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Regardless of your chosen career path, you are almost guaranteed to be on the receiving end of more than a few interviews on your way to the top of your profession. Whether you approach these interviews as obstacles or opportunities depends upon your mastery of a few dozen professional interview questions.

If you want to become the master of job interview questions and reach your career goals, you should pay close attention to the 34 popular professional interview questions below. To make them easier to peruse, these sample interview questions and answers are broken down into behavioral questions, situational questions, and questions about you.

Common Job Interview Questions

There is no single most common interview question because different organizations with different workplace cultures in different industries and market sectors inevitably take varied approaches to the entire interview process. However, the following questions have near-universal applicability and appeal:

1. Could You Tell Me About Yourself and Describe Your Background?

This is an excellent example of an open-ended question. Unlike close-ended questions that require specific answers, open-ended questions give interviewees extraordinary leeway to shape the conversation as they see fit. This particular open-ended question gives you ample opportunity to highlight a series of factors that place you in a favorable light. Take full advantage of this!

2. Can You Walk Me Through Your Resume?

More of a request than a question, this open-ended inquiry provides a perfect chance to highlight resume items that directly (or indirectly) relate to the position for which you are interviewing. Briefly discuss the most relevant experiences and achievements on your resume, then conclude by connecting these past accomplishments to your future endeavors.

3. How Did You Hear About This Position?

While this question might sound like a mere formality or an entry for official company records, it could be an exceptional opportunity to stand out from the competition. If you found out about the position from an influential professional contact, do not hesitate to name-drop that person here. Even if you heard about the position from a public listing, you could make your answer far more valuable by saying something like: “When I saw the position listed, I jumped at the chance to join a team that I have been following for some time and whose work I admire.”

4. What Interests You About This Role?

The hiring manager or other staff member conducting your interview wants to ensure you are excited about the position you are pursuing—and dedicated to succeeding when hired. Think about why you wanted to apply for this position in the first place. If there is little in the job description that truly lights a fire in your heart, formulate your answer by drawing upon past work projects that have inspired and motivated you to go the extra mile.

5. What Do You Know About This Company/Organization?

To answer this question effectively, prepare beforehand by doing a little research. Generic answers that might apply to any organization simply will not cut the mustard here! Discuss specific and unique elements of the interviewing organization that you find interesting, noteworthy, or commendable.

6. What Can You Bring to the Company?

The straightforward nature of this question can be a bit “in your face” and intimidating. But for those who see it coming, this question is like a slow pitch that you could use to hit your answer right out of the park. Unlike any other question, it allows you to demonstrate how you could do outstanding work, fit into the company culture, and deliver better results than other candidates.

7. What Are You Looking for in a New Position?

Before answering this question, it may be helpful to think about why you left former jobs. You certainly do not want to begin airing past grievances, but you could frame your relevant professional frustrations as positive statements about your future with the organization. For example, you may want to respond: “Over the past year or two, I have really wanted to apply what I have learned managing regional campaigns to spearhead my own campaign at the national level. I know this position could give me that opportunity.”

8. How Do Your Skills Align With This Role?

The intent of this question is fairly straightforward and clear, so you should strive to be equally transparent in your response. Just be sure to prove your mastery of the skills you list by highlighting examples from your resume.

9. What Are Your Salary Expectations?

This is another question that might require some preparatory research. Considering your levels of professional experience, education, and overall employment power, you should visit sites such as and to determine a reasonable salary request that matches general market value. You can then state your expectations in the form of a salary range. To position yourself well for future negotiations, you may want to place your true salary expectations near the low end of the range you present.

Behavioral Questions in a Job Interview

Beyond asking job candidates about what has influenced their past behavior, an interviewer may ask behavioral questions about a candidate’s general attitudes to help evaluate how they will fit into the role and also, to evaluate how well they work within the company socially.

10. Why Did You Decide to Apply for This Position?

You should have a solid answer prepared for this question because you have already applied for the position at hand. Before beginning the application process, ask yourself if it is worth the time and energy. Take a close look at both the position and the company to see if they could be a good fit for you. If not, then perhaps you should apply elsewhere.

11. Why Should We Hire You?

Even more straightforward and intimidating than “How do your skills align with this role?” this interview question presents even greater opportunities for success. If you have a well-prepared answer that stresses your relevant skills plus a solid understanding of both the open position and the organization seeking to fill it, you could impress nearly any interviewer.

12. Do You Prefer Working Independently or on a Team?

Although different positions, industries, and organizations lend themselves to independent work more than others, it is safe to assume that most employers value teamwork to at least some extent. For this reason, you should consider framing yourself as a team player. However, most work environments may require a certain amount of independent activity as well. For this reason, it is probably best to stress your versatility in this area, even if you happen to prefer one work style over the other.

13. How Do You Deal with Pressure or Stressful Situations?

This question is so common that you should have an answer ready to go. Think about the tactics you use when under high pressure as well as a time in your past when you successfully used those tactics.

14. What Kind of Work Environment Do You Like Best?

While you should answer this question with a great deal of candor, you also want to stress your favorite work environment factors that align with those of the interviewing organization.

15. When You Are Balancing Multiple Projects, How Do You Stay Organized?

Make your answer to this question reflect the demands of the position to which you are applying. If that position involves multi-project management, you want to come to the interview armed with a true story that demonstrates your ability to keep everything in order and on schedule even when you are working on several things at once.

