Most Common Interview Questions
There are literally hundreds of potential questions that you may be asked during an interview. Conduct an online search and you will see far more questions/answers than you can handle. The most common interview questions presented here (and how to answer them) were selected from highly credible sources including Glassdoor, LinkedIn, TheLadders, Indeed, and others that were consistently mentioned among all of them. The questions are listed below:
Tell me about yourself.
Make a one-minute interesting story about yourself, how you got to where you are, and what your achievements are. Don’t simply list details about your experiences. You have to find your one-sentence that concisely describes you if you want people to remember you. Try it out whenever someone asks you, “What do you do? “or “Tell me about yourself.” Make your story coherent and focused. You want your story to show that you are a perfect fit for the job. Present, past, and future guidelines. First you start with the present—where you are right now. Then, segue into the past—a little bit about the experiences you’ve had and the skills you gained at the previous position. Finally, finish with the future—why you are excited for this opportunity. Focus on experiences and skills that are most relevant to the position.
“I’m currently an analyst for ABC Investments, where I manage our top 10 client’s portfolios worth $100+ million. Prior to that, I headed three boutique funds across the nation with a focus on public equities. And while I really enjoyed the work that I did, I’d love the chance to dig in much deeper with one specific hedge fund company, which is why I’m so excited about this opportunity with XYZ.”
Tell me about your experience at Company X.
In other words, how does your past experience relate to the job the hiring manager is looking to fill? When answering this question, you want to convince the hiring manager that you can hit the ground running and bring value to the team by providing specific examples that resulted in successful outcomes.
“Despite working for a company that prefers organic growth, I have worked through the nuances that evolve when two organizations with distinct cultural norms are brought together. For example, recently, new leadership from Company Y brought new ways of evaluating projects. I set out to understand their ways of doing things by building a rapport with key leaders and sharing with them the institutional knowledge I acquired during a successful eight-year career in the firm. An example of when my knowledge was beneficial is…etc.”
What is your biggest professional accomplishment to date?
This is your opportunity to provide an example that shows you can do the job. Think about the skills detailed in the job description and which of your accomplishments most directly relate. The goal is to convey to the hiring manager not only your past successes but also what you are capable of accomplishing if offered the job.
“My greatest accomplishment was when I grew the ABC platform business on my agency’s behalf by 25% in one year. Most clients were cutting back on producing events as a way to warm leads for their sales force. With my creative team, I came up with a way to offer the same high-touch experience via webinars. Each webinar was accessible 24 hours a day and led by ABC thought leaders. In the end, I reduced event production costs by 40% and with those savings, ABC invested in more webinars worldwide. I won my agency’s award and was soon promoted.”
How would people you have worked with describe you?
This question centers on how well you work with others and your ability to manage relationships with your peers, managers, and direct reports. Give examples of situations that illustrate how you work with people across various functions. Answer truthfully, as the hiring manager will reach out to your references at a later point to ensure your perception of yourself is in line with theirs.
“My previous managers would describe me as someone who would rather tirelessly overcome obstacles on my own than continuously seek managerial guidance. I make my managers’ lives easier in this way. For example, when I first started working at firm C, I was asked to figure out ways to cut costs. Instead of relying on my manager, who had other projects to oversee, I decided to better understand the transportation logistics that my employer needed in each facility. After seeing what worked best and what could be improved, I took this information to my manager, who was grateful for my initiative.”
What is your greatest weakness?
Often dreaded by job candidates, the key to answering this question is to be honest yet strategic. You also need to address the unspoken follow-up, which is what you are doing to overcome your weakness. Ultimately, you want to show the hiring manager that you are self-aware, thoughtful, and proactive about your strengths and weaknesses.
“My greatest weakness is my low patience when a team member withholds important information to the detriment of his/her peers or the assignment’s success. I have always tried to maximize knowledge-sharing by bringing team members together prior to launching any assignment to ensure everyone is on the same page. Yet, there have been times when people have withheld information even after these efforts. In those instances, I have learned to speak privately with those team members to understand why information was withheld.”
What are your strengths?
Ensure your skills/qualifications match those listed in the job description and provide an example of how you have used the strength in your previous positions. Focus on what the company needs.
“My greatest strength is my faculty to analyze and streamline systems to increase effectiveness. During my work as an investment analyst, I developed multiple processes including key checklists and training to increase the accuracy of the financial statements to internal and external auditors. My efforts directly led to significantly increasing efficiency and helping the company avoid $250,000 in penalties.”
Why are you the best person for this position? Why should we hire you?
In asking this question, the hiring manager is looking for you to succinctly convey what sets you apart from the other candidates. Think of your most impressive and unique strengths that closely relate to the job description. Use those strengths to pitch yourself in a way that clearly illustrates the skill set and qualities you bring to the table.
“My analytical horsepower sets me apart from other candidates. For example, I imagine all of your candidates can create robust Excel-based financial models. However, I can also see and articulate the business story behind the numbers to influence decision-making. During a major food-chain deal, I conducted the due diligence necessary to come up with the right multiple that my superiors should consider based not only on raw data but also on what was the best way to position the assets we were selling. My strategy resulted in a more profitable deal.”
Do you have any questions for me?
You will get to the end of the interview, and the person will say, “Do you have any questions for me?” The questions that everyone recommends you ask are questions that would help you know what the company is looking for in a new hire: Questions about the goals and philosophies of the company, about the parameters of the position you’re interviewing for, about the expectations for the person they hire.
“What would the first three goals be for the person who takes this job? What are the biggest hurdles to overcome in this position? What type of person do you think will be most successful in this position?”
If you ask a variation of these questions toward the beginning of the interview — even if you ask only one or two — you’ll be in a much better position to ace the rest of the interview.
There are literally hundreds of potential questions that an interviewer may ask but these are the eight most frequent ones based on research from Glassdoor, LinkedIn, TheLadders, Indeed, and others. You should be very comfortable with answering these eight questions and expect some or all of them (or some variation of them) during your interview.
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