Bombed the Interview? Master These Interview Questions
You can’t predict which questions you’ll face in an interview. But what if you became such a pro at responding to the most common job interview questions that you were able to get the job nearly every time?
Knowing which questions employers are asking and the types of responses they are looking for is your best bet to improve your chance of getting hired after your next interview – whether you’re interviewing for a job at Google, Meta, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Oracle, Cisco, or your local CVS.
Keep reading to find out everything you wanted to know about job interviews, but were afraid to ask. And by the way: you’ve got this.
Practice Makes Perfect: The Job Interview Playbook
If you didn’t get the job, you may need to work on your answers to the questions below. For each question, we’ve included examples of how you could have answered to better position yourself for job interview success:
1. Describe yourself in one sentence.
Why you didn’t get the job: You rambled and provided a long-winded response with no context.
This is often a “starting point” question in an interview – a precursor to the next set of questions and a way for job seekers to break the ice and get started. Like the question, keep it short and to the point. Try to describe yourself as it relates to the position. Be positive, upbeat, show excitement for the opportunity to interview and discuss the role. This isn’t the time to share your personal interests, hobbies, or get long-winded.
Example 1: “I’m trustworthy, reliable, and enjoy taking on new challenges, like the opportunity at this company.”
Example 2: “I’m personable, curious, and always looking for ways my background and experience can make an impact.”
Example 3: “Today, I would describe myself as excited to be here, and excited to learn about the opportunity at your company.”
Keep it short. Keep it to the point and try to answer in one sentence. Not two or three (it’s okay if it happens, it’s natural to be a little nervous and get long-winded at the start of an interview), but keep in mind this is an intro question that will lead into the next set of questions.
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2. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Why you didn’t get the job: You did it. You came in with the YOLO attitude and were overly confident. Your responded with these types of answers:
- “I’m going to be running this company in five years.”
- “Well, I’m going to hit it big in the crypto market, so I’m going to be on an island, living my best life!”
- “My goal is to work at Google, and I am going to use this job to add the experience and skills I need and move in.”
We get it. You don’t know what you’re going to have for dinner tonight, let alone what you will be doing in five years. That’s why this question makes people cringe. But the reason people often cringe at this question is because they haven’t prepared to answer this question. A little preparation can go a long way in responding with an answer that helps keep you in consideration for this role. If you’re interviewing for a marketing manager role but respond with “in five years I want to be traveling the world as an influential travel blogger,” you’re going to quickly be eliminated from consideration for the job.
What employers want to hear is if you are dedicated to this role, willing to stay with and grow with the organization. They want to make sure you understand the role, the company, and the part you will play if hired. So, your answers, even if you don’t know what you are going to have for dinner that day, should focus on the impact you can make in the role you are interviewing for. Hot tip: You do not want to mention that in year two you expect to supplant the current CMO as you fast-track your way to the top of the company organizational chart.
Example 1: “I know it takes time to get acclimated to any job, but I hope to make an impact as soon as I am onboarded and get started. I’m looking forward to being a part of a team and also a part of an organization that focuses on training and development. That’s what attracted me to this role – in addition to it matching my skills, experiences, and professional interests, it seems the organization focuses on career development. So, I am looking forward to making an impact in this role, and for opportunities to grow within the organization.”
It’s most important to be honest. You don’t always have to focus on career progression, moving up the company ladder, or even training and development. Let’s say you have had several jobs over the past few years (no matter the reason), you can also focus on finding a place you can call home, and that’s perfectly okay.
Example 2: “In the past few years, I’ve worked in some roles that weren’t quite the right professional fit. I see this as an opportunity that matches more of what I am looking for from not only a work standpoint, but it also seems to match what I am looking for regarding company culture, and work/life balance. I’m looking for an opportunity to work for a company and be a part of their long-term plans and make an impact over a longer period. I feel I can be provided that opportunity here, which is why I am excited about the potential to be a part of this organization.”
3. What can you offer us that others cannot?
Why you didn’t get the job: You offered a generic answer like describing yourself as a hard worker, willing to go the extra mile, or willing to do anything to succeed. Employers aren’t looking for that. Instead, they want specific examples of skill sets and experiences that can make you the candidate they want to hire.
