What to Say in a Job Interview: Questions and Answers (With Examples)

Wondering how to answer common interview questions, and some of the things you should avoid saying at the same time?

There are some simple rules you can follow to succeed. Here’s a quick guide on what to say in a job interview in many common situations. These job interview questions and answers will prepare you for the topics you’ll likely face in a phone interview or first-round on-site job interview.

Also… If you understand these concepts, you can use the general idea to answer all types of interview questions, not just these few. You’ll notice some common themes. Framing things positively, making yourself sound like an attractive candidate that’s focused on finding the best job possible, etc. Keep reading to find out the details.

What to Say in a Job Interview, Questions & Answers:

Tell us why you’re interested in our company?

Good sample answers:

  • I’m interested in your products/services
  • Your company culture sounds fascinating
  • I’ve heard great things about the work environment
  • The mission you represent is closely aligned with my interests
  • Etc.

Pick something that you can get specific with. If you say you love their products, tell them why. You better have examples to back it up. That’s the key to giving a convincing answer here.

Bad sample answers:

  • I need a job
  • I was laid off and I’m looking for a job
  • I want to make more money
  • I don’t like my current company
  • I don’t like my current boss

Stay away from sounding like you’re desperate, or that you want just any job. Yes, if you were laid off it’s okay to say that, but then re-focus the conversation on exactly what you’re looking for in the next opportunity and why you feel their company might have it.

You need to sound like you want the RIGHT job and that you’re being picky. Companies want the best performers, and the best performers are picky in their job hunