If you have interviews coming up, this article is for you. You’re going to get the top job interview questions and answers examples, plus do’s and don’ts to get you ready to ace your next interview.
Make sure you’re ready for each of these questions by reviewing our notes on what the hiring manager is looking for, the mistakes to avoid, and example answers that will impress the employer.
Let’s get started..
15 Interview Questions and Answers Examples
These are the top interview questions you should be ready to answer, with word-for-word examples for each answer along with do’s and dont’s.
Practice and get comfortable with these questions and answer examples before your interview and you’ll feel more confident, while giving much better answers.
1. What do you know about our company?
This is one of the most common questions to practice for. You’re very likely to hear it in an early-stage interview, especially a phone interview.
In the sample answers below, you’ll see that the goal is to show them you’ve done your research and didn’t apply to their company without knowing anything about them.
If you don’t seem like you know anything about them, you’ll come across as desperate – somebody who will take any job they can find. And that’s going to make you unattractive to any good employers out there.
So when they ask, “what do you know about our company?”, your primary goal is to show you’ve done your research or knew about their company before applying. If you do this, you’ll be fine.
- Make sure to research the company before the interview (on their website, their LinkedIn page, and Google)
- Understand what industry they’re in, what they sell and how they make money
- Try to have some sense of their company size. Are they 100 employees? More than 10,000 employees?
- In your answer, show you’ve done research and show that you’re excited about interviewing with their particular company
- Say you don’t know anything
- Say facts that are incorrect or you aren’t sure about (it’s better to know one or two facts that you can say accurately, than five facts you’re not sure of)
Interview answer example 1:
“From what I read, your company is one of the leaders in providing security software to other businesses. I read the list of clients on your website. Do you mostly serve Fortune 500 clients? I saw a couple big Fortune 500 companies mentioned on the list, including ___ and ___.”
Interview answer example 2:
“You’re one of the largest investment banks in the US. Your headquarters is in Raleigh, NC, and you have 25,000 employees worldwide based on what I read on your website.”
2. How did you hear about the position?
When they ask “how did you hear about the position?”, the interviewer just wants to know if you’ve taken the time to research the company and if you have a genuine reason for wanting to talk with them. Mention a product, a mission statement on the website, a reputation for talented employees, or whatever else seems applicable to that specific company. Come up with a great reason. Don’t make it seem like they’re just one company among many. Or that you’re sending your resume out to them for no particular reason other than wanting a job.
This is one of the simplest question and answer scenarios in any interview, but that doesn’t mean it can’t ruin your chances at the job if you answer incorrectly.
- Be clear, direct and upfront
- Tell the truth unless it’s something very embarrassing (for example, when I was much younger, my Mother actually found me a job to apply to. That does *not* sound great, so I told them a friend saw the job posting and mentioned it to me. A white-lie is okay but only when needed).
- Explain why the job interested you, if possible (e.g. “I was excited to apply because ___”)
- Compliment them if possible (e.g. “My colleague said you’re one of the top software firms in Dallas”)
- Say you don’t remember or don’t know
- Sound unsure of yourself
Good answer examples:
“I found the position while looking for jobs online”
“I heard about it from a colleague/friend”
“Your company was recommended to me by somebody I worked with in a previous job and had heard good things about your organization”
“I saw the job posted on LinkedIn, and the position seemed interesting so I wanted to learn more”
3. Why did you apply for this position?
When they ask “why did you apply for this position?”, pick something specific that interested you. If you say you love their products, tell them why. That’s the key to giving a convincing answer for this job interview question.
Stay away from sounding like you’re desperate, or that you want just any job. Yes, if you were laid off it’s okay to say that, but then re-focus the conversation on exactly what you’re looking for in the next opportunity and why you feel their company might have it.
You need to sound like you want the RIGHT job and that you’re being picky. Companies want the best performers, and the best performers are picky in their job hunt. Stay away from negatives and complaints too. Don’t bad-mouth your current company or boss. Focus on the positives of the company you’re interviewing with.