This is a great opportunity to focus on particular skills, experiences, and achievements. For example, if you are a Web developer and you are being interviewed for a role where they use a content management system, focus on those related experiences, AND any “unique” experiences that go beyond the skills they are requesting in the job posting.
Employers are looking for candidates who have the related skills they need for the role and any “bonus” skills or experiences that can make them an even more well-rounded candidate.
Example: “In a role for a large financial services organization, I’ve used several different content management systems. I’ve used Joomla, WordPress, and Adobe Experience Manager, versions 6.4 and 6.5. I used my strong HTML and web content management skills to self-train on all systems. I’ve also managed projects and/or blogs/websites in Wix and Squarespace. In addition, in a previous role, I used Marketo for email automation. Before working in digital marketing, I also worked as a writer and editor, so I am a strong copy editor and take pride in my proofreading skills. I am a stickler for details, which is important in web content management and publishing.”
Bonus tip: Focus on unique skill sets and experiences. For example, if you were in the military, showcase those soft skills learned in military training or experiences – leadership, communication, problem-solving, working as a team, and more. If you played sports in college and are in an entry-level or early-career opportunity, focus on how this helped with time management, working within a team, communication, handling adversity, and being committed. Keep in mind the unique skills don’t have to come from your current or most recent job, they can be learned/obtained at any point in your career.
4. What do you like least about your current job?
Why you didn’t get the job: You bashed your boss, co-worker, or leadership. You pointed blame on others in the company, and/or you spoke negatively about your company. You complained about not getting a raise or time off. Even if you have issues with a boss, company leadership, or how your salary was handled, bringing this to another employer could pigeon-hole you as a potential problem employee.
Employers are testing your emotional intelligence, integrity, and also looking at how you may handle problems/conflict if hired at their organization.
This isn’t the time to go on an epic rant about your manager or boss, complain about how you were hired to do one thing but then asked to do something completely different, didn’t get a raise last year when you thought you deserved one, or come across as bitter about any experience with a current or past employer. Even if you feel those things, don’t express that in an interview.
Example: “Overall it was a great experience, and I learned a lot, and I am thankful for that. I think I see more opportunities to work on several different projects, with a variety of clients, and departments within the organization. In my previous role, I started working with sales, customer service, and some of our top clients. When the company underwent some changes, I was only communicating with internal clients. I enjoyed the opportunity to work with external clients, and this role with your organization appears to provide that.”
5. If you were stuck on an island and could only bring 3 items, what would they be and why?
Why you didn’t get the job: You didn’t provide tangible solutions, you sounded overly confident like there is no way you would get stranded on an island and if so, you would crush it and your sick survival skills would be no match for the deserted island. Or you simply went too far off course and/or you made the employer question who you really are. Translation: This person may not fit our company culture.
You said you were tired of the traditional, boring interview questions, right? And NOW you’re questioning why an employer is asking this?
Look, employers are human – even if some seem like robots going through a monotonous list of job interview questions. So have fun with this question!
Why would employers ask this question or other weird interview questions? Several reasons:
- They want to test your critical thinking and analytical skills.
- They want to hear how you troubleshoot or respond to an unexpected question/scenario.
- They want to see if you would fit in with the team and company culture.
- They are looking to learn more about your personality, and who you may be away from work.
- They want to learn more about you and who you are beyond work and can’t simply ask illegal questions (Are you single or married? Do you have any kids?)
So how do you answer? There is no right answer, but you could provide a wrong answer by scaring the heck out of the employer. An example that could suffice could be:
Example: “I would focus on the basic survival methods, so I would bring a fishing pole to fend for food. I would bring matches to help try and start a fire to cook the food, and I would bring a knife for possible protection from wild animals, and/or to cut down wood or brush to help start the fire and/or build shelter.”
Be prepared for this question to lead to other quirky questions or analyses based on your answers.
6. Are you a team player?
Why you didn’t get the job: You gave a generic answer “There is no I in team, bro!” You didn’t provide specific examples of working on a team. Or in your example of how you work in a team you complained about how others in the team didn’t contribute as much as you. In other words, you made them question whether you could work in a team environment.
