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The 9 most commonly asked interview questions and how to answer them

Everyone knows that practice makes perfect. So, even if you’re a persuasive top candidate for a position, preparing for your job interview is essential to landing the job. Put together and practice your answers to the most common interview questions so that you can rock your next interview and land the job.


1. Could you talk a little about yourself and your experience?

How to respond: This is not the time to go through your entire work history nor your life story. Prepare a concise, friendly pitch that includes a couple of sentences about your prior experience and work accomplishments and finish off with why you’re applying for this specific position. Example: I worked for a couple of years as a copy editor at a business news publication. After that I took on a role as an editor and social media manager at a leading online arts publication in Europe. That experience has led me to apply for the position here, as an editor for a prominent architecture publication.


2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

How to respond: Think about your strengths honestly. Make a list and consult your colleagues. After getting a good idea of all your strengths, pick ones that are directly related to the job. If the position requires making a lot of sales, for example, mention your strong negotiation skills and talk about an instance when you had to use those skills at a past position. In terms of weaknesses, pick something that you struggle with but have worked to overcome.


3. Why do you want this job?

How to respond: This question is all about proving just how much you want it. Think about what excites you about the role – if you love working in a team and it’s a very community-oriented position, mention that. Find the professional aspects of the job that you would enjoy and then also explain why the company or organization attracts you.


4. What plans do you have for the future? Where do you see yourself in five years?

How to respond: These forward-looking questions are meant to gauge if the position aligns with your career goals. It’s good to have an idea of where you want to end up – and to express these goals with a healthy balance of ambition and honesty. If the position doesn’t exactly align with career goals, be prepared to explain how the experience is important and will be useful in shaping your future path – even if you end up going in a different direction.


Answers to the most common interview questions


5. Why have you decided to leave your current position?

How to respond: You really want to make sure that you don’t come off as ungrateful or unhappy at your current or previous position – even if you are or were. Simply explain how, although you’ve had great opportunities with your last employer, you’re looking to take on different responsibilities and grow as a professional. Then explain how you could grow in the position that you’re interviewing for and how it’s a step up from where you’ve been.


6. What relevant work experience do you have and how has it prepared you for this type of role?

How to respond: This type of question can make or break an interview. Have your answer prepared so that you know exactly what experience to bring up from previous employers and then relate it directly to what you would be expected to do at this new position. Be as concise as possible.


7. Why do you want to work for this company/organization?

How to respond: Do your research about where you’re applying. Thoroughly. Use this research about the company’s goals, mission and values and talk about how they overlap with your own professional goals. Then at your interview talk about about the advantages of working for the company, how you could benefit the company and also how the company could benefit you.



8. How much money do you expect to earn?

How to respond: It’s important to do some research beforehand to see how much you can expect to earn at the position based on your education and experience, where you’re working and what’s expected in that role. Once you have a sense of what’s appropriate to ask for, give that amount but also add that you’re willing to negotiate because of your strong interest in the position.


9. Do you have any questions for us?

How to respond: Do not miss out on the opportunity to ask questions about the position. It’s very important to show that you’re interested in the position and eager to know more. Some great follow-up questions to consider are, “How is this role expected to change or grow in the next year or two?” and “How is success measured in this position?”.


Now that you know how to answer the most common interview questions, apply now to boost your career with an international internship!




Photo 1. based on Interview?, by Ethan, CC-by-2.0

Photo 2. based on Alex France – Uni interview today at Huddersfield [Day 23], by Alex France, CC-by-SA 2.0

Photo 3. based on Dunedin Internship Speed Dating 2012, by Samuel Mann, CC-by-2.0

Photos and blog by Elizabeth Trovall

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!