Common Interview Questions and Best Answers

When interviewing applicants or candidates, it can be tempting to make use of common interview questions. If you decide to do that, then it’s at your own risk.

It isn’t only expensive to be a bad recruiter: but its impact on staff confidence and your brand reputation can be dangerous. 

There are several vacant roles as there are applicants, so you must be aware that there is a constant evolution of team dynamism.

Hence, interview questions that were great, in the previous year might be relevant today. This means, there is a need to evolve in your interview process.

You need to know common interview questions and best answers to focus on as a hiring manager, recruiter, or job applicant. What work experiences should you look out for or are most important? What makes a brilliant answer?

You should spend time to draft and plan questions that are suitable for the role and the ideal candidate, in order to have a successful and productive interview.

Also, if you are a candidate in search of a new role, you should check these common interview questions and the best answers to give in preparation for your upcoming interview.

Let’s check them out.

Most common interview questions and best answers?

These are interview questions that are often used, but their values are overlooked by several interviewers.

You should listen, be attentive, keep a tab and ask questions as regards their salary requirements or expectations, career path, life at their current place of work and problem-solving skills.

Also, recruiters should ask questions about candidates behaviour in order to have a better understanding as to what the candidate expects in the new opportunity.

Finally, responses given by candidates should be assessed so as to know if a candidate will be suitable for the organization and the job role. 

1. Can you tell me about yourself?

This is the first common interview question that helps you to be aware of the important things about a candidate. You should listen and ask related questions to know more about matters of concern or interest.

This question makes you understand what motivates a person. There is no particular way this should be done, it all depends on the job requirements.

Can you tell me about yourself
Answers:

Depends on what the focus of the candidate is. If the candidate focuses majorly on their family and personal life, then that’s their priority. If the focus is on their career and their progress, then they’re ambitious.

Often, candidates talk to you about both aspects of their lives. With that, you’ll be aware of their future or long-term goals.

What you’ll know:

A candidate who prioritizes his/her family will be looking for a healthy and stable work-life balance. He/She will be reluctant to work beyond usual working hours while remote work or flex time may serve as motivation. As long they are not away from home and their family for long.

While an ambitious candidate is on the lookout for opportunities to grow in an environment that encourages independence, innovation and creativity.

They are ready to go the extra mile and also wants to freely make decisions on their own. Before they accept the job, they’re curious to know if the job gives room for career progression and growth.

2. What is your greatest weakness?

This could only be job-related or include personal mistakes. With this, you’ll know about self-awareness, handling pressure, recognize and accept constructive criticism, ability to admit to mistakes and learn from it.

Let the candidate give a few examples, so you can see if there is a trend or a repeat of similar behaviour. So, take time here to probe.

Common interview questions and best answers.
What is your greatest weakness?
What you’ll know:

Some people find it hard to take responsibility for their mistakes and will blame someone or something else. This is a red flag, because people who don’t take responsibility for their mistakes, exhibit the same trait in every area of their lives. 

Most people will speak about early mistakes in their career, how they learnt from it and now use the lessons learned.

You shouldn’t overlook personal stories and experiences. People who overcome life’s tragedy and struggle often develop a high sense of self-awareness and are mindful.

Personal suffering and difficulties, help you gain wisdom and empathy in order to radically improve in people and interpersonal skills. 

3. What does customer service mean to you?

This is a vital question to ask, regardless of whether the candidate will have interaction with customers or not.  So, when asking this question, it shouldn’t be in reference to customers only, but their colleagues too. You should also ask for actual examples and experiences.

Customer service
What you’ll know:

You will be aware of the candidate’s view of their environment. Do they see the world as a beautiful place? Or are they survivor of a cruel world?

To what extent is the negativity or positivity in their response?

How self-aware are they?

Do they believe that customer service extends to the workplace; if there is a need to be of service to colleagues as well?

People who extend service to their colleagues are great team players. They strive to do what’s in the best interest of the team, without having to agree entirely with someone or something. 

Candidates who don’t believe there is a need to be of service to their colleagues are likely to be dictators. They would perform excellently as a specialist that requires little or no input from others.

4. In what way do you think your co-workers would describe you?

This takes you into self-awareness which leads to mindfulness, empathy, motivations, and personal responsibility.

People who see themselves less will focus on the negative; people who are pretentious will exaggerate their importance. Most people fall in-between both.

Common interview questions and best answers.
What you’ll know:

You will be aware of a candidate level of self-confidence and self-esteem, including how well the candidate interacts with their colleagues. A candidate with a negative perception might have to be up-skilled on certain areas of his/her life.

If it is bitterness towards others, that’s a sign of deeper personal issues. Before you write someone off, just ensure you ask enough questions.

However, if the candidate can’t answer this question, then he/she is either hiding something or was disengaged from their colleagues.

