Top 10 Most Common Job Interview Questions and Answers for 2021

Are you preparing for an upcoming job interview but aren’t sure what to expect?

Here are the 10 most common job interview questions and answers to knock it out of the park.

Interview Questions with Answers

top 10 interview questions

Questions Answered

  • What the 10 most common job interview questions and answers?

  • What to bring to an interview?

  • How long do interviews last?

  • How long should my answers be?

  • How to stand out in a face to face interview?

  • Tips for interviewing over the phone

  • What are behavioral interview questions?

  • Looking to hire a job interview coach? Check out what Top Resume has to offer.

Have you ever stumbled over your words during an interview? Maybe a certain question had you stumped?

Don’t worry: we’ve all been there.

Preparing yourself for questions commonly asked during a job interview can be the difference between landing or losing a job offer.

While there’s no need to memorize every possible question and come up with the perfect answer for all of them, it’s still important to educate yourself about the interview process and the common interview questions you're likely to be asked.

The more prepared you are the less nervous you'll be, so even if you're asked something unexpected, you'll be able to think on your feet and answer.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart.” - Colossians 3-23 (2).jpg

top 10 most common interview questions and answers

  1. Tell me about yourself

  2. What is your greatest strength?

  3. What is your greatest weakness?

  4. Why should we hire you?

  5. What’s something positive your boss would say about you?

  6. What are your salary expectations?

  7. Why are you leaving your current role?

  8. What interests you about this position?

  9. What are your future goals?

  10. Describe a difficult work situation on how you overcame it

1. Tell Me About Yourself.  

Most job interview questions are open-ended, and the interviewer is often as interested in how you answer over the specific details of the answer.

In the case of this common question, they're looking to understand what you know and what you’ve done, particularly as it relates to the job you're interviewing for. They're not looking for your full life story.

How to Answer:

Briefly share details about how you got to where you are today. Tie in those experiences to the skills you have that are relevant to the position.

Keep it brief, but be prepared with some more information if the interviewer asks you to elaborate on anything that you mentioned.

Example Answers: 

  • “During my time with Google, I branched out from copywriting and grew more passionate about Social Media.

  • “I developed most of my paid ad and social copywriting experience through live training events where I ended up testing at the top of my class...”

2. What Is Your Greatest Strength?

This is one of those questions that has become a bit of a cliche, but it still may come up in your interview. The interviewer is testing your confidence and looking to see what qualifies you for the role.

How to Answer:

It's important to discuss what qualifies you for the position, and what may set you apart from other candidates.

Study the job description carefully prior to an interview, and make sure that you can talk about the “Must Have” or “Required” skills as part of this strengths conversation.

Example Answers: 

  • “As an HR Specialist over the last 3 years, I would say employee care is by far my greatest strength. My passion and dedication to the industry have led me to effectively resolve employee issues and understand them at a deeper level...”

  • “One of my greatest strengths is my attention to detail. In my data entry work, I've always been careful to avoid errors by double-checking everything so that I don't submit anything incorrect.”

3. What Is Your Greatest Weakness?

The typical follow-up question to your greatest strength is your biggest weakness. With this question, the interviewer is looking to see if you’re open to criticism and have a desire to improve.

How to Answer:

Stay away from personal qualities and concentrate on professional traits. Think about skills that you've been trying to improve, or that you've made progress with recently.

Regardless of your weakness, let the interviewer know you’re currently working on turning the negative (weakness) into a positive.

Everyone has flaws, and saying you don’t will likely lead to rejection.

Example Answers: 

  • “My greatest weakness is being too direct and outspoken at times in the workplace. I’ll often get caught up in the moment and say whatever comes to mind without processing the information first. I’ve been working on correcting this by analyzing all the details of a conversation before speaking up...”

  • “My greatest weakness has been keeping everyone up to date with project status updates when I'm fully engrossed in the detail work of a project. I've been trying to be more proactive with sending out updates to the team by making a habit of taking some time at the end of the day to go over all my active projects and send out any relevant updates.”

4. Why Should We Hire You?

The answer, “Because I really need a job,” might come to mind but it might be a good idea to back off on that response. What the interviewer is looking for here is what sets you apart from others.

They want you to differentiate and sell yourself!

How to Answer:

Create a short, detailed sales pitch explaining why you deserve the job. Emphasize what makes you unique to build confidence in the interviewer's decision to hire you.