- Make them feel like you’re interested in them for a specific reason
- Show you’ve done your research and understand what the job involves
- Phrase everything as a positive. Don’t badmouth your current situation, just talk about what you hope to gain by coming to work for them (experiences, challenges, opportunities).
- Say you just need a job in general
- Explain that you’re unemployed and just need to find work
- Say you just need money or have bills to pay so you need work
- Badmouth your current boss or company and sound like you just want to leave there, however you can
- Sound desperate, or sound like you will take any job you can get and you don’t care what it ends up being
- Mention any other personal reasons like “I need to find a shorter commute.”
Example answer 1:
“Since beginning my career, I’ve wanted to work for a larger organization in this industry, and I know you’re one of the leaders in this space. I’m very interested in your products/services, especially the mobile applications you’re building recently, so I’d be excited to come here and grow my skills with an organization like yours.”
Example answer 2:
“I’ve heard great things about the work environment here from a few colleagues. And when I saw this job posting, it seemed to match my skills very closely. For example, I saw on the job description that you need somebody who’s an expert in Java programming. This is what I focused on in both of my previous positions, and was even the focus of my academic work before graduating university. I consider myself an expert in Java and it’s a skill I hope to continue specializing in.”
4. Why are you looking to leave your current company?
Now, not everyone is job searching while employed, but if you are – this is one of the most important interview questions and answers to know.
The most important thing when they ask why you are looking to leave your current job is to stay positive and never badmouth.
How do you sound positive? Rather than complaining or talking badly about your current situation, say that you’re looking for more of something.
Is your current boss a jerk ? Say that you’re looking for an environment with more leadership you can learn from.
- Sound positive and focus on what you want to gain by making a move
- Show gratitude for your current job (e.g. “This job has been great and I’ve learned a lot in the 2 years I’ve been here, but I feel I’m ready for ___ now.”)
- Sound like you’re ambitious, motivated, and eager to find the next challenge in your career.
- Badmouth your current employer in any way
- Sound like you’re trying to escape a bad situation, or you’re failing or not fitting in at your current job
- Say you’re struggling or failing to perform the work
- Say it’s too difficult or stressful
- Say you’re not sure
Good sample answer:
“I’m looking for more leadership opportunities. I’ve been at my company for three years and have really enjoyed the experience but I feel in order to take the next step in my career, it’d be helpful to join a larger organization and use what I’ve learned in the past to lead more projects. That’s why this Project Manager role excited me.”
5. Tell us about a challenge you’ve faced and how you handled it
Focus on a specific work-related challenge and talk about how you overcame obstacles, used it as a learning experience, used the resources around you (including people/colleagues if applicable), and ended up with a positive result! That’s how to answer this interview question. Keep it work related, not personal.
- Explain the situation, the task you needed to accomplish, and what method you chose (and why)
- Share the outcome. What was the result?
- Share what you learned from the experience. Did you take away knowledge that has helped you in your career?
- Share any story that involves personal conflicts, arguments or disagreements at work
- Talk about an argument you had
- Talk about a challenge that you didn’t overcome, or didn’t find a solution for
“In my last job, we were facing a tough deadline and my boss was out for the day. Our client was expecting a project to be delivered by 5PM, but we were far behind schedule. I took the lead on the project, delegated tasks to the four other team members in a way that I thought would utilize everyone’s strengths best. And then I re-organized my own personal tasks so I could dedicate my entire day to contributing to this project as well. The project was a success and we delivered the work on-time. I went on to lead more projects after that, and used what I learned to be a better project manager.”
6. How much money are you looking to earn?
Unfortunately this question is left off of many lists of job interview questions and answers examples. But it’s extremely important, and the wrong answer here can cost you thousands of dollars in the negotiation later on.