5. Why did you choose this line of work? How long do you plan to continue?

This is vital for success in the job:

Is there a concrete reason for choosing the role they’re applying for?

What motivates a candidate? Do they enjoy their work? Why do they want to leave their job for a new one?

More importantly, are they ready to up their skills, with long-term in view and a perspective of the big picture?

As a recruiter, you should use these common interview questions to weigh career goals and how well the candidate will fit into the job role.

Some jobs are temporary, the applicant should at least have an understanding of the integral requirements and necessities of the role (For the role of a digital marketer, the candidate should be able to mention the need for engagement and importance of audience and customer retention as a reason to take the job).

What you’ll know:

This will let you know if the candidate is motivated to perform well in the role you’re offering. A great response will definitely include some references of the candidate background, personality, and perspective to life.

Furthermore, for candidates who are interested in the job, it will be an opportunity to open up and give tangible reasons. It also let you know if they are committed to that particular field or they are just applying by chance.

6. What is your ideal work environment.

When asking this question, you should make it explicit that you want to know about a real or actual situation. With this, you will know a lot about what motivates a person, their likes and dislikes, and what their dream job is.

If the candidate gives a description of his/her current job, you should pay attention to know why they want to leave the job for a new one.

The answer can be anything so that you will be able to compare their ideal and the real environment they will be in, provided the candidate is hired,

You should also put into consideration the personality of the person or people they will be working with. 

Common interview questions and best answers.
What you’ll know

This interview question reveals to you a lot about the candidates’ interest and personality. If the candidate talks about conflict with colleagues, too much pressure or being misunderstood, that could be a wrong response.

What motivates the problems?

A candidate who wants the freedom to do his/her job will hate being micromanaged which can trigger conflict and pressure.

The candidate might complain about lack of adequate support.

As a recruiter, you should consider what you need.

Do you need someone who is independent and is able to take decisive action? Or is there extreme or rigid control?

Ask questions and compare candidate responses to know the one that fits what you are looking for and your team culture. 

7. Why do you think you are the best candidate for this job?

This should be the last interview question.

Also, you can ask the candidate, “why do you want to work here?

This will reveal how well the candidate has made a research on the company needs,  policy, culture and what they can input to achieving the general goal and vision of the company.

Answers given here will let you determine how well the candidate paid attention during the interview. Career-related questions, personality, strengths and weaknesses will let you know if the candidate is a good fit or not.

What you’ll know:

Was the candidate involved during the interview? Do they want to just secure a job or are they actually interested in working for your organization? to work for your company?

Proper reasoning and self-awareness make you know whether a candidate is suitable for a job or not.

If a candidate overlooks things, that could be an indication that the candidate wasn’t paying attention during the interview.

Tips for job interview

The challenge recruiters face is knowing and understanding the person behind a resume’ and determining if the person is suitable for the team and organization.

To achieve a transparent and fair candidate experience, collaborative hiring is essential.

Important things to remember about interviews:

  1. The human mind is enthralling and you can never predict someone’s thought or reaction to situations during an interview or when they’ve been employed.
  2. The hiring team of an organization is a group of people on common ground with a shared goal. Usually, it is rare for the recruiter and the candidate to agree to meet, because all the power is in the hand of the hiring team and they are the ones that decide.
    Regardless of the job level of a candidate, he or she is in an unfamiliar environment. Hence, it is unusual for there to be a balance of power.
Common interview questions and best answers.

With this in mind, you have to know the candidate in only a few hours (most) in order to decide whether to employ the candidate or not.

It is easy to make a poor decision by hiring the wrong candidate while the best person slips through your fingers.

How to get questions to ask in an interview

Determine the type of person that will fit into the vacant role and if they will enjoy what they do. Is it someone with career aspirations or not?

Is there room for different ambitions? Several personalities have ambitions and are also looking out for job satisfaction.

Breakdown positive personality traits to those that best fit the job role and structure your interview questions around them. Build-in questions like:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • People skills
  • Self-awareness level
  • Handling pressure
  • Leadership qualities
  • Being able to grow and learn from mistakes
  • Personal motivations
  • Being able to give and accept constructive criticism

These are a few examples, that give you an idea of how to structure questions in identifying potential strengths and weaknesses in a candidate. However, not all weaknesses are actual flaws, view weaknesses in relation to the specific job role.

Summary

What makes a good interview question is planning and listening attentively. Gauge candidate’s answers with respect to what they are describing and what you need.

Many candidates have a preconceived notion of how to answer interview questions. Skills and experience related questions are easier and can be quickly verified with reference from past employment and assessments.

While personality traits are important to know if the candidate is a good fit or not. With the appropriate training, skills can be improved upon, but personality doesn’t change readily.

Interviewers must ask questions to follow up initial answers, in order to get the best information they need to make the right decision.

In conclusion, you must be aware of what motivates a candidate before negotiating a job offer.