39 Job Interview Questions to Expect, with Answers

Job interviewers all tend to rely on similar questions. Here's the rundown on what to expect and how to answer.

As the tech industry’s seemingly never-ending rounds of layoffs continue on and on, we’re all getting a lot more interested in acing job interviews.

In a way, interviewing well is the most in-demand skill of them all: If you don’t know someone who knows someone, it’s practically a prerequisite for getting any job at all. And, since we’re all too busy doing our jobs, it’s a rarely practiced skill to boot.

Luckily, job interviewers tend to stick to the same types of questions: They’ll ask about your past job experience, and they’ll try to figure out if you’re a culture fit. Here, we’ve rounded up all the top questions that a job interviewer is likely to ask, along with a handful of questions that you may want to ask them.

Tell Me About Yourself

You should consider preparing a quick summary of your work persona: Mention a few hobbies, how much you love your pets, and, just to really blow them away, throw in your favorite ice cream flavor.

They’re likely to ask for something more specific about yourself as well, too. Here are the usual questions to be ready for:

1. What are your strengths?

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As with all the questions in this category, you’ll need to find an answer that’s honest to your personality. But it never hurts to consider some of the greatest hits here: Perhaps you’re great at communicating effectively, collaborating with others, or problem-solving under pressure.

2. What are your weaknesses?

Some will suggest that you answer with a version of “I care too much” or “I work too hard.” But even if this is true for you, it’s cliche and weird to flex about your terrible work-life balance in 2024.

Instead, pick a genuine weakness (nothing too terrible), and then follow up immediately to explain how you’ve already begun working to address this issue. For example, you could say that you sometimes get caught up in the details, but this has led you to realign your workflow regularly to ensure you move on to the next task at an appropriate speed.

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

To answer this one, think about what stands out about the company. If they’re small, you can benefit from how agile and scrappy they are. If they’re large, you’ll benefit from the internal network of knowledgable coworkers.

4. Why are you interested in this position?

Find an answer to this that’s personal to you, but that makes it clear that your values align with the organization, and you see a path towards growing your skills and experience at the new position.

5. Can you walk me through your resume?

When answering this one, focus on two points. First, you’ll want to highlight why your past positions are relevant to the current position you’re hoping to land. Second, you’ll also want to emphasize the diverse range of experiences you’ve banked in the past.

Prove Your Experience

A job interviewer needs to know you have the proven industry knowledge to handle everything in real life that you can already do on paper. Here are some questions about your job history they’ll likely ask some version of.

6. What relevant experience do you have?

Look through your employment history for positions in the industry or the same job role. If you don’t have them, focus on the most relevant skills. Any growth statistics you can highlight from your time at the company will be good to keep in mind.

7. How do you handle pressure or stressful situations?

I don’t know, how do you handle them? If you love them, say so. If you hate them, say that and then explain the steps you take to avoid feeling like a situation is stressful, like establishing a gameplan ahead of time.

8. What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

This is a broad question, so start out by narrowing the field: What was the biggest project you worked on at your most relevant previous position? That’s likely the best area to focus on, although you might win a few brownie points by saying your greatest accomplishment was raising your kids.

9. What motivates you?

You’re likely best of answering this by focusing on the work itself: You like challenging yourself, growing, and gaining new skills that add up to more than the sum of their total.

10. Where do you see yourself in five years?

If you have clear career goals, discuss them. For everyone else, highlight the skills that this position offers and that you’d love to develop.

11. What do you enjoy most about your last job?

You can add a little structure to your response by opening with a summary of a project or goal that you helped work on, followed by the actions you enjoyed taking to address the issue. The point is to bring up a skillset that will transfer to your new position.

Give Examples

Even once you’ve prepared for all the questions above, you still won’t be done proving your experience. Most job interviewers are also looking for specific examples from your past that illustrate your relevant skills and perspective.

12. Describe a challenge you faced at work and how you overcame it.

A good general template for any specific experience is to describe a situation, your actions in response, and the impact that you achieved.

