51 Job Interview Questions And Answers [2021]

See a list of the most common job interview questions in 2021 and learn how to answer them.
1/12/2021 15 min reading time Karin Lykke Nielsen @KarinLykke
51 Job Interview Questions And Answers [2021]

Being called in for an interview is the dream scenario during your job search. But wait. What’s that nagging sensation in the pit of your stomach? Are you feeling a little intimidated by the prospect of having to sit through a job interview? What are they going to ask you, you think. What if they asked the dreaded “Tell me about yourself” question. “Forget it, I’ll just continue on in my good old job, thank you very much.” 

Stop! What if I told you that there is a cheat sheet for your next job interview? One that answers all of the most common job interview questions a recruiter might throw at you. Interested? Then keep on reading here. 

We’ve collected the top 51 most common job interview questions and even sample answers to the most dreaded of them. 

Most dreaded job interview questions

Fact is that you WILL be asked at least some of these questions during your job interviews but most likely not all of them during just a single interview. However, when you’re prepared to answer them all it will boost your confidence. Click on each question below to see our suggestions of ways to answer them.

  1. Tell me about yourself?
  2. What is your greatest strength?
  3. What is your biggest weakness?
  4. Why do you want to work here? 
  5. Why should we choose you? 
  6. What are your expectations for salary?
  7. Do you have anything to add before we stop the interview? 
  8. Where do you see yourself in five years? 10 years? 
  9. Why do you want to leave your current company?
  10. Why was there a gap in your employment history?
  11. What can you offer us that someone else cannot? 

1. Tell me about yourself

The point of the question

For some people this is probably the worst of the interview questions. However, it can be viewed as a way of getting you to talk about yourself. It serves both as an icebreaker, a way to get to know you, and it can provide the interviewer with a direction in which to take the interview. 

How to answer

To prepare for this question you’ll want to identify the company’s need in a candidate and then make sure to highlight why you’ll be able to fill this need. Tell them something that lies beyond what you state in your resume. They’ve already read that. Tailor your answer to fit the role and the company. 

To get you started you should go back and review the job ad for the relevant keywords once again. Identify their needs. Then note down on a piece of paper: “They’re looking for someone who...”. Next, pick a story from your work life that shows how you’ve filled that particular need in the past and rewrite this to “I’m someone who....” And that’s how you should start your reply to this question.

Pro tip: Practice your answer out loud to get used to the words beforehand. This will help you appear calm and confident during the interview. 

2. What is your greatest strength? 

The point of the question

When asking you this question the interviewer wants to see how you evaluate yourself. She wants to see which of your strengths you value the most in yourself.

How to answer

Take a look at your skills, both soft and hard, and choose up to three (in case you’re asked to describe multiple strengths). Be strategic when you choose which strengths to focus on. You’ll want them to relate to the position in question. 

Now, think back on your professional career and find real examples you can use to tell about your strength(s). Don’t be afraid to say some good things about yourself. After all, if you don’t, who will? But don’t fall in the trap of just listing all your strengths like a long monologue. Think quality, not quantity - preparation is key. 

3. What is your biggest weakness?

The point of the question

With this question the interviewer most likely wants to uncover your level of self awareness and honesty. Being able to identify areas of self improvement shows you’ll be able to give constructive feedback on for instance assignments that are not coming together as expected. 

How to answer

The trick to answer this question is to state something that can actually be perceived as a strength. If you are able to show the interviewer how you’re planning to overcome a perceived weakness, you’ll actually come out strong. 

Think about this formulation: 

I have a hard time saying no to new assignments so recently I have started using a time management tool to help me make sure I reach all of my deadlines in time despite a large workload.” 

The described weakness could become a problem if the candidate won’t be able to make her deadlines. But the answer shows that she’s aware of her problem and that she’s actually taking charge of her own self improvement. At the same time she demonstrates that she could become a valuable team member who isn’t afraid to take on extra work. 

4. Why do you want to work here? 

The point of the question

This one is a genuine classic! The company is interested in hiring a passionate employee and they want to uncover what your motivation for precisely this role is. 

How to answer

Through your research writing your resume you probably already know a lot about the company for which you’re interviewing. Show off your knowledge by telling the interviewer what it is about them that really intrigues you or gets you excited. 

Next, show them how your skills and experiences align with their needs by referencing to a specific task that applies. 

