There are several frequently asked interview questions that you can prepare ahead of time so you'll be ready for your next job interview. Below you'll find a list of common questions to prepare, insight into why employers ask these questions and some quick tips on how to answer each question.
1. Tell me about yourself.
Employers ask this question to get the conversation started and find out, in general, what qualifies you for the job.
To answer this question: Prepare a summary that you can state in about 30 seconds that highlights your most marketable skills and experience. Keep it professional and relevant to the job you are seeking.
2. Why do you want to work for this company?
Employers ask this question to find out if you are genuinely interested in the job, to determine what motivates you and to see if you have taken the initiative to research the company.
To answer this question: Keep your answer focused on things that interest you related to the company and the job itself. Avoid answers that focus on your own personal needs.
3. How has your previous experience prepared you for this job?
Employers ask this question to find out how your skills match with the requirements of the job and to determine how well you understand the nature of the job.
To answer this question: Don't be modest. Provide specific details about the ways in which your experience is a good fit for the requirements of the job.
4. What are your greatest strengths?
Employers ask this question to give you an opportunity to detail the ways in which you'd be a great fit for the job.
To answer this question: Again, don't be modest. Describe strengths that are relevant to the job you are seeking. Avoid repeating yourself. Employers will often ask this question in a few different ways throughout the interview, giving you several opportunities to show that you would be a good fit for the job. Answer with different work related strengths each time.
5. What is your greatest accomplishment?
Employers ask this question to give you an opportunity to detail the ways in which you'd be a great fit for the job and to understand your values.
To answer this question: Provide a specific and recent example of a professional accomplishment that is relevant to the job you are seeking.
6. What is your greatest weakness?
Employers ask this question to determine if there are any weaknesses that would limit your ability to do a good job. To determine how well you know yourself and to see how you handle work related challenges and difficulties.
To answer this question: Avoid trite answers such as "I'm a perfectionist." That kind of answer makes a poor impression on employers because they know you are being insincere and avoiding the question. Instead, think of a real weakness that is not central to the job you are seeking and describe steps you took in order to improve that aspect of yourself.
7. Where do you plan to be five years from now?
Employers ask this question to determine how closely the job you are seeking fits with your long term goals.
To answer this question: Think of ways that the job you are seeking fits with your values and professional goals. Talk about those facets of the job when you answer this question. If you don't see yourself working at the same company long term, don't lie. Instead, you might talk about the field of work or the job itself and reasons why you enjoy that type of work.
8. Why did you leave your last job?
Employers ask this question to assess your attitude toward past employers and organizations and to determine whether there are any underlying reasons why they should not hire you.
To answer this question: Say something positive about your previous employer and briefly state your reason for leaving. You may follow up by mentioning that you can provide excellent references from that employer (if that's the case) or note why you're excited about the prospect of working at the new company. No matter what your reason for leaving was, stay positive and do not badmouth any previous employers.
9. What are your salary expectations?
Employers ask this question to determine whether your salary expectations are in line with the range they are able to offer you.
To answer this question: Never go into an interview without knowing the salary range that is reasonable based on the requirements of the job and your skills and experience.
10. Do you have any questions?
Employers ask this question to give you an opportunity to clarify any questions you may have about the job and to determine your level of interest in the company and the job.
To answer this question: Always have questions prepared. You'll find sample questions to ask during an interview here.
The best way to help yourself succeed in a job interview is to prepare great answers to frequently asked interview questions. Some people avoid preparing answers to frequently asked interview questions because they fear they will appear over-practiced or insincere in the interview if they practice their answers ahead of time.
I have heard many hundreds of mock interviews, and it's very rare for someone to sound over-practiced. In fact, the opposite is true; if you spend some time brainstorming and practicing answers to frequently asked interview questions you'll be ready to make a great impression.