- Featured in:
Top 6 Common Interview Questions in 2021
To prepare for an interview, it’s critical that you first review the job description carefully and make a list of your skills and experience to align with the qualifications the employer is looking for. Then be prepared to convince the interviewer that you have the required knowledge for the job.
To help you maximize your biggest potential, our team of experts have compiled the top six interview questions in 2021. While your responses will be different and unique to your experience, these are the top interview questions that you might expect.
Rehearse or prepare an answer for each of these questions:
How to Prepare for Behavioral Questions
Interviewers rely on a certain set of questions that can help them determine whether or not you’re qualified for the position. These are known as behavioral questions and are specific to your soft skills.
Soft skills are non-technical skills that relate to how you communicate and interact socially — a mix of personal traits that define your character. They range from empathy to listening skills, to time management, and contribute to the work-life balance.
Behavioral questions are important to hiring managers because they are based on soft skills. They help the employer understand how you react during a critical decision-making situation. These questions are asked to determine your conduct while working under pressure, your ability to be a critical thinker and your approach to problem-solving.
Although each response is specific to your own experience, knowing the most asked behavioral questions will help you prepare and give you an edge on other candidates if you have a good response up your sleeve.
Here are some of the most commonly asked behavioral questions:
- How have you worked effectively under pressure?
- How do you handle a challenge? Give an example.
- Can you give an example of how you set goals?
- Can you give an example of a goal you reached and how you achieved it?
- How do you work on a team?
- Have you worked on multiple projects at the same time? How did you prioritize?
- How do you handle meeting tight deadlines?
- How do you handle it when your schedule is interrupted?
- What do you do if you disagree with a coworker?
- How do you handle it when there’s a conflict among team members?
For a solid response, prepare!
You can write down outstanding achievements that you were able to tackle that stemmed from resolving a conflict, for example.. But try to frame every response you prepare like this: Describe the situation, the challenge, your role, the action that you took to overcome it, and the overall benefit to the company.
When planning your responses, you should also consider including the following soft skill sets:
- Communication skills
- Time management skills
- Problem-solving attitude
- Leadership skills
Soft skills are key to responding successfully to any behavioral question, because they define how you interact and solve problems.
For instance, a response to “How do you handle a challenge?” would be: “To promote a culture of preparedness at the nursing home, I created an additional inventory of stock items in the facility to avoid shortages in food and medicine even through possible power outages and severe weather conditions. Additionally, I held a meeting to discuss additional emergency preparedness techniques that we can all implement to continue providing medical services during incidents.”
Sell Your Work Experience
Obviously, some of the questions that you’re going to be asked are going to be about your work experience.
To help you prepare, here’s a list of top-asked work experience queries:
- Why do you want to leave your current job?
- How do you think you will fit into our company?
- What is your greatest professional achievement?
- Tell me about a challenge or conflict you’ve faced at work and how you dealt with it.
- Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership skills.
- Tell me about the time you made a mistake and how you handled it.
- Why did you change your career paths?
- What do you like least about your job?
- What experience and skills have you acquired?
- What has been your greatest failure or accomplishment so far?
- Why were you fired?
Overall, you can impress recruiters during your job interview with three simple tactics while answering these types of questions:
1. Focus on the employer’s needs. Carefully review their job description to identify the type of experience they are looking for. Use the terminology you gathered from the job listing to explain your experiences. The closer a match you are to the job requirements, the better your chances of being selected for an interview.
2. Use numbers to describe your experience. Have some of your career achievement stats fresh in mind. Numbers create a more tangible idea of how you achieved your goals. Avoid answering too broadly. Use reports or data that can showcase your performance, such as revenue, budget or consumer impact.
3. Speak with confidence but never be negative about past employers. Give a positive, enthusiastic vibe. Be mindful of your body language, make direct eye (or video camera!) contact and avoid fidgeting. You could say all the right things, but if you seem nervous it could still cost you credibility.
About You Questions
“Tell me about yourself” is often asked by employers to identify whether your personality is a good fit for the job and the company. It will also set the tone for the rest of the interview.
Many candidates confuse this question by thinking that they are supposed to speak about their personal lives, when in fact, this question creates the opportunity to convince the recruiter that you are qualified for the job. It is another way for recruiters to know your personality.
How the interviewer perceives your personality can make the difference between getting the job or not.
Employers are also looking for candidates with a mix of skills required for the position. Studying the job post can help you determine which skills sets that the recruiter seeks in the ideal candidate. Once you can identify what they’re looking for, infuse those abilities into your answers to why you’re the right fit for the company.
To make your case more convincing, emphasize your interpersonal skills by talking about how well you work in a team, or the contributions your leadership skills made to the success of a large project.
When an interviewer asks you about yourself, introduce them to your level of experience. Highlight your top accomplishments and explain how your professional goals align with the company’s mission.
Aim to impress. Show off the level of impact of your work by using numbers or data that prove your results. Lastly, use industry-specific terminology to describe your duties and achievements.
The most common about yourself questions may be:
- What are your career goals?
- Where do you see yourself In 5 years?
- How do you define success?
- Describe your work ethic?
- Where are your current duties?
- When can you start?
Here are examples of excellent responses that you can customize according to your experience and the company’s needs:
“I can contribute with over 10 years of accounting experience. At my current job I manage the finance department of a midsize company, where I oversee the payroll accounts and approval for 75 staff members.
My strengths are in analysis of financial statements and auditing. I am known for successfully tracking the cash flow and accounts to ensure that they are being recorded and processed correctly. For this reason, I’m looking for an opportunity to take my career to the next level and optimize your company’s finances.”
