Nothing keeps people awake at night more than an impending job interview.
Not knowing what to expect, the fear of failure and the knowledge of all that’s at stake weighs heavily upon the mind. I’m being slightly dramatic, but we’ve all been there.
We know how it feels to struggle through interview preparation, trying to anticipate the interview questions that we'll be asked, and trying to prepare the best interview answers and examples that we can come up with.
As an interview coach and former recruiter, I can tell you from experience that you can't anticipate every interview question that will be thrown your way.
But the good news is there are some common interview questions that you can, and should, prepare for.
In this article I have compiled 15 common interview questions that often come up in job interviews.
How to prepare for interview questions
As you carry out your interview preparation you should work through these common interview questions, and follow the four interview question preparation steps that I have outlined below.
You should also begin to understand and prepare for behavioural interview questions. Behavioural interviews are an incredibly common form of interview style.
Unfortunately many people fail to prepare for behavioural interview questions, and as a result come unstuck in their interview. After you've read this article you should read my article on Behavioural interviews and the STAR technique.
Remember, a good night sleep before your interview is just as important as lots of preparation! You want to feel fresh and ready so that you can answer the questions naturally!
Before we delve into the list of common interview questions that you should prepare for, let's look at some of the practical ways that you can actually go about preparing for all interview questions.
Consider what the interviewer is looking for you to demonstrate?
Take some time to consider what the interviewer is hoping to achieve by asking you this interview question in particular.
The first answer that comes to mind may not be the best answer, it depends on what the interviewer is looking for you to demonstrate.
Lots of candidates launch into very interesting and eloquent interview answers, but fail to provide the interviewer with the information that they need, and that's a waste of time, and a very common interview mistake.
The interviewer will want to be confident that you can help the company to solve a particular problem, or help it achieve long-term or short-term goals.
Consider what these are, and how your answers can help to reflect and communicate that you are a great fit. The interviewer will also want to see that you are committed to, and enthusiastic, about the job opportunity on offer, your answers need to convey this.
Write out you answer to each interview question, word for word
Make sure that the actual interview is not the first time that you try to gather your thoughts regarding your answers. You should work to articulate what you are trying to communicate during your preparation time.
You can do this by writing out your answers word for word. Writing out answers to interview questions will enable you to gather your thoughts and condense them down to the most important points.
Write out everything that you think you might like to say in response to a particular interview question and then go back and edit it down.
Be ruthless and eliminate everything that you feel is not pertinent or relevant to the role or organisation for which you are interviewing.
It is really tempting, and easy, to pontificate at length about our favourite subjects. The key to preparing a good interview answer is in making sure that we focus on the most important and relevant points.
Work to streamline your written answer into 2 - 3 bullet points or keywords that are the main things you want to say.
Make your answer is as succinct as possible. Don't be afraid to ask the interviewer 'does that answer your question or would you like me to elaborate further'.
Practice answering interview questions out loud
Communicating something out loud is much more difficult than saying it in your head, and this is especially true in an interview situation where you'll no doubt feel under pressure and nervous.
Before the day of the interview set aside some time to get in front of a mirror or open the voice notes app on your phone, and listen to yourself answering interview questions.
I like the mirror idea as you can also work on your body language, eye contact and smile at the same time.
Take note of how long it takes you to answer each interview question (aim for 1 minute per answer), are you stumbling over certain words or phrases, are you getting your point across clearly and are you speaking too quickly?
Take notice of any repetitive points or any fluff that can be eliminated and always ask yourself, 'does that answer the interview question?'.
Rehearse interview questions with a friend or an interview coach
Having someone ask you the interview questions and then listen to your answers is very valuable. This is especially true when it's someone that you trust to give you constructive feedback.
An independent party can tell you if what you're saying actually makes sense, or if they feel you are waffling or sound nervous.
An expert interview coach will know exactly what to listen for as you answer interview questions, and can point out areas that you can improve.
Rehearsing interview questions and answers with an expert is probably the best way to improve and to grow in confidence.
Let's move on now and look at the 15 common interview questions that you should prepare for.
15 common interview questions to prepare for
Here’s my list of 15 common interview questions that you might get asked in your next job interview.
These are not in any particular order of importance, and the list includes some interview questions that you might not have considered before.
During my years as a recruiter and interview coach, I have come across all of these interview questions at least once.
I have also used all of these interview questions myself at least once when interviewing candidates.