Whether you’re a seasoned employee or transitioning from the military, these job interview questions are among the most common for employers to get a sense of your skills, values, experience, and desire to work for them. Avoid military jargon during your interview and don’t forget to do your research before!
Here are the top 10 most common job interview questions:
1. Tell me about yourself.
Most job interview questions start with an introduction of yourself. Start with where you are from, where you went to college or trade school, your last few recent job transitions, what brought you to look for a new job, and what your future goals are. If you’ve relocated to the area, talk about what brought you there. If you’re looking for a new career, talk about why you applied to the open position. Think in terms of your past, present, and future.
2. What is your greatest weakness?
For your weakness, don’t respond with anything you can’t fix, but instead, focus on an area in your professional life you are working on improving. If you are in the process of earning a certification, respond with what you are trying to improve upon and how receiving the certification will help. If your weakness is public speaking, you could mention that while it’s not something you enjoy doing, you are interested in getting better at it by signing up for Toast Masters or another networking group where you can practice.
3. What is your greatest strength?
When talking about your strengths, this is when you can really sell yourself. Try to highlight one or two of your key strengths that directly relate to the position you are interviewing for, give an example of how that strength has helped you in your previous positions, and how it will benefit them.
4. What would your previous employer or supervisor say about you?
A great way to prepare for your job interview is to refer back to your previous job performance evaluations if you have them. In some cases, when an employee resigns from a company, supervisors may not speak as highly of the employee because they were left in a difficult situation. This is why having previous evaluations available is so valuable. This is also an opportune time to talk about what goals and expectations you met or exceeded during your time in previous positions.
5. What do you like most about our company culture/mission?
Always do your research on the company before a job interview. This shows respect and appreciation for their company and that you are genuinely interested in the open position. Memorize the mission statement, read the biographies of the team members, and view their products and services. Then you can answer this question based on your research and understanding of what the company does and believes in.
6. What skills do you have that will help with this position?
When thinking of your previous work experience, think creatively rather than literally. Answering phones, replying to emails, creating orders, and such are not skills, but exceptional communication and customer service with internal stakeholders and external customers are. If this is the first civilian job you are interviewing for, think about your military responsibilities and how each translates into a skill needed for the position. For example, if you were involved in planning, executing, monitoring, and reporting on any activities on base or deployment, these are project management skills. If you were in a leadership position, you probably have excellent people management skills and decision-making skills.
7. How do you handle stress?
No workplace is perfect so what this question is really asking is how do you respond to workload pressure, conflict with co-workers, meeting deadlines, and more. This is also common among job interview questions because it relates not just to stress, but prioritization, problem-solving, and time management. Use examples of previous stressful situations and the steps you took to overcome them.
8. Why should we hire you?
This is almost guaranteed to be among the job interview questions you will be asked. Use your response to set yourself apart from the other candidates. When preparing for an interview, go back and refer to the job duties/expectations. Tell your interviewer about your plan to help the company reach their goals and exceed their job duty expectations.
9. What type of salary do you expect?
At the very end of the interview, most employers like to get a sense of what you are expecting in terms of salary, and not just the dollar amount, but the value of the whole package. This may include health, dental, and vision insurance for you and your family, paid time off, sick time, work/life balance, and 401K plans (including matching with your thrift saving program (TSP)).
10. Do you have any questions for me?
At the end of the interview, prepare for them to open it up to you to ask questions. See our blog post What Questions to Ask in an Interview to prepare for this.
At the conclusion of the job interview, be sure to thank the interviewer for their time and don’t be afraid to ask what the next steps are. A great follow up as well is to send a thank you email or card to them in the next day or two thanking them for their time, mentioning anything you forgot, and asking any other questions you may have. Now that you know the most common job interview questions, you can master your answers!