How to Answer the 150 Most Common Job Interview Questions

People waiting for a job interview

People waiting for their job interview

If you have a job interview coming up, you know how hard it can be to prepare and know exactly what to say and how to say it. And while there are a number of articles on the web that list the most common job interview questions, most of these articles take one of two forms:

  1. A list of the most common interview questions or
  2. A list of the most common interview questions with a few sentences accompanying each that advises you how to answer each question.

None of these articles give you a comprehensive list of all the questions you are likely to be asked with actual sample answers, the types of answers that will make a hiring manager salivate and get you hired.

In this article, I’ll give you the answers.

How Did I Create This List?

In order to do the research for this article, I spent several weeks scouring the web and job interview books for the most common job interview questions, and then I spent several more weeks speaking with human resource specialists across a variety of industries.

The result of this work was the comprehensive list below that will cover most of the general interview questions that you could be asked during your job interview. Depending on the job you are pursuing, after the interviewer asks you the general job questions, the interviewer will ask more specific questions to test your competency on the actual skills related to the job (e.g. question about how to recognize revenue for a job as an accountant).

This article is divided into 24 sections.

Here is a quick list of the sections in this article:

  1. Getting to Know You
  2. Past Work Experience
  3. Past Education
  4. Career Goals
  5. Interpersonal Skills
  6. Integrity
  7. Teamwork
  8. Conflict Resolution
  9. Leadership Ability
  10. Organization Skills
  11. Problem Solving
  12. Decision Making Skills
  13. Ability to Handle Stress
  14. Work Ethic
  15. Attitude
  16. Self-Motivation
  17. Creativity
  18. Company Knowledge
  19. Competency
  20. On-the-Job Situational Questions
  21. Job Skills Tests
  22. Questions for the Interviewer
  23. How to Prepare for Your Interview Using This List
  24. References

Without further ado, let’s get started!

1. Getting to Know You

Getting to Know You

Getting to Know You

How did you hear about this position?

I discovered this job vacancy in the Careers section of your website. When I saw the job description and responsibilities, it looked like a great fit for my background and skillset. The opportunity to work for [insert name of company], a company with offices around the world, is particularly interesting as I’ve always wanted to work for a multinational company.

What about this job interests you? (a.k.a. why do you want to work here?)

The first thing that caught my eye when I saw this position was that it was [name of company], and the opportunity was located in [name of the city where the job is located].

[Name of company] is one of the few places where I’ll be able to use the [name of your industry…e.g. customer service] skills I gained during my previous job, while spending my day thinking about [insert a particular sub-topic in your industry…e.g. ‘the outdoors’ would be a good answer here if this is a job at a ski resort] and [insert one additional sub-topic].

I love the idea of helping [insert who the customers are] [insert what the customers do]. I think my proactive style would fit in really well – especially with this particular position – and I know I could start delivering results from Day 1.

Do you know anyone else who works for [insert name of company here]?

No I do not.

Why are you looking for a new job?

What I really like about the [insert name of job] role at [insert name of company] is that it is an international company with operations in 5 different countries. I’ve never worked for an international company before, and that is what really appeals to me about this role.

I’d like the opportunity to combine my [insert a skill that you have] skills with my [insert name of industry] skills while doing business with countries outside of the U.S. In college I had the opportunity to work with people from different cultures and found it enjoyable and rewarding.

Tell me about yourself.

I am originally from [insert the name of the city where you were born]. I am currently [e.g. a student at ABC University, working at ABC company, etc.] where I [insert 2 or 3 things that you are currently working on]. I have had the opportunity to have [insert number] internships/jobs.

The first was at [insert name of company], one the largest companies for [insert what the company does]. While I was there, I was responsible for [insert what were you responsible for]. We were able to [insert an accomplishment here…e.g. grow traffic to over 1,000,000 unique visitors per month in less than 3 years].

My second job/internship was at [insert name of company here]. This job/internship was very interesting, and it was in [insert name of industry here…e.g. customer service]. There, I gained experience [what did you gain experience in?…e.g. troubleshooting problems, assisting the sales team and following up on customer inquiries, etc.]

I would like to leverage the knowledge and skills that I learned during my two jobs/internships in order to deliver immediate value to the [insert the name of the job] role at [insert the name of the target company]. The characteristics of my personality that are aligned with this job is the fact that I am positive, self-motivated, and enjoy pleasing and helping other people.

What are your strengths?

Focus, attention to detail and the ability to execute to the very end. These are the three strengths that my previous bosses have complemented me on the most.

When working towards a big, challenging goal, there is often that initial enthusiasm at the start. After that wears off and the going gets tough, that is where I excel. I get a lot of satisfaction out of the day-to-day grind that is required when working towards challenging goals.

Continuous small steps and a focus on the little things is essential for achieving great things. I have a steadfast commitment to overcoming obstacles and staying focused, knowing that doing so will ensure continuous learning and success.

What are your weaknesses?

I periodically take time to review my skills, and recently I thought I might like to get better at marketing to complement my finance and math skills. I’m considering buying either books on the subject or taking formal courses online.

What is your biggest regret and why?

I believe that everything happens for a reason, so I do not have a lot of regrets. I am content about the decisions I’ve made in the past about my career. Everything has built upon itself and made me into who I am today.

There are always the times when I would have done a few things differently or better, but I do not regret even those situations because they were learning experiences and without learning experiences, we cannot grow and improve.

How do you rate yourself as a professional?

If I had to rate myself on a scale of 1 to 10, I would put myself as a 9. I am better than average, but I will never be a 10 because 10 is perfect, and there is always room for improvement.

What makes you uncomfortable?

I have always enjoyed giving presentations and meeting with people individually, however one area I’ve worked on since the beginning of my career is getting comfortable introducing myself to new people. I knew that in the business world, being able to establish rapport with someone new is an essential skill to have. I’ve made a concerted effort to get out there as much as possible and take advantage of the opportunities available to me to meet new people.

What is your greatest fear?

My greatest fear is not getting accepted into this job at [insert name of company]. And while I could do [insert name of role] anywhere, and there are certainly a lot of other companies out there doing [insert what the company does], [insert name of company] is a great company, an international company that is a market leader in [insert name of field].

Having read reviews of previous employees who worked at the firm, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Working at [insert name of company] would be the opportunity of a lifetime for me, a place where I could be in a role that is directly aligned with my career interests.


My greatest fear would be my supervisor feeling that I am not doing my best. I value hard work and pour myself into anything I do, family, career, even hobbies. When I tackle a project, for example, I want to know everything about it, leaving no stone unturned and doing my absolute best to succeed.

What was your major disappointment?

I have had a number of disappointments over the years. Anytime you are trying to succeed at something, there will inevitably be disappointment.

However, it’s interesting that, as I look back on those disappointments, in all cases, I survived, was able to learn from these disappointments and understand that everything happens for a reason. In the end, everything worked out, and I became stronger as a result, with a greater ability to face other situations that followed.

What excites and scares you about this position?

Unforeseen circumstances that create temporary barriers to success both excite and scare me. When the unexpected occurs, I will address the problem head on and find a way to solve it.

List five words that describe your character.

Curious, adventurous, caring, understanding, open-minded.

Are you willing to relocate?

Absolutely. I’ve done a lot of research on neighborhoods where I would be interested in living should I get offered this job. I also know several friends from college who live here, and they are all really happy living here.

Are you willing to travel?

I have been traveling in every job I’ve had since I graduated from college. In fact, I’ve traveled to [insert number here] countries and [insert number here] states. I really enjoy travel both for pleasure and for business. It would be exciting to get the chance to represent the company in a new city.

Would you work holidays/weekends?

