Common job interview questions and how to answer them

This article provides a complete guide to answering common job interview questions. It includes expert advice and practical tips to help you prepare for interviews, confidently present yourself, and answer recruiters' common questions, increasing your chances of landing your dream job.

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This article provides a complete guide to answering common job interview questions. It includes expert advice and practical tips to help you prepare for interviews, confidently present yourself, and answer recruiters' common questions, increasing your chances of landing your dream job.

Congratulations for making it to the interview stage in your job search! It can be nerve-wracking to think about this important step, which is often the last between you and your dream job.

Getting ready for common job interview questions and thinking about what you might be asked can help ease this stress.

Sanna Minkkinen, a recruitment consultant at Barona who has interviewed hundreds of job applicants over the course of her career, gives her best advice on how to answer common interview questions.

Tell us about yourself." What should you talk about in a job interview?

This question comes up a lot and might seem too broad. How much should you talk about your background? Should you start with how you sold strawberries during the summer when you were in high school?

A few sentences should be enough for your answer. Talk about your education and the relevant jobs you've had so far. This is your sales pitch if you want to make a good first impression. Think about your career path up to this point and how the job you're applying for fits into it.

You should tailor your answers to common job interview questions to the role, just like you did with your job application. Connect your answers with the job description and concentrate on work experience and skills needed for the position.

In addition to your education and work history, list any other skills or hobbies relevant to the job. In IT jobs, for example, having a hobby in programming can be helpful, even if the job itself has nothing to do with programming.


"Why did you apply for this job?"

When writing your job application, you should carefully consider this question. Should you even apply if you can't explain why?

In the interview, build your answer based on your career or personal learning goals. Describe how the job helps you reach your long-term goals.

Tell the truth about what you want. Someone shouldn't hire you for a job that doesn't fit your goals. So, be honest about your goals. It helps the employer verify if the job or company fits these goals.

If you are changing jobs, don't say bad things about your current job or boss. Focus on the good parts of the new role instead of the bad parts of your current one. Keep your answer positive. For instance, you could say that the potential employer offers chances for career growth that aren't available in your current job.


"What motivates you?"

The simple goal of this question is to find out what motivates you to do your work, and what helps you get things done.

When you answer, be open and honest. This gives the interviewer a chance to think about whether they can give you what drives you. Some people are better at working alone, while others succeed in working in teams. If your preferences don’t align, the job might not be a good fit for you.

Many people answer this question by talking about how important it is that the new job is meaningful and how it keeps them motivated. It is important to connect the meaningfulness to real-life examples. What does meaningful work mean for you? Does it mean making a product or service that helps other people? Or is it about how the company treats the environment? 

When you apply for the job, get to know the company by checking out their website and seeing what meaningfulness means to them. This is also a great place to show that you’ve done your homework and gotten familiar with the company.


"What's your greatest achievement?" How do you talk about your accomplishments in an interview?

Talking about your achievements might be difficult if you are just starting your career. Don't worry too much about this question; your example doesn't have to be breathtaking.  You can talk about a project where you learned a new skill and helped a coworker meet a tight deadline.
Your accomplishment doesn't even have to be something you did at work. If you are a recent graduate, you could pick an educational achievement. You can also pick something you did in your hobby or voluntary work.

Remember that working together is often essential to be successful at work. So, talk about the times you worked with others to reach a shared goal and were successful. So don’t stress about picking something you achieved all by yourself. You can show that you are a team player by giving an example of a time when you worked well with others.


"Where do you see yourself in five years?"

This job interview question might seem absurd since no one has a crystal ball that can see into the future. A lot of people also change jobs every five years, even if they stay with the same company. So, should you say something that makes it sound like you want the job for the next five years?
Make sure your answer fits the job you're applying for. Pay attention to the big picture of your career and how this job helps you reach your five-year goals.

You can set short-term goals if you don't have a clear long-term plan or are just starting your career.

A common answer is that an interviewee wants to be a supervisor in five years. A refreshing answer is that you want to deepen your expertise without being a supervisor. So, don't feel like you have to say that you want to become a supervisor to take the next step in your career.


"What is your weakness?" How to talk about your weaknesses in an interview?

The question about weaknesses or areas of improvement is a common one, and it causes stress for some. Being honest is always the best thing to do, but should you be totally honest in this case?

You should pick a weakness you know about and are ready to work on. Explain what you're doing to work on the weakness. This shows that you can reflect on your skills and expertise.

As with other interview questions, connect your answer with the job you are applying for. Fear of public speaking or lack of language skills aren’t important if they aren’t relevant to the job.

For this question, there are a lot of cliches, and strengths disguised as weaknesses. Don’t use answers like “I'm a perfectionist" or "I take my work too seriously." Recruiters have probably heard these answers countless times, and they don’t say anything about you. If you give these answers, it might seem that you can’t reflect on your skills and aren’t ready to work on improving yourself.


"Do you have any questions?" What should you ask in the interview?

When the interview is almost over, the interviewer will often switch roles and let you ask questions.

Remember that an interview is a two-way street. You are also deciding if you want the job you are applying for. If you have any doubts in your mind or questions you want to ask, now is the time.

Always ask something. Interviews can be scary, making it hard to come up with questions on the spot. So, it's wise to think of questions ahead of time. You can write them down and bring them to the interview. If the interviewer has already answered the questions you had prepared, let them know.
Do some research on the company ahead of time to prepare your questions. The more specific your question, the more you can show that you know about the company and the job. And more importantly, the better answers you get.

To find out more, read our article about what to ask a potential employer in an interview.


"Why should we hire you?" How to make an employer want to hire you in a job interview?

To end the interview, a common job interview question is why the company should hire you. It might seem like an unnecessary question since the whole interview is usually around this subject.

Don't add any new information to your answer. Instead, give a summary of the things that you talked about in the interview. Go over the same things you talked about in your introduction.


To sum up, getting ready to answer the common job interview questions is an important step toward getting the job you want. By thinking about your answers beforehand, you can give answers that display your skills, experience, and suitability for the job.

Remember, an interview is as much about your suitability for the company as it is about the company's suitability for you.

Written by

Juha Niemi

Juha works as a Marketing Manager specializing in International Marketing at Barona.

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