Common Job Interview Questions

Job interviews can be stressful. It can be challenging to decipher what interviewers are trying to discover about you as a candidate during an interview. “What does that question really mean?” “What are they trying to get out of me?” At JSG, we are here to put these worries to bed with a comprehensive group of common job interview questions. We will discuss popular job interview questions, explain what the interviewer wants to hear, and provide examples to help you nail your interview. Good luck!


 

Interview Question: What Do You Like To Do Outside Of Work?

Interview Question: What Do You Like To Do Outside Of Work?

What They Want To Know

While you may have touched on this when asked, “tell us a little about yourself,” there’s a good chance your interviewer will want to know more. When a hiring manager asks, “what do you like to do outside of work?” they want to get a glimpse of your personality. They are curious about who you are and if you’ll be a good fit for the rest of the team.

This is an opportunity to let your personality shine. Our advice is to be honest – with a caveat – keep it professional. There is no need to go above and beyond in vulnerability here. Avoid delving into politics, illegal activities, or anything else that could potentially be a red flag. A good rule of thumb here is if you find yourself wondering if it’s appropriate, it’s not. Instead, share your life-enriching passions. If you have a hobby that parallels your career, that’s great! If not, simply share something you enjoy. Here are just a few hobbies that are appropriate to mention during an interview:

  • Hiking
  • Spending time with family & friends
  • Listening to podcasts
  • Reading
  • Sports
  • Cooking
  • Volunteering

No matter what you choose – be sure it’s something you are actually passionate about! Chances are, your interviewer will ask you follow up questions. So, you don’t want to look like a deer caught in the headlights, unable to discuss your hobbies in-depth.

Example Answer for “What do you like to do outside of work?”

“I love listening to Podcasts. Every day I like to get outside and go for a walk with my dog, Thor, and tune into a great Podcast. I have always loved This American Life because I feel like I learn something new with each episode. Lately, I’ve also been putting my detective hat on and listening to a couple of true crime podcasts. It’s a great way to check out for a bit.”

Final Comments

This is a strong answer because it is honest, professional, and personal. Remember, this question is an opportunity to share your personality, after all! If you don’t have any hobbies that you’d want to mention during an interview – now is an excellent opportunity to pick one up.

Need Help Answering More Common Interview Questions?

Don’t worry; at JSG, we have an arsenal of interview prep advice to help you nail your upcoming job interview. Good luck!

Interview Question: What Motivates You?

Interview Question: What Motivates You?

What They Want To Know

It doesn’t get much more straightforward than this interview question. When a hiring manager asks, “what motivates you?” they genuinely want to know what gets you up in the morning and excited for the day. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should blurt out the first thing that comes to mind!

You do not need to delve into all of the personal and existential reasons you are motivated each day. Instead, focus on what excites you about your job. What will you look forward to most in this position you’re interviewing for? When the chips are down, and things are tough, how will you be motivated to pull out of it and succeed?

Example Answer For “What Motivates You?”

“As a Project Manager, I love to see everything come together in a successful project. I am so passionate about finalizing all the details of a project, checking off every “to-do” on the list. In fact, my family frequently refers to me as the “Project Manager of our Home” because I carry the same principles into my personal life! No task can be left undelegated; no part of the plan is left undone. For me, there is nothing that compares to the satisfaction of spearheading a successful project. So, when times are challenging, I just remember to keep that end goal in sight.”

Final Comments

This answer is perfect because it goes beyond the surface. The candidate not only explained what motivates them but also painted a complete picture for the interviewer. Finally, it cements their status as a great candidate for the interview because it shows that the candidate’s goals will be aligned with the company’s goals.

Need Help Answering More Common Interview Questions?

Don’t worry; at JSG, we have an arsenal of interview prep advice to help you nail your upcoming job interview. Good luck!

Interview Question: Why Do You Want To Work Here?

Interview Question: Why Do You Want To Work Here?

What They Want To Know

Fortunately, this is a pretty straightforward question. When hiring managers ask “why do you want to work here?” they genuinely want to know why you want to work at their company! However, it can be a missed opportunity if you don’t answer correctly.

