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Top 10 Interview Questions and How To Answer Them

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If you have an interview for a new job and are worried about how to prepare, consider the top 10 interview questions and how to answer them. Thinking about what a hiring official wants to know will help you feel confident when you walk in the door. The top 10 interview questions for teachers may differ slightly from the top 10 interview questions for nurses, but the basic information remains the same.

1. Tell Me About Yourself.

Among the top 10 interview questions asked for any position, you’ll find that the most common is a question that asks you to introduce yourself. Use this opening question to help the interviewer learn more about your personality and background. If you have any employment gaps, you can explain those during your answer to this question. You’ll also want to include a memorable fact about who you are and how you can make a difference.

For example, you may want to answer this question like this:

"I’m a seasoned professional and a go-getter. My passion is making a difference and being a team player in an organization."

Hiring officials are looking for candidates who are a good fit for the organization. Communicating that you are someone who works hard and works well with others will check an important box for an interviewer who is looking for the ideal addition to the team.

2. Why Are You Interested in the Position?

Expect to be asked why you applied for the position early in the interview. An interviewer is interested in knowing what drew you to the organization and the specific job posting. Do some research in advance about the company so you’ll have tangible information about what attracted you to the position.

Consider this example:

"When I saw the position announcement, I knew that the job duties were a perfect fit for my talents and experience. I’m excited about working for a company that has such success-driven goals."

You can add some specifics about what impresses you about the company and how you can contribute to the organizational goals.

3. What Are Your Strengths?

One of the top 10 questions asked in every interview is about your strengths and talents. The way that you communicate your special gifts is as important as the positive attributes that you share. Confidence and humility are the perfect combination for the answer to this question.

Look at this response as an example:

"One of my greatest strengths is my ability to multitask. I’m very comfortable managing multiple projects simultaneously and feel that this adds to my ability to make a measurable difference on a team."

Add a specific example of how you’ve used your strengths on an assigned project or initiative to make an even greater impression.

4. What Are Your Weaknesses?

Don’t be surprised if you’re asked about your weaknesses immediately following a question about your strengths. An interviewer is eager to hear about how you would characterize areas of growth. Select a weakness that can also be perceived as a strength for this question.

For example, you may want to answer this question like this:

"One of my weaknesses is that I really love to work. I sometimes need to remind myself to exercise work-life balance. My zeal to complete a task or project becomes a personal mission."

Everyone has weak areas, but you don’t need to reveal all of your shortcomings during an interview. Consider the context for the question before you answer it.

5. Tell Me About an Obstacle You’ve Encountered.

A top 10 interview question for managers and most other professional positions is about a challenge that you’ve faced and how you handled it. This is your time to showcase your problem-solving abilities and your tenacity in the face of adversity. Think about more than one example so you’re prepared to give a thorough answer.

Consider this example:

"My car stalled on the way to give an important project presentation. I acted swiftly to get a ride, and on my way to the presentation, I arranged for my car to be towed to a repair shop. Since I’m always running early to meetings, I made it for the presentation on time. I use objectivity when faced with an obstacle, and this allows me to manage the problem and move forward."

When discussing an obstacle that you’ve faced, be clear about how you managed it. You’ll also want to use an example that has a positive outcome.

6. What Salary Are You Seeking?

As you prepare for the top 10 interview questions asked, an inquiry about your desired salary may be one of the most challenging on the list. You can evade the question with a general response that relates the salary to your experience. An alternative option is to pose a salary that is commensurate with others that you find in the industry.

For example, you may want to answer this question like this:

"I’m eager to learn more about your compensation offer. If your salary and benefits are in line with industry standards and take my experience into consideration, I’m sure that we can negotiate a deal."

It’s important to do research about potential salary packages that have been offered by the company. You may get this information from other industry insiders or someone you know who works for the organization. If you decide to propose a salary, a number that is too high may take you out of consideration. It’s better to negotiate a compensation package after you receive a firm offer of employment.