13. Can you provide an example of a time when you demonstrated leadership skills?

Think of a time when you took intiative to make a decision when your manager wasn’t around to make it for you. You don’t have to fully take charge to exhibit “leadership skills,” either, since this term could be interpreted to mean that you deligated responsibility or took point on a small section of a larger project.

14. Describe a time when you had to adapt to change.

Ideally, you’ll want to pick a challenge that you made a clearly outlined change in response to. Follow the story up by explaining what interpersonal or technical skill you learned from the experience.

15. Describe a time when you had to solve a complex problem.

A few things the interviewer might be looking for when asking this question: How you break a big problem down into smaller sections, and if you’re willing to ask others for help. Pick a story that illustrates these principles.

16. Tell me about a time when you failed and what you learned from it.

This potential question is an easy one to be unprepared for, since it involves admitting to a failure. If you have a story ready to go (and an explanation for how you recovered afterwards), you might stand out from the other interviewees.

17. Provide an example of a time when you went above and beyond in your role.

The interviewer won’t ask too many of these questions, so as long as you have a two-to-four potential stories ready to go, you can likely cover all your bases.

Are You a Culture Fit?

Employers want someone who will easily slot into the existing structure of their business. Here’s what they might ask to suss out if you fit the bill.

18. Why did you leave your previous job?

If you haven’t yet left your current position, this question might be phrased as “why are you looking to leave your current job?” Either way, the interviewer just needs a response that makes sense, shows your interest in furthering your career, aligns with their company’s values, or some combination of the above.

19. What do you know about our company?

Do some research into the company’s accolades. Anything that makes the company unique is worth bringing up, and of course any (authentic) praise you can muster will go over well.

20. How do you work in a team environment?

What team player traits do you love and exhibit? This might be effective communication, willingness to collaborate, a positive attitude, or something more specific, like how you enjoy breakout rooms in Zoom calls or how you collect Post-its for your idea board.

21. How do you handle conflicts with coworkers?

Saying you can always handle conflicts might sound too defensive in response to this question. Instead, think of a specific example of a way you butted heads with a coworker in the past and how you worked to defuse the situation. Emphase traits like active listening, open communciation, and a solution that works for everyone, not just you.

22. How do you prioritize tasks and manage your time effectively?

This is a chance to show that you’re a team player. Emphasize how you determine the importance of your deadlines, considering how other teams in our organization are affected. Feel free to mention specific software tools that help streamline your workflow.

23. How do you handle constructive criticism?

Let the interviewer know that you don’t take feedback personally, even if it’s negative.

24. What relevant skills do you possess for this role?

You should figure out which of your skills are most relevant ahead of the interview, which allows you to prepare an example or two of your work while at a previous position.

25. Are you comfortable working independently?

Explain that you love to take initiative, and can handle all the tasks in the job listing effectively without a need for constant supervision. Of course, you do require the right amount of open communication, particularly when tackling the intial learning curve.

Brag About Yourself

Any company wants to hire the best person for the job. You’ll have to find a way to let them know that’s you, while still making it clear that you’re a team player.

26. What makes you the best candidate for this position?

Line up your skills, experience, and personal attributes. Add in something that makes you stand out, from your proactive problem-solving to your personable approach to internal networking.

For bonus points, you can wrap up your answer with a note about what makes their company worth applying to – it’s a compliment, but it highlights that you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you.

27. How do you define success?

Good answers to this question tend to be a little lofty, from “feeling fulfilled” to “finding meaningful work.” Whatever the case, you can achieve it with ongoing growth, learning from failures… and landing this job.

28. How do you stay organized?

Explain the general tips for keeping on track, from task grouping to time management. You can also get into specific software tools as well, from your Google Calendar skills to your project management software knowledge.

29. Can you describe your work ethic?

The right answer to this will be unique to you, but common traits to highlight here might include: Dedication, reliability, enthusiasm, passion, detail-oriented, integrity. Pick a few that describe you best and don’t mention any that don’t fit as well.

