11 Common interview questions and how to answer them

Preparing for common interview questions can help you feel more confident. Learn more about what interviewers are looking for from your responses and read our sample answers.

A job interview in a plaid button-down smiles at their interview across the table.

Job interview questions can be challenging, especially if you’re not sure what to expect. Knowing and understanding the most common interview questions can put your mind at ease and increase your chances of landing your dream job. Below, we give you a breakdown of the 11 most commonly asked interview questions and provide sample answers for each one. Let’s get started!

1. Tell me about yourself

Answer this interview question by highlighting your qualifications, work experience, and skills related to the position you're interviewing for. Make your answer concise and focused. Provide a few key points that best represent who you are professionally and what you’d like to achieve in your career.

Sample answer:

“I've worked in IT for 9 years and have extensive knowledge in software development and project management. I began my career as a software engineer, working on web and desktop applications. I'm good at troubleshooting problems, optimizing code, and developing innovative solutions. Recently, I completed a management diploma course that has improved my skills in workflow analysis and project coordination. I’d like to one day learn how to lead large-scale projects that are applied across an entire organization.”

2. Why do you want to work for this company?

Answer this question by showing that you’ve researched the job profile, read up about the company, and understand why the position is a good fit for your skills. Mentioning that you can add value to the organization is also attractive to hiring managers!

Sample answer:

“Working for this company would align perfectly with my career goals. I have always strived to be a part of a company that is a leader in the manufacturing sector. I also identify with the values this company stands for, like innovation and customer satisfaction. With my experience and skills, I know I can add value to this team and contribute meaningfully towards the way the company approaches manufacturing moving forward.”

3. What type of management style do you prefer?

Talk about how you enjoy working collaboratively with your supervisors or prefer working more independently, for example. Explain that you’ve experienced various management styles, and how well each approach works with your strengths and values. Make sure to emphasize your commitment to collaboration no matter which type of management style is employed by the company.

Sample answer:

“I think it’s important to provide workers autonomy over their tasks. Doing so allows them to explore potential solutions and tap into their creative problem-solving abilities. On the other hand, I also understand the value of clear direction from a manager. I like working independently but I also appreciate when a manager is open to communication when it’s needed. Whatever way a manager works, I’m able to adapt quickly!”

4. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This question lets you talk about both your strengths and weaknesses without being too critical of yourself. Emphasize how you have used your weaknesses as motivation to develop skills or traits that make you a better candidate for the job.

Sample answer:

“I am organized and detail-oriented when it comes to my work tasks, allowing me to stay efficient and on top of my workflow. I’m also a great communicator, which allows me to build relationships with colleagues and clients. In terms of weaknesses, I struggle with applying constructive criticism from supervisors to improve how I work. However, I have actively worked on developing self-awareness and a positive attitude about feedback so that I can learn from it.”

5. Tell me about your life outside of work

This question is a chance to talk about your interests outside of work. Talk about whatever hobbies, pastimes, or volunteer work you’d like to show off!

Sample answer:

“Outside of work, I have a few hobbies that I am passionate about. I've been into playing guitar since I was young and have a lot of fun learning new songs and writing original music. One of my favorite pastimes is going on hikes in the countryside. Spending time outdoors on a regular basis helps me to clear my head and work on my fitness at the same time!”

6. Why do you want to leave your current job?

It’s very important to keep any negative sentiment out of your response to this question. Instead of focusing on reasons why you dislike your current position, emphasize factors that are motivating you to make a change. Strive to acknowledge the valuable skills and experience you have gained in your current role while expressing enthusiasm for new opportunities that the prospective employer can provide.

Sample answer:

“I appreciate the opportunities my current job has given me. But to further develop my career and reach my long-term goals, I think I need a new challenge. That’s why I’m looking for an opportunity that would help me branch into programming and learn about leadership from an experienced IT manager.”

7. Tell me about a time when you took the initiative and showed leadership skills

This is an opportunity to provide a solid example of your initiative and leadership skills. This could include instances where you took on a complex project, identified tasks that could benefit your organization, or led a team on a project. Make sure to provide specific examples of how the company benefitted from your work.

Sample answer:

“During my last job in marketing, I showed leadership skills when I took on several high-budget paid media projects. These had tight deadlines and challenges that I was able to tackle head-on thanks to my initiative and organizational skills. My supervisors were impressed by my ability to effectively delegate tasks to my team and coordinate timely deliveries. We even cut delivery times by 15% compared to previous projects!”

8. Tell me about a time you were faced with adversity. How did you handle it?

For this question, focus on a time you encountered a challenge, what action you took to confront it, and the outcome of your efforts. Be honest but choose an example that shows you in a positive light!

Sample answer:

"While working as a project manager, I faced adversity when a key team member suddenly left the company. I acted quickly to find a replacement and reorganized our workload to ensure that the project was completed on time and to the client's satisfaction. This experience taught me the importance of adaptability and strong team communication."

9. Tell me about a time you disagreed with a coworker. How did you resolve it?

Recruiters ask this to get an idea of how you handle conflict at work. Talking about how you don’t shy away from disagreements and stating your opinion but always keep things professional is the best way to answer this. You will be expected to provide a brief example!

Sample answer:

“During my last job, I disagreed with a coworker over the approach that needed to be taken for an important project. We both wanted the best outcome for our company, but we had different ideas about how to go about it. Rather than escalate the tension, I proposed sitting down and listening to each other's rationale objectively. We discussed our points of view and then collaborated on finding a balance between different approaches that we both felt good about. In the end, we resolved the disagreement amicably and also developed a better understanding of each other's methods and perspectives!”

10. Where do you see yourself in five years?

This is a great chance to showcase your eagerness to learn and grow in a position. Ultimately, employers are trying to get an impression of your mindset and aspirations; emphasizing the qualities of responsibility, self-direction, and the willingness to take on leadership roles will show them how invested you are in the success of their organization.

Sample answer:

“In five years, I hope to be in a managerial role with a leader in the manufacturing sector. My top priority is to find an organization that promotes innovation, collaboration, and provides academic growth opportunities. A place where I can take on challenges, offer creative solutions, conduct team projects, and advance within the company structure.”

11. If you were an animal, which would you be?

Interviewers usually ask this to break up a line of tough interview questions or to get an idea of how you view yourself. While it may seem like a stupid question, take the time to answer honestly and light-heartedly!

Sample answer:

“If I were an animal, I would be a cheetah. The cheetah has always been a favorite animal of mine because it is both graceful and powerful. Cheetahs are fascinating creatures, with good vision and remarkable speed which helps them to quickly spot opportunities and take action.”

Ace your next job interview with Adecco

Do you need a helping hand with your job search? We can help. Adecco has been connecting job seekers with top jobs for years, and we’d love to help you out, too! Get in touch with us today to learn how we can prep you for your interview and hook you up with a great job in your area!


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