7. How Do You Handle Adversity or Team Discord?

While similar to the question about handling an obstacle, this question primarily focuses on your ability to get along with others. Ultimately, most interviews are designed to learn more about how you will fit in with others. Will you be effective and enjoyable to be around, or are you going to be a difficult employee? Put on your best team attitude when answering this question.

Try this response as an example:

"I love to work independently, but I also look forward to working collaboratively with others. I feel invigorated by the synergy that occurs in a team environment. When I encounter a challenging interaction with a colleague, I believe in talking it through. Often, a team becomes stronger when the team members work together to solve problems."

Consider having an example that you can share that illustrates your commitment to working through conflict and inspiring cohesive teamwork. If you’ve ever had a problem that didn’t get resolved, avoid using that as an example for the answer to this question. Most people are uncomfortable with conflict and confrontation. A hiring official is looking for someone who is committed to working well with others and is focused on organizational harmony.

8. How Do You Manage Stress?

One of the top 10 interview questions for nurses and other professionals is to ask about your ability to remain calm in stressful situations. Disguised as a question asking for stress-management techniques, a hiring official is really wanting to know if you have a short fuse and how much work can be safely stacked on your plate. Be strategic in how you answer this question.

An example to consider is:

"I thrive in a high-pressure environment. I am in tune with myself and know when I need a quick break to become recentered on my work. A quick walk around the building or deep breathing does the trick for a day that is packed full of challenges. I find that beginning or ending my day with exercise or meditation refreshes my mind."

If you don’t thrive in a high-pressure environment, it’s important to know more about what kind of job you’re considering. Do your research in advance so you’re not surprised by the job or the work culture. In the end, you don’t want to take a high-stress job that sets you up to fail.

9. What Are Your Long-Term Career Goals?

Be prepared to respond to a question that prompts you to disclose your long-range career plan. This is one of the top 10 interview questions that can be tricky to answer. Like all interview questions, you’ll want to think strategically about what information to share. Hiring officials want to know that you’re not looking for a short gig that will serve as a ladder-climbing tool.

An example of a response to this question is:

"My long-term goal is to continue growing as a leader in my field. I’m interested in accelerated responsibilities and, potentially, a larger management position. I believe that this position will help me develop more fully as a professional and realize my long-term goals."

You can follow up this question with a question of your own that asks about the opportunities for advancement. Read the interviewer carefully to determine if the hiring official would be open to this type of question. You can also wait to ask this question until after you’ve been offered the position.

10. What Question Were You Hoping We Would Ask but Didn’t?

You may not be asked this question directly, but the closing of an interview is an opportunity to fill in anything that you didn’t get to say along the way. This is one of the top 10 interview questions that you’ll encounter and may be phrased like, “Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?” Seize this opportunity to make a dazzling last impression.

Consider something like this:

"I am confident that I can make a substantial impact and make a difference for your organization. My experience and drive are a perfect combination for the attributes needed for this position. I look forward to the opportunity to work with you on cutting-edge initiatives that will transform (enter the industry or job position purpose here)."

This final question serves as a way for you to act as a closer on your own behalf. Have something prepared that will speak to your talents, the duties of the position and the needs of the company. Be nimble and ready to insert something that you pick up during the interview.

Prepare a List of Questions to Ask

Remember that an interview is a two-way street. The organization is interviewing you, but you’re also interviewing the organization. You don’t want to take a job that is the wrong fit or work for a bad boss. The questions that you ask are just another way that the hiring official can gauge your interest and understanding of the company.

Questions that you can ask include:

  1. How do the company values come alive each day in the workplace?

  2. Why do you enjoy working for the company?

  3. How would you describe success in this position?

  4. Is there anything that I said during the interview that gives you pause about offering me the job?

  5. What are the most critical things that you would like to accomplish in the next month, six months and year?

  6. What kind of team building and staff development is common in the organization?

  7. What are the long-term goals of the company?

  8. What is your hiring timeline?

  9. Are there any other questions that I can answer?

References

About the Author

Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years. She has numerous publications with Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and Kinect Education Group.