It could be something like this: 

The first thing that got me excited was the fact that the position was here at Company XYZ. I know that you have a great reputation both regarding the quality of your services and your customer relations. The best part about the position was that I would be able to combine both my previous experiences as a sales manager with my passion for customer service and people contact.

This is good because it combines a fact about the company and it’s specific to the role. 

5. Why should we choose you? 

The point of the question

The interviewer wants you to tell them why you’re the best candidate for the job. It’s an important question although it may seem a bit intimidating. But hey, that’s where all your preparations come in handy. 

How to answer

Your answer to this question should reflect both your skills, past experiences, and why you’re a culturally good fit for the company. 

Show them how both the company and you benefit from you working there. It’s important not to forget what’s in it for you since this will show the interviewer why you’re motivated. 

It can be a difficult question to answer, however. One tactic is to pinpoint a specific problem or task that the company has and then tell the interviewer exactly how you plan to solve this for them. This is sure to - at the very least - make you stand out from the rest of the candidates. 

6. What are your expectations for salary? 

The point of the question

With this question the interviewer wants to establish how far away, or close, you are to each other regarding salary expectations. 

How to answer

If you get this question during your job interview, the best practice is to respond by saying that you can be flexible. Avoid giving any specific amount and instead ask them what they have in mind for someone with your skills and experiences. If they won’t respond with an idea of the salary range then you can go ahead and tell them what you feel is fair. Of course this will involve a bit of homework so make sure you’ve learned as much as you can about the company’s reputation, budgets, and average salary ranges for positions such as yours. Preparation is key. Let them know that it also depends on other factors such as chances for advancement, benefit package, and so on. 

7. Do you have anything to add before we stop the interview? 

The point of the question

First of all, it’s important to know that this is not just a polite way of ending the job interview. The interviewer actually wants you to ask them some questions too. And this is your chance to shine and leave a strong impression on the other part. It also signals that you’re still interested and invested in the role. 

How to answer

It’s the end of the job interview and you might be mentally exhausted. But give it just this one last push and you can go home with a great feeling in the pit of your stomach. 

Prepare at least 10 questions that you write down on a piece of paper (don’t forget to bring it with you to the interview). Since you might get an answer to some of them during the interview it’s important to have some to fall back on. 

Classic questions to ask to ask during your job interview are: 

  • What does a typical day look like for a person in this role? 
  • How would you describe the company’s culture and work environment? 
  • What are the most immediate tasks that I would need to take on? 
  • Are you able to show me an example of a project I’d be working on? 
  • What will be considered a success with you? 
  • What are the biggest challenges in this position? 
  • What are the overall challenges for the company for the next six months?
  • Do you expect the responsibilities of this position to change within the next six months?
  • What training programs are available to your employees? 
  • What are the most important things to accomplish within the first three months here? 

8. Where do you see yourself in five years? 10 years?

The point of the question 

Companies want to hire a person with goals and ambitions. They also want to make sure you’re not a job hopper. This question is designed to figure out if you’re in it for the long haul or if you’re already thinking about your next job. 

How to answer

As mentioned, companies want to hire the person who is going to stick around. At least in the foreseeable future. So that is what you need to communicate. Your answer could resemble this example: 

I’m the kind of person who likes stability and to be a part of a stable company and team. My goal is to find a job where I can thrive and evolve my skills in order to bring value to the company. In the long run my ambition is to advance within the company once I’ve proven my skills and competencies and thus help advance the company even further.

You’ll want to make sure they understand that you’re really here for the long run.

9. Why do you want to leave your current company?

The point of the question 

One of the reasons why the interviewers will ask you this question is that they want to know more about your background and motivations for looking for a new job. Other versions of this question could be “Why did you leave your last job?” or “Why are you looking for a new job?”. 

This question is also a way of finding out how you get along with your bosses, colleagues, and clients. 

How to answer

Your answer will depend on the circumstances you left your previous job (or your current job situation). In either case it’s extremely important to keep focus on the future instead of any previous negative experiences. And never badmouth your previous (or current) boss. That will never reflect well on you. 

If you left your job voluntarily, your answer could be something like this: 

After four years in the same position with no prospect of advancement I started looking for new challenges. I didn’t feel like I could perform my best at my job and at the same time look for a new job full time so I decided to leave the company. My ethics wouldn’t allow me to slack off from my former job so this was the only alternative.

If you were asked to leave your previous position, your answer could be something like this: 

Unfortunately I was laid off along with the rest of my department due to corporate restructuring.