Example Answers: 

  • “Your company provides similar services to my background so I’ll have an initial understanding of the role. With that being said, I believe that my familiarity with the industry and passion for this type of work would make me a good fit for this position...”

  • “I think that my combination of sales and customer service experience, along with my art background, means that I'll be able to understand what your customers are looking for.”

5. What’s Something Positive Your Boss Would Say About You?

This is one of those behavioral interview questions which can be tricky to understand exactly what they're looking for.

Just saying that your boss approves of your work isn't enough. The interviewer is looking to see what kind of relationships you’ve built with the management team, and get an impression about how you may fit in with their team.

How to Answer:

This is a great time to brag about yourself with someone else's words. Start with “My boss has told me that...” so that it's clear you understand the question.

Stay humble and refrain from sounding arrogant.

Example Answers: 

  • “My boss has mentioned that my attention to detail and thoroughness can’t be matched.”

  • “She said the last campaign we ran together produced amazing results because of my effort and ability to thoroughly run it from start to finish...” 

  • “My boss mentioned that she's gotten a lot of compliments about my customer service from customers.”

6. What Are Your Salary Expectations?

Of all the job interview questions that make people nervous, this may be the most nerve-wracking. The interviewer is looking to see what you’re currently making and if it’s within their budget.

How to Answer:

It seems like a simple question, but your answer can make or break a job offer.

It’s in your best interest that the employer mentions a pay range first. Unfortunately, that’s not how it always works.

Prepare for this question by doing some research about salaries. Keep a number in mind by understanding the local going rates and your bottom line. What pay rate would you accept and walk away from?

Note: In some states it is illegal for an employer to ask about your current salary.

Example Answers:

  • “What kind of rate are you offering for someone with my type of background?"

  • “As I understand it, the salary range is around $xxx, is that about right?”

7. Why Are You Leaving (Or Have Left) Your Job?

Makeameme - Sayingimages

Makeameme - Sayingimages

This is another one of those behavioral interview questions.

The specific reasons for your leaving are often less important to the interviewer than how you conduct yourself when discussing it.

The interviewer is often looking to see if you speak ill of your former employer and/or left on good terms.

How to Answer:

When asked about why you are moving on, state your reason in a positive manner rather than being directly critical or accusatory.

Focus on what you'll get out of the change in employment. If you are currently employed, you can explain that your career goals don’t line up with the company's direction, and if you were recently let go, give them a brief overview about why, without ever bashing your previous employer.

Example Answers: 

  • "My current employer’s vision has changed over the past few years and no longer lines up with mine.”

  • “After 4 years with the organization, I’ve made the decision to look for a company where I can utilize my skills and share similar values..."

8. Why Do You Want This Job?

Don't be tempted to answer “Because I need a job!”. The interviewer is looking to see if you'll be a good fit with the company, and if you have specific goals for your career. 

How to Answers:

Be specific about why you’re a great fit for the role.

Mention aspects of the company that appeal to you along with your short and long term goals. Reiterate your commitment to the hiring manager prior to finishing the interview.

Example Answer: 

  • "I know the company's mission and growth-oriented mindset are in line with my values. Both get me excited about work and what the future holds which is why I would love to be part of the team….”

9. What Are Your Future Goals?

This interview question, like the previous one, is intended to see if you'll be a good long-term fit with the company.

The interviewer is looking for commitment and motivation.

How to Answer:

Focus on your career goals that align with the company. Demonstrate your understanding of the company's mission, and how you can find your place there.

If there is a clear promotion path available that you're interested in, feel free to mention it.

Example Answers: 

  • “Eventually I'd like to make my way into a project management position. I'm already familiar with many of the aspects of the work, so I'd like to improve my knowledge in the areas I'm less familiar with so that I can oversee an entire project.”

  • “I enjoy working with people and helping to resolve conflicts, so I can see myself moving up in HR eventually.”

10. Describe A Difficult Work Situation & How You Overcame It.

This is another typical interview question. The interviewer is looking for some insight about how you problem-solve and how you handle a challenge.

How to Answer:

Share how you’ve handled a tough situation with big implications.

Break it down into parts, giving a detailed overview on how it was fixed, especially your role in solving the issue. Make sure to provide measurable metrics and results for the interviewer.