I tend to reserve weekends and holidays for my family, and for this reason I like to come in early, stay late, or work through my lunch break in order to get as much done as possible during the regular work week.

However, in any job I’ve ever had, there are always those times when things get very busy, and coming in on a weekend or holiday is unavoidable and necessary in order to get the job done. In these situations, I would come in to the office if needed.

When would you be available to start?

[Insert your desired start date here]

Who is your role model?

My role model is Teddy Roosevelt. I am inspired by his work ethic and his strenuous life. It is truly incredible the impact that he was able to have on making the United States the country it is today.

From serving as the youngest president our country has ever had, to winning the Nobel Peace Prize, to establishing our national park system, to mapping rivers in the Amazon, his life was inspiring. His work ethic was second-to-none, and it is amazing how much he was able to accomplish during his relatively short lifetime.

Roosevelt was quite down-to-earth and had a strong moral compass. He was always trying to do what he felt was right for the betterment of society and for humanity.

What are your hobbies?

I like spending time in the ocean and am a certified advanced PADI scuba diver. I also enjoy fishing, skiing, hiking, and road biking.

What is your favorite website?

What is your personal mission statement?

Small steps achieve big goals.

What will you do if you don’t get this job?

I will continue to search for [insert name of industry here]-related jobs in companies that have international operations.

2. Past Work Experience

Past Work Experience

Past Work Experience

Why do you want to leave your current company?

My current job and previous job were at really small companies with no more than 20 employees. The benefit of working for a small company is that I had to wear a lot of hats, and I was quickly able to broaden my knowledge and skillset. And while I’ve had an amazing time at these two companies, I’d like to have the opportunity to work for a big company that will enable me to apply what I’ve learned while affording me more opportunities for career advancement.

Why was there a gap in your employment?

I took one year in order to increase my skillset and pursue opportunities that I wasn’t able to pursue while I was fully employed. During this time, I [insert what you did].

I have been actively searching for jobs for [insert number of months] and am looking for the right fit, being patient in order to find a job that aligns with my goals and skillset.

Why would you accept a lesser salary than what you made before?

If offered this job, I would examine the whole package, not just the salary figure. Getting compensated fairly is important to me, but I’m not pursuing this job just for the money. There are a lot of other details that I consider, including quality of the work, opportunities for advancement, continuing education possibilities, the team I will be working with, employment benefits, and more.

Why do you want to work for someone else after owning your own business / freelancing?

I came to realize that I’m a [insert what you do] at heart. It’s what I do best. Being a freelancer and owning my own business involves a lot of other tasks and skills that are outside my main skillset.

I want to work at a big company where I can focus on what I’m good at, knowing that doing so will enable me to deliver the most value and derive the highest sense of achievement.

What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?

1. Accomplishing tasks faster

While I never missed a deadline for a project at my previous job, I do take longer than most to accomplish a given task. The reason is that I tend to be a perfectionist and always find areas of a project that need a small improvement here and there.

With that said, my former manager was overall happy with my work product, and I learned what his expectations were in terms of “good enough”, which enabled me to begin to complete projects earlier than the deadline in many cases.

2. Public speaking

I still get nervous when I make public speeches. I think a lot of it stems from the fact that I have not had a lot of opportunities in my prior role to actually deliver public speeches.

Like anything, the more you do something, the more comfortable you get. I am light years better at speaking in public now than when I started out. Everyday I continue to improve.

3. Technical skills

Although my educational background is in [insert what you studied in college], most of what I needed to know for my last job was on-the-job training. It took me a while to get up to speed. I read books, viewed online classes, and asked a lot of questions. I eventually got to the point where I had a firm mastery over [insert what you did]. However, there are still areas where I can get better.

Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.

[Insert your main accomplishment here…see this example→]One of my goals at [insert company name] was to increase SEO traffic through Google to 25,000 unique visitors per month. I remember the day we reached 10,000 unique visitors, and since that day, we have never looked back.

Today, our content attracts over 50,000 unique visitors per month. Helping to write the content and manage the social media profiles for [insert name of company] was a really rewarding experience. It is truly amazing just how quickly companies can grow by offering high quality unique content on the web.

What percentage of your time is spent doing each function?

Because my two previous jobs were at small companies, I had to wear many hats. It is hard to exactly quantify how much time was spent at each function, but if I had to guess, I would say that about 70% of my time was focused on customer service, which included responding to e-mails and answering phone calls. 20% of my time was spent doing the financials and tax work, and 10% was spent working on strategy.

Tell me about a time you made a mistake.

At my previous job, I was given the task of developing a top-down financial model in order to forecast demand for our product. It was a small company, so I often got overloaded with work. I made a fat-finger mistake on one of the figures in the assumptions part of the Excel spreadsheet.

My boss pointed out the error just before he went in front of investors to give his presentation. I was so embarrassed and learned that it is better to take your time and do a job right than to rush and make a big mistake. I should have communicated better with my boss and told him that I needed more time.

What was your biggest failure?

From losses in my personal trading account to terrible grades in my quantum mechanics class back in college to a failed internet startup a few years ago, I’ve had a number of things that have gone wrong during my career.

However, I don’t consider these failures. I consider them learning experiences because without these events I would not know what I know today. I am thankful because these bumps in the road paved the way for the success that I’ve had, and I don’t think I would have achieved what I have up to this point, had I not experienced these obstacles.

Discuss your resume.

I have [insert number of years] in experience as a [insert the work that you do]. In my most recent job, I managed 50 salespeople based in 5 offices across the country. Under my leadership, we have increased sales from $5 million to $40 million in my first 5 years as Managing Director. During my job before that I worked for [insert company name] as a [insert your role].

My academic training was in [insert your degree field]. I attended [insert name of university] on a full academic scholarship and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in [insert field]. I graduated summa cum laude. After that, I attended [insert name of university] on a [insert any scholarship you may received] and got a Master’s Degree in [insert field].

What do you like most and least about your present/most recent job?

What I liked least about my job is the location. I want to move back to [insert name of city where the new job would be located] in order to be closer to my family and friends. Also, we do not have a solid system in place for feedback, so employees are often in the dark about how they are doing.

What I like most about my most current job is the freedom we are given to work on special projects. We are allowed to allocate 20% of our work schedule to pursue projects of our own interest. I developed a new software program that enabled our team to work more efficiently and stay on top of what was going on in each department.

How have you changed in the last five years?

I’ve gained a greater understanding of who I am and what I want for my career. For example, 4 years ago, I started out studying law. It was something that really didn’t light me up. I then took a few marketing courses and realized that marketing was much more interesting to me. I switched over to marketing and have enjoyed it ever sense.

What do you think about your current boss?

My manager is the kind of manager I would want to be. He is attentive, good at establishing goals for the team and motivates me to be a better [insert your vocation]. His enthusiasm is infectious. He also gives great feedback.

Sometimes it is difficult to hear his feedback, but it has helped me to improve and has contributed greatly to my success.

What duties in your present/most recent job do you find it difficult to do?

It can sometimes be hard to stay on top of e-mails. When I first started, I used to check my e-mails only once per day in the morning, but what happened is that I was missing a lot of important intraday e-mails from customers and investors.

What I do now is set aside three 30-minute blocks during the day to respond to e-mails in order to avoid critical correspondence slipping through the cracks. During the other blocks of time, I’m either at my desk working on projects or in meetings with my team, supervisor, or one of our clients.

3. Past Education

Past Education

Past Education

Discuss your educational background.

My academic training was in [insert your degree field]. I attended [insert name of university] on a full academic scholarship and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in [insert field]. I graduated summa cum laude.

After that, I attended [insert name of university] on a [insert any scholarship you may received] and got a Master’s Degree in [insert field].

