1. Tell me about yourself.

What They Want to Know: The interviewer wants to know why you’re an excellent fit for the job. Try to answer questions about yourself without giving too much, or too little, personal information. You can start by sharing some of your personal interests and experiences that don’t relate directly to work, such as a favorite hobby or a brief account of where you grew up, your education and what motivates you.

You can even share some fun facts and showcase your personality to make the interview a little more interesting.

Sample: As an ER nurse, I find that the best way for me to de-stress when I’m not working is to relax outdoors, rain or shine. I’ve always been an avid hiker, nature photographer and trout fisher, and one of my favorite things to do is to volunteer with the U.S. Forest Service and with local salmon habitat restoration groups. I also lead group hikes on some of Mt. Baker’s more challenging trails. This is where the skills I developed during my initial training as a military nurse sometimes come in handy. My current personal goal is to climb Mt. Rainier next summer. Being outdoors never fails to renew my spirit so that I’m able to be the best ER nurse I can be.

2. Why should we hire you?

What They Want to Know: Are you the best candidate for the job? The hiring manager wants to know

whether you have all the required qualifications. Be prepared to explain why you’re the applicant who should be hired. Make your response a confident, concise, focused sales pitch that explains what you have to offer and why you should get the job.

Sample: You should hire me because my experience is almost perfectly aligned with the requirements you asked for in your job listing. I have seven years’ progressive experience in the hospitality industry, advancing from my initial role as a front desk associate with Excalibur Resort and Spa to my current position there as a concierge. I’m well-versed in providing world-class customer service to an upscale clientele, and I pride myself on my ability to quickly resolve problems so that our guests enjoy their time with us.

3. What is your greatest strength?

What They Want to Know: This is one of the questions that employers almost always ask to determine how well you are qualified for the position. When you are asked about your greatest strengths, it’s important to discuss the attributes that qualify you for that specific job, and that will set you apart from other candidates.

Sample: As a cyber security specialist, my greatest strength is my intellectual curiosity. I enjoy researching the latest technology trends so that our critical information technology systems remain uncompromised. Not only do I do this by reading the latest issues of cyber security journals, I also convinced my employer to fund my participation in quarterly information technology conferences. This has allowed me to build a network of peer resources—many of whom are leaders in the field—that I can call upon for strategies when new threats arise to our systems.

4. What is your greatest weakness?

What They Want to Know: Another typical question interviewers will ask is about your weaknesses. Do your best to frame your answers around positive aspects of your skills and abilities as an employee, turning seeming “weaknesses” into strengths. You can also share examples of skills you have improved, providing specific instances of how you have recognized a weakness and taken steps to correct it.

5. Why do you want to leave (or have left) your current job?

What They Want to Know: The interviewer wants to know why you want to work for their company.

When asked about why you are moving on from your current position, stick with the facts, be direct and focus your answer on the future, especially if your departure wasn’t under the best circumstances.

6. What are your salary expectations?

What They Want to Know: The hiring manager wants to know what you expect to earn. It seems like a

simple question, but your answer can knock you out of competition for the job if you overprice yourself. If you underprice yourself, you may get shortchanged with a lower offer.

7. Why do you want this job?

What They Want to Know: This question gives you an opportunity to show the interviewer what you

know about the job and the company, so take time beforehand to thoroughly research the company, its products, services, culture and mission. Be specific about what makes you a good fit for this role, and mention aspects of the company and position that appeal to you most.

8. How do you handle stress and pressure?

What They Want to Know: What do you do when things don’t go smoothly at work? How do you deal with difficult situations? The employer wants to know how you handle workplace stress. Avoid claiming that you never, or rarely, experience stress. Rather, formulate your answer in a way that acknowledges workplace stress and explains how you’ve overcome it, or even used it to your advantage.

9. Describe a difficult work situation or project and how you overcame it.

What They Want to Know: The interviewer wants to know how you respond when faced with a difficult

decision. As with the question about stress, be prepared to share an example of what you did in a tough situation. It’s important to share details to make the story believable and engaging.

10. What are your goals for the future?

What They Want to Know: This question is designed to find out if you’re going to stick around or move on as soon as you find a better opportunity. Keep your answer focused on the job and the company, and reiterate to the interviewer that the position aligns with your long-term goals.

Sample: I’m someone who likes stability. My goal is to find a job that I can hold long term with a local company, becoming a valued employee as I gradually advance to positions of increasing authority and responsibility. I’m extremely interested in the teller job here at First Financial Credit Union because of your internal training program. My long-term goal is to eventually become a branch manager after I’ve proven my competencies in customer service and team leadership.