30. Can you describe your approach to continuous learning and professional development?

Perhaps you spend your free time upskilling and learning new code languages. If not, however, you can still answer this one proudly: Everyone’s continually learning new skills at any job, so you can just cite the most recent or most interesting new projects that you’ve taken on, and what abilities they require from you.

The Practical and Nitty-Gritty Questions

Not all common job interview questions are as general as the options listed above. Here, we get into the questions that you can’t sweet-talk your way through. You’ll need to know exactly what software, websites, or numbers to have on hand.

31. Are you comfortable with [specific software or technology]?

You should have a list of the software that you’re familar with in mind. Don’t overpromise, though: After all, you’ve (probably?) figured out more than one project management tool in your time, so one more should be easy enough.

32. How do you stay updated in your field?

What industry newsletter or website do you regularly read? Any podcasts or YouTube courses? As long as you enjoy your career, this can be a fun question to answer and might even demonstrate your passion.

33. What are your salary expectations?

This is one of the toughest job interview questions to answer: You don’t want to name a specific figure, as it sets a benchmark that can leave you underpaid, but you don’t want to say anything so high that you’re rejected, either.

You should mention that salary isn’t the only important element of which job offer you’ll accept, but ultimately, you may need to name the range that your research shows will fit your skills and geographic location.

Do You Have Any Questions for Us?

At the end of the interview, you might be asked for any questions from your side. Even if you’re not, piping up with at least one or two questions is the right move in most cases: It’s often seen as a sign that you’re fully engaged in the process.

Here are some of the best questions to ask, with my favorite one listed first:

34. Can you tell me what you loved the most about how the previous person in this position did their job?

This shows you’re aware that you’re potentially stepping into someone else’s shoes and you’re interested in easing the transition as you enter the same role. Plus, it gives your interviewer the choice to either praise or bad-mouth their previous employee – either way, you’ll gain some insight into the workplace culture you may be entering.

35. Can you describe the day-to-day responsibilities of this position?

This question gets to the nitty-gritty details, and might lead to a discussion of the software tools or workflow specificities to expect at your new job. It’s a good one to ask during a second or third interview, when it’s clear you’re both serious about the potential of being hired.

36. What are the company’s short-term and long-term goals, and how does this position contribute to achieving them?

This shows that you’re looking for a job that’s clearly aligned with the direction that the entire company is headed. If your job is valued by the company, you’ll have job security and the potential for further growth as long as you do that job well.

37. What opportunities can you offer for professional development and advancement?

Another forward-thinking question, this asks the company to explain what skills and experiences it can offer you, rather than the other way around. If the interviewer struggles to answer, they’re indicating that the company isn’t committed to employee development.

38. Can you tell me about the company culture and what it’s like to work here?

This question could prompt a range of responses, and you may like some responses more than others. Do you want to work at a fast-paced organization, or one that prioritizes slow and steady accomplishment instead? Whatever the case, you need a company culture that suits you.

39. What are the next steps in the hiring process?

This is a good wrap-up question, as it transitions the whole conversation into the next stage of the timeline and pragmatically signals a conclusion to the current interview.

Job Interviewing Tips

Once you’ve figured out potential answers to most of the questions listed in this guide, you’re almost ready. The final step? Forget all those notes you just took and clear your mind.

It might sound counterintuitive, but the key element to winning a job interview is quiet confidence, and trying to re-state all of your prepared answers exactly as you wrote them will probably make you seem stiff. Instead, stay flexible: You can remix and shuffle around your answers in any way that makes sense.

Finally, if you don’t have an answer for a curveball, feel free to just admit it. You’ll sound more confident as a result, and it’s a human moment. Ultimately, what matters is connecting with your interviewer and letting them know you’ll be a reasonable coworker. Well, provided you also let them know you have the experience, skills, and personality to handle the gig.

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Written by:
Adam is a writer at Tech.co and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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