As far as extracurricular activities, I was involved in [insert a few activities that you were involved in during college].

How well did your college experience prepare you for this job?

My college experience gave me a solid foundation in [insert your degree field]. I took courses in [list 2-3 courses that you took in college that are pertinent to the job that you are applying for]. I look forward to applying what I learned to deliver value to the [insert name of role] role at [insert name of company].

Why did you choose to study [insert your industry here, e.g. marketing]?

I chose marketing because I always enjoyed the rigorous tradition of analyzing the market, conducting research, devising a strategy, and executing a well thought out campaign. My marketing major has prepared me well for the type of work I want to do.

What were some of your extracurricular activities in college, and how did those activities help prepare you for the current job?

I was involved in [insert activities that you were involved in as well as leadership roles that you might have held]. These activities helped me learn more about teamwork, time management, project planning, and leadership….all skills that I believe will be important to succeeding in this role.

Is your GPA representative of your academic ability?

My GPA is not representative of what I am fully capable of. When you look at my grades, you will notice that I steadily improved as I progressed from my freshman year through my senior year. A large reason for this is that I learned how to manage my time better and became more efficient in studying.

I used to spend a lot of time on the wrong things. Making mistakes along the way taught me what I should be focusing on. By the end of my sophomore year, I had a solid study strategy that I used for all of my classes. This process helped me get As and a few Bs in all my classes from that point on.

Do you plan to pursue an advanced degree?

Yes, I have recently applied for an executive online MBA program at several universities. I think it is important to continue advancing my education to in order to help me expand my knowledge and contribute more to the firm.

If you could go back in time and make any changes to your college experience, what would those be?

I would have studied abroad in China. When it comes to business, China is and will be a real force for many years to come.

I also would have studied Mandarin Chinese. This language will be a great asset to those looking to do business over there.

A few months ago I purchased some audio Mandarin Chinese courses that I listen to daily in order to begin the process of learning this complex language. It is a lot of fun. I only know the basics now, but through consistent practice I hope to attain a basic level of proficiency within a year and a half.

4. Career Goals

Career Goals

Career Goals

How do you define success?

I define success as working hard towards a significant goal and achieving it. There is nothing like the feeling that you get when you give it your all, make sacrifices, and grind towards a challenging objective and after a period of time you either meet or exceed that objective.

Tell me about your career goals.

My major goal is to advance into a management-level role in the area of global strategy. This company has a lot of potential to do even better than it is currently doing in markets such as Latin America and Africa. My on-the-ground work and living experience in both regions as well as my fluency in Portuguese and French would enable me to make an immediate contribution.

Why are you interested in working for [insert company name here]?

[Insert name of company] is an international company with operations in more than 25 countries around the world. I’ve always wanted to have the opportunity to work for an international company.

Also, this particular role is well aligned with my background, skillset and the goals I have set for myself for my career. I always believe that it is important to do what you love, and [insert industry] is what I love. [Insert name of a company] is a market leader in [insert industry], and I know I want to work for the market leader.

Why should [insert company name here] hire you?

If you look at my education and work experience, there is one thing that is common between the two: I’ve been successful at what I’ve done. From my academic performance at [insert name of your university] where I finished summa cum laude to my last job where I helped increase our revenue 4-fold in less than 3 years, I have a strong desire to do the best I can no matter where I go.

I hope to bring this same mindset to the [insert name of role] role at [insert name of the company that you are applying for]. I enjoy developing solutions to challenging problems. My supervisors usually turn to me for solutions that will work.

How long do you expect to remain employed with [insert company name here]?

I would like to work at [insert company name here] as long as there are continued opportunities to grow. Continuity is important to me, and I’m confident that the longer I stay at the firm, the more I will learn, and the bigger impact I can have on the organization.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?

My focus right now is finding a position at a company in [insert name of your field] where I can build a career doing what I love, [insert name of what you do]. In 5-10 years, I want to have increased responsibility and ultimately be in a management position where I am involved in [insert 2-3 areas you hope to be involved in].

What is your dream job?

My dream job is one that enables me to work on interesting projects in [insert your field] on a full-time basis….a job that enables me to make the most out of the knowledge and skills I’ve acquired through my education and past work experience…and a job that continually presents new challenges to keep me engaged and always learning. A positive team and a supervisor that provides a solid vision and direction is also a huge plus.

How important to you is job security?

Having spent [insert number of years] in this industry, I know that job security is not guaranteed. My focus is on being the best [insert your profession] I can be by providing enormous value, making an impact, and continually growing and seeking challenges.

I cannot control what strategic decisions are made at the top, but I can control my motivation to becoming an outstanding performer and an asset to the organization. I look forward to that challenge.

What are your salary requirements?

What is the salary range that is typical for someone of my background and skillset?

What were your starting and final levels of compensation at your previous job?

I keep that information confidential, but the salary range I’m looking for now is [enter your desired salary range here].

What do you like the most and least about working in this industry?

What I like most about this industry is that it moves fast, and you need to stay on top of the latest trends in order to remain competitive. What is hot now will be obsolete in less than 2 years.

What I like least about working in this industry is that there are a lot of firms out there that don’t have ethical business practices, and that really tarnishes how people perceive this industry. This is one of the reasons I chose to apply to [insert name of company] because of its solid reputation and track record in the field.

5. Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal Skills

Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.

My boss was the type of boss who used to always tell me that if everyone is agreeing in the room, someone is not thinking. One of the qualities I liked best about my boss was that he would welcome disagreement and believed it was an essential part of our team producing the best product possible.

I can recall a project early on in my job where I recommended that we invest more into organic SEO rather than paid SEO programs. The paid SEO programs were getting the immediate hits and conversions, but the costs for keeping these text link ads up and running were really high.

My idea was to implement a mixture of paid and unpaid SEO and gradually phase out the paid SEO as the unpaid SEO began to get traction. My boss strongly disagreed and requested I put together a presentation in order to explain my side. I did just that, and he approved a small unpaid SEO budget.

Within a year, our leads from unpaid SEO activities exceeded the leads we generated from paid SEO. You can imagine my boss was proud.

What are your co-worker pet peeves?

I’m not bothered by a lot, but I would say that my #1 pet peeve is those who say they are going to do something and don’t do it. Being dependable and being counted on as someone who can deliver when he or she promises to deliver is tantamount to being a reliable team member.

Give an example of how you worked on a team.

At my previous job, I co-wrote the script for the launch video on YouTube. The video ended up going viral, got over 2 million views and was featured on a number of media outlets, including CNN, Huffington Post, TMZ, Glamour, GQ, MTV, Men’s Health Magazine, and Women’s Health Magazine.

To this date, it was one of the most successful team projects I’ve ever worked on.

How did you handle conflict with a coworker or boss?

A lot of conflict arises from lack of communication or miscommunication. As soon as conflict arises with either a coworker or a boss, I try to nip it in the bud as soon as possible by scheduling a meeting with that person to have a face-to-face chat in order to clear the air.

The worst thing that you can do is to not say anything or do nothing and let the conflict escalate. These clear-the-air sessions are necessary to ensure that everyone is on the same page as far as expectations of what needs to be done and how it needs to be done.

How do you handle non-productive team members?

If there is a non-productive team member, I like to take that person aside and have a one-on-one meeting where we discuss my expectations from that team member. This conversation is not one-way though.

Before I begin to discuss my expectations, I ask that team member questions about what they like most and least about working at the company. This person’s response can provide good insight into why that team member might not be as productive as he or she could be.

