A job search is tough, but interviews can be a real challenge, especially when you don’t know what questions you may be asked. While the hiring process differs for every company, most have a list of common job interview questions. Preparing questions and answers can help you feel confident about interviewing for your next job. Read on for the most commonly asked questions used during the interview process.

1. Tell me about yourself.

  • Difficulty level: Easy.
  • Prep needed to answer: Review the job description and your resume.

This opener aims to help the interviewer get to know you beyond your resume and LinkedIn profile. You should use this opportunity to give an “elevator pitch” about yourself that provides more information than they already have while still painting a picture of why you are a good fit for the role.

Look at the job description to help you craft a short summary of your career path so far, why you are looking for a new role, and why you are interested in this one. Choose one or two personal details to pepper in while focusing on your skills and work style.

2. How did you hear about this position? 

  • Difficulty level: Easy.
  • Prep needed to answer: Think through your job hunt.

This is a pretty simple answer regarding the facts, but you should think through the meaning behind the question. Most hiring managers want to know how actively you’re pursuing a new position. As a result, talk about why this job is something you were looking for and what led you to apply.

If a recruiter or current employee made you aware of the job, you can talk about that and why it piqued your interest. Use this opportunity to talk about what excites you regarding the job.

3. What is your greatest strength? 

  • Difficulty level: Medium.
  • Prep needed to answer: Identify one strength.

You should have a good idea of your strengths, and this is the perfect opportunity to brag about yourself and what makes you a great candidate. But it can be tempting to go overboard and list your skills, good qualities, and any other positive attributes you’d like to share. The important prep work to do here is to narrow this down to one or two strengths related to your work experience.

As an interviewee, you should tailor your strength to a skill required in your current job. When you know which areas you’ll focus on, think of examples to demonstrate why these are your strengths so you can share a story during your answer.

4. What are your greatest weaknesses? 

  • Difficulty level: Hard.
  • Prep needed to answer: Identify one weakness and how you plan to correct it.

This is possibly one of the most common questions, and almost every interviewer will ask it. An interview doesn’t seem like a good time to talk badly about yourself, but at the same time, being able to show introspection and acknowledge room for growth is important.

You should start by thinking of your true weaknesses, like you would tell them to a friend or loved one, not fake weaknesses like “I care too much” that will land poorly. When you have a few in mind, make sure none directly contradict the job responsibilities (saying you’re bad with math may not be a good answer in an interview for an accounting role). For each weakness, talk about how you are working towards overcoming it, are self-aware, and a positive effect it has had on you.

5. Why do you want to work here? 

  • Difficulty level: Easy.
  • Prep needed to answer: Research the company.

This open-ended question is really meant to show how much you know about the company and if you may be a good fit. Research the company beyond a quick internet search. Spend time on the company website, read customer reviews, and follow them on social media. If you can test their product or watch a demonstration, that will give you even more information. Find something you are interested in or passionate about and tie that into your answer to express specific interest in that company.

6. Why are you looking for a new job?

  • Difficulty level: Hard.
  • Prep needed to answer: Positively explain your urge for a new job.

This question can be difficult to answer tactfully, depending on your situation. You never want to talk badly about a current or past job, so you need to think through how you approach this. Talk about looking for growth, interest in the specific opportunity, and touch on any extenuating circumstances like a gap on your resume. Your answer should always be about their company and role, not your current one.

7. What are your career goals?

  • Difficulty level: Medium.
  • Prep needed to answer: Be able to offer specific goals.

The key is ensuring your answer is truthful while still fitting into the career you’re applying for and the company itself. Demonstrating ambition is usually a positive thing, as long as it is in the context of the company and doesn’t indicate you may leave quickly. Rather than mentioning a specific title or role, talk about the parts of it that excite you and how you can apply them at the current company.

8. What is your biggest professional accomplishment? 

  • Difficulty level: Easy.
  • Prep needed to answer: Narrow down your accomplishments.

This is an area where you should comb through the job description in advance and find a responsibility or qualification that you can build on. Choose a true accomplishment you are proud of and think through how it can be tied into that part of the role. Remember that the answer doesn’t have to be flashy but should be something that highlights positive qualities in yourself and your potential for success.

9. What do you know about this company? 

  • Difficulty level: Easy.
  • Prep needed to answer: Research the company thoroughly.

The more you know about a company, the better your chances of getting hired. Showing that you took the time to research their organization shows that you are interested in the role and a level of planning and commitment that translates to most jobs. You don’t have to understand all the details of a complex industry, but taking time to read through the website and social media will make you a better candidate.

10. Why should we hire you? 

  • Difficulty level: Hard.
  • Prep needed to answer: Combine company needs with your expertise.

In a way, the whole interview is preparation for this question. But it’s important to have a concise answer ready to go that is honest and focuses on your strengths without sounding desperate.

Craft an answer that addresses how your skills fit the requirements, why you are excited about the role, and how these things will help you solve a problem they have.

11. What are your salary requirements?

  • Difficulty level: Hard.
  • Prep needed to answer: Research industry standards.

If they don’t provide a salary range, you want to be sure you answer realistically without over or under-selling yourself. Know your salary history and conduct online research in advance to look for the market rate on ZipRecruiter’s salary tool. This can help you come up with a number or range to present, but remember your answer is the start of negotiations.

12. Are you considering other positions?

  • Difficulty level: Medium.
  • Prep needed to answer: Review other opportunities that you’re pursuing.

This question could have a few motivations. You don’t want to appear as if you are applying to any and every job available and aren’t committed to this one, but you do want to seem competitive in the market. Be honest about any open opportunities that may have conflicting timelines for offers, but don’t provide too many details. It never hurts to tell an interviewer that their role is your top choice, either.

