The Go-To Guide for Answering the Most Common Interview Questions

Preparing for a job interview?

One of the best ways to get ready is to practice answers to standard interview questions.

We’re here to help!

Our recruiters are interview experts. If there’s one thing they know well, it’s how to answer the most common interview questions. So today, we’re sharing that knowledge – and we welcome you to share it with your friends who are looking for a job, too.

Guide to Answering Top Interview Questions

Interview question: Tell me about yourself.

How to answer it: Show the interviewer what they really want to find out: Can you communicate professionally? Do you create an excellent first impression? How well do you handle broad, open-ended questions?

This is a deceptively simple interview question, so avoid the temptation to just “wing it.” Prepare a thoughtful response that:

  • Is tailored to the role and the company, positioning you as the ideal candidate.
  • Is professional and concise.
  • Addresses the present (your current job), past (your education and work experience), and future (your career goals).
  • Provides a glimpse of who you are as a person and an employee.

Steer clear of: Sharing your life story or answering with a flippant response.

Interview question: What do you know about this company?

How to answer it:

  1. Start by doing your homework on the employer (their mission, customers, markets, products/services, challenges), their industry (news and trends), and the job to which you’ve applied.
  2. Craft a response that shows you understand how the job fits within the organization, and how the organization is positioned within their industry.
  3. Explain how what you’ve learned applies to your background and career goals.

Bonus points: Plan a follow-up question to ask the interviewer that demonstrates your knowledge of the employer or industry.

Interview question: Why haven’t you been working?

How to answer it: If you were laid off or furloughed because of the pandemic, your interviewer would certainly understand that – but you should still have a thoughtful, honest response planned. Explain what you did during your time off to improve yourself, build your skills, and maintain your employability (things like reading, volunteering, freelancing, or taking courses).

Steer clear of: Making excuses or trying to hide your employment gap.

Interview question: Why should we hire you?

How to answer it: Again, preparation is key. Before the interview, review the essential skills, attributes, and experience required for the role. Select a few areas in which you excel, and prepare to share achievements and measurable results demonstrating those qualities. Then, during the interview, work those anecdotes into the conversation when appropriate.

Bonus points: Focus on what makes you unique. If you can share evidence that you possess desirable qualities or experience others do not, you’ll put yourself head and shoulders above the competition.

Interview question: Why do you want this job?

How to answer it: Use your research to demonstrate your enthusiasm and distinguish yourself as a candidate. Here are a few tactics to try:

  • Explain how the available job is the next logical step in your career progression.
  • Discuss the employer’s growth goals and the role you could play in helping to achieve them.
  • Talk about a business challenge the employer is facing and how you could help solve it.

Steer clear of: Generic responses that indicate you’re just in it because of the paycheck (e.g., “Because I need the money.”).

Need interview assistance? Out of work?

PrideStaff is here to help. With offices nationwide, and a team of interview experts, we can provide the job search assistance and employment opportunities you need. Contact the PrideStaff office in your area to find out more about great local job opportunities.