The Top 5 Most Common Interview Questions and Answers
Like snowflakes, every interview is different.
But there are some questions that keep coming up.
So here are the top 5 interview questions and answers.
With some extra tips and tricks for good measure.
Let’s get started.
5 min read
Tell Me About Yourself
Think this question doesn’t matter? Think again.
This question is the perfect opportunity to have a say in the interviewer’s first impression. And as it’s so open-ended, there really is a lot of freedom here.
The first thing to do is think about your audience. What aspects of you might they want to know about? In general, your answers in an interview should always be tailored to the company/job you are applying to. Lily Zhang from The Muse recommends splitting up your answer to this question into past, present and future:
- Quick overview of your career geared towards this company
- Where you are now, what your looking for
- Where you are heading/would like to be
Using this structure will help to avoid rambling – one of the biggest interview mistakes.
It’s also important to keep your answer positive. Focus on the things you’ve loved about your career so far.
All of this shouldn’t take more than two minutes of talking. Remember, first impressions are everything, so a succinct answer could really improve your chances.
This question is also an opportunity to make yourself memorable to the interviewer.
Try ending with a fun (non-work) fact about yourself. Do you play ultimate frisbee every weekend? Did you meet the Dalai Llama in an airport? Do you brew your own beer? Actually maybe skip that last one…
Here’s a sample answer: “I’ve been in the marketing industry for over five years, primarily working in product marketing roles. I most recently worked for a small tech company managing marketing campaigns. Now I am aiming to expand my experience across different industries, particularly consumer goods, which is why I’m so interested in joining a company such as this.”
Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?
Be honest. The worst way to answer this question is to fabricate a cut-and-paste response. The interviewer will be able to tell, because they’ve heard it before.
Instead prepare an answer for this question that’s genuine, even if the answer is that you aren’t sure yet. And if this is the case, try to think where you would like to be in a year or two. Not all of us have airtight five year career plans and there’s nothing wrong with that. The important thing is to show that you’ve given your career some thought and that you are driven.
Here’s a sample answer: “Well my aim is to not just further my career, but also further my knowledge. So in five years I aim to be a Marketing Executive, with a much more in-depth understanding of brand strategy. I enjoy collaborating and am very excited at the prospect of leading projects.”
Tell Me About A Time When You Handled A Difficult Situation
These competency based questions are usually where the cracks start to show.
It’s a tall order, thinking of an example where things were going badly and you held your own, then explaining it in a professional manner while showing your strengths.
Enter the STAR Method: Situation, Task, Action, Result.
As long as you cover these, you’re most likely in the clear. In our experience here at Jump, candidates often forget the fourth section: the result. It’s surprisingly easy to get wrapped up in describing the situation, while the actual outcome (and the main point of the answer) slips through the cracks.
Aside from the STAR method, you need to describe how you handled it. The rest is supplementary to this part. An excellent candidate can show off their strengths and talents through specific examples, and that’s the goal here.
Here are some examples of what kind of answer they want:
- You needed to cover for a manager/supervisor
- You worked through a dilemma and found a solution
- You didn’t have the relevant experience to respond to something but adapted to the situation
Give An Example of When You Went Above and Beyond What Was Required
The STAR method will help here too.
If the interview is going reasonably well, the answer to this question can seal the deal.
As with question three, it’s worth preparing an answer for this in advance. Most of us won’t have a story about saving their company or anything like that, so it’s fine if it’s not mind blowing. The interviewer wants to know if you’re happy putting in extra effort, and if so how you would go about it.
Here are some examples of good areas to go for:
- Helping out a manager with a busy workload
- Writing up a document and including charts to give more insight
- Spending a bit more time to do a far more in-depth analysis of the competition
And as with question four, it’s essential to mention the result.
Do You Have Any Questions?
The answer is yes.
This is actually one of the most underrated ways to set yourself apart as a candidate.
Firstly, as this is usually the last question, your response will be freshest in the interviewer’s mind. Secondly, you can show off the amount of research you’ve done about them and the company.
One of the best questions to ask in an interview is “Could you tell me more about your company culture? In particular….” It is quite common to actually write a list of questions, then bring the list to the interview just to avoid forgetting any.
Hopefully now you’re feeling less uncertain about what you’ll be asked in your upcoming interview. Again, this doesn’t cover anywhere near everything, but it will give you an idea of the kind of answers hiring managers are looking for.
Now it’s over to you!
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