After getting on the same page with that team member, the work does not stop there. I make sure to positively reinforce behaviors that were changed for the good. Positive reinforcement does not have to be financial, it could be as simple as a “thank you” or a “that was a great job.” By positively reinforcing the good behaviors, you are more likely to motivate the other person to continue exhibiting that good behavior.

Last, it is important to tell that team member how important they are to the team and how the work that they are doing contributes to the big picture and impacts the greater vision of the company. Often a team member might not be productive because they feel that they are not valued. People want to feel valued.

How do you behave when you meet new people?

I try to have a balanced conversation with new people I meet. I like to ask a lot of general questions in the beginning to find out more about them and to try to see if we have some common ground or shared interests. The key for me is to listen well and work on establishing rapport.

Would you rather be liked or feared?

I would rather be respected, a leader who leads by example. Wanting to be liked too much could lead to an inability to be effective when the time and situation demands a strong leader, while being feared generates a work environment of negativity where everyone walks on eggshells and is afraid to speak up.

There will be times when tough decisions need to be made, and everyone might not agree with me. There will be other times where I would need to give constructive feedback to an underperformer. And there will be other times when a team member might need to offer me constructive feedback.

Regardless of the situation, I would rather strive to be respected rather than liked or feared because respect is the cornerstone of effective leadership.

What is the most difficult thing about working with you?

I’m a perfectionist who strives to give nothing less than my maximum effort at everything I do, no matter how small the task and how unimportant it might have seemed to me. The little things do count and good supervisors will take notice.

I remember early in my career I worked at an office where I was given some of the most mundane tasks like sharpening pencils, buying food for the office, or scheduling meetings. Even in those situations, I made sure to give my maximum effort to make sure that those tasks were done well and to the best of my ability, knowing that if I did this, I would eventually be rewarded with more interesting work and an expanded role within the organization.

What kind of work environment makes you most comfortable?

During my last two jobs, I worked in an open plan office where each person worked side-by-side. I enjoy that kind of environment the most because it is the true “open door policy”.

My boss actually sat right beside me, so if I needed to ask any questions, all I had to do was ask. Communication in this setting was fantastic, and the sort of information silos that often occur in the cubicle or closed-door office environments were few and far between.

Do you mind reporting to someone who is younger than you?

Not at all. That person who I am reporting too has most likely proven themselves at lower levels of the organization or at another organization and has a wealth of knowledge to share. What matters is competence and a drive to succeed, not age.

How do you maintain a positive discussion?

I maintain a positive discussion by making the other person feel valued and that his or her contributions are making an impact on the vision of the organization. I also keep a long term view, knowing that most of what we worry about in the short term is often never as catastrophic as it seems in retrospect. It is important to keep a present-minded focus with a vision for the long term.

How do you feel about working for superiors who may be less competent than you?

I do not have a problem with working for superiors who may be less competent than I. While he or she may be less competent than me in one area, they might be more competent in another. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and that is why I like to work as a team. We can all learn by watching each other at work.

What do you think is necessary to do in order to build and maintain good relationships?

Communication. I believe that a lot of what goes wrong when a relationship doesn’t hold together is due to miscommunication or a lack of communication.

For example, with my clients, I like to speak with them at least once per quarter to find out what they like most about our product and areas in which we can improve. This open communication builds trust and leads to solid relationships with my clients…to the point when they need something or have a problem that we are able to solve, our company is the first one they call. Our business has been so strong and consistent over the years because of our strong attention to our relationships.

How do you establish good communication and information flow with others?

Listening is the foundation of great communication. I have noticed that when I am focused on listening when the other person is speaking, the other person with whom I am communicating is more likely to reciprocate the listening. Similarly, with information flow, I like to be transparent and not be afraid of sharing information with others. I find that, when I do so, others are likely to share what they know with me.

Another way I establish good communication with others is through my attitude. I notice that when I am positive and upbeat in my communication, others are more likely to match my attitude. Positive emotions are often contagious.

What, in your view, makes it difficult to relate well to certain customers?

From time to time I have to deal with angry, difficult, or rude customers. The key when dealing with these customers is to remain calm and professional with the customer. It is often good to allow them to blow off some steam.

Most customers who call in and are angry are dissatisfied with some aspect of our service, so angry customers are like gold because they tell us exactly how they feel and provide valuable insight into areas where we can improve.

Empathize with the customer and offer a solution on how to correct the problem situation. It is important not to take these encounters personally. Often someone might be upset because they had a bad day. Regardless of the reason, I do my best to stay calm and collected.

6. Integrity



Have you ever dealt with a company policy you weren’t in agreement with?

My last company had a policy that we had to be out of the door by 5pm. And while I didn’t agree with the policy, I had to abide by it because there were strong regulatory reasons why that policy was in place. Not abiding by it could result in disciplinary action.

I love my job, so often the time flew when I was at work. Leaving at 5pm was tough on a number of days, but I learned to deal with it and make the most of the time that I was on the job.

Give an example from your personal life when you were dishonest with someone.

I had a friend who had a DUI and asked me if it would impact his chance of getting a job. I told him it wouldn’t as telling him otherwise would impact his confidence to go out there and look for work. It would have resulted in a self-perpetuating cycle in which he can’t find work because he didn’t believe he could find work.

In the end, he did get a job. It took a while, but he did get a job.

If you saw someone in the workplace doing something unethical, what would you do?

If I see someone doing something unethical, the first thing I do is get more information. I go to the employee handbook that is posted on our intranet website in order to find out if the action was a violation of company policy.

I also consult the employee handbook to find out what to do in a situation in which I identify unethical behavior. There are often specific reporting channels that a company advises employees to follow in these situations.

7. Teamwork



Give an example of how you worked on team.

Decisions I have to make within a team can sometimes be difficult, only because these decisions take more time and require deliberate communication between team members.

For example, when we were working on the script for the animation for the launch video at my previous company, we had to make a number of choices about how to use our limited budget. Because these decisions involved group conversations, our team had to learn how to communicate effectively with one another, and I believe we ultimately made the best decisions for the team. The launch video ended up getting viral with over 3 million views.

What are your strengths in terms of influencing people?

I think that I am a great communicator and have the ability to help people visualize success. People are naturally skeptical when someone else presents an idea that differs from what they believe should be done, so I work on helping them to see what a successful product will look like.

I also think that another key why I am able to influence others is that I try to step into their shoes and understand their needs and wants. By trying to understand the world from their perspective, it becomes easier to weave what I want done with what they want or need personally. And, as a result, I am able to help them share my vision.

Describe a team experience you found rewarding.

At my previous job, I was on a team that needed to create a compelling launch video. As you can imagine, everyone had different ideas about what should be done.

Because these decisions involved group conversations, our team had to learn how to communicate effectively with one another, and I believe we ultimately made the best decisions for the team. The launch video ended up getting viral with over 3 million views, and sales of our product took off like wildfire.

Explain how you operate inter-departmentally.

I like to keep my communication short, and concise because I understand people are busy and appreciate brevity when and where appropriate. I try to avoid e-mail in situations where a phone conversation or face-to-face meeting would be more appropriate or efficient. In all cases, I seek to choose the communication channel that maximizes efficiency.

Aside from business, I also like to get to know others from other departments on a more personal level by scheduling periodic lunches or coffee with those key members who I work with on a daily basis. It is amazing what these short meetings can do to strengthen an already good working relationship.

Tell me how you would react to a situation where there was more than one way to accomplish the same task, and there were very strong feelings by others on each position.

I think it is key to acknowledge both sides, so the best way to approach these situations is to list the pros and cons of each side, giving both people a chance to speak and make their case.

If this was a situation where I was working on a team, after that, I would recommend that the team takes a vote (a simple show of hands would suffice) to see which option the group prefers. The option with the most votes would be the path that we would take on that particular task.

