50 Common Interview Questions

The key to getting a job offer is to excel during the interview phases.

That means being prepared.

You need to research the industry, company, position, even your potential bosses. You also should consider and prepare for likely interview questions you will face.

Some of the most common interview questions, include: 

Most Common Interview Questions

these 50 courtesy of Glassdoor. Most should be obvious, but there are probably a few you have not previously considered. I especially like:

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

7. What can you offer us that someone else can not?

8. What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?

12. Tell me about a time you made a mistake.

15. What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days/60 days/90 days on the job?

21. Why are you looking for a new job?

36. What would your direct reports say about you?

38. If I called your boss right now and asked him what is an area that you could improve on, what would he say?

40. What was the last book you’ve read for fun?

43. What is your favorite website? (I assume this will be Personal Wealth Management)

46. How would you fire someone?

I think all the listed common questions are realistic. Many will be asked of you in some variant.

“Tell me a joke” is another common one. The idea with book, website, joke, and the like, is to ask something you may not have planned for, then gauge both your response time and quality of answer. The interviewer wants to see how quickly you think on your feet when taken out of your comfort zone. Often the responses provide insight into your character.

Personally, I detest trick questions. The “how many balls would fit in an airplane overhead compartments” type questions. I would not appreciate being asked them and I would never ask them myself. However, some clowns do, so you may want to take a quick look at the links provided at the bottom of the Glassdoor article for examples.

Be Prepared for Them

Pre-rehearse your responses.

By pre-rehearse, I mean prepare answers to likely questions way before the interview. Then fine tune those answers over and over again. Find the best examples you can think of to use. Also, many anecdotes or responses may be applicable to different questions. Feel free to take a strong example and be able to modify it on the fly for various potential interview questions.

For example, I was a second degree black belt, instructor, and referee in Tae Kwon Do. That one achievement covers a multitude of potential questions. Work ethic, learning new skills, challenges, leadership, working with others, teaching, etc.

Rehearse, but be honest.

If you are applying for a financial analyst position and are asked your favourite website, do not say it is the CFA Institute site. Or that the last book you read for fun was Benjamin Graham’s, “The Intelligent Investor”. That is like telling the interviewer that your biggest weakness is that you work too hard, care too much, etc.

Yes, put positive spins on your responses. But choose your best real examples, not those that simply pander.

Have someone you trust (and who will provide candid feedback) ask you these questions and go through your answers. I would much rather have someone harshly critique you before the interview, than watch you stammer and stumble during the actual one.

Videotape your practice interview. Watch your body language and tells. Improve your fluidity and professionalism.

Question Comprehensiveness Correlates to Seniority

For entry level or junior positions, expect basic questions. Most of the 50 listed common questions are fair game. I would exclude those that relate to previous employment experiences if you are just starting out.

As you advance in your career, the questions typically become extremely in-depth. I spoke with a former colleague last week who interviewed for a senior position. For the second interview, she was required to prepare a formal presentation with a 90 day action plan for when she started the job.

Fortunately, she asked my advice, so did very well I am certain. I told her to spend the first 20 days conducting staff interviews, primarily over company paid breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Then 20 days visiting other company locations around the globe to better understand how other groups functioned. After that, 20 days vacation, followed by giving 30 days notice and helping the company transition to her successor. Yes, I really did advice that (as well as hopefully some actually useful tidbits).

But seriously, she did have to prepare and present a 90 day action plan. So as you progress, the questions will become much deeper than strengths and weaknesses, books and websites.

As I like to say, those who fail to plan, plan to fail.

Do not fail the interview even before walking through the door.

Do your research and be fully prepared.

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