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How to Prepare for Common Interview Questions

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Jessica Newman

May 5, 2021

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Are you looking for a new job? This article will help prepare you for what questions may be asked throughout the recruitment process.

Pre-Interview Questions

Many of the questions you’ll be asked as a job hunter happen before you even land an interview. That’s because most employers have established “knockout questions” as part of their application process. These are meant to filter out those who do not have the necessary minimum requirements for the job. 

Frequent knockout questions include:

  • Are you legally able to work in X country?
  • Do you have X years of experience in this field/position?
  • Have you earned X degree/license/certification?
  • Are you willing to undergo a background check and/or take a drug test?

The questions will of course depend on the type of job for which you’re applying. For example, if you’re applying to work in a warehouse or for a delivery company, you may be asked whether or not you have a valid driver’s license or if you can lift X amount of weight. Those are pertinent because they directly relate to your ability to do the job. They wouldn’t be the same pre-screening questions as an office worker.

Always answer these questions truthfully! If you lie in an attempt to advance to the interviewing stage, you waste both your time and that of the recruiter. Instead, focus on finding an open job opportunity that you genuinely think would be a good fit.

Typical Interview Questions

There are countless types of work and career paths to explore. Because of this, it’s impossible to say for certain which questions you’ll be asked in an interview. There are too many nuances associated with different lines of work. That said, here are some of the most common interview questions that transcend job-specific questioning:

  1. Tell me about yourself. How would you describe yourself?
  2. Why are you interested in this job?
  3. What is/are your biggest strength(s)?
  4. What do you know about our company?
  5. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  6. Why should we hire you? What makes you the right person for this position?

Proper preparation is key to answering these questions. Take some time to reflect on each and jot down your thoughts. Part of this process may be comparing the job description with specific things you studied in school or related work experience you’ve gained over the years. Identify transferable skills and be ready with examples. 

Many job applicants rehearse their responses aloud or practice mock interviews with a friend, family member, or career coach. While practice absolutely helps, make sure you don’t sound overly scripted. Oftentimes, interviewers notice candidates’ answers have little to do with the actual question they’ve been asked. This is usually because the applicant is so fixated on their prepared responses, their nerves get the best of them. Prepare, yes, but don’t forget to be attentive during your interview!

For more information on why interviewers ask the questions they do (and the best ways for you to respond), check out our ultimate guide to popular interview questions.

Questions May Vary Depending on Interview Type

As you prepare for your interview, it’s helpful if you can find out what type of interview you’ll be participating in. While the fundamentals remain the same (you’ll want to project confidence, professionalism, and enthusiasm for the job), there are subtle differences depending on the type of interview. 

Phone interviews - All you have to work with here is your voice. So, try your best to articulate your thoughts into words, enunciating and adding emphasis when necessary. Increasingly, telephone interviews are being replaced with digital interviews, which provide more opportunities for you to showcase your winning personality.

Video interviews - Virtual interviewing is now commonplace. Questions may be asked in real-time, face-to-face with a recruiter or hiring team (similar to Zoom) in what’s known as a live video interview. Or, you may answer the questions independently in a pre-recorded video interview. This format allows you to introduce yourself any time of day, so pick a time and place where you are most comfortable and alert. 

Note that pre-recorded video interviews are unique in that they introduce the option for employers to include video-based situational questions. You may be asked to demonstrate how you’d handle typical on-the-job situations. For example, for a customer service job, applicants might watch a video of an angry customer complaint, and then be asked to record how they’d respond.

If you’re asked to participate in a video interview, here’s everything you need to know! This resource includes lesser-known best practices (like where to look when answering questions), as well as a helpful, pre-interview tech check.

In-person interviews - Meeting in-person usually does not take place unless you are a finalist for the position. So, if you’ve reached this stage of the recruitment process, congrats! In today’s modern work world, you may not even be asked to come in for an in-person interview. Technology allows employers and job seekers to connect virtually anywhere on earth. Whether you meet in-person or online, the questions at this point typically revolve around the specifics of the job and the work environment to help determine fit.

And there you have it: you just passed Common Interview Questions 101. We hope it’s helped you prepare for any upcoming interview. If you’re still feeling nervous, don’t sweat! We’ve compiled a go-to guide to help you calm those pesky job interview jitters, too.

Best of luck on your interview!

jessica newman Headshot

Jessica Newman

Jessica is a VidCruiter writer who cares about connecting people with meaningful work. She writes about talent attraction, HR challenges, and hiring best practices.

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