Example Answer: 

  • “We were down 5 staff members prior to a charity event we organized for our client who generates roughly 75% of our annual business. They expect a flawless evening every time we put the event on so missing 5 key staff members who had prominent roles was crucial. I ran through all options immediately after receiving the news and began coming up with another game plan. (Talk about what you did and how you did it). The evening went without a hitch and the client continued doing business with us the following year...”

Bonus Interview Questions

Here are other common questions you may be asked during a job interview:

  • How do you handle success and/or failure?

  • Do you have any questions?

  • How well do you work with others?

  • What do you think we could do different here?

  • If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?

  • What would your first 30, 60, or 90 days look like here?

  • What did you like most about your last position?

  • What did you like least about your last position?

  • What motivates you?

How many interviews before getting a job offer?

Source: Recruiter Sentiment Study MRI Network

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What To Bring To the Interview?

Things to bring include a pen, notepad, multiple copies of your resume, references, post interview questions, and a positive attitude.

Here’s a post on the 11 Must Have Items for a job interview to help guide you.

How long do interviews last?

Interviews can generally last anywhere between 30 minutes to several hours.

There are many factors that come into play including the type of job, how the company structures their interviews, and what number interview it is (to name a few).

Phone, face to face, and Skype interviews will all run at different lengths as well.

How long should interview answers be?

The right length for an interview answer should be less than two minutes. This will give you enough time to thoroughly explain the answer without losing the interviewers attention.

How to stand out in a face to face interview?

There’s a variety of ways to stand out in a face to face interview. Here are a few that might be worth taking note of:

  • Smile

  • Give a solid handshake

  • Ask the right questions

  • Show how you'll add value to the company

  • Know the company inside and out

  • Ask to take notes (bring a notepad)

  • Bring a 30-60-90 day plan

  • Show great body language

  • Send a thank you note

What are some Tips for Interviewing over the phone?

With the large surge of phone interviews in today’s work world, it’s nice to have a few tips and tricks in your pocket to stick out. Here are a few tips to help during your next phone interview:

  • Find a nice, quiet place away from other distractions

  • Do some research on the company prior to the interview

  • Write down talking points prior to the call

  • Keep your resume in front of you

  • Don’t speed through questions

  • Take your time

  • Prepare some question to ask

  • Ask if they noticed anything from the conversation that you can work on (around the job)

  • Send a thank you email

What are behavioral interview questions?

Behavioral interview questions (aka STAR Interview Questions) are questions that look to learn more about your past “behaviors” in specific jobs to better understand how you might act in the future.

What are common job interview mistakes?

When interviewing for a job, it's important to say the right things and even more important to refrain from saying the wrong things.

Here are the most common interview mistakes ruining job seeker interviews.

What are questions to ask the interviewer?

At the close of the interview, most interviewers ask whether you have any questions about the job or company.

Here are the 7 best questions to ask at the end of an interview to impress your interviewer and help you win the job.

How do you prepare for a video job interview?

The more time you spend preparing for a job interview, the better your chances of landing the job are. 

The interviewing process can be difficult, especially with the current state of the job market. One hiring shift that has blown up over recent years is video interviewing…with no slow down in sight.

Here’s how you can win over the hiring manager or recruiter during your next video interview.

Wrapping Up | top 10 interview questions

During your interview preparation, spend some time reviewing the job description and the company, so that you can ask relevant questions and show that you understand the position you're applying for. 

You should also review your own work history to identify achievements and struggles so that you can quickly answer if they were to be brought up.

While figuring out how to prepare for an interview may be stressful, nerves can be tamed by having a proper plan of attack. Interview preparation makes the difference between feeling flustered and walking into that interview room with confidence. 

To recap the top 10 most common questions asked during interview:

  • Tell me about yourself

  • What is your greatest strength?

  • What is your greatest weakness?

  • Why should we hire you?

  • What’s something positive your boss would say about you?

  • What are your salary expectations?

  • Why are you leaving your current role?

  • Why do you want this job?

  • What are your future goals?

Describe a difficult work situation on how you overcame itMany job seekers stumble through interviews as if the questions were randomly made up, when most are general and recycled.

Study the list of frequently asked interview questions and answers to build confidence for any challenge thrown your way.

Best of luck!

Need additional help from a Professional Interview Coach? Check out Top Interview


Title: What are the 10 most common interview questions and answers?

Category: Interview

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Author: Reid is a contributor to theJub. He's an employment and marketing enthusiast who studied business before taking on various recruiting, management, and marketing roles. More from the author.