How to Interview Successfully - the 30 Most Common Employer Interview Questions

How to Interview Successfully

First off, start by reviewinng our list of the 30 most common interview questions. Our list is developed for both interviewers (looking for potential interview questions) and interviewees (looking to prep for the questions which may be asked in an interview). Follow the links for guidelines on how to best answer each question. Here they are:

  1. Tell me about yourself. (OK, that's not really a question, it's more of a demand, yet it's still the most popular interview question in existence)
  2. What is your greatest accomplishment?
  3. What is your greatest failure?
  4. What are/were your responsibilities in your job?
  5. Do you work well under pressure?
  6. What problems have you encountered in your work?
  7. Are you a team player?
  8. What motivates you?
  9. What is a typical work week for you?
  10. How many hours do you typically work?
  11. What is your greatest strength?
  12. What is your greatest weakness?
  13. Why are you looking for a new job?
  14. Why did you leave your last job?
  15. What did you like about your last job?
  16. What did you dislike about your last job?
  17. Who was your best boss and why?
  18. Who was your worst boss and why?
  19. If your boss is wrong about something, how would you handle it?
  20. What do you know about our company?
  21. Why do you want to work for our company?
  22. What would your boss say about you?
  23. What would your co-workers say about you?
  24. What are your near term goals over the next five years?
  25. What are your long term goals?
  26. What salary range are you seeking?
  27. Are you willing to travel?
  28. Are you willing to relocate?
  29. What other companies are you considering?
  30. What questions do you have for me?

So that's the list, but what do you do with it? Simple. As an employer, you want to drill down into behavioral answers to your questions. Note that few of the most common interview questions are actually behavioral questions (meaning that a direct answer to the question itself will not elicit a behavioral response). Yet each of these questions acts as a setup question to drill into the behavioral details. How? By asking: "Can you give me an example of that?" Then remember that you continue to probe the candidate until you get a complete STAR (Situation/Task, Action Response) answer. Ask about a Situation or Task, what Action was taken and what Result was achieved. Situation-Task-Action-Result. It takes time to become comfortable asking questions and then drilling into the details. But once you develop the interviewing skill, you will find yourself getting far more out of the interview than previously.

For a candidate, you need to reverse the process. Don't expect the employer to ask you a behavioral qualifier ("Can you give me an example..."), but don't feel that lets you off the hook from providing a behavioral answer. If you want to differentiate yourself from other candidates, give a STAR answer, without prompting. Answer the primary question, then follow with: "Let me give you an example..." then go on to provide the Situation or Task, the Action you took and the Result achieved. By doing so, you will add depth to your answers and greatly increase your odds of being hired.

In the end, working toward STAR answers works best for both the employer and the candidate. Few employers dig for STAR examples, so if you do, you will greatly increase your interviewing proficiency. And few candidates give S-T-A-R examples, so using them will increase the candidate's interviewing proficiency.