The reason employers ask this is simple: They want to know how you work within a team. It’s rare to find a job where you don’t work within a team, with others on a team, and/or with other teams inside and outside the organization. The best response uses examples from previous experiences.
Example: “In my most recent role, we had 5 people on a team. We each had responsibilities we focused on. For example, one person focused on analytics. Another focused-on email marketing. Another focused-on website content development. Another on social media. Another focused-on event management. But we all collaborated when planning projects to ensure we understand project timelines and goals. We would participate in Zoom calls with external clients to discuss projects, and if someone was going to be out, we talked about who would be a fill-in and handle their responsibilities when away. We also would have individual calls or communicate through email or Slack to troubleshoot issues or challenges. We also huddled before any key meetings to ensure we are on the same page and presented information or results in a unified manner. I enjoy working as part of a team because it provides a chance to learn about different aspects of our department and organization. And really, we can all brainstorm, bounce ideas off each other and that helps us get the best results.”
7. Tell me about a mistake you made at work and what you learned from it.
Why you didn’t get the job: You tried to be funny. “I don’t make mistakes.” That’s not funny. Don’t go there. Other reasons: When describing a mistake, you didn’t really own up to the mistake, you blamed others; or your mistake was so blatantly improper that it raised a red flag even if you provided a strong answer in relation to how you solved it.
Everybody makes mistakes. Can you own up to it? Can you learn from it? Employers don’t expect anyone to be perfect. But they want to learn how you will handle a situation when mistakes occur. The key here is to own up to a mistake, but then pivot to share how you fixed the issue, and/or learned from it.
Example: “When I first hired a contractor to help us with a large project, I hired her with the expectation she would come in and be able to contribute immediately. I was under the impression she would know our systems and processes and would seamlessly contribute and make an impact. It didn’t work out that way, and I considered removing her from the role and searching for another contractor. I realize now that was the wrong approach. So, I created an onboarding guide for new hires and contractors. And I worked with them closely in that first month – or until I could tell they felt comfortable and were ready to go out on their own and complete tasks – to ensure they understand our project management system, our processes, challenges, and more. I realized spending that time on the front end helped them make more of an impact in the long run and create a better experience for the contractor and our team. This person has the talent to do the job but needed the tools to do the job upfront. We now provide that. And since then, we’ve had much better success when hiring contractors. ”
8. How would your colleagues at your last job describe you?
Why you didn’t get the job: You couldn’t come up with a coherent answer. Or, because you weren’t prepared you laugh and say something like “whoa, now that’s a loaded question,” and then laugh like there is something more to it but you are not sharing it.
We all probably get a little nervous thinking about this one. Have you ever thought about how a previous co-worker would talk about you if asked? Put yourself in their position and think about what they would say. Think about a few different people – even those who you may have struggled with at times. Unlike the question about describing yourself in one word, this can be a lengthier response. But don’t ramble.
Example: “I think they would say I was dedicated, loyal, and reliable. They know I took pride in my role and doing the best job I could. They knew that my goal was to do the best for the company and that if I had a question, need, or task to complete, I would get it done. Most of all, I think they say I was someone who cared about them as people, not just co-workers. We had a great team, and I made some really good connections and lifelong friends working in that role.”
Can you say something like this? This also teaches us the importance of being a team player, good colleague, and good person. All traits are as important as being good at your job.
9. Why should we NOT hire you?
Why you didn’t get the job: You quickly respond with something “If you want to hire the wrong person who won’t do as good as job me, then that’s a reason why you shouldn’t hire me.” Or you respond with a snarky comment such as “well that would be mistake.” Anything that sounds overly confident, or that makes the employer feel like they are making a big mistake by not hiring you is not advisable. Also, simply sharing too much about a bad experience – personal, or professional – can raise red flags that may eliminate you from consideration.
Some feel this is a trick question. And maybe it is. Will someone say why they shouldn’t be hired? Don’t give them something more to think about (by downplaying a skill set you don’t have or experience you may lack that they covet). Instead, focus on the experience/skills you bring to the role, and if there are any question marks in your ability to do the job, point out a solution to what may be a sticking point in you potentially being hired.