You must do your research on the company in order to formulate a thoughtful answer. Go beyond a quick glance at their about page. Look into their social media, browse employees’ LinkedIn profiles, and search for relevant news stories. Make a list of things that speak to you. Maybe you’re excited about the growth opportunities after seeing how many people have been promoted internally. Or perhaps it clicked when you saw that they partner with the humane society for volunteer opportunities. Even if it’s as simple as you love the work they do, don’t feel the need to craft a fluffy answer. Just be sure to provide concrete examples that relate to your qualifications and experience.

Example Answer For “Why Do You Want To Work Here?”

“For the next step in my career, I really want to work at a company that values its employees. That was what initially caught my eye about the job description for this position, actually! And as I did further research, I was impressed with your dedication to employee development and your team members’ average tenure. Not only is this position a great fit for my skill set, but the company also seems to be a great fit for my long-time career goals.”

Final Comments

As always, you want your answer to “why do you want to work here?” to be confident and direct. Remember, there is no right answer to this question! Simply share your genuine thoughts and interest in the company!

Need Help Answering More Common Interview Questions?

Don’t worry; at JSG, we have an arsenal of interview prep advice to help you nail your upcoming job interview. Good luck!

Interview Question: What Are Your Pet Peeves?

Interview Question: What Are Your Pet Peeves?

What They Want To Know

This question can feel like a trap. And we’re not going to sugar-coat it… it kind of is! A hiring manager asks about your pet peeves for a couple of reasons. First of all, they want to know that you’re human! We all have things that bother us. Second, they want to make sure that you will fit in with the team. Do you take things too seriously? Will you hold minor annoyances against your coworkers?

When answering, be honest but don’t totally unload all of the things that irritate you. To avoid a minefield with this question, keep the focus on yourself. Choose a pet peeve that is something you can control and redirect. Then, explain why it bothers you and how you overcome it.

Example Answer For “What Are Your Pet Peeves?”

“One of my biggest pet peeves is getting behind on a project. If something unexpected comes up, or there’s a delay I can’t control, it can really bother me. Over the years, I’ve learned that this is a trigger for me. So, to avoid this, I always try to stay ahead on my projects. By creating a structured schedule, I can account for any unknowns and not get caught up in frustrating delays.”

Final Comments

This answer is perfect because it is truthful, tame, and offers a solution. Avoid going on and on about pet peeves that bother you as it will signal to the hiring manager that you are high maintenance. It’s best to answer it quickly and move on!

Need help answering more common interview questions?

Don’t worry; at JSG, we have an arsenal of interview prep advice to help you nail your upcoming job interview. Good luck!

Interview Question: How Do You Like To Be Managed?

Interview Question: How Do You Like To Be Managed?

What They Want To Know

This question tends to put candidates on the defense thinking about how they like to be managed. A hiring manager asks this to understand if you will mesh with their team and leadership style. Many managers deploy multiple management tactics depending on the makeup of their team. Thus, it’s helpful to anticipate how you would fit in.

This is a question that pays to prepare for ahead of time. Think back to times in your career when you were satisfied with your leaders. What did you like most about how you were managed? Additionally, see if you can glean any information about the management culture of the company you are interviewing with. Often, the company’s website or social media will offer insights into the company culture. And in the end, tie it back to your anticipation for this role in particular.

Example Answer For “How Do You Like To Be Managed?”

“Throughout my career, I’ve found that I work best with a Manager that values clear and open communication. I am most successful when I truly understand my role on the team and what is expected from me. On the other hand, I love being able to go to my manager with new ideas and questions. I am able to work independently when the communication channel is there.

This is why, when I was looking at the “About” page on your website, I was excited to see that communication is one of your core values. Reading that reinforced the notion that this company would be an excellent fit for me.”

Final Comments

In general, you want to keep the focus on the positives. Avoid bringing up management styles you don’t like or mentioning previous managers you didn’t jive with. We like the above answer to “how do you like to be managed?” because it brings it back to your qualifications!

Need help answering more common interview questions?

Don’t worry; at JSG, we have an arsenal of interview prep advice to help you nail your upcoming job interview. Good luck!