“I see myself in a senior, more challenging role in the next five years. Currently, I’m taking continuous training to advance in business finances that will help me take on more specialized and demanding auditing responsibilities. These skills and competencies will help me take on more management responsibilities and contribute to the company’s success.”
“Stress is part of this job. I manage stress by focusing on the end results. I remind myself of how many employees rely on my work for payroll. That helps me feel better, because my work contributes to others. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I also take a short 15-minute break to refresh my energy and do yoga in my spare time.”
Tips for Remote Job Interviews
With more companies adopting work-from-home policies, interviewing candidates for remote roles is the new normal. Hiring managers are looking for people that have the skills to do the job and also understand what it takes to successfully work from home.
Before your interview, make sure that you pick an area that is free of clutter, distractions and background noise. If it’s going to be a video call, do a test run and pay attention to the lighting and audio. Also, find out what platform the company will be using to conduct the interview and do a practice run. Make sure it works on your computer or mobile device.
Remote work requires a different level of commitment, skill set, and type of experience than in office. A remote job is different from a traditional job in that it trades the conference room for online meetings and video hangouts.
Without direct supervision, there are certain skills that are critical to have, such as strong communication, self-motivation, integrity and time management.
During an interview for a remote job, employers are likely to ask the following questions:
- Do you have access to a computer, a reliable internet connection and a private space?
- Do you have telework experience?
- Are you self-motivated to work from anywhere?
- How do you schedule your day?
- What kinds of distractions do you usually have when working from home? How do you ensure they don’t interfere with the quality of your work?
- Do you check your emails after work?
- How do you make sure you switch off from work?
When responding to these questions, focus on self-management, your personal discipline, deadline execution, and showcase your communication skills and sell your experience with digital communication tools or platforms that can better enable remote work.
Phone Interview Questions & Answers
Some employers rely on phone interviews to screen their first round of candidates, especially since the pandemic. Phone interviews are the first step used to evaluate candidates and determine if they will be selected for a call back or for an in-person interview.
Prior to your phone interview, make sure that you prepare. Have your resume on hand and make a list of your top skills and achievements. Research the company, their culture and the job description. Having these elements on hand will help you feel less nervous and more confident.
On the day of your phone interview, set the tone and language by being cheerful and respectful. When responding to their questions, be straightforward and speak clearly.
Keep notes next to you during the interview if that helps — no one will see you looking down at your notes!
To help prepare you for your next call with an employer we have included the most commonly asked questions.
Plan out your answers and write them down or make notes:
- Tell me about yourself. Walk me through your resume.
- What do you know about our company?
- Why did you leave/are you leaving your last position?
- Describe what you do in your current role.
- What are you looking for in your next job?
- Why are you interested in this role? What attracted you to this company?
- What are your salary requirements?
- Why are you the best candidate for the job?
- Are you willing to relocate?
- When can you start?
Questions to Ask Your Interviewer
Once hiring managers have asked all their questions they will ask if you have any questions for them. It’s important to ask questions because it’s your last chance to make a good impression.
This step is almost as important as the answers you give during the interview because it shows how serious you are about the role and that you’ve taken the time to envision how you will perform the necessary tasks to succeed in doing the job.
If you don’t have any good questions, it shows a lack of interest. So, plan your questions ahead of time!
If you don’t know what to ask, review the company’s information and position. If you ask questions specific to the role, it will speak well of your seriousness and interest in the role.
Asking follow-up questions lets you find out if this role is the right fit for you. It gives you a better understanding of the role and the employer’s objectives.
This is also your opportunity to define the next steps in the hiring process. You can ask questions that will clear any doubts of how quickly they are looking to fill the position or who would be the point of contact.
Here are some examples of great questions that you can ask:
- How would you describe the company’s culture?
- What is your favorite thing about working for this company?
- How do you see this company evolving over the next five years?
- How would the person in this role contribute to the company’s vision?
- How do you think the company defines and demonstrates its values?
- What qualities and attributes make for a successful employee in the company?
- Can you run me through an average day in this role?
- Who would I be reporting to?
- How would I collaborate with my supervisor?
- Who will I be interacting with most on a daily basis?
- What do you think is the most challenging aspect of the job?
- How will my success be measured in this role?
- What does the ideal candidate for this role look like?
- What do you think are the most important qualities for the person in this role to possess?
After Your Interview
Being professional and polite is required even after your interview. Take the time to thank your interviewers; this is follow-up etiquette. Taking the initiative to thank them in writing adds value to your interview process.
Find out the contact information of who interviewed you and send them a thank you card or email within 24 hours of your interview.
If not for every single person, you should at least do it for the hiring manager.
Personalize it by addressing them by name and mention something they said in the interview.
This also creates the opportunity to restate your interest in the position as well. Once you have thanked the interviewer, remind them why you are a good fit for the job. If they provided a hiring timeframe, mention the date and let them know that you are looking forward to hearing back about the job.
Always keep the tone of your letter formal and courteous, albeit brief. Close the email professionally and sign with your full name and contact information.
Here is an example of what your follow-up thank you letter should look like:
Subject line: Thank you
Dear Mr. Smith,
Thank you for your time and consideration regarding the position of college professor. I truly enjoyed meeting with you yesterday and learning more about this opportunity.
After our conversation, I am eager to be part of the faculty. I was particularly interested in our discussion about the creative and original approach for the online courses.
I truly believe that my five years of experience as a science professor will positively contribute to your student body and their future success. As I mentioned during the interview, I am excited to introduce new methods of engaging with the students online and creating a more dynamic class. My proven ability to turn scientific research into an attractive story that draws in their attention will be a positive asset to the students’ development.
If you need additional information or have any further questions for me, please don't hesitate to reach out. I look forward to hearing from you on Friday regarding this position.
Thank you again for your time and consideration.