Example: “I hope I’ve shared enough information and examples of the impact I can make in this role. I feel my experience and skills are a match. I think I would fit in with the team and company culture and can make a long-term impact. I know we discussed how I haven’t used Microsoft Dynamics; however, I have used Salesforce, and I quickly learned that program and use it daily, and it’s a big part of my ability to reach out and connect with so many prospects and clients. I feel I can quickly learn Microsoft Dynamics and can even take a few classes online to start learning the basics before I start this job. I am a quick learner and enjoy learning new programs, so I feel this will be something I also quickly learn. Once I have that down, I know I can produce similar results for this organization.”
10. What is your greatest weakness?
Why you didn’t get the job: Not admitting a weakness is a weakness. Admitting a weakness that is way too personal or reveals too much information about personal challenges in your life that turn the interview into a therapy session may help you share information you feel is important, but in most cases, interviewers are not well-equipped to handle or respond to those types of discussions if brought up in a job interview.
It’s not fun to talk about weaknesses or what one doesn’t do well. But we all have weaknesses. And employers know that. How you answer tells them how you overcome challenges in the workplace and/or strive to improve – and what you’ve thought about doing to improve in these areas.
Let’s say you are often afraid to ask for help on a project even though you know if someone did help the project could be completed quicker, and better because there would be more input and a variety of skill sets contributing. So, say something like this:
Example: “One area I am trying to improve on is knowing when to ask for help. When I am assigned projects and deadlines, I strive to meet those deadlines and complete projects as assigned. However, there are times when I am struggling and could use some help. In the past I would be hesitant to ask for help – I know my teammates are also busy and I don’t want to take them away from their duties. So, I wouldn’t ask for help. On a few recent projects, I did reach out for help, and I am glad I did. I received some great feedback and solved a few problems that were keeping me from moving on, and we completed the project in advance of the deadline and with a better-finished product than if I did it myself. Plus, when it came time to meet with the client to go over the project/results, more people on our team were recognized for their outstanding ideas and contributions. It was great to see more members of our team get recognized for a job well done. In addition, it helped me realize that I should also be open to helping others, and since then I have done that, and it’s helped me become a more well-rounded employee and a better colleague.”
11. What’s something you’re proud of? Why?
Why you didn’t get the job: You focused on personal successes versus professional successes. You brag about successes that question your ethics or morals, and/or you referenced something so long ago it was irrelevant to the job, your success at the job, or the professional you are today.
This can be hard to answer if caught off guard. Could you talk about something you are proud of in an interview and back it up with concrete examples? Taking some time to prepare for this question can help job seekers share an impactful story. Whatever you decide to share, make sure it focuses on professional accomplishments (versus personal) and is something that can also indicate how you can make an impact in the role for which you are interviewing. It doesn’t always have to be from your most recent job. It could also be something that helped propel your career to get to this point and is the reason why you are interviewing for your next job. One thing employers like to see is adaptability. How have you adjusted as your career has progressed? Have you added new skills, taken on new challenges/projects? These could all be areas to showcase.
Example: “When I first started my sales career, I was a bit timid when making cold calls. I would get nervous and wouldn’t always feel comfortable on the call and I think prospects and clients could tell. But to improve I’ve completed two cold call sales training courses. I’ve asked my sales managers for tips on how to improve and applied their suggestions and techniques. I’ve also gone back and listened to recordings of my calls. I listened to calls that weren’t successful and calls that were successful. It was hard to listen to myself, but I learned a lot. I learned about how my tone affected my success or failure. When I was calm and talked slower, I also had more success. I also realized that when I focused on listening versus selling, I had better success. I now am much more comfortable making cold calls, and more successful because of it. I go into each phone call focused on having a conversation, not making a sale. When I do that, it leads to better results. I think this has also helped me provide better service to clients as I have learned to listen and focus on what the client needs and then try and find ways to solve their problems. I am also now much more comfortable talking in any situation, over the phone, or in person, because of this.”
12. Who inspires you, and why?
Why you didn’t get the job: “For me, it’s easy, bro. It’s Will Smith. I mean, no one, I mean no one, is going to disrespect my girl like that, especially in public.”
