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9 Practice Interview Questions and Answers To Know

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Written by

Kerry Wang

CEO, Co-Founder


September 24, 2020 11:17 PM


Best Practices

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The job search can feel incredibly demanding at times. It's tempting to unplug once you've landed yourself a job interview that you're pretty sure (like 89%) you could land in your sleep. 

When it comes to job interviews, I can't overstate enough how important it is to prepare. Nerves have a funny way of affecting our ability to answer even the most straightforward questions. Hiring managers want to hire the best candidate so recruiters are prepared to disqualify job seekers who display red flags.

This article will provide you with practice interview questions that will help you prepare sample answers that get you closer to getting the job. I'll list a few potential red flags for each question too so you know how to avoid the wrong answer in your next interview.

9 Practice Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

1. Tell me about yourself.

This is a nice ice breaker at the start of the interview process that helps the recruiter or hiring manager understand you better so they can jump into the meat of the questions.

Your answer should include:

  • Present your answers in the past, present, and future format. Provide something that you're proud of achieving in your current company, how your previous career path led you to that achievement, and what you hope to achieve in the future. 

Red flags to avoid:

  • Oversharing personal information.
  • Shooting off an unprepared answer that doesn't have a structure or appropriate segue. 

Sample answer:

“I’m really proud of starting a Meals on Wheels initiative in our organization. In the past, I found I was so focused on productivity and numbers that I forgot about serving the larger community so I wanted to create that initiative in my current position. I hope to excite my future team about the importance of giving back to the community in my next position also.”

2. Why do you want this job?

This is about showing off your skills. It's a prime opportunity to provide a pitch that speaks directly to the job description. What work experience are you bringing to the table that they simply can't do without? 

Your answer should include:

  • An action plan for what you plan to achieve. It should reference the key objectives laid out in the job description or on the website. 
  • Your knowledge of the company and what you know about the CEO. Research can include studying the website, their LinkedIn page, and earnings report.

Red flags to avoid:

  • Overpromising skills that you don't have.
  • A nonchalant or aloof response. Instead of the "too cool for school" approach, win them over with storytelling. What is it about your background or work experience that makes you the best candidate?

Sample answer:

“From reading the job description I immediately got excited about bringing my management experience to (XYZ company). Helping the development team shift gears to an agile work environment is exciting because I’ve seen firsthand how productive it can be in my own team of eight engineers. When I started at my last job, we had a lot of projects stalled due to slow hand-off. I pitched the agile model and shortly after implementing it we saw efficiency increase up to 250% on any given week. I’m impressed with the forward-thinking approach that (CEO name) is taking (XYZ company).”

3. Why are you looking for a new job?

This is one of the most common questions. It says a lot about you as a job-seeker when you answer this question. Even if you had to quit a difficult manager or had issues with a team member, keep your answer vague and fact-based. There's no need to get into the nitty-gritty.

Your answer should include: 

  • Honesty. Tell the truth without embellishing or getting into a rant about all the things your current employer does incorrectly. Start your answer off by showing gratitude. Discuss what you like about your current company along with a statement about what could be improved.

Examples of this could be:

  • The opportunity to lead
  • A shorter distance to work/commute
  • Remote opportunities

Red flags to avoid:

  • Any kind of bashing of your current company. It will only reflect poorly on your professionalism.

Sample answer:

“I really love working for my current company. They’ve given me every available opportunity to grow within the organization but I’ve been really curious to learn more about the (XYZ) industry, so I have to honor that and see where it leads.”

4. Why should we hire you?

Practice interview questions: Searchlight Webpage

The interviewers want to know what skills and work experience you're bringing to the table. This could very well be a tick box exercise for the recruiter or hiring manager who needs to ensure all the skills you have listed on your LinkedIn check out. 

If you’re a Searchlight user, it will be easier for future employers to confidently determine you as a match without the interrogation. They’ll be able to use the data provided through your references directly. 

Your answer should include:

  • A direct reference to the job description qualifications section. It should be rehearsed without sounding rehearsed. This is the ultimate time to cement yourself into your next dream job.

Red flags to avoid:

  • An oversimplified, overconfident answer. Instead, provide metrics or proof that leaves no doubt in their mind that you're the best candidate.

Sample answer:

“You mentioned that talent retention was an issue and I know that it’s something that I can help you with. I’ve reduced our turnover rate to less than 10% within my current company. With my training and on-the-job experience as Head of Talent, I know that we can get you there too.”

5. What do you like least about your current job?

This is a question that helps match you with the work environment so you will want to answer honestly without trashing your current company. It's a fine line. 

Try to focus on the things that attracted you to the company that you're interviewing with versus too much emphasis on what's missing in your current job. They’ll be so satisfied with a positive answer that they won’t dig for what you hated in your last job, trust me.