What is your usual role in a team?

I work well within a team, either as a leader or a follower. In situations where I am in a team that is working on projects that are more aligned with my background and skillset, I tend to take the lead.

Do you prefer working as a team or alone?

In most situations I prefer working as a team. However, in my industry, there are some tasks that are more efficiently done alone. I can go either way. It really depends on the situation.

How open-minded are you to other member’s ideas?

I consider myself open-minded. I think it is important to listen to others. When you are more open to listening to others, they are more open to listening to you.

What have you done to contribute toward a teamwork environment?

I co-wrote the script for the launch video that went viral, got over 2 million views and was featured on a number of media outlets, including CNN, Huffington Post, TMZ, Glamour, GQ, MTV, Men’s Health Magazine, and Women’s Health Magazine. To-date it was one of the team experiences I’m most proud of during my career.

8. Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution

How do you react if you find that someone you work with does not like you?

I have been in situations like this before. The key is to not take the person’s dislike of you personally. Keep positive and don’t return that other person’s negativity with your own negativity, that is only likely to escalate the situation.

Next, I would have a one-on-one conversation with that person to better understand our work relationship and how we are to work together going forward so that everyone is on the same page.

Usually, these conversations are sufficient to let everyone know where everyone is coming from. I would also have these one-on-one conversations, not in the office, but somewhere more relaxed such as a coffee shop or a restaurant.

Tell me about a situation when you had to settle an argument between two people.

I would suggest to them to both calm down and then sit down between each other to discuss the situation. If they needed an intermediary, I would consider sitting down with them in the meeting to moderate the discussion.

Often if something has come to the point where there is an argument, it is because one person or the other has been bothered by something and failed to communicate it. This displeasure adds up and then escalates into an argument.

Proper communication between the two parties is essential so that the two sides can understand the other person’s perspective. It is a critical part of conflict resolution.

9. Leadership Ability

Leadership Ability

Leadership Ability

What would your direct reports say about you?

My direct reports would say that I have a strong work ethic and am dependable. They know that when I say that I am going to do something, I do it, no excuses. I am punctual…all my meetings start on time.

I also encourage feedback. All of my direct reports know how they are doing at any given time because I meet with everyone individually on a regular basis.

Are you a leader or a follower?

I can do both. In situations that require my experience or expertise, I have a tendency to take a leadership role. This is especially true when I am working on projects that are more aligned with my background and skillset. I can also be a great follower and enjoy learning from others.

What are some of your leadership experiences?

I was tasked with leading a team of 6 to create an online video marketing campaign for the launch of one of our new products. I had to manage the entire process, including the design, animation, script, and the voiceovers. It was a long process that took months. After we were finished, I had to write a report about the results.

The video that we created went viral, was far more successful than we had ever imagined, and had over 4 million views. The executives were impressed, and following my year-end performance review, I was promoted to Vice President.

How do you make the decision to delegate work?

I delegate work based on the strengths of the members of my staff. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses…some may be great writers but not great speakers, some may be great at executive pre-assigned tasks but lack creativity to devise new strategies. I have been fortunate to have a great staff that works well as a team.

After assigning the task, I give them the space to do the job as they see fit. I consult with them periodically to see if they have any questions or need any assistance.

You have a team member who is not meeting his commitments, what do you do?

If a team member is not meeting his or her commitments, it might mean that the task is too difficult. I adjust the goal into something that is somewhat of a stretch for that employee but is attainable.

Tell me about a situation where your loyalty was challenged. What did you do? Why?

Loyalty like reputation is gained over time. It takes time to build up but can be lost quickly. How I approach these situations is communicating with the person who challenged my loyalty in order to get as much information as possible about the situation before making a decision on what to do.

If it looks like, in fact, that particular employee intentionally did something to challenge my loyalty, I would take action as soon as possible by communicating to that person that whatever action was done that challenged my loyalty is unacceptable and must not happen again. I would record this in writing so that it is clear to the employee that he or she must not repeat the action again or risk a more severe action.

If the behavior continues, possible removal of the employee would need to be considered.

How do you handle team members who come to you with their personal problems?

If someone comes to me with a personal problem, I listen to her. This means that she trusts me, so I will be there to help. I would suggest to that employee a solution and give advice on what she can do to stay busy at work in order to try to take her mind off the situation.

How do you motivate team members who are burned out, or bored?

I see being burned out and bored as two different situations, both of which deserve different responses. If a team member is burned out, it could be because he needs some time off to rest and recharge the batteries.

Some of the best and most creative ideas that I’ve gotten over my career came about while I was at vacation. Sometimes it is that time away that is needed to get my head out of the day-to-day to be able to look at a particular problem from a different perspective.

In the case of being bored, this often occurs when a team member is not doing work that is challenging enough, or the job is becoming too routine. My approach in this situation is to give that team member more challenging tasks and projects that can help that team member grow.

It is important as a leader to make sure that team members are constantly challenged because it is only in this way that the team member can grow. Team members must never stop growing and never stop learning. In all jobs there will be a lot of work that is routine, but the key is to mix in things to do that are interesting, engaging and a stretch for that person to achieve.

Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers.

I am generous with praise and credit. People have a natural tendency to want to feel valued and be recognized as someone who is contributing to the team. Looking for those small opportunities here and there to highlight the effort of someone in front of others is a great way to motivate a coworker or employee via positive reinforcement.

It is the little things that matter when it comes to motivation. Keeping a positive attitude, saying thanks, staying late, offering help…all these things are key to keeping someone motivated.

What do you think makes a great leader?

A great leader is able to inspire others. When I think of the great leaders of the past, they all were able to help others see the vision of what success looks like and get those people on board and invested in the dream.

Other qualities that make a great leader are confidence, decisiveness, and an ability to communicate well.

10. Organization Skills

Organization Skills

Organization Skills

Have you ever had to deal with conflicting deadlines?

I have had to deal with conflicting deadlines my entire career, both in the work world and before that in the academic world. I begin each day planning what are the most important things I need to get done that day and schedule them in order of decreasing priority. I like to get the most important, urgent tasks out of the way first.

How do you normally cope with a lot of work?

I tend to do well under pressure. If given a lot of work, the first thing I do is prioritize each task by urgency and then put each task into my calendar.

The key is to strike a good balance between getting the work done in a timely manner and producing a quality product. Both must be achieved, and I do this by focusing on the task at hand rather than multiple tasks at once. When the first task is done, I focus on the next task, and so on.

Are you a good time manager?

I am a good time manager. In fact in college, my friend used to call me the keeper of time. I was always punctual and finished tasks in a timely manner.

My main tool for keeping organized is my Google Calendar that synchs all of my various calendars into one. I use it for everything…not just meetings and appointments but also scheduling blocks of time for me to work alone on projects.

11. Problem Solving

Problem Solving

Problem Solving

How do you handle problems with customers?

A lot of times, customers just want to vent and be heard. They will be more receptive to you if you listen and even show a little empathy. A lot of problems can be resolved with a simple apology and a promise to improve and provide a better customer experience the next time.

When I was working as a customer service agent at [insert name of company], I received an email from a client complaining about his delayed package. The delayed package was due to an incorrect shipping address that the fulfillment company put on the package.

However, the faulty shipment was still part of the customer experience, and this would influence the perception that the customer would have of the company. I kept calm and searched for the information as quick as possible in order to solve the problem and avoid negative reviews online.

In the end, I was able to send him the tracking information, the date when the package would arrive, and the reason for the delay.

How do you usually go about solving a problem?

I begin by breaking the problem into small pieces and then trying to solve each piece. I try to gather as much information about the problem and potential solutions that might have been done in the past. I then list the pros and cons of each solution and then make a decision.