Okay, that may be extreme, but referencing someone controversial or a controversial scenario and injecting your opinion may not be the best way to go. And don’t mention someone who isn’t an inspiration because it makes you sound educated, more intellectual, or like a free thinker. A good interviewer will be able to see through the BS one is spewing.
The answers to this can run the gamut. And that’s okay. They can be a mentor, a public figure, a business leader, an author, an athlete, a historical figure, an industry leader, a family member, or someone who has a unique story that truly motivates and inspires. It’s best to avoid controversial figures – such as politicians – or anyone who has a controversial background. Remember, this is a job interview, not social media. Your thoughts should reflect someone who has helped you be a better person, succeed in your career, or motivate you in both your personal and professional life.
Example: “I would say my father because he taught me the value of hard work. What I mean is, we had a family business growing up. He would leave at 6 a.m. every day to go to work. He would work occasional Saturdays. When he was at work – it was a family business so I also worked there part-time in the summers growing up – I could see how much pride he had in the work he did, and how important it was for him to get the job done right, the way the client expected. He didn’t cut corners and he held himself to high standards. He worked long hours, but he never complained. Most of his business was repeat business, so I know his customers were happy with the work he did. He also never brought work home. If he had a bad day, he left it at work. I think that’s helped me learn how to balance work and life. And it’s also showed me the importance of taking pride in your work and doing a good job. Clients see that. Co-workers see that. And I think that has made me a better employee and a better person.”
13. What will you do if you don’t get this job?
Why you didn’t get the job: You gave them the reasons to eliminate you by how you responded to this. You said something like “oh that would be a huge mistake” or reference how whoever makes that decision is going to regret it for the rest of their professional lives. Injecting emotion and what could be perceived as “threats” don’t go over well in the workplace – even if it’s meant to be a joke. Remember the importance of body language, a good interviewer is also reading body language when you respond to questions like these. Smile and provide a thoughtful, respectful answer.
This question is being asked to see how you handle difficult situations or rejection. And to see what you would do to become a better-qualified candidate in the future. They very well may be thinking of you as a top candidate but want to see how you respond when things don’t go your way.
Example: I am very interested in this opportunity and appreciate the chance to interview and be considered for this job. I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to succeed in this role, and at this company. If I don’t get hired, I am going to take what I learned today and find ways I can improve and add to my skill sets, gain additional experience, and in time, become the right fit for this type of role or this organization. I do feel I can succeed in this role and hope to get an opportunity to showcase that.”
14. How could you create more balance in your life?
Why you didn’t get the job: You responded by talking about how you are completely dedicated to the job and company, and that you are a workaholic, don’t take vacations and never call in sick. You are always “grinding.” It’s good to be enthusiastic, but a gung-ho, “work is everything to me” attitude doesn’t cut it in today’s workplace.
Employers like this question because they want to see how you handle a busy workload (translation: workplace stress) and while they won’t say it, they want to learn about you away from work. They want to learn about you as a person – most people are happy to divulge their hobbies, interests, and what they do “away” from work. You don’t have to share those details if you don’t want, but you do want to be able to show how you try to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
Example: “I think it’s something we all strive for – work/life balance. I try to do things each day, or at least a few times a week to help me find balance, personally and professionally. I think the things we talked about in this role, how the company wants employees to focus on finding balance, will allow me to continually do that.”
Want to share more?
Example 2: “I get it. It can be hard sometimes to balance the challenges of work and one’s personal life. Me, I like to keep active, so I find myself getting a workout in every morning before work. So, I once get to work I am focused on that day’s tasks knowing I have already taken some time to take care of myself. It’s helped me as I feel energized when I start the workday. I don’t feel like I have to rush to get work done to find some time for myself. If I do work later, I know I already worked out and that helps me avoid the stress of worrying about finding time after work to complete a workout. This then gives me more time after work to run errands or take care of whatever needs to be done during a day or busy week.”