Your answer should include:

  • A couple of honest yet inconsequential changes you would make to your current company.
  • A few positive aspects about the role that you're interviewing for and the reasons that they're important to you.

Red flags to avoid:

  • Giving away detailed company information (especially if the two companies are in competition).
  • Reducing your answer down to a negative rant without any self-reflective insight.

Sample answer:

“Where I am now, the team never eats together. It made me realize how much I crave a dynamic company culture that is more social and openly supportive. I really like that you list that as central to your core beliefs and it's what has attracted me to this opportunity.”

6. What's your greatest strength?

This is a cliché question that almost every job seeker has come to expect. While you may be amazing at macramé, it's probably not important to include that in your job interview. Instead, try to match your strength to something listed directly on the job description.

Your answer should include:

  • A relevant example of a professional attribute that you're proud of. 
  • Supporting evidence and storytelling to bring your point home. It's always more impressive to hear an anecdotal example and can help build rapport. The Harvard Business Review says that “stories create 'sticky' memories by attaching emotions to things that happen. That means leaders who can create and share good stories have a powerful advantage over others." I think it works just as well in job interviews too.

Red flags to avoid:

  • A robotic list of qualifications that lack supportive evidence.

Sample answer:

“I’m really proud of my ability to give honest and helpful feedback. I think it’s one of the most important skills a manager can have. An old report of mine told me recently that when he was a new hire on my team, it was the quality of feedback that made him feel like he could keep growing within the company. He said there were times when it would have been easier to quit but that he wanted to make me proud. He’s now a top salesperson in the company and manager of his own team. That makes it all worth it.”

7. What's your greatest weakness?

This is a great example to showcase your self-awareness and growth mindset. It's a good idea to be honest here rather than falsely modest. What are you trying to get better at?

Your answer should include:

  • Evidence that you've given this question some thought even if you weren't expecting it in the interview. If you can't think of professional examples, try to relate other examples back to your work in some way.

Red flags to avoid:

  • Stalling or acting confused by the question. This is a very common interview question that you should be prepared to address.

Sample answer:

“I’d really like to do a better job of sticking to alotted time frames for meetings. As the team size grows, I find it difficult to keep everyone on task and we often run over our time which I know hurts my team. This has been on my mind more recently within the remote workplace when every minute is extra precious.”

8. How does this position support your career goals?

Young men and women discussing

Connect your career path to aspects of the job description. This cements that it's the right fit by demonstrating why you'll be motivated by the work and well-suited to the work environment. Just think — all this from one job interview question answered well.

Your answer should include:

  • A forward-thinking and thoughtful response that may include where you see yourself in one, three, or five years time (ideally relating it to the company and industry you're interviewing for). 
  • Aspects of the job description that you feel match your career goals like flexibility, opportunity to travel, a more client-facing role, or whatever it is that drew you in. Share how these aspects enforce your larger career path.

Red flags to avoid:

  • Vagueness. Be specific about how the flexible work hours allow for more family time in the mornings, for example, and why that's important to you. 
  • Fitting yourself into a position that's clearly not right for you. If it's a scrappy startup the long hours may not align to your goal of more work/life balance. That's good to know from the get-go. There's no sense being offered a new job that's not what you want.

Sample answer:

“I’m a new dad so it’s important to me that I’m home at a decent time to support my partner and spend time with my child. Earlier in my career I would’ve slept under my desk if given the opportunity — I love what I do! Now my priority is to have a balanced work/home life. I know that’s a big part of the culture here, which makes me feel like I could easily spend the next 10-20 years working hard for you.”

9. Give me an example of a time you had to manage a difficult situation with a team member.

This is an example of a behavioral interview question. Behavioral interview questions capture your real-time reflections on past work experiences. Many of them start with "give me an example of a time" or "tell me about a time" and you are left to make the most of the open-ended nature.

Your answer should include:

  • Themes like teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and your intention behind the choices you made. 

Red flags to avoid:

  • Assigning blame to the team member or any other victim mentality. It shows a lack of self-awareness. Instead, focus on the lessons you learned that helped you improve your performance.

Sample answer:

“It’s really difficult to manage upwards and I had to have a discrete conversation with a manager who I noticed was putting down my co-manager in front of our larger team. I understood this was affecting my co-manager’s ability to perform and their agency within the larger team. I was honest with my manager about my concerns and empathized with their being unaware of their behavior. I shared the impact I perceived it could be having on my colleague as well as the larger team. It went better than I expected!”

Practice Interview Questions Aren't Perfect

Knowing these common practice interview questions can help you prepare but they're not the end of your prep. They will help you to flesh out some of the key points that could be useful in answering some other questions not listed here. 

Do your due diligence when it comes to researching the new job and company. If you do a solid job of preparing, I'm confident you'll get called in for that second interview and when you do, make sure to read these second interview questions too.

Further Reading

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