Are You Interviewing With Other Companies

Interview Question: Are You Interviewing With Other Companies?

What They Want To Know

There are a few reasons that hiring managers want to ask this question. The main one being that they want to know who they are in competition with! Additionally, it provides insights into the types of roles that interest you. Do you really want to work in this industry, or is it more about the job duties? The best way to answer if you are interviewing with other companies is with honesty.

If you are interviewing elsewhere, briefly mention that you are in the interview process with other companies. If you are not interviewing with other companies, let the hiring manager know why this position piques your interest. Either way, always bring it back to the role you’re currently interviewing for.

Example Answers For “Are You Interviewing With Other Companies?”

If you’re interviewing elsewhere: “I am currently in the interview process with a couple of different companies. All of the positions I’m interviewing for are quality assurance roles. That being said, I am interested in working for this company in particular, and I believe that my skills would be a great fit for this role.”

If you are not interviewing anywhere else: “I have applied for several positions; however, this is my first interview. I’m excited about this position specifically because it would be a great fit for my skill set and experience in the Civil Engineering realm.”

Final Comments

Both of these answers briefly touch on your involvement in other application processes. However, they bring it back to the position you’re currently interviewing for. Better yet, it reinforces your qualifications and reassures the hiring manager that you would be a great fit. Honesty is the best policy, and it allows you an additional opportunity to sell yourself.

Need help answering more common interview questions?

Don’t worry; at JSG, we have an arsenal of interview prep advice to help you nail your upcoming job interview. Good luck!

Interview Question: Do You Have Any Questions For Us?

Interview Question: Do You Have Any Questions For Us?

What They Want To Know

Congratulations – you made it through the entire interview. Then suddenly, the hiring manager hits you with this question. Your mind is racing, trying to think of the right question that will sound intelligent and insightful. Don’t fret – your interviewer really isn’t trying to trick you by looking for some obscure, off-the-wall question. They simply want to ensure that you have all of the information you need to make an informed decision.

No matter how comprehensive the interview is, you must have a question at the ready. Avoid interview faux-pas’ such as asking about salary or time off. Instead, focus on questions that will enrich your understanding of the position or company. We typically advise asking something related to your success in the role or the interviewer’s experience at the company.

Example Answers For “Do You Have Any Questions For Us?”

“Yes. I know you’ve been working for Radius Consulting for five years, and I would love to hear about what you like most about working here.”

Or

“Should I be hired for this position, what could I accomplish in the first 30 days to ensure a successful and sustainable future with the company?”

Final Comments

Both of these answers show that you did your research and that you are invested in being successful in this role. Keep your questions short and simple, and most importantly, listen to the answers! As a bonus, your interviewer’s answers will most likely provide great content to circle back to in your thank you note!

(If you’d like to have even more interview questions in your pocket, check out this extensive list from The Muse!)

Need help answering more common interview questions?

Don’t worry; at JSG, we have an arsenal of interview prep advice to help you nail your upcoming job interview. Good luck!

Interview Question: Is There Anything Else You’d Like Us To Know?

Interview Question: Is There Anything Else You’d Like Us To Know?

What They Want To Know

An open-ended interview question like this can be intimidating, especially towards the end, when you want to leave off on a strong note. Hiring managers genuinely want to know if there’s anything they missed with their questions! It’s best to think of it as one final opportunity to sell yourself and give your closing pitch.

To prepare for answering this question, write out the most important selling points you possess in relation to the job you’re interviewing for. These can range from skills, personality traits, certifications, projects you worked on, even mentorships you’ve collected. When giving your answer, you only want to mention things directly related to the position. Bonus points if you can connect it back to something previously discussed during the interview. If you sincerely feel like all of those have been covered, give a brief overview of your collective qualifications and reiterate your interest in the job.

Example Answer For “Is There Anything Else You’d Like Us To Know?”

“Actually, I did want to circle back to the revitalization project you mentioned on the horizon. In my last position, I had the opportunity to consult on a similar revitalization initiative. It was an incredible opportunity, and I learned a lot about the ins and outs of that type of project. As a result, I really look forward to working on more revitalization ventures in the future.”