Example 3: “Finding balance is one thing I’ve improved in recent years. I know we get 24 days of PTO per year. I think taking that time to get away and re-energize is important. I think taking time off, whether it’s a week, or a day or two here and there is important. I have a great support system at home so things get taken care of at home or when things are busier so I can focus on work more when needed. I think that helps create a strong balance that works for me. Other times, I like to read, garden, and play in a band, and that provides me a great outlet when away from work.”
Keep in mind: The way people find balance differs for everyone. Showcasing what works best for you, whether you divulge specifics or not, is perfectly acceptable.
15. If you started a company today, what would its 3 top values be?
Why you didn’t get the job: You responded in a similar fashion as the question on how to find work/life balance. You simply focused on how you will 1. Outwork the competition 2. Do whatever it takes to get the job done. 3. Hire those who will do anything it takes to succeed and if they don’t, they’re gone. In other words, you simply provided no tangible or realistic values that would be important to you as a business owner.
Employers are looking to see what you feel is important in an organization, and/or personally, to see if you are fit with the team and company culture. This is a way to find out what you value and/or find important. An individual’s personal and professional values can often be deciphered from these answers.
Example: “If I started a company, I would ensure it values these three things: 1. Commitment to quality and excellence with our employees and clients. 2. People first. We care about employees as people and want to ensure they can succeed professionally because they can succeed personally. 3. Ethical, with a high level of integrity: We want people who do the right thing.
Do not focus on things such as:
- Being a hard worker
- Doing anything to get the job done; or
- “Whatever it takes to make a sale.”
Focus on things that show you take pride in doing a good job, care about people, and are ethical in how you live personally and professionally.
16. What makes you stand out from other candidates for this position?
Why you didn’t get the job: You simply talk big without backing up what you say: “I am the first one in the office and the last one to leave.” You don’t provide examples that make you stand out: “It’s all right there, on my resume.” Or, in some cases, you don’t sound confident: “Well, I think there are probably a lot of other good candidates, but I hope you pick me because I really need this job.”
It’s hard to talk about yourself. But it’s necessary. It’s not bragging, it’s sharing information. It’s an opportunity to sell yourself for the job. To help with this question, bring a copy of your resume, and if needed, reference the resume if you feel stuck or can’t find something to say. You could reference an experience or skill, or success you feel you haven’t covered from your resume to help guide you. Or you could recap your overall skills and experiences.
Example: “I feel I have the right combination of skills and experience. I have worked in this field for 10+ years, and at every stop, I’ve helped make an impact. I’ve used both Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. I’ve made the President’s Club for 10 straight years. I’ve been asked to speak at industry conferences, so I feel that shows I am respected by my peers. Most of all, I generate a lot of repeat business. Clients trust me and I focus on building long-lasting relationships. I am confident I can do the same for this company.”
17. What questions do you have for us?
Why you didn’t get the job: You didn’t ask any questions. Seriously – ask questions. Employers want and expect questions. When you did ask questions, you fumbled and didn’t really know what to ask because you weren’t prepared to ask questions. And when you did ask questions, they weren’t quite appropriate: “What’s the salary for this role? How much vacation time do I get? How often do I get a raise?”
The interview should be a discussion, a give and take. But that doesn’t always happen. When you have the chance to ask questions, don’t be afraid to ask. Employers expect to be asked questions. And certain questions can show how serious or interested you are in the role. Some questions to ask include:
- What are some traits of those who have succeeded in this organization and/or in this role?
- Can you explain what a typical day would be like for someone in this role?
- What are some challenges this department is currently facing and how would I play a role in helping to solve those challenges?
- We mentioned working remotely. Can you provide more info on any work from home policies, or the culture when it comes to working remotely?
- Is there company onboarding/training and what does that all entail?
- What do you like best about working at this company?
- Are there any group volunteer opportunities, or group events where we get together as a team?
- Are all employees expected to start work at a certain time, or is there flexibility in that? How about end times, is there a certain time employee are expected to work until or is that flexible based on the ability to get work done?
- What’s the communication culture like here? Do we use things like Slack, IM, email? Are emails at non-working hours expected to be answered?
- I’d welcome the opportunity to work in this role and for this company. Are there any further questions I can answer for you?
Bonus job interview questions and how to answer them
Why are you leaving your current job?