If you’re currently employed, your answer could be something like this: 

I find myself lacking in challenges and opportunities in my current position. I know I’m an excellent employee and I am looking for ways to reach my full potential. I don’t see that happening in this position unfortunately. But that’s why this opportunity is such a perfect fit.

Remember, when you prepare for this question you don’t have to tell the whole truth. You should of course be honest but it’s enough to focus on the real reason why you left or are leaving the company. 

10. Why was there a gap in your employment history?

The point of the question 

Even though it’s quite normal, a gap in your employment history will stick out on your resume like a sore thumb. And naturally recruiters and interviewers will be interested in knowing why the gap is there, especially if you did not already address it in your resume. So while some time off doesn’t automatically downgrade your future job opportunities, you should be ready to answer questions regarding this during your job interview. 

How to answer

There can be many reasons why you have an employment gap in your work history. We can roughly separate them into two categories: voluntary gaps and involuntary gaps. A voluntary gap could for instance be that you took time off to care for a relative or to complete an education. An involuntary gap could be that you lost your job for one reason or another and since had a difficult time finding a new one. 

Unfortunately, the perfect answer to this question does not exist. But here are some ways you can prepare for the question. 

If possible, make sure you emphasize anything constructive from your time off period. Bonus points for tying it to the job position you’re interviewing for. A constructive element could be any of the following: 

  • New skills you’ve been focusing on
  • Getting an MBA degree
  • Getting a certification within your field
  • Focusing on volunteer work and what you learned

All of the above tells a lot about what kind of person you are. Be as concrete as you can possibly get with your accomplishments during your time away from a paid employment. 

11. What can you offer us that someone else cannot?

The point of the question 

When you step into a job interview the interviewers only have one goal: to establish how you can contribute with more value than the previous candidate they interviewed. Your answer will help you establish how you stand out among other candidates. This is a way for you to explain which skills, experiences, and qualifications you can bring to the table if hired. In short, they want to know if you have the skills and qualifications to succeed in the position. 

How to answer

The most effective way to convince your potential future employer that you’ve got what it takes is to use examples. Think back on a time when you solved a problem similar to the one the company has and explain what you did. 

Introducing STAR stories: STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. This will help you remember how to respond to such interview questions as this one. 

Situation: Describe the situation

Task: What you decided to do about it 

Action: How you completed the task

Result: What was the outcome of the situation and your action?

Prepare your STAR stories by researching the company beforehand. Make sure you’re familiar with the company’s mission statement. Try to identify specific needs they might have (hint: you’ll often find this in the job description). Now you must come up with examples from your own work experience where you solved a similar situation. Prepare a few different STAR stories beforehand so you have some alternatives to choose between. Impress them by implementing what you expect to be able to accomplish if you were hired. 

And there you have it. The most dreaded of the most common job interviews nailed down. Now, all that is left is for you to land that job interview. A structured and well formatted resume template will definitely get you a long way towards that goal, as well as a great cover letter. And don’t forget to follow up after your interview.

More common job interview questions to prepare for

For more common interview questions to prepare for your next job interview check out the list below. 

  1. What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?
  2. Are you willing to relocate?
  3. Are you willing to travel?
  4. Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
  5. Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
  6. What is your dream job?
  7. How did you hear about this position?
  8. What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days/60 days/90 days on the job?
  9. Discuss your resume.
  10. Discuss your educational background.
  11. Describe yourself.
  12. Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.
  13. Why are you looking for a new job?
  14. Would you work holidays/weekends?
  15. How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?
  16. Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
  17. Who are our competitors?
  18. What was your biggest failure?
  19. What motivates you?
  20. What’s your availability?
  21. Who’s your mentor?
  22. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
  23. How do you handle pressure?
  24. What is the name of our CEO?
  25. What are your career goals?
  26. What gets you up in the morning?
  27. What would your direct reports say about you?
  28. What were your boss’ strengths/weaknesses?
  29. If I called your boss right now and asked him/her what is an area that you could improve on, what would he/she say?
  30. Are you a leader or a follower?
  31. What was the last book you’ve read for fun?
  32. What are your co-worker pet peeves?
  33. What are your hobbies?
  34. What is your favorite website?
  35. What makes you uncomfortable?
  36. What are some of your leadership experiences?
  37. How would you fire someone?
  38. What do you like the most and least about working in this industry?
  39. Would you work 40+ hours a week?
  40. What questions haven’t I asked you?

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