16. Do You Prefer Hard Work or Smart Work?

This is a bit of a trick question, so do not fall for it! Answer something to the effect that you work both “hard” and “smart” to get twice as much accomplished.

17. What Motivates You?

The existential nature of this question may be a bit dizzying, but you can stay grounded by thinking about your prepared response to the question, “What can you bring to the company?” Think about your past work in similar positions to get a better understanding of your core professional motivations. If you are having difficulty doing so, perhaps your career is going in the wrong direction!

18. How Do You Define Success?

Do you regard yourself as successful? If so, why? Have you ever felt underwhelmed by an accomplishment that should have been highly satisfying? What were the reasons for this? Answering these questions well before the interview could help you formulate an answer to the tricky and vague question, “How do you define success?” Of course, you should also keep the workplace culture and general values of the organization firmly in mind.

Situational Job Interview Questions

These questions ask you to recount past occurrences and answer from your personal experience, which can be challenging without proper preparation.

19. What Is the Professional Achievement You Are Most Proud of?

As this question is quite common, you should have a go-to answer that stresses a workplace achievement that was valuable both to you and to the organization that employed you. You might want to choose an example emphasizing your teamwork or leadership skills.

20. What Is a Time You Disagreed With a Decision That Was Made at Work?

While this question may feel like a trick, the interviewer is probably just trying to spark a discussion about a challenging workplace experience to see how you approached it. When choosing your anecdote, try to find one in which you took an active role and resulted in a “win-win” scenario for all involved.

21. How Do You Handle Conflict at Work?

This is another supposedly “tricky” question that is typically less loaded than it seems. Most interviewers who ask this question just want to know that you are willing to take a proactive, sincere, and reasonable role in the conflict resolution process.

22. What Did You Like Most About Your Last Position?

If you enjoy what you do, you should not have to think very hard for a good answer to this question. Even so, you should take care to make your answer about the work you did and not the people with whom you worked or the organization for which you worked.

23. What Did You Like Least About Your Last Position?

If the position for which you are interviewing is anything like your last position, you should avoid answering this question with anything directly related to your job functions. If you intensely disliked a process, policy, or approach of your previous employer, you want to ensure the interviewing organization opposes that process, policy, or approach before choosing it as an answer.

24. Can You Tell Me About a Difficult Work Situation and How You Overcame It?

Once again, this might sound like a “gotcha” question, but the interviewer is likely just trying to assess your ability to take responsibility, behave cordially, and move forward when times get tough.

25. Tell Me About a Time You Made a Mistake?

This question deliberately asks you to expose yourself as fallible, making it difficult to reframe as a positive. However, you could do so in choosing a mistake that is forgivable and framing it around an incident for which you took appropriate accountability and through which you learned a valuable lesson.

Questions About YOU

Although highly personal questions should be off the table during a job interview, a good interviewer should try to peel back the layers of who you are with a variety of specific purposes in mind.

26. Are You Applying to Other Jobs?

This is certainly a tricky one. You want your interviewer to feel that you value this opportunity, but you do not want them to think you have no other options. Ideally, you could answer that you are pursuing other employment paths but are particularly committed to this one.

27. Why Is There a Gap in Your Work Experience?

Accounting for an employment gap can be nerve-racking, but most people understand that life takes people away from the workplace for many different reasons. Regardless of what took you away from the professional sphere, try to explain your circumstances with brevity and confidence.

28. What Are Your Interests Outside of Work?

Put your best foot forward by choosing to mention personal interests that reflect a genuine passion for industry-related matters and reflect positive characteristics such as ingenuity or perseverance.

29. What Are Your Biggest Strengths?

When answering this question, it is best not to present a long list with little commentary. Instead, concentrate on quality over quantity by doing a deep dive into two or three qualities that set you apart from others in your field. While you should do so humbly, do not be afraid to tout your accomplishments in this area.

30. What Are Your Biggest Weaknesses?

Beyond looking for obvious red flags, the interviewer is simply getting a feel for your levels of honesty and self-awareness by asking this question. Come in with an answer that admits imperfection but does not paint you as incompetent. Think about something with which you struggle but are actively trying to overcome. That way, you reframe a negative as a positive.

31. Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

This question is used to assess an interviewee’s goals and overall level of ambition. Although it is generally a good thing, ambition could be detrimental if it outpaces the limitations of the position for which you are interviewing. Therefore, you should answer this question by thinking realistically about where that position could take you.

32. How Quickly Do You Adapt to New Technology?

Of course, the “right” answer to this question is “quite quickly,” but you also want to have specific, industry-related examples to back up this claim.

33. What Is Your Dream Job?

Aside from “Where do you see yourself in five years?” an interviewer who asks you to describe your dream job is trying to gauge your ambition and motivation. Though the parameters of this question allow more leeway to go big, you should keep your answer aligned with realistic career goals that are related to the position.

34. Do You Have Any Questions?

This is perhaps the best question to get from an interviewer because it gives you the chance to steer the interview in any direction that you want. Take full advantage by asking exactly what you want to know about the position, the organization, the workplace, or anything else.

Get Personalized Help Through Your College or University

Beyond studying these specific questions and answers for interviews, you could get any number of job-seeking tips from a good career coach at a good college or university. At Post University, our Center for Career and Professional Development is dedicated to helping students make a broad array of informed career decisions according to recommended best practices.


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Please note jobs and/or career outcomes highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs or career outcomes expected from any Post program. To learn more about Post’s program and its outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions advisor.