Why you didn’t get the job: You bashed your boss, company leadership and/or co-workers. You brushed off the question with a nonchalant answer “man, that place is whack. I don’t know how anyone can succeed there.”
Or you told them you “didn’t see eye to eye with your boss or “were fired because they had it out for you.” Those types of responses will raise even more red flags and probably force the interviewer to wrap up quickly and/or call security. Help!
Focus on professional development and career growth. This isn’t the time to gripe about your boss, annoying co-worker, not getting a raise, or being “screwed over for promotion.”
Example: “I’ve enjoyed my time at Acme Company. I’ve learned a lot and worked on some great teams. I think at this point, I am seeking an opportunity to take on more responsibility and develop/use more skills. For example, one of the requirements of this role is experience in machine learning and artificial intelligence. I’ve completed some courses on those topics through Coursera and other learning platforms. I would like to be able to apply that in my current role, but at this time there isn’t an investment in technology in that area. I noticed in the job posting that this role was looking for someone with experience in machine learning and AI. It also looks like at this company we have larger technology and product development teams, which I think would provide more opportunities to learn and grow. I love talking about technology with others who have similar interests. So, I think the fact that I could continue to add skills in areas that interest me, and then apply them in my job is one of the key reasons I am excited about this opportunity.”
What could your current company do to be more successful?
Why you didn’t get the job: You focused on what they didn’t do for you. They didn’t like your ideas. They screwed up with key clients. They were “too cheap” to provide the resources needed. Even if that is the case, the way you word it goes a long way to how you come off to your next employer.
This question is similar to the question “why do you want to leave your current job?” This is a way for an interviewer to learn more about why you could be leaving your job. Don’t talk negatively about the employer or company. Don’t sound bitter or resentful and don’t make it personal. Focus on career growth or the ability to make more of an impact in the organization.
Example: “In this case, I think we could have been more successful if we would have invested more in technology. I know that is often an expense and a hard decision to make. But what I mean is, we offered our clients and prospects a lot of great products and services and we had dedicated employees and customers. But for some reason, we were always a step behind in terms of technology. We were competing with other companies who had more up-to-date software programs that provided better solutions for our competitors. So, we would work hard to sell our services and develop great relationships, but in the end, we couldn’t close the sale because competitors offered more services at similar prices. I see that this company has invested in the type of technology our competitors who were successful used, and I am excited to able to offer those services to clients if hired for this role.”
How do you manage deadline pressure?
Why you didn’t get the job: You came off as someone too cool to be under pressure. “I crush energy drinks all day and just grind through. Nothing is too big for me.” Or you focus on a scenario or experience where you had a total meltdown during a critical time, took it out on co-workers and clients, and scare the employer into thinking you will do the exact same in the next company. You need to take a deep breath before answering this question. Be calm when talking about dealing with pressure.
This question is asked for a reason: Can you handle the pressure? Can you manage multiple simultaneous projects? And can you remain calm, cool, and collected when things get hard? Providing an example of how you managed a project deadline, a rush request, an upset customer or client, or an awkward situation/scenario on a call or in a meeting that you needed to quickly remedy can help you provide the answer the interviewer is looking for.
Example: “In my current role I have specific deadlines each month. And as you likely know, other projects can pile up around crucial/important deadlines. So, I’ve learned how to manage that by blocking off time on my calendar each month to focus on the monthly deadlines. I make sure I don’t have any meetings or calls, and that I can spend three hours a day for three days leading up to the deadline to ensure I can put in the time to complete these tasks. In addition, I’ve asked my team members to help out with any other rush requests that come in during this time. This has helped me become more organized, and better manage my time, for these deadlines and other projects. It’s also helped me learn how to better ask for help and work as a team. And it’s reduced my stress each month because I know I have blocked off the time I need to complete the project.”
Wrap-Up: Are We Having Fun Yet?
We hope our playbook helps you level up your job interview skills! The more prepared you are, the better. Stay focused on answering these common job interview questions to the best of your ability and you’re sure to succeed in getting your dream job in 2022.
Prepare for your interview with our interview simulation. It’s free (and fun). ↓