How To Answer Basic Interview Questions The Right Way

By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

For some, the most nerve-wracking part of a hiring process is the interview. But, it doesn't have to be if you've taken time to practice your answers and delivery. has published an extensive list of some of the most common interview questions job seekers should prepare to answer when the critical time comes. Here are seven of the most common questions, plus suggested ways to respond:
1. What are your strengths?
Some job seekers struggle with this because they're concerned with appearing conceited or overly confident. The interviewer most likely is aware of your strengths already, or you wouldn't have been invited to this interview in the first place. They are simply hoping to hear you verbalize them. Keep your answer apropos to the position for which you are interviewing. Your ability to bench press 300 lbs. will have little impact on your duties as the new accounting clerk.

2. What are your weaknesses?
Companies have several reasons for asking this question, and often, experts suggest you answer with a prior weakness, and the steps you already have taken to convert it to a strength. You may also consider that some companies want to gain insight into areas where additional training may be necessary when you become a part of the team. Being honest with yourself and the interviewer here will ensure that you don't wind up being placed on assignments you're not prepared to handle. The last thing anyone wants is for those weaknesses to be exposed at an inopportune time, wreaking havoc on the company's goals and your career.

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3. Why do you want to leave your current company?
Be warned, they are not asking you to bash your boss for being an old so-and-so. Doing so will only make you look petty, and your character will definitely come into question. Instead, look for ways to compliment your current employer for the opportunities provided to you, and use positive language to express your desire to make a change. Have you accomplished all you had hoped to with your current employer? Is the opportunity for advancement limited or nonexistent? Do you simply want to reduce your commute time? People leave their jobs every day for a myriad of reasons, so find the one that truly answers this question for your situation without bad-mouthing your current employer or company.

%VIRTUAL-hiringNow-topCity%4. Why are you interested in working for (the company interviewing you)?
Almost every company, regardless of size, has a Web presence now. So answering this question is just a matter of doing a little research beforehand. Find two or three things that impress you about your prospective employers and be prepared to express those thoughts in a matter of fact way. This is a great way to prove your interest and it lets employers know that your desire to become a member of the team isn't only about the paycheck.

5. Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
A prospective employer wants to be assured that they are talking to a rational personality who has set reasonable goals for themselves. By now, you should have developed certain expectations for your career path, and those expectations can be invaluable to a company looking for a long-term relationship with the staff they bring aboard. Knowing you have set certain goals lets a company know that you will work harder, with the idea that doing so improves your chances of getting ahead more so than for someone who has no future plans whatsoever.

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6. What questions do you have for me?
Can you tell me why this position is open? What do you value most in the ideal candidate for this position? Is your industry/business growing? What do you attribute to the success of your business? These questions are a great way to show the interviewer you've done your homework and care about something other than vacation days and medical benefits. Take notes as the interviewer answers your questions, to show that you're listening and genuinely care about the responses.

The answers given may also help you to decide if you are truly interested in pursuing employment with this company. No one wants to start a job only to find out the position was open because of unreasonable expectations being placed on the employee who held this position prior.

7. Why should we hire you?
This question creates a great opportunity for you to reiterate your value proposition. If this company didn't already see reasons to hire you, you wouldn't have received an interview. Re-establish those reasons by being prepared to expand on information they already have in your resume and bring focus to those times where your involvement proved beneficial. Additionally, you may point out an area of "pain" you happen to know this company is experiencing and then offer your ideas for a solution.

Nothing says, "I am prepared," like being prepared. You can't know every question an interviewer may ask. However, being familiar with common questions, like the seven above, and being ready with a response will give you a leg up on the competition.

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, chief career writer and partner with CareerTrend, and is one of only 28 Master Resume Writers (MRW) globally. Jacqui and her husband, "Sailor Rob," host a lively careers-focused blog. Jacqui is a power Twitter user, listed on several "Best People to Follow" lists for job seekers.

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