12. Decision Making

Decision Making

Decision Making

Describe a decision you made that was unpopular.

At VisaHunter, the original plan was to only focus on visa information. However, I noticed through my work on social media that a lot of people who needed visas also needed jobs. I suggested we open up a new area on the website to have links to job opportunities in different countries. This suggestion was unpopular at the time, but we decided to go ahead and test it. The jobs pages are among the most popular pages on the website.

Would you say you are good at making decisions?

I am good at making decisions. That is not to say that all the decisions that I have made in the past have been correct. All decisions are easy in hindsight; but looking at the particular situation and based on the information available at the time the decision needed to be made, I think I have done a pretty good job over my career.

I think often the worst thing, especially if you are in a leadership role, is to make no decision at all either out of fear of being wrong or fear of failure.

I paraphrase General Patton, a general of the U.S. Army during WWII, a decent plan well executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.

Tell me about a situation where you had to make a decision without all the facts.

Early in my career, I worked as a natural gas trader. I had to make a decision to buy or sell natural gas based on a number of factors – storage reports, weather, gas prices, political stability in the Middle East, and more. There is so much information to process that one can easily have the tendency to do analysis by paralysis in which you make no decision at all because you spend so much time trying to get just one more piece of information.

At a certain point, you just have to execute the trade. Trading is all about odds, and you will never know exactly what will happen in the future. You just have to use your experience to make a decision based on what you think is more likely to occur…an increase or decrease in price, based on your own interpretation of the information.

My early experiences in trading greatly helped my ability to make decisions under conditions of extreme uncertainty.

How do you reach a decision if you don’t have all the facts?

If I don’t have the facts, I usually base my decisions on my intuition, the sum of [enter your age now] years of experience and observation.

What was your most difficult decision?

Reducing the staff count at my previous firm was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make. A lot of employees that were let go have families, and you know that your decision will create an impact on the life of others beyond just those employees. Telling them that it would be their last day was not easy.

Ultimately, the decision to cut staff and streamline our operations was the best for our company because we became lean and more efficient. Costs were significantly reduced, and we were able to reemerge from the financial crisis stronger than we were before. However, despite the positive result on our company’s bottom line, it can’t compensate for how tough these decisions can be.

13. Ability to Handle Stress

Ability to Handle Stress

Ability to Handle Stress

Tell me about a time when you successfully handled a difficult situation.

At my previous company we had to issue a recall on one of our products due to a safety hazard that occurred when the product was operated in cold temperatures. We received thousands of calls from angry customers, and I remember working 3 days straight, 18 hours per day as we went into crisis management mode.

Fortunately, we had a plan in place for these situations, so we knew what to do. We contacted our clients individually, apologized, offered a solution, and offered assurance that we would improve our processes to ensure that it would not happen again.

Our treatment and the way we handled the situation gained a lot of confidence from our customers. Our repeat purchase rate actually increased the following year.

Tell about a time that you had to adapt to a difficult situation.

While working at my previous job, we had our budget cut 50% due to the financial crisis. However, the goals that were sent down from the higher ups remained the same. In other words, they wanted us to achieve the same targets on 50% of the budget.

It was difficult because a lot of the success of prior years was due to our strong radio and television marketing campaign which required a significant amount of financial resources. We had to get creative and think of a way to create just as much impact and awareness on a limited budget.

I then came up with the idea of creating a mini-YouTube video series. Several of the videos in the series ended up going viral with over 1M views. Sales ended up the year 28% greater than the previous year despite the fact that we had half of the normal budget. I ended up getting promoted the following year.

How do you handle pressure?

I do well under pressure. I like to first take a quick step back to organize all the tasks and work that needs to be done. Often that short moment of doing some prior planning can bring about ideas to get something done in a more efficient manner. Once I’ve done that, I begin work, managing my time adequately to get the job done but in a manner that is still of good quality.

The key is not to panic and to execute the plan. In any event, I like to have rehearsed or at least planned for high pressure situations in advance so that I know exactly what to do when the situation arises. I spend a lot of time doing scenario and risk analysis so that when these high pressure moments arise, I am ready.

How do you deal with stressful situations?

The key to dealing with stressful situations is to stay calm. You can waste a lot of energy and cloud your judgement by going into panic mode. Put the situation in perspective and then make a decision on the best action to take.

Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure.

We were under tight deadlines to produce the script for the launch video of our website that went viral, got over 3 million views and was featured on a number of media outlets, including CNN, Huffington Post, TMZ, Glamour, GQ, MTV, Men’s Health Magazine, and Women’s Health Magazine.

This pressure actually benefited me and enabled me to be more creative because I was under strict time constraints and had to focus on just the most important components of the animation, forcing me to be creative.

Name five signs that indicate your project may fail.

  1. Loss of funding
  2. Lack of upper management support
  3. Improperly managed scope…also known as scope creep where the purpose of the project begins to stray significantly from the original project scope
  4. Lack of employee buy-in
  5. Procrastination

Tell us about how you normally cope with a lot of work.

Each morning I open up a blank Notepad document and list what I have to do for the day. I list the items in order of urgency and then begin completing these tasks one-by-one. I have a longer term Notepad list that tracks other projects that I can work on after I am done with what is urgent, and I have another list that lists my top goals for the year. I always make sure that what I am doing on both the “today” list and the longer term list fall within the goals that I have set for myself for the year.

Google Calendar for me is a huge time management tool. I input everything in there from meetings to non-work appointments to personal work-time. I stick as closely to the schedule as possible so that, by the end of the day, I can look back with a sense that I got a lot accomplished during the day.

14. Work Ethic

Work Ethic

Work Ethic

In your job, what is good enough?

I am a perfectionist and am always looking for ways to improve. I do the best I can in creating a top quality work product that exceeds what is expected of me, but even in those situations, there are always areas where I could have done better. I will never stop learning and looking for ways to become a better [insert your profession here].

15. Attitude



Do you ever lose your temper?

I know that losing my temper will not accomplish that much. There are times when the behavior of a fellow coworker can cause me to get frustrated, but I try to remain calm and not say or do anything that I would regret afterwards.

The key for me has been refocusing that frustration into developing a solution rather than getting defensive or losing my temper. Also, normally when you remain calm, the other person begins to calm down and begins to match your temperament. Getting angry will only escalate the situation and emotions.

What is the most useful criticism you have ever received?

The best criticism I received was from a long-time CEO of a company who told me to pace myself and realize that success in any endeavor is a marathon, not a sprint.

Coming into work everyday and chipping away little-by-little as I work towards a goal is a much better than burning the midnight oil day-in-day-out, trying to do everything all at once. There is a time and a place when burning the midnight oil, working nights and weekends is a must, but it is not all the time, and doing this all the time is not sustainable, particularly if I want to keep physically and mentally strong over the long haul.

How do you deal with criticism?

I like criticism. I think people are often hesitant to give direct criticism because they don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. I don’t have a problem with it at all as long as it is constructive. Good constructive criticism is a must in order to become better and continually improve.

Do you consider yourself a risk taker?

I take calculated risks. When approached with a particular situation, I like to consider all of the potential scenarios and gather as much information as possible in an appropriate amount of time in order to make an informed decision. With this information I can better understand the risk-reward profile and then make a decision from there.

In situations where the reward is sizeable enough compared to the risk, I normally decide to take the risk.

I think a lot of companies lose in the long run when they fail to take these small bets in which the potential payout is large compared to the downside risk. In order to stay relevant and competitive, it is imperative to take calculated risks when appropriate.

16. Self-Motivation



Give an example of when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.

