job interview questions and how to answer them - AccountingEssaywritercsClub

job interview questions and how to answer them


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Almost every job-seeker has found themselves stumbling over one of the standard job interview questions at some point. That’s okay! We stumble over common interview questions because we haven’t had the chance to think through our answers in advance.

You don’t have to memorize your answers to common interview questions like the ten listed below.

Watch on Forbes:

The specific words you choose to answer the question aren’t important. What’s important is your mindset.

What’s the most healthy, appropriate and effective mindset for any job interview? It’s this: the mindset that you’re happy to be in the interview conversation but you aren’t desperate to get the job.

You are confident, instead confident that if this is the right job for you, you will know it and the interviewer will know it, too.

You have no one to please or impress at a job interview. They are checking you out, and you are checking them out too! If they don’t like your brand of jazz, they can hire someone else. You don’t have to contort yourself into pretzel shapes to try to make them like you.

As you read through these questions and sample answers, picture yourself sitting in the interview room feeling strong and contented with yourself. Keep in mind that the right manager for you will see your talents and intelligence right away.

If they can’t see those things on their own, do you really want to talk them into hiring you?

You are only as powerful as you believe yourself to be. Other people will only be able to see your power when you feel it yourself!

Sample Answers For The Ten Most Common Interview Questions

1. Why do you want this job?

To answer this question, talk about the job not about yourself. This is an opportunity to make it clear that you’ve read the job ad, thought about it and understand (or at least have an idea) what the job is about.

Interviewer: Why do you want this job?

You: It sounds like this position has a lot to do with keeping projects on track, and that’s something I love to do. I want to run bigger projects that involve more than one vendor, and my impression is that this role will let me do that. Am I on track with that idea?

End of Script

Whenever you can end your answer with another question, do it! That will help move the interview out of Q & A mode to become a real, live, human conversation.

2. What is your greatest strength?

This question is lame, but you can turn it into a story-telling opportunity like this:

Interviewer: What’s your greatest strength?

You: I think it’s my ability to see beyond the immediate facts of a situation to the larger picture here’s an example. We had a crisis at my job last year. A competitor threatened to sue us over a trademark issue. We knew their complaint had no merit and that if we got sued we would win, but some of our company’s leaders wanted to back off on our marketing activities for that product in case things didn’t go our way.

I broke down the marketing plan to show which marketing activities were already committed and which could be put on hold and then it was obvious that there was no benefit to slowing down, much less stopping, our marketing efforts for that product whether we ended up getting sued or not.

We didn’t get sued and that product is still going strong, but my analysis helped guide us through a sticky situation. The company’s executives really appreciated the insights we got from taking apart the marketing plan piece by piece. That was a huge learning experience for me!

3. What is your greatest weakness?

Interviewer: What’s your greatest weakness?

You: I used to stress and obsess about things I didn’t think I could do as well as I should have been able to. Eventually it hit me that I’ll never be good at everything in life who is? The key for me is to focus on getting better at things I do well. There are so many things I have no business doing, like building Excel spreadsheets and writing code. I need to focus on what I’m good at and love to do, especially writing website copy and creating powerful messaging for customers.

End of Script

4. With so many talented applicants, why should we hire you?

You: Great question! Let’s see if I understand what you’re looking for. My impression is that you need someone to support the sales team with customer callbacks and prospecting so they can focus on closing big deals. I see the job as preserving the sales team’s time and energy by taking care of their day-to-day customer support and making sure they don’t waste a minute talking to unqualified prospects. Is that pretty close to what you’re looking for?

5. Where do you see yourself in five years?

You: Five years from now I expect to continue exploring the world of investor relations and strategic communication. Given how much I’ve learned about those topics in the three years I’ve spent in the field and the incredible pace of change in the business world, there’s no telling what a role like mine will look like five years from now. I’m excited to see what these next five years bring!

6. What would your last boss say about you?

You: My last boss would say that I supported her both by helping to carry out her agenda and also by playing the devil’s advocate role to anticipate issues she might not have thought of otherwise. She would say that I gave my best to the job and wasn’t afraid to get tough issues out on the table. That’s one reason my boss and I worked together so well.

7. What’s your greatest career accomplishment so far?

You: My greatest professional accomplishment has to be managing my job while making room for my personal life, my health and my outside commitments. I’m thrilled that I am able to serve as VP of Programs for the International Society of Frogs and Toads in addition to holding down a busy job. The two roles reinforce one another. I think professional associations are incredibly important for anyone operating in the global business community. What do you think?

