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8 Common Interview Questions for All Careers

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The Great Reshuffle continues: Millions of Americans leave their jobs each month in search of new opportunities, creating a flood of open positions and ensuring employers must compete for top talent.

However, even in a job seeker’s market, it’s still crucial to stand out in the interviewing process, especially if you’re new to the industry or applying for a position at a high-profile company. If you’re in the market for a new job, here are the most common interview questions you can expect employers to ask, no matter the position or industry you’re applying for.

8 Most Common Interview Questions

Interview questions vary greatly depending on the industry, company culture, and role expectations. However, there are some you can expect to hear in almost every interview, so it’s always wise to be prepared. Here are five common interview questions to be ready for before your next interview.

1. Tell me about yourself.

Tell me about yourself” is often the first thing an interviewer will ask. This question breaks the ice and allows the interviewer to get to know you. Your answer can show that you have the qualities and experience to be successful in the role.

2. What is your greatest strength?

Answering, “What is your greatest strength?” in an interview can be tricky. You want to show you’re a good fit, but you don’t want to appear arrogant. You can find the right balance by thinking strategically and showcasing hard and soft skills relevant to the position while using examples to support your answer.

>>MORE: How to Use the STAR Method for Interview Questions

3. What is your biggest weakness?

As challenging as discussing your strengths may be, answering, “What is your biggest weakness?” may feel even more uncomfortable. Fortunately, you can use this question to show you’re self-aware. Speak transparently about the areas you need to work on and the steps you’re taking to improve.

“Don’t try to be clever here, and try to position a strength as a weakness,” says Alan Edwards, writer and coach at Undercover Recruiter. “For example, don’t say you’re too much of a perfectionist or that you tend to work too hard and demand too much of yourself. Interviewers can see right through it.”

4. Why are you applying for this position?

Interviewers want to know if you’re there for the right reasons, so they’ll often ask why you’re applying for the position. Companies look for passionate and excited people who are likely to produce great results and stay for the long haul, so tailor your answers to the specific position and company. 

>>MORE: Ready for more interview prep? Check out 15 Entry-Level Interview Questions.

5. What are your salary expectations?

The best way to prepare for the “What are your salary expectations?” question is to research the expected salary range for the position. “You can refer to that research when you answer, but it’s equally fine to pick a specific number in the middle of the range,” Edwards says. “Follow your answer up by saying something like, ‘Compensation isn’t the only factor I’m considering in a new job, though. I’m looking forward to learning more about the company and the role.’”

Keep your experience, skills, and education in mind when deciding on your expected salary. “An experienced applicant should ask for a salary on the higher end of that range and less experienced applicants on the lower,” says Archie Payne, president of CalTek Staffing.

6. Why are you qualified for this position?

Answering “Why do you think you are qualified for this position?” in an interview can be tricky because you’ll want to make sure you’re confident without overdoing it. 

Fortunately, if you stay humble, make sure your answers directly correlate to the job’s qualifications and responsibilities, and refrain from comparing yourself to other candidates, you’ll be on the right track.

7. What motivates you?

Although it’s tempting to talk about everything that motivates you in your life, it’s important to keep the answer to the “What motivates you?” interview question work-related. For example, you can talk about what’s exciting to you about the job, company, and industry. Be specific and go beyond talking about salary or benefits as a motivator.

8. Why are you leaving your job?

Your reasons for leaving your most recent position are probably varied, so answering “What are your reasons for leaving a job?” in a job interview can feel overwhelming. After all, do you tell a new potential employer that you left because of a toxic work environment or low pay? Or do you keep things vague?

Keeping your response brief, professional, and positive — while tailoring your answer to the new job and company — can help you find the sweet spot.

The Bottom Line

Practicing and preparing your answers to common interview questions is the best way to make sure you’re ready to ace your interview. And don’t forget to come up with smart questions to ask the hiring manager as well. After all, you’re also determining whether the position is the right fit for you, so feel empowered to interview the company right back.

Crush the interview

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Image credit: Tim Gouw  / Unsplash.com

Ana Staples is a journalist specializing in personal finance and advice for young people. She’s shared her expertise on NextAdvisor, Bankrate and more.