DON’T say a number. Why? you have the least amount of leverage possible at this point, assuming you’re early in the interview process. You haven’t finished interviewing with them, they don’t know if you’re any good or if they even want to hire you. So you can’t command a high salary right now. If you go too low with your price, they’ll hold you to it later. Go too high? You’ll scare them off before they even know what you’re worth!
It’s a lose-lose. Don’t do it. So remember… when you’re preparing what to say in a job interview, especially an early stage interview, salary goals should not be a part of it!
- Stand your ground and tell them you don’t have a number in mind yet, or aren’t sure.
- Repeat this multiple times if needed (if they pressure you or “push back” after your first response).
- Tell them a specific salary you’re hoping for
- Tell them a range you’re hoping for
“Right now I’m focused on finding a job that’s the right fit for my career. Once I’ve done that, I’m willing to consider an offer you feel is fair, but I do not have a specific number in mind yet, and my priority is to find a position that’s a great fit for me.”
For more info, here’s a full article on how to answer desired salary on applications and interviews.
7. Do you have any questions for us?
If you don’t ask good questions to each person you speak with, you are very unlikely to get hired.
You can ask about the work, the training, the challenges you’d face, the overall direction of the company.
Don’t ask about salary, benefits, time off, or anything that isn’t related to the work. Wait for them to bring it up, or until you know they want to offer you the position.
FYI here are the 105 best questions to ask the interviewer.
- Be ready to ask questions to every single person you meet with
- Ask about the company, the team, and most importantly – the specific job
- Ask about things you heard during the interview that you’d like more information about
- Ask about the interview process: (e.g. “when will I hear feedback, and who will be in touch after this?”)
- Say you don’t have any questions
- Say “so-and-so answered all my questions already”
- Ask about salary, benefits, work hours, dress-code, or anything else that isn’t related to the actual work you’ll be doing for them. Wait for them to bring this up in a second or third interview
“Yes, I have a couple of questions actually. The first thing I wanted to ask: is this a newly-created position, or did somebody hold this role in the past? And if so, what did that person go on to do after this position?”
8. Why should we hire you?
Employers ask, “Why should we hire you” to see how well you understand the role, and to hear your perspective on how your skills can help them.
Try to talk about them and how you’ll help them. What will be better for them if they hire you? What will you improve for them?
And show you’ve done your research. Make it clear that you know what this position involves, and you’re ready to perform the tasks.
- Be confident in your skills and abilities
- Talk about specific things you can help them do or achieve if they hire you
- Do your research before the interview and understand their needs, so you can “tailor” your answers and target the specific things they’ll need if they hire you in this role
- Say “I don’t know”
- Say “You should hire whoever you want”
- Give a generic answer that’d fit any company. You really need to “tailor” this to the specific duties you’ll be performing in THIS specific job. Otherwise your answer will not impress them.
Example interview answer:
“I read on the job description that you’re looking for someone with experience in ____. I’ve done that for 3 years and can immediately help you accomplish ____”.
9. Why do you want to work here?
If they ask “why do you want this job?”, show you’ve done plenty of research to learn about them before coming in to interview. You want to make them feel like you chose them for a reason. This is very similar to the previous question: “Why did you apply for this position?”
Show them that you know what that their job involves (at least as much as you could learn from the job description and company website), and that you’re excited to be interviewing for this position.
- Mention specific, work-related reasons why their job and company interest you
- Talk about your own career goals and how this job and company fits those goals
- Sound excited about the opportunity to work for them
- Show you’ve done your research
- Say, “I have bills to pay and need money”
- Say, “I just need a job”.
- Share any personal details like, “I live 5 minutes away so it would be a very short commute”
Sample interview answer:
“I’ve been actively searching for jobs since graduating with my Nursing degree. I’m interested in intensive care and emergency medicine and I’ve seen your hospital mentioned as having one of the best ER’s in the region. I thought the job description matched up well with my background, and saw some of my personal strengths mentioned, like multitasking and being able to thrive in a fast paced environment, so I’d love to begin my career here.”