8. What would you like to achieve in this company?

You: I’m interested in learning more about your structure and culture and especially, your long-term mission and strategy. I love to take on new challenges and would never say no to the chance to dig into a meaty assignment, but I care less about titles and promotions than I do about working on issues that will have a big impact on the organization’s future. How do you see the company evolving over the next year or two?

9. Do you consider yourself a team player?

You: Here’s a quick story about that! I worked on a team with fifteen people based in four continents. It was hard for us to connect in real time. We worked out ways to stay in the loop, all based on mutual trust. If anybody had an issue with another team member, or any kind of miscommunication, we made sure to bring it up rather than keeping silent or complaining to somebody else about the problem. It was a huge learning experience but I grew muscles during that project, and so did my colleagues.

10. How do you feel about working nights and weekends?

You: My working style is to give everything during the day and then shut down my operation for the evening, and recharge my batteries. I try not to take work home, and I seldom have to worry about it because I’m very careful in making commitments. I take due dates seriously. I almost never work on the weekend unless there’s an emergency. If there is an emergency, I try to make sure the same issue doesn’t flare up again.

I’ve learned over the years that if I burn out then I’m no good to myself, my employer or the people who rely on me. What’s your take on work/life balance?

End of Script

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You will never get the job you deserve by begging or pleading for it, because the only managers who want to hire beggars and pleaders are fearful managers who don’t deserve your talents.

Walk into every interview with the idea that if the job is right for you and vice versa, then it will happen. You don’t need to convince anybody you are right for the job.

You’ll be amazed what happens when you step into your power. Fearful weenie managers will be horrified at your confidence. You’ll see those emotions right on their faces! That’s okay.

Let them recoil in horror as you speak it’s good for them to be shaken out of their stupor every now and then.

The right manager a confident person with heart and vision will be happy to meet an adult who knows who they are and what they bring. They will be thrilled to meet you. That is the manager you’ve been waiting to meet. That’s the only kind of manager you have time for!

I was a Fortune 500 HR SVP for 10 million years, but I was an opera singer before I ever heard the term HR. The higher I got in the corporate world, the more operatic the action became. I started writing about the workplace for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1997. Now I write for …

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Smart Answers to Common Interview Questions

By Jeff Lipschultz

Smart Answers to Common Job Interview QuestionsThe number of questions that can be asked by Human Resources, the hiring manager, or other interviewer is limitless.

These are some of the most commonly asked questions and my thoughts on how to answer them in a way that makes you memorable in a positive way.

Stand Out with Your Answers to These Interview Questions

Take the time to read these questions and to have carefully thought about how you would answer each when asked.

Before the interview, review the job description, and customize your answers to the employer and the specific opportunity.

Preparation is the key to interview success. Poor, or no, preparation is a deadly mistake, demonstrating to the employer a lack of interest.

1. Tell me about yourself.

One of the most common questions in an interview is “Tell me about yourself.” Actually, it is not even a question — it is an invitation.

Your answer to this question is your opportunity to share with the interviewer whatever you think is important about you in their hiring decision.

More importantly, it is your chance to differentiate yourself from other candidates. In most cases, the standard questions offer the same opportunity.

[MORE: How to Answer: Tell Me About Yourself (with sample answers) .]

2. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Employers don’t necessarily care to hear that you expect to climb the corporate ladder and be a supervisor.

If the job you’re interviewing for is not a supervisor, they probably aren’t concerned about your management skills. You can share how you’ve been a mentor to others and led projects with little to no supervision. That should indicate you have leadership potential.

Focus on them: In five years, you should have made a significant impact to the company’s bottom line. Think about how you can achieve this in the role you’re interviewing for. In technology careers, advancing your skills is important, too. You should be able to share what areas you want to strengthen in the near term (but be careful that they are not areas of expertise that the company needs now).

[MORE: How to Answer: Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years? (with sample answers) .]


3. Why should we hire you?

This is clearly a differentiation question. What you want to tell them is: they’d be crazy not to they hire you.

Focus on them: You need to only share how you meet almost all the criteria they seek, and also have two to three additional abilities that they might not even know they need…yet. They need to know you are a candidate who can not only meet their needs now, but will also be valuable for where they want to go in the future.

  • Are they likely to need another skill set as they grow as a company?
  • Or maybe you have skills that you noticed are in another job description they are looking to fill?

You can help out with those deliverables until they find someone (or be a backup to the person they hire).

Have you been down a path already that they are currently starting? Having “lessons learned” to offer them is a very strong plus for a job candidate.

[MORE: How to Answer: Why Should We Hire You? (with sample answers) .]

