Either way, honesty is the best policy here.


How do you feel about travelling for work?

As with the question above, make sure you don’t make promises you have no intention of keeping.

If you’re fine with being away from home several nights a week, great — some people love being on the road.

But if you would prefer to travel for work rarely or not at all, make sure the interviewer knows this to avoid unnecessary stress and conflict in the future.


What type of work environment do you do best in?

Shocker: you should probably describe an environment akin to the one at the company you are applying at. Don’t know what that’s like? Do a little research and find out!

But don’t just butter the interviewer up at all costs. If it turns out that you would be required to work in an open space but you downright despise open spaces, take a moment to think twice about whether you are a good fit for the company to avoid disappointment and conflict down the road.

The same goes for team work, overtime, and virtually everything else.


Why were you fired from your previous job?

Instinctively, the best answer would seem to be that the company was reorganizing and that forced them to lay off some employees — this allows you to answer the question without looking particularly bad. It happens, right?

However, if you were fired for performance reasons and performance reasons alone, it’s better to be upfront about this, lest the hiring manager decides to call up your former employer and ask them directly.

Frame your firing as a lesson learned, one that motivated you to change your approach to certain things or educate yourself in areas where you were lacking. And hope for the best.


Why was there a gap in your employment?

Once again, your best bet is to be honest. There are plenty of very good reasons to have taken time off work, be it having a baby, caring for a sick relative, or making your dream of travelling the world a reality.

The only thing you should keep in mind is to make clear that you are 100% ready to join the workforce again — that whatever life situation kept you from work, it is settled and you are back in the loop.


Tell me why you want to change careers.

This question can throw people off, but it is not all that hard to answer right. Just avoid saying nasty things about your previous employers and tell the truth — maybe your previous career didn’t offer enough opportunities for career advancement or self-development, and that’s okay!

And if you can describe some transferable skills you’d bring into this new career from your previous one, consider this question aced.


How would your coworkers describe you?

Once again, lying is pointless, as it is more than probable that the recruiter will be calling your current or former boss to ask about you sometime in the near future anyway. Don’t go out of your way to speak badly of yourself, though.

Rather, use this question as an opportunity to bring up aspects of your personality you haven’t mentioned before — sometimes others see us more honestly than we see ourselves, so take advantage of that!

Have your coworkers complimented you on how patient you are with loud, pushy customers even though that ability comes so naturally to you that you never thought much of it?

Now is the time to bring that up!

That was not so bad so far, was it? Now, for the last question, one a lot of people dread almost as much as the weakness one:


What would you like to ask me?

Not sure where to start to avoid ruining the good impression you’ve made so far? No worries!

This question is actually a great opportunity to show what a valuable candidate you are. No convinced? Take a look at my guide to the 15 best questions to ask an interviewer here.


Illegal job interview questions

Illegal job interview questions

  • race,
  • religion,
  • sexual orientation,
  • birthplace,
  • disability,
  • weight,
  • pregnancy,
  • marital status.

You are under no obligation to give any details as personal as these — in fact, it is illegal to ask them. Unfortunately, they do sometimes get asked anyways, either because the recruiter does not know or does not care, so you should be prepared to deal with them if they do come up.

So what should you say when asked such a question?
The simplest reply would be something like:

“The answer to this question does not affect my ability to perform in this job”

if the recruiter asked the illegal question by accident, this should make it very apparent that they were being out of line.

That’s why, if they back off and move on to another question, don’t worry too much about it — everyone makes mistakes sometimes.

If the recruiter ignores your polite objection, however, and continues to press you to reveal private information, this gives you a pretty good idea of what kind of values the company represents, and this should make you to think long and hard about whether you actually want to work there.

Disappointing, yes. But better you find out now than in a few months’ time.

If you feel you have been denied a job opportunity based on your religion, race, or any of the other factors listed above, you can file a charge of discrimination against the company.

But let’s hope it never comes to that.

Job interview questions - Key takeaway

What next?

It might seem like you are pretty much done now that you’ve aced that interview, huh? Not so fast!

Don’t forget to send your interviewer or interviewers a thank-you email within 48 hours or so to cement that great impression…it’s also just good manners to thank someone for their time 😄

Not sure how to go about that? Don’t worry, I have guide for that! Check it out here.

So, there you have it, the answer to all of the most popular interview questions in one convenient place. Now iron your shirt, check your teeth for spinach and go get ‘em!

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Joanna Ryś

Joanna Ryś

Sourcing Specialist

Joanna Ryś

Sourcing Specialist

Joanna has 8 years of experience in the recruitment industry, and currently works as the Chief Strategist for Sourcing in the EMEA area at HAYS. Microsoft, Rolls Royce Aerospace, Abbott, AB Inbev are several companies from the...portfolio of clients with whom it has cooperated, and its tasks include defining strategies for obtaining candidates in Europe, independent management of recruitment tools, monitoring the rate of return on investment, implementing initiatives from the area of Employer Branding into processes recruitment and data analysis. Sharing knowledge and discussions about working with candidates is her passion, which is why she eagerly creates new training programs, conducts postgraduate classes, organizes workshops with students of Krakow universities, employees of her company and free students from various social organizations. Passionate about computer games and socioeconomic issues.