10. Tell me about yourself
This is one of the most popular interview question and answer examples people look for, because it’s extremely common to hear AND difficult to answer. Here’s how to handle it:
Keep it professional when answering the question of “tell me about yourself“. You don’t need to share personal details.
To answer, walk them through your background, starting at how you began your career or your current line of work. Take them through key accomplishments, key career moves you’ve made, and end by sharing what you’re looking to do next in your career and why you’re job hunting.
- Focus on sharing your professional story only
- Keep it under 2 minutes
- Walk them through how you got started in your career, key moves you’ve made, and then bring them up to speed on your current situation
- Share personal details
- Talk for more than 2 minutes
Interview answer example:
“I started my career in Marketing after graduating with a Business degree in 2013. I’ve spent my entire career at Microsoft, receiving two promotions and three awards for outstanding performance. I’m looking to join a smaller company now, and take on more leadership and project management.”
11. Why did you leave your last job?
There are a lot of good answers to this interview question. There isn’t just one “right” answer. Here are some guidelines:
If you chose to leave on your own terms, stay positive and focus on what you wanted to gain from the decision, rather than bad-mouthing or focusing on negatives you wanted to avoid.
And if you were fired or laid off, be upfront and clear. You’re not going to make employers want to hire you by being vague or trying to hide something.
If you got fired, show what you’ve learned from the experience, and what you’ve done to make sure this doesn’t happen again. That’s how to spin it into a positive.
- Be clear and direct and address the question head-on
- If you were fired, own up to it and share what you’ve done to make sure this never happens again
- If you chose to resign, focus on the positive things you hoped to gain by moving to the next opportunity, rather than badmouthing or talking about the negatives in your last role
- Don’t badmouth or complain
- Never say you resigned because of a disagreement or argument with a coworker
- Don’t make it sound like money is your main priority
- Don’t try to hide facts or avoid the question; this will just lead to more questions and suspicion from the interviewer
“I was hired for a project management role, but over time that changed and I was no longer being given the opportunity to do the work I was interested in. I left to pursue an opportunity that I felt was more aligned with what I’ve chosen to focus on in my career.”
You can also get more ideas for how to answer this on our list of 20 answers for “why did you leave your last job.”
12. What is your greatest weakness?
When they ask, “what’s your greatest weakness?” , you want to name a real weakness.
I highly recommend picking something skill-based, not personality-based.
You never want to say you struggle working with others, or you’re bad at resolving disagreements, or taking direction from a manager, etc. Those things will get you rejected in the interview.
So pick a specific skill, but pick something that won’t severely impact your ability to do this job.
For example if the job involves data entry with Excel spreadsheets all day, you do not want to say Excel is your weakness. Or that you struggle paying attention to details.
Finally, end your answer by explaining what you’re doing to overcome or improve your weakness.
Take a look at the do’s and don’ts, and the interview answer example below, to get a sense of what your answer might sound like.
- Name a real weakness
- Pick something that’s skill-based, not personality-based. For example, say, “I’m not particularly strong in Microsoft Excel…”, rather than, “My weakness is working on a team and following directions.”
- Mention what you’ve done to overcome this weakness and improve recently
- Don’t give a fake weakness like, “I work too hard”
- Don’t try to be funny with an answer like, “Kryptonite.” Hiring managers have heard it over and over
- Don’t tell them you have no weaknesses
- Don’t name a personality-based weakness (like “I have trouble getting along with colleagues”)
- Don’t name a weakness that will severely impact your ability to succeed in their job
Example interview answer:
“I’m not particularly strong in social media marketing. For the first few years of my career, I focused entirely on email marketing. That’s still what I specialize in, which is why I applied for your Email Marketing Manager job. But I’ve realized it’s also helpful to understand the principles of social media marketing because some of the strategies that work there also work well in email. So I’ve started spending a couple hours a week of my own time studying and learning this new area, and it’s helped me a lot.”
13. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
There are three big reasons interviewers love to ask “where do you see yourself in 5 years?“:
- They want to see if you’ve thought about your professional future
- They want to make sure you’re ambitious and hard-working
- They want to make sure the job they’re offering fits with your goals
So, pick a work-related goal of where you’d like to be 5 years from now, and make sure it’s slightly challenging or ambitious-sounding.
You don’t want to say, “I see myself in the same position 5 years from now.”
And make sure to share a goal that is related to the type of job you’re interviewing for. You want to sound like the experience you’ll gain in this job fits your long-term goals.
Otherwise they’re going to be scared to hire you. Why would they offer you the job if it doesn’t fit the goals you described to them? You’d be unsatisfied, bored, and would probably quit within the first year. No company wants this.
- Show you’ve thought about this topic and question
- Sound ambitious and motivated
- Be realistic. Don’t say you want to be CEO in 5 years if you’re entry-level
- Make sure your answer is related to this job. They won’t hire you for a job that has nothing to do with your 5-year goal
- Be sarcastic or give a joke answer like, “I plan on having your job”
- Say you’re not sure, or say you’d be happy staying in the same role for 5 years (most companies do not want to hear this)
Example interview answer:
“I’m glad you asked. In 5 years I see myself taking on more responsibilities, either through management or higher level individual contributions. I’m not sure which path will make sense to pursue, but I know my goal right now is to build a strong foundation and gain valuable experience so that I’ll have a successful future in this industry.”
14. Tell Me About a Time You Failed
This is a common interview question that employers ask to see if you’re able to learn from mistakes and bounce back when things don’t go your way.
They always want to see if you can own-up to it and be accountable and actually admit to your failures.
So when you answer, “tell me a time when you failed”… here are the most important do’s and don’ts to follow:
- Admit to a real failure
- Describe the situation and what went wrong
- Show that you take responsibility (rather than blaming others), and show you learned from it
- Ideally, talk about how you used that lesson to get a different outcome next time you were presented with a similar challenge (e.g. how you turned a past failure into a future success)
- Say you never fail
- Talk about a failure but then blame others and talk about how it wasn’t really your fault
- Give a long-winded answer that goes off-track. You really need to be concise and show you can tell a clear story. That’s one more thing employers look for when they ask this interview question.
Sample interview answer:
“In my most recent position, I had recently been promoted to Supervisor, and was managing the department on my own right before the department closed. An employee was acting out and I confronted him in front of everybody. It made the situation worse and caused a lot of distraction for every employee on the floor. I failed to lead properly in this situation, and spoke to my manager the next day to discuss what I could have done differently. We both agreed that I should have handled this in-private with the employee, by asking them to step inside my office with me. If I had done this instead of reacting the way I did, the situation would have turned out much better. From that point onward, I am always conscious of whether a discussion with a team member should occur in public or behind closed doors, and it made me a better leader.”
15. How do you make decisions?
This is another one of the most common interview questions you’ll hear in any industry.
You may also hear it phrased as behavioral interview questions like, “Tell me about a time you had to make a difficult decision? How did you handle it and what did you decide?”
With any of these decision-making interview questions, hiring managers will want to know that you’ve made good decisions in the past and are comfortable with the pressure of a tough decision. This will make them comfortable that you’ll make good decisions in your next job, too – while working for them.
So to show the hiring manager that you’re a good fit, prepare to explain how you organize and structure your decisions. You want to show them you’re calm and follow a logical system when you make important decisions.
“I typically list out all available options and then weigh the pros and cons and expected outcomes of each. If other teams or people are impacted by the decision, I’ll ask for their thoughts, too. Sometimes a peer will point out a pro or con that I hadn’t seen, so I find it helpful to talk to others when appropriate. After this, I’ll choose the course of action that I feel is most likely to bring about the best outcome. I also weigh risks of each possible decision. If one decision has a good potential outcome but comes with too much risk for the company, then it may not be the right choice. Would you like me to give an example? Or did that answer your question…”