13. What kind of work environment do you prefer?

  • Difficulty level: Easy.
  • Prep needed to answer: Identify your ideal work environment.

This question is not about your physical environment but rather the company culture and how you might fit in at an organization. Looking into the company’s social media and employee reviews can help you understand what they may be looking for in a good fit. Potential employers usually want to hear that you’re a team player and thrive in a collaborative environment. Mention that your strong work ethic is best suited for teamwork and problem-solving in a community-oriented office.

14. How would your boss describe you?

  • Difficulty level: Easy.
  • Prep needed to answer: Prep an answer that’s a humble brag.

Like questions about strengths and weaknesses, this is a question you should use to both talks positively about yourself and show some introspection. The best thing to do here is to look at former performance reviews or other feedback and commit a quote to memory so you can cite the boss directly.

15. How do you handle pressure or stress?

  • Difficulty level: Medium.
  • Prep needed to answer: Identify and explain specific work examples.

In most cases, you will want to demonstrate that you work well under pressure, especially for high-stress jobs. Prepare one or two situations where you have been under pressure and performed well so you can share those stories.

16. Do you have experience with [program or software]?

  • Difficulty level: Easy.
  • Prep needed to answer: Review your knowledge of different programs.

For the most part, this will be a simple yes or no. But the job description will often list programs and software the company uses, so take time beforehand to identify anything you are unfamiliar with. A bit of research can help you understand comparable programs you have used or things you would be excited to learn.

17. What motivates you? 

  • Difficulty level: Medium.
  • Prep needed to answer: Identify one or two motivators and prepare to elaborate on them.

This should be an answer related to work; again, the job posting will be the biggest asset when preparing for this question. Look for anything related to goals and outcomes so you can talk about motivation as it relates to these things. Tie in how you strive to improve based on these motivations and how the company can help you improve.

18. Can you tell me a time when you made a tough decision?

  • Difficulty level: Hard.
  • Prep needed to answer: Identify one work-related decision that offers a positive outcome.

Your answer to this question should be concise, but it needs to cover a lot of ground. You may need to give some background on a work decision you made, as well as explain your reasoning, the response, and how you managed that. The interviewer will be less interested in the details than your judgment and management skills, so choose an example that is easy to talk through.

19. What do you like to do outside of work?

  • Difficulty level: Easy.
  • Prep needed to answer: Mention a productive hobby.

This can be a good way for the interviewer to get to know you and your cultural fit. Be honest about your hobbies, but choose appropriate ones that indicate some level of growth and skill to show your commitment and passion.

20. What is your dream job?

  • Difficulty level: Medium.
  • Prep needed to answer: Plan a response that builds on your current role.

Don’t be tempted to describe the exact job you are applying for unless it is actually your dream job. Instead, pick out the elements of the job you are most excited about and talk about how that fits into your professional and personal goals. There is no real wrong answer.

21. Why is there a gap in your employment?

  • Difficulty level: Hard.
  • Prep needed to answer: Positively explain why you were out of work.

You’ll want to be honest about any gaps, whether for child rearing or illness, without making it sound like a disadvantage. Think about what you learned during that time that could make you a better employee and pivot the conversation to that future.

22. Can you tell me about a time that you made a mistake?

  • Difficulty level: Hard.
  • Prep needed to answer: Identify a resolvable mistake you made and focus on its solution.

Think of a real example of a mistake that had consequences but is probably not the worst mistake you’ve made professionally. Make sure you choose something easy to explain so that you can spend time focusing on how you learned from the mistake and what steps you took to remediate it.

23. Do you have leadership experience?

  • Difficulty level: Medium.
  • Prep needed to answer: Identity roles where you were in charge.

List roles you’ve had in your last job. If you lack leadership skills, you can mention informal positions you’ve had, like treasurer of your local bowling league, as long as you can explain how you were a leader.

24. Are you willing to relocate?

  • Difficulty level: Easy.
  • Prep needed to answer: Decide whether or not you can move.

Think through this one in advance so that you can answer honestly. If you are willing, say that you would be happy to discuss it if you get the role or talk about why you would be excited about the option. However, if you cannot relocate, tell them that up front.

25. Do you have any questions for us?

  • Difficulty level: Easy.
  • Prep needed to answer: Prep a short list of questions.

Always ask at least two questions in an interview. You can find a list of good questions online and have a few on hand in case you don’t have any genuine questions based on the discussion. Choose questions that show interest in the company and role and highlight that you are also interviewing them to see if you want the job. Find example questions in our guide, How to Prepare for an Interview.


What is the best way to prepare for a job interview? 

Researching the company, the interviewer, and the role itself will help you tailor answers to interview questions and feel confident. You can also practice answers on video so that you can watch them back and improve or ask a loved one to perform mock interviews with you.

What should I bring to a job interview?

You should have multiple copies of your resume for an in-person interview. It can also look good to have a notebook and pen to take notes during the discussion. Bring everything in a professional purse, bag, or briefcase.

Can I ask questions during a job interview?

Yes, the best candidates ask questions. In fact, it is considered a negative if you don’t ask any questions, as you may not look engaged. Try to ask specific questions based on the discussion and the role itself. Most interviewers will save time at the end for you to ask them questions.

Do I have to answer every interview question?

In most interviews, you should answer every question to the best of your ability to show your commitment to the job. However, if an interviewer asks you inappropriate or illegal questions, you can choose not to answer. This may include questions about your marital status, if you have children or are pregnant, or your age.

How should you follow up after an interview?

Consider sending a hand-written thank you card. Thank the team member for taking the time to interview you and offer to answer any additional questions that will help in their decision-making process.