4. Why do you want to work here?

This is a key indicator of how interested you really are in the employer and the job. The answer to this question has two aspects:

  1. The content
  2. Your delivery

Focus on them:

  • Content — Employers want to know you feel you can fit in at the company quickly. That means not only deliverables in the job description, but also your fit with the company culture. You will likely have to do some homework to answer this one. You need to understand the reasons why others enjoy working there. Is it a great place to advance your skills, have great challenges to add to your resume, or will it allow you to grow as a professional?
  • Delivery — The delivery must be genuine. If a hiring manager feels you’re just “telling them want they want to hear,” but don’t mean it…well, the interview is over in their mind. They want to know this is not just a job and paycheck. They want to hear this is what you want to do and the best place to do it.

[MORE: How to Answer: Why Do You Want to Work Here? (with sample answers) .]

5. What do you know about us?

This is actually a test. If you know very little, it is an indication that you are not very serious about working there.

Focus on them: Candidates who are really excited about the prospect of working there have done their homework. If you really want to stand out, learn more than what is listed on their web site.

Do some heavy research — perhaps find some articles on the company that not many would know about. It may even come up in conversation spontaneously, and you can show them a copy of the article (I have had this happen to me).

[MORE: How to Answer: What Do You Know About Us? (with sample answers) .]

6. How do people describe you?

Here’s another opportunity to differentiate yourself. Everyone claims to be: a hard worker, good communicator, and team player.

But how many are a: problem-solver, game-changer, leader in the industry?

Be creative, and have stories to back it up. The interviewer will want to know why someone thinks you are one of these things.

Focus on them: You want to present attributes that make you sound like the go-to guy or gal wherever you work. Even the standard answers can be taken a step further to be more valuable:

  • Yes, they want hard workers, but most likely that’s commonplace at their office. Maybe you work hard, but also help others work fewer hours (by helping them do their job better or making their jobs easier).
  • Good communicators are everywhere. But this doesn’t mean just speaking well. It includes listening. Do you hear things that others don’t? Do you understand things quickly? Can you figure out what people are trying to tell you through other clues (body language, for example)?
  • Being a good team player is expected, too. But what does this really mean? Getting along with everyone? That’s not hard to do if you’re a nice person. Pulling your weight in the office? Again, expected. What have you done, beyond your job description, that saved the team from a disaster or helped them make an impossible deadline? Have you won an award for this?


7. What is your greatest strength / greatest weakness?

Your greatest strength is something they need.

Don’t choose something irrelevant to the job or the employer, like your skill in sudoku (unless sudoku expertise is a requirement for this job).

Focus on them: You have many strengths, but pick the one they need help with the most. Is it your expertise in a particular skill? Is it your ability to turn low-performing teams into high performers? Share something that makes them think they need to hire you…right now.

I hate the “greatest weakness” question. Everyone knows it’s a trap, and everyone knows the candidate is going to say something trite (popular example: "I’m a perfectionist"). When you give a real answer, you are being genuine. You are admitting you have some growth opportunities and are not perfect. But you can include that you already have a plan to overcome this weakness through training or practice.

Some people even insert a little humor in their answer—“I wish I was better at tennis.” You can, too, if you feel like the interviewer has a sense of humor. But, be sure to quickly follow with a serious answer. Showing you have a lighter side is usually a good thing.

[MORE: How to Answer: What Is Your Greatest Strength? (with 60+ options plus sample answers) and How to Answer: What Is Your Greatest Weakness? (with 40+ options plus sample answers) .]

8. When can you start?

Be careful about this question for several reasons:

It doesn’t mean that you have “landed the job.” They may be just checking to add that to their notes. You must keep your guard up until you are in your car and driving away from the interview.

If you are currently employed, you should be honest about the start date and show professionalism. You should tell them you would have to discuss a transition with your current company to see if they require a two-week notice (or some other timing). If you currently have a critical role, your potential new employer would expect a transition period.

If you can start right away (and they know you are not currently employed), you certainly can say you’re able to start tomorrow. Sense of urgency and excitement about starting work at the new company is always a good thing.

[MORE: How to Answer: When Can You Start? (with sample answers) .]

9. How did you find this job?

You may have found the opportunity through research on ideal jobs where you can make the most impact and hope to grow professionally.

I would also hope you looked for companies that you feel meet your standards for corporate culture, investment in employees, successful business model (or perhaps giving back to community), and any other aspects you feel are important to you.

Make sure you can go into a little detail on what you found in your research.

The “job” may have found you. In that case, you can say you were contacted by HR or a recruiter who felt you were a good fit. But don’t leave it there.

You should still mention you did your homework and verified that this is right for you — as a potential contributor to the company’s success, and as a good match for what you’re looking for in an employer.

[MORE: How to Answer: How Did You Find This Job? (with sample answers) .]

10. Why do you want this job?

There should be a heartfelt answer on this one. Your gut should be giving you the answer.

Although, if the reason is about money, location, work schedule, benefits, and other factors not tied to actual role, you may want to think a little more about your answer. None of those reasons are important to the hiring manager.

Focus on them: They want to hear that this job is exactly what you’ve been thinking about as a next step in your career.

Of course, the follow-up question they’ll ask is: How so?

Be prepared to answer that with your rationale for how this job meets your professional needs and how you can contribute at your highest potential while in this role. People want to feel like their work means something. There is nothing wrong with sharing that feeling in a thoughtful way.

[MORE: How to Answer: Why Do You Want This Job? (with sample answers) .]


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

This can be a deal-breaker question.

Obviously, if you say you hate your current boss or company, the interviewer will naturally believe you will hate them eventually. And, if you say, your current compensation or role is below your standards, they will again assume the worst.

Although these may be legitimate reasons to leave a job, there must be other reasons, too.

  • Your current company or department may have become unstable (hopefully the interviewer’s company is very stable).
  • Your current employer may not be able to offer you any professional growth (the interviewer’s should be able to do this).

Do you see a pattern here? Highlight a reason that the hiring manager cannot be concerned about.

Of course, if you have an issue that is very important to you that could be a deal-breaker (like company culture), you can mention it. Just be prepared for them to take one extreme or the other. For example, maybe you only want to work for companies that buy from vendors in your home country. The hiring manager will let you know if their company does this. And if they don’t, I guess the interview is over.

[MORE: How to Answer: Why You Want to Leave Your Current Job? (with sample answers) .]

12. Why did you quit your last job?

This is a tough one. Typically, you should not quit a job until you have accepted another job.

However, life doesn’t always allow that to happen. Did you quit because you couldn’t spend enough time looking for your next job? Perhaps the company you worked for was close to shutting down and you didn’t want to waste valuable time waiting for the last day of operation.

Certainly, there are common reasons that are understood as necessity:

  • Had to move to a new location for various reasons.
  • Family or health reasons.
  • Unbearable work conditions (careful here, as already discussed).

The key to answering this question is to keep it short. Don’t feel the need to expand your answer to include a lot of details.

[MORE: After You Quit, How to Answer: Why Did You Leave Your Last Job (with sample answers) .]

13. Why were you fired?

This is another danger zone. This is not the time for defending yourself with a long story about you being the victim.

If you made a mistake, you are going to have to try to minimize the severity of the situation.

An argument with a boss could be described as a difference in opinion. Not following orders because your moral compass told you not to could be described as “taking the high road.”

Just be careful not to cast blame on others. Consider including a “silver lining.” Did you learn a lot from the experience and now possess knowledge that will mitigate the chances of this happening again?

[MORE: After Being Fired, How to Answer: Whey Did You Leave Your Job (with sample answers) .]

Laid off is not fired: If you were part of a layoff, this is different from being fired. It was likely a financial decision by management, and you were part of a group that was targeted as part of budget cuts. Layoffs are typically not personal — they are just business. Hiring managers know this (and likely have been involved in one at some point in their careers).

[MORE: If You Were Laid Off, You Weren’t Fired! .]

14. Explain your gap in employment

I’ve dedicated a whole article to this topic (with 5 options to fill that gap). The bottom line is you should make sure to paint a picture that you were productive, improving yourself, helping family, or something constructive.

Hiring managers don’t want to hear that you felt it was time for a “long-awaited break from the rat-race.” Or "time to recharge your batteries." The first thought that will pop into their heads: When is your next break coming? Probably in the middle of a big project we’re working on.

[MORE: Long-Term Unemployed? 5 Options to Bridge that Employment Gap and How to Answer What About that Employment Gap? ]

15. Do you have any questions?

My simple advice is: yes, you had better have questions.

When I hired people to work on my teams in the past, I expected interviewees to have questions.

This is your chance to “interview the interviewer.” In essence, to learn about the company, the role, the corporate culture, the manager’s leadership style, and a host of other important things.

Candidates who are genuinely interested in the opportunity, ask these types of questions. Those who don’t ask questions give the impression they’re “just kicking the tires” or not really too concerned about getting the job.

When given the floor to ask questions, you should realize the interview is not over yet. Good candidates know this is another time to shine.

It is imperative that you ask questions that do three things:

  1. Show you did some research about the company.
  2. Mention something else (related, but interesting) about you.
  3. Will have an interesting answer or prompt a good discussion.

Close by asking if they have any concerns.

You may not get a chance to address shortcomings in a follow-up interview — it is imperative to understand what was missing from the discussion while still in the interview.

After you have had a chance to ask your questions, you will want to validate that you are an ideal candidate for the job. To do this, you should probe into the minds of the interviewers and see if there are any concerns they have about you.

The key question to do this can be along the lines of:

“After discussing this job, I feel as if I would be a perfect fit for it. I’m curious to know if there is anything I said or DID NOT say that would make you believe otherwise.”

The answer you get to this question may open the door to mentioning something you did not get to talk about during the interview or clarify any potential misconception over something that was covered.

{MORE: 50+ Good Questions for You to Ask the Interviewers and 45 Questions You Should NOT Ask in a Job Interview .]


Bottom Line

Even the “boring, standard questions” can have unique and useful answers. You should think hard about how you can differentiate yourself from others every step of the way during the interview.

More Help with Successful Job Interviews

As some of you know from reading my free Job-Hunt interviewing guide — Successful Job Interviewing: What Job Candidates Need to Know — I recommend building a checklist of key experiences and attributes you want to cover and find opportunities to present them during the interview. The “Standard Questions” are often times those moments.

In developing your answers to the typical questions, focus on stories rather than simply stated facts. Read my post The Secret to Job Interview Success for details on how to choose and structure those stories.


  • Answering the Common Job Interview Questions – for more questions and sample answers
  • Successful Job Interviews – everything from pre-interview research to advice on handling illegal questions
  • Guide to Writing Thank You Notes After a Job Interview including Sample Thank You Notes (and Emails) – email or snail mail, short or long? Find the answers, with samples, here.

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About the author…

Job-Hunt’s Working with Recruiters Expert Jeff Lipschultz is a 20+ year veteran in management, hiring, and recruiting of all types of business and technical professionals. He has worked in industries ranging from telecom to transportation to dotcom. Jeff is a founding partner of A-List Solutions, a Dallas-based recruiting and employment consulting company. He is a unique recruiter with Lean Engineering experience and a Six Sigma Blackbelt. Learn more about him through his company site . Follow Jeff on Twitter (@JLipschultz) and on GooglePlus .

Guide to Working with Recruiters

  • Working with Recruiters Home
  • 3 Steps to Interview Success: Build Your Interview Checklist
  • Smart Answers to Interview Questions
  • How to Be Found by Recruiters on LinkedIn

How Recruiters Find You:

  • How Your Social Media Reputation Impacts Hiring Decisions
  • How to Be Found by Recruiters on LinkedIn
  • How to Add Recruiters to Your LinkedIn Network
  • How to Be a Successful LinkedIn Groupie
  • Networking and "Network Cleansing"
  • Penetrating the Hidden Job Market
  • Staying on Track and Optimistic in Your Job Search


Why Recruiters Choose You:

  • How Recruiters Pick YOU
  • What Recruiters Want to Find on Your Resume
  • What Makes You Special?
  • Smart Answers to Common Job Interview Questions
  • Be Confident for Your Job Interview

How to Impress a Recruiter:

  • Do NOT Play These Games with Recruiters
  • Know What You Want Next
  • Making a Lasting First Impression
  • Interview Success: Asking the Right Questions
  • How to Manage Your References to Close – NOT Kill – Opportunities
  • Keeping the External Recruiter Informed
  • How to Scare Away Recruiters

Handling Special Situations:

  • How to Ace the Dreaded Phone Interview
  • Smart Answers to Common Job Interview Questions
  • 5 Options for Filling Long Gaps in Employment
  • Overcoming Unemployed Bias
  • How to Transition to a New Career
  • Over 50: Managing the "Age Issue"
  • Recruiters and New Grads
  • How to Find a Job While You Have One
  • How to Gracefully Leave Your Old Job
  • New Grads: Overcoming "Not Qualified"
  • Handling Credit Issues in Your Job Search

How Recruiters Work:

  • Not-So-Secret Job-Search Weapon: Recruiters
  • Building Strong Relationships with Recruiters
  • Understanding the Rules of Engagement
  • Keeping the External Recruiter Informed
  • The Hidden Value of Informational Interviews
  • Avoid Surprising Recruiters
  • Who Has Your Resume?
  • The Starting Salary Question
  • The After-the-Interview Waiting Game

More Tips for Working with Recruiters:

  • Keeping Your Job Search Momentum
  • Are Recruiters on Your Holiday Card List?
  • New Year’s Resolutions for Job Seekers

More Information:

  • Successful Job Interviewing – FREE eBooklet
  • Understanding Recruiters

Working w/Recruiters Expert:

  • Jeff Lipschultz, Working With Recruiters Expert

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