We were under tight deadlines to produce the script for the launch video of our new product. We were asked to create a short video to showcase the product. I decided that since knowledge of our product was low, we needed to construct the video in an infomercial format with top-of-the-line graphics.

As we were limited due to budget, I decided to have an animation artist do the work, and I wrote the script for the video and hired the voiceover artist.

The video was a tremendous success, much more successful than we had imagined. It got over 4 million views and was featured on a number of media outlets.

What motivates you?

I enjoy [insert your industry]. For me, doing [insert the work you do] is not just a job, it is a calling. It provides me with a deep sense of purpose and satisfaction going into work everyday.

There is always something new to learn in the field. The industry is ever-changing and incredibly stimulating intellectually. Most importantly, I enjoy the impact that we have on society, making people happy and helping to improve their quality of life. It is such a great feeling when I get to see another satisfied customer.

What was the last book you’ve read for fun?

The Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt

Would you work overtime?

Every job requires moments when overtime work is required to get the job done. How often should I expect to work overtime in this job?

Are you a self starter? Can you give examples?

Absolutely. Over my career I have initiated a number of projects, a few of which directly improved my company’s bottom line. One project that I launched at my last job was [describe the project]. This project [list a few of the good results that came about as a result of this project].

17. Creativity



Tell me about a situation when you showed visionary or strategic thinking.

[Insert your story here…here is an example…] When I first launched my website,, it was originally intended to be solely a site for visas. A number of my visitors who received visas wanted to stay in the countries they were visiting. In order to do so, they needed employment.

I received questions everyday about how to get a job in different countries around the world. I decided to open up a new section on my website for jobs. This change positioned my website as not just a site for visas, but a site where current or future expatriates could come to plan their new lives.

Tell me about a time when you had to use your creativity to solve a problem.

While working at my previous job, we had to cut our budget in half due to the Recession. However, our targets remained the same despite the fewer resources we had to work with.

We were successful in previous years due to our strong radio and television marketing campaign which required a significant amount of financial resources. We had to get creative and think of a way to create just as much impact and awareness on a limited budget.

I then came up with the idea to create a mini-YouTube video series. Several of the videos in the series ended up going viral with over 1M views. Sales ended up the year 38% greater than the previous year, and I ended up getting promoted.

Which is more important: creativity or efficiency? Why?

Both. Those who are efficient are able to use the resources of the firm in the most efficient way possible, leading to a direct impact on the bottom line.

On the other hand, creativity is necessary in order to keep a company competitive. Far too many companies rest on their laurels and fail to innovate.

Being creative in coming up with new strategies and ideas and then executing those ideas in an efficient manner are equally important.

18. Company Knowledge

Company Knowledge

Company Knowledge

What do you know about [insert name of company]?

[Wikipedia and the “About” page of the firm that you are applying to will have this information.]

What do you know about this position?

[What employers are looking for here is to see that you have done some research about the position. Discuss what you know based on the job posting description but also discuss what you know from doing research of your own. This research can come from the actual company website or just a simple search on the web where you might find feedback from former employees in the particular role that you are interested in.]

Who are our competitors?

[If the company that you are applying to is public, Yahoo! Finance will have this information. If the company is a startup company or private company, sites like will contain a list of competitors. A simple Google search should turn up results.]

What is the name of our CEO?

[Insert the name of the CEO of the company]

Why do you think customers choose our products and services over our competitors?

Price. When someone is purchasing a product from you, they know that they are getting the lowest price for that product. [Insert name of company]’s economies of scale enable them to sell products at a much lower price compared to competitors, enabling the consumer to save hundreds if not thousands of dollars each year.

Why, in your opinion, do customers choose our products and services?

[Insert name of company] has a reputation for excellent customer service. If you call the company’s customer service line, you know that you will get a knowledgeable and courteous customer service representative each time.

A lot of customers say that they value customers, and then when you call about a problem, they put you on hold for 30 minutes. [Insert name of company] truly practices what it preaches in terms of putting the customer first.

How could we make the company more competitive?

I think [insert name of company] is missing out on a number of opportunities by not offering a wider selection of products from other countries. Having a more diverse product line will help [insert company] distinguish itself in what is an ultra-competitive market.

I believe that with a wider product base, you will have a large segment of people that will come to the store to buy goods that are not available elsewhere.

What are the market trends that impact us?

Payment using one’s smartphone is one of the fastest growing trends in the market. A number of retailers are already offering several mobile payment solutions to make the checkout process more efficient. A number of technology and retail experts are predicting that more people will use payment by smartphone in the future than credit card.

What do you see as the main threats to our business in the long term? What can we do to ensure long-term success?

The [insert the industry that you’re in] industry is becoming more commoditized. As a result, prices are dropping quickly, and the large margins that the market players are enjoying now will become increasingly thin.

The survivors will find ways to differentiate their products and provide value added services that offer higher margins than the current standard product offerings.

Is this your ideal company?

Absolutely. This particular position allows me to use my talents in customer service, it is a great fit for my background and skillset, and it is located in [insert name of city] which is where most of my family resides.

What can we do to make sure that we stay relevant over the long term?

Place the customer first. Amazon is a great example of a company that does this. Every decision that is made is done with the mindset of “how will this decision benefit the customer.” When you put the customer first, great things happen.

A lot of companies say they put the customer first, but how many of us have been on hold for hours while waiting to speak with a customer service representative? And keeping the customer first doesn’t just apply to customer service, but also to being aware of the changing needs of the consumer and responding accordingly.

What do you see as the main threats to our business in the short term?

The economy is in a slump, so a lot of people are spending less. Making sure to stay efficient during these lean times is important for companies that want to emerge out of the economic crisis in a better position.

19. Competency



What can you offer us that someone else can’t? (a.k.a. Why should we hire you?)

I have worked in this industry for the last 20 years. Not too many have that level of experience as the industry is only about 25 years old. I began as an analyst and rose up through the ranks to senior leadership positions, eventually becoming head of my division.

In addition to my years of experience, I worked 5 years abroad. 2 of those 5 years were in Europe, and 3 of those years were in Latin America. I have a strong understanding of how business works in both places and know how to solve the various challenges that come about when trying to expand product lines into either of these regions.

In an increasingly globalized economy, knowing how business works in other countries is critical for staying competitive.

What concerns you about this job?

I have no concerns about this job. I think it is a great fit for my background and skillset, and I believe I could deliver value from day 1.

How do you think you can make a contribution to [insert name of company]?

I lived abroad for 5 years in Latin America and know how business works there. I noticed that you have recently launched several product lines in Brazil. I’d be interested in working on this project and would be able to deliver value due to my boots-on-the-ground experience and the extensive network I established there during my work in the country.

What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days/60 days/90 days on the job?

During my first 30 days, I would focus on learning the organization and the role inside and out. I would ask a lot of questions and take a lot of notes. During this period, I would work on being a sponge, absorbing as much information as possible and meeting everyone in my department.

During the second 30 days, I would [insert 2-3 concrete results you hope to get out of the second 30 days].

During the third 30 days, I would continue to execute, look for ways I can become more efficient, and identify areas where I can be more proactive.

Explain how you would be an asset to [insert name of company]?

I have over 10 years of experience in customer service and have dealt with just about every type of customer you can imagine. At my last job, I received high marks in customer satisfaction surveys.

I do a great job of listening and go above and beyond to make the customer feel valued. I think my background and skillset would be a significant asset for [insert name of company].

Do you think you are overqualified for this position?

You might take a look at my resume and think, “why would he apply to this position.” The reason is that I believe this role is a perfect fit for my background, skillset and interests. I am really interested in this position and see my experience and education as an asset for this role, enabling me to see opportunities that others might not see. I’m confident that I would be able to deliver value from day 1.