Alternative Answer: “I think we’ve covered just about everything, but I would really like to reemphasize my interest in this position. My past experience in managing large manufacturing teams for various companies would provide a lot of value to this position, and I believe I could offer unique insights to process improvement with my lean six sigma certification.”

Final Comments

Both of these answers provide one last overview of the candidate’s qualifications, adding value to their candidacy for the position. They are infused with calm confidence and will leave your interviewer with a positive lasting impression. Most importantly, you used the opportunity to sell yourself. The only wrong way to answer this question is, “Nope; I think I’m good!”

Need help answering more common interview questions?

Don’t worry; at JSG, we have an arsenal of interview prep advice to help you nail your upcoming job interview. Good luck!

What Are Your Salary Expectations

Interview Question: What Are Your Salary Expectations?

What they want to know

It is highly likely that a hiring manager or HR professional will ask you for your salary expectations during an interview. This question may seem like a trap, but most of the time, employers are looking for two things:

  • Do you fit in their salary range?
  • Are you willing to budge on your salary?

One of the biggest mistakes interviewees make is stating their salary expectations but ending their answer with something like “but I am flexible” or “however, I am willing to negotiate.” If you announce that you are willing to budge, the employer will most likely try to negotiate with you, resulting in a smaller salary for you. On the other hand, you cannot provide a salary range that is way out of this world in hopes that if they negotiate with you, you will still come out on top.

The best way to tackle this is by understanding your worth. Do a little research before your interview to form a range that matches the position and your background. There are tons of resources for reviewing salary ranges such as Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Payscale. These sites allow you to input your job title, years of experience, education, and location and they will provide a pay range that you should be making. You can use this information as well as your current salary to form your salary range expectations.

Example answer for “what are your salary expectations.”

“My salary expectations for this role are $75,000 and $80,000. That is the average salary engineering professionals with over five years’ experience with AutoCAD and designing commercial plumbing layouts are earning. Plus, I have my Six Sigma Greenbelt certification, which has helped me become more efficient and reduce waste.”

Final comments

This answer is an excellent example of answering what are your salary expectations. The answer is short, straightforward, and exudes confidence. The answer also illustrates that you know your worth and reiterates the value and experience you bring to the table. Moreover, it doesn’t open the interviewee up for a negotiation battle by stating you are flexible.

Overall, this is how you navigate this tricky interview question. However, you wouldn’t even have to deal with this question if you are working with a recruiter with JSG. When we represent you, we make your salary expectations clear to the hiring manager and help you through any possible negotiations.

Need help answering more common interview questions?

Don’t worry; at JSG, we have an arsenal of interview prep advice to help you nail your upcoming job interview. Good luck!

Interview Question: Explain This Gap In Your Employment

Interview Question: Explain This Gap In Your Employment

What They Want To Know

It’s very common for workers to have a gap in employment for one reason or another. Maybe you took some time off to care for family, or travel, or were simply waiting for the right opportunity to come along. Regardless, it’s often one of the first things a hiring manager will notice on your resume. So, you need to have an answer at the ready.

First of all, understand that a gap in your resume is not necessarily a bad thing. The hiring manager simply wants to understand your motivations behind not being in the workforce for a while. There are dozens of acceptable answers, so just go with what remains true to your story. Avoid the obvious negatives like “I just felt like not working and watching Netflix full-time.” Share the truth and then delve into why you want to come back.

Example Answer For “Explain This Gap In Your Employment”

“Due to the Coronavirus, I was laid off from my job at ABC Company. Instead of jumping into any job I could find, I took some time to invest in my personal development. I signed up for online courses in coding to add to my skillset and expand my personal portfolio. I also made significant considerations for what I wanted the next step in my career to look like. When I came across this job, it really fit everything I was looking for.”

Final Comments

What we like most about this answer is that it is straightforward. It explains how the gap in your employment was actually beneficial to your career. Furthermore, it shows how you wanted the next step in your career to be the right one, and hopefully, it’s this one! Whatever your answer is, just remember to be honest when explaining a gap in your employment!

Need Help Answering More Common Interview Questions?

Don’t worry; at JSG, we have an arsenal of interview prep advice to help you nail your upcoming job interview. Good luck!