1. “Would you like something to drink?”
Ok, this may sound like a silly job interview question and something more in line with common job interview etiquette than the substance of the interview itself, but experts say that when someone does something for you, they are actually slightly more positively inclined towards you.
It’s called the Ben Franklin effect: a person who has performed a favor for someone is more likely to do another favor for that person. So even if you’re not a thirsty job candidate that day, just take the water, for goodness sake!
2. “Tell me about yourself.” or “What makes you unique?”
Despite how this open-ended question sounds, it is not literally an invitation to delve into an existential examination of your life before your interviewers. Especially not because this is a job interview question!
A good answer should focus on the fact that this is an elevator pitch opportunity and needs rehearsing. Be ready to wrap up your answer in 1 minute and focus on the positive summary of your skills, professional accomplishments, and personal experience that casts you in the most appealing light for the job. Talk about your promotions, highlight your successes and quantify your achievements.
One of the worst things you can do is drone on without realizing you are boring the other person or answering with details they aren’t interested in, so pay attention to non-verbal cues as you talk and be ready to adjust mid-way through if you need to.
3. Why are you interested in the role?”
As a job seeker, the best way to answer this common interview question is to emphasize the merits and exciting aspects of the position itself to convey your enthusiasm, rather than a time to rehash how your background and work experience is a fit.
Think of it this way: Even if you’re the perfect fit, that’s what the rest of the interview is to demonstrate. This is the time when you get to demonstrate your enthusiasm about the work you’re about to do. Actually wanting to do a certain job counts for a lot.
4. “Why our company?”
This is one of the most common job interview questions. If you’re interviewing for a role that might be relatively ‘standard’ across many other companies, it’s actually a very good question — so it’s a good idea to have a ready answer. It also is a test to see how much you understand about the larger context and employer, itself.
Think about the interviewer’s perspective and about the company goals. This is a time to show that you understand the company’s mission, its values or something about its culture. Remember, you want to make the interviewer feel good about where he or she works and make them believe you really want to join them.
5. “What do you know about this organization?”
This is a similar question to the previous one, but you still might get both in one interview. Essentially, the interviewer wants to know whether you care enough about this position and the business to take the time to do your homework.
So do your homework! While this isn’t a test, you should be aware of the business’s major initiatives, mission, and qualities. You should also look into all aspects of the business that are related to the position or function you’ll be performing. For example, if you’re interviewing for a marketing role, make sure to look at all of the company’s social media accounts.
6. “How did you hear about this position?”
While this question may not seem all that important, it’s actually a great opportunity for you to demonstrate your interest in the company. Perhaps it’s been your longtime dream to work at the organization, and you peruse the company website. If that’s the case, say so!
Maybe you heard about it from an acquaintance who is a current employee. In that case, mention the employee’s name—this can help you establish a connection, which can help you achieve a more favorable impression.
Or you might have come across the position on a job board. Still, something caught your eye, so rather than dwelling on the fact that you’re just looking for any job, explain why you chose to apply to this one in particular.
7. “Why are you leaving your current job?”
Not sure of how to answer this question? Remember that this isn’t a time for a job-seeker to bad-mouth your boss or previous employer. Doing so will be a red flag and create a problem that could hurt you as early on as during the phone interview.
What this question is really getting at is why you are looking for a new job at the place you’re interviewing. So even though it’s not phrased that way, respond by talking about how appealing this specific opportunity is to you. As tempting as it may be to vent, don’t spend any time dwelling on the things that make you sound unhappy or unsatisfied at your current company.
8. “Why are you currently unemployed?”
Ok, we admit it’s unlikely the interviewer will put the point so bluntly. Typically, this question is asked in the following way: “Tell me about why you left your [insert name of last job].”
What they really want to ask is: “Were you fired and if so, why?” People are reorganized and fired all the time for reasons that have nothing to do with their individual performance. On the other hand, some people are fired for cause as well.
9. “You seem to change jobs frequently.”
Average job tenure is growing shorter and shorter but that doesn’t mean hiring managers don’t get worried when they see someone that can’t hold a job down without changing every year or two.
It’s a big investment of time and money to hire someone new and they want to make sure that you are not fickle or immature about your choices. If you can provide context about inevitable job changes that weren’t your fault (e.g. you had to move across the country to be with your spouse, the company closed down), that will put the interviewer at ease.
10. “What did you do in the years that are missing from your resume?”
If you’re someone who has taken time out of the workforce, research from Vanderbilt University suggests that you be up-front about it. According to the study, female job applicants returning to the workforce after a long absence were more likely to get hired if they provided a reason for the employment gap on their resume, even if that reason was taking care of children.