Typical Interview Questions

Sally Painter
Woman asking questions during interview
expert checked

Typical interview questions are designed to assist a recruiter in assessing your skills and what kind of employee you'll make.

Typical Interview Questions Aren't Always Typical

While you can prepare for your interview by reviewing some of the typical interview questions, many of the questions a recruiter asks will be very specific about your skills and your work experience.

Beginning of Interview

Educational Background

Most recruiters will begin your interview by going over your education and may ask questions to clarify your qualifications.

Your Job Experience

The next line of questions will be about your experience. This usually begins with your current position and work backwards through your work history, although some recruiters prefer to get a chronological picture of your experience and start with your first job on your resume.

Typical questions:

  • What were your duties? Give a brief description. Never refer a recruiter to your resume or application as a response to a question. The recruiter already has that information. If you must paraphrase it, then do so. Try to add a little more information that a resume can't cover. If the recruiter is familiar with your former position, she may ask you specifics about it or how you went about performing the duties of your job.
  • What did you like most about that job? Be honest in your response. If you liked working on projects that you were given the lead, then explain why you enjoyed it. Perhaps you got great satisfaction from challenging yourself and learning to lead a team. Always make sure you give credit to your fellow workers, too.
  • What did you like the least? Being asked what you liked least about your past or present job can be a tricky question to answer. You don't want to say anything negative about your former company or co-workers. One way to respond to this question would be to say you needed more of a challenge. This creates a segue into the open position and how you feel it will be a better fit for your skills.
  • What would your current supervisor say is your biggest strength? You've had employee evaluations, so you should know this. Chances are the recruiter won't be able to talk with your supervisor, but play this one safe and answer as your supervisor would.
  • What would your supervisor say is your biggest weakness? Again, try to answer as you believe your supervisor would respond.

Other job specific questions:

  • Who was your supervisor?
  • What style of management do you find works the best?
  • Were you responsible for other workers?
  • Were you the lead on any projects? What were they? Describe what duties you had. Did you meet the job and project expectations?
  • Describe a time when you were faced with a dilemma about your job and what you did.

Commonly Asked Interview Questions

There are certain questions that are asked in almost every interview. A few of the most commonly asked interview questions are:

  • Why are you seeking a new job? Don't use this question for a venting session about everything that is wrong with your current or most recent job. Instead, focus on one of the aspects of the job that inspired you to send in your resume.
  • What are your career goals? Be realistic. Don't say you're aiming for the Vice President position unless it's the next step in your career path or you're applying for the VP position.
  • What do you think would be the most challenging aspect of this job? Don't say anything that will reflect negatively on you. State the challenge and quickly explain how you would face it and compare to how you're current duties are similar or are applicable to the new job.
  • If hired, what would you bring to the job? This is your opportunity to shine. Don't go overboard. Keep your contributions to the company realistic. Select three things you know you can bring to the job that will help the company and after stating them, emphasize your strongest ability. If you know the company well enough, you can give an example of how you can help.
  • What is your current salary? Just tell the recruiter. Dancing around this question will only irritate the person interviewing you. The recruiter probably has a good idea what you're making or at the least your industry salary range. Be honest.
  • What are your salary expectations? Be realistic. If you're currently earning $45,000 don't give $65,000 for your answer. This will knock you out of the game faster than anything else because it reveals to the recruiter that you are unprofessional and unrealistic. Unless you are currently earning $20,000 less than your peers, this is an inappropriate answer. If you're earning $20,000 less than what you should be earning, a recruiter is going to be wary unless you have a very good explanation.
  • If hired, how soon could you start? Unless you're currently unemployed, the standard response is two weeks because most people work a two-week notice out of professional courtesy.

Purpose of Interview Questions

Of course, you know the purpose of interview questions is for the recruiter to get to know you and the skills you can bring to the job. The other purpose is for you to learn as much as you can about the company and the position so you'll be better prepared when you're called back for a second interview.

Typical Interview Questions