20. On-the-Job Situational Questions

On-the-Job Situational Questions

On-the-Job Situational Questions

How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?

A lot of customers are looking to blow off steam when they call in angry. It is important to remain calm and treat the customer with respect. Angry customers are often a sign that something is wrong, and we are falling short in some area of our product or service.

What I do in these situations is to listen carefully to the customer, take a lot of notes, empathize with the customer, and then decide on the best course of action for solving the problem.

During my 3 years as a customer service representative, I consistently scored high on customer satisfaction surveys using these techniques. I always tried to imagine that the person on the other end of the line was a friend or family member. I gave the customers the same level of treatment and attention that I would give to someone I know and cared for.

How would you fire someone?

First, make sure that you do your best to make the right hire. The key is to have a process in place that enables you to choose the right candidate for the right position.

The next step is when you hire that person, make sure that you tell her what your expectations are for the role. I like to do quarterly performance reviews with each member of my staff in order to give feedback and receive feedback on what is going right and areas where we can improve.

In a situation in which it is clear that a particular person is not able to perform in a particular role and has been given enough times to prove that they can do the work, I notify human resources of the situation and then follow the appropriate procedures for doing the firing.

Tell us about the last time you had to negotiate with someone.

As Head of Procurement at my current company, I have to negotiate prices all the time. I always believe that the best approach to negotiating is one in which both sides give and take in order to arrive at a win-win deal.

Both sides might not have gotten all they wanted, but nobody feels taken advantage of. During my most recent negotiation, I [insert a brief story of when you negotiated. What was negotiated? What did you have to give up? What did you get when all was said and done?]

Tell me about a time when you challenged a way of working.

During my last job, I thought that the frequency of meetings was really high. As a programmer, I need to spend time coding, and meetings carry a high opportunity cost. Time spent in meetings is less time I can spend developing code and improving our software.

I suggested to my boss that we implement a project management software tool that enables the entire team to track each other’s day-to-day projects all in one place. This implementation cut the number of meetings in half and saved hours of time for all staff members, enabling us to work more efficiently and get more done.

Tell me about a time where you had to balance your personal and professional life.

As a general rule, I don’t take work home. When I am home, I want to spend quality time with my family.

In order to balance my personal and professional life, I do a lot of planning. I spend the 30 minutes on the subway each morning planning my day and responding to e-mails, and each evening on the way home, I do a recap of what I got done during the day and what was not done.

Planning in this way enables me to hit the ground running when I come into work and not waste time on unimportant tasks. I am able to minimize the chance that I need to stay at work late or come in on a weekend.

On occasion, there are times when burning the midnight oil is a must, and I have no problem doing that, but I try to make sure that these times are few and far between by being as productive as possible during the work day.

Give me an example when you have given excellent customer service.

We really messed up on a customer’s order once. We put in the wrong address, and the customer ended up receiving product seven days after the original delivery date. I called the customer personally to apologize for the situation and to ensure that it would not happen again. I also told him to call my extension the next time he needed to place an order, and I would do it personally and give it overnight shipping.

Our company policy gives us some leeway with what we can do with customers, and I made sure I took it to the limit of what I could do with this customer. To this day, this customer orders from us, and it is amazing what these little gestures can do to make a customer feel special.

21. Job Skills Tests

Job Skills Tests

Job Skills Tests

Try to sell me this pen.

[You can find a great answer for this popular sales interview question here at]

Where do you generate your best leads?

I generate my best leads through SEO. This has to do with the fact that when someone types in a Google query into a search engine, they are looking for something ultra-specific and, therefore, the conversion rate is higher.

What are the components of a successful marketing plan.

[You can find a great answer for this question here at the American Express forum.]

22. Questions for the Interviewer

Questions for the Interviewer

Questions for the Interviewer

Below are some sample questions that you can ask when the interviewer asks you, “Do you have any questions?”

  • What are the goals of your department?
  • What specific problems are you hoping to solve during the first six months?
  • What results are expected?
  • What have past employees done to succeed in this position?
  • Where would you see me in 5 years?
  • What are some challenges that will face the person filling this position?
  • What do you enjoy most about working at [insert name of company]?
  • How would you describe a typical week/day in this position?
  • Is this a new position? If not, what did the previous employee go on to do?
  • How would you describe the company’s management style?
  • Who does this position report to? If I am offered the position, can I meet him/her?
  • How many people work in this office/department?
  • Is travel expected in this position? If so, how much?
  • What are the prospects for growth and advancement?
  • What would you say are the best things about working here?
  • Would you like a list of references?
  • If I am extended a job offer, how soon would you like me to start?

23. How to Prepare for Your Interview Using This List

So there you have it…the top 150 most common interview questions. I would recommend that you modify the sample answers that I have presented above so that you adapt your response to the particular job that you are seeking and then spend several days making flash cards and then rehearsing your answers. Even better, get a friend or family member to play “interviewer” and ask you the questions so that you can practice.

The more you practice, the better you will get, and the more natural sounding you will be when the time comes for your interview. Once you have the content down and know what exactly you want to say, you can then focus on how you say it, tone of voice, facial expressions, etc. You have one chance to make a first impression, so make it a good one.

Oh yeah, one more thing…following your interview, don’t forget to follow up with the interviewer with a thank you note, thanking them for their time and for considering you for the job position. Good luck!

24. References

“50 Most Common Interview Questions | Glassdoor Blog.” Glassdoor Blog., 16 Mar. 2015. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.

Corfield, Rebecca. Successful Interview Skills: How to Prepare, Answer Tough Questions and Get Your Ideal Job. London: Kogan Page, 2009.

Gibbs, Charlie. How to Answer Hard Interview Questions. Oxford: How To, 2009.

Kennedy, Joyce Lain. Job Interviews for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2012.

Krannich, Caryl Rae., and Ronald L. Krannich. Nail the Job Interview!: 101 Dynamite Answers to Interview Questions. Manassas Park, VA: Impact Publications, 2007.

Margolin, Lavie, and Rachel Miller. Winning Answers to 500 Interview Questions. New York, NY: H. Delilah Business & Career, 2014.

Podmoroff, Dianna. 501 Great Interview Questions for Employers and the Best Answers for Prospective Employees. Ocala, FL: Atlantic Pub. Group, 2005.

“Top 10 Interview Questions and Sample Answers.” Hire Heroes USA. Hire Heroes, 15 May 2012. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.

Further Reading

  • Worldwide Online Dating Site Reviews: Be sure to check out my country-by-country reviews of the best online dating sites in the world.

  • Worldwide Moving Guide: Everything you need to know in order to plan your move to 65+ countries around the world.

  • Worldwide Jobs Guide: If you are interested in working in this country, be sure to check out my posts on how to find jobs in this country and other countries around the world.

  • Worldwide Apartments Guide: If you are interested in renting an apartment in another country, take a look at my articles on how to find an apartment in various countries around the world.

About Addison Sears-Collins

Hey! I'm Addison Sears-Collins, the founder of Visa Hunter. You can learn more about me here. Connect with me by liking my fan page on Facebook, connecting with me on Twitter, or check out my website Automatic Addison where I build robots and embedded systems. accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to the accuracy of the information contained on this site. Please read the Visitor Agreement and Disclaimer. If you think there is an error in the information, please bring it to our attention so that we can correct it. Also, some of the links above could be affiliate links, which means that I will earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) should you decide to click on the links and make a purchase. I recommend sites from time to time, not because I get a tiny commission if you click on the links and make a purchase, but because, I want you to focus on the places that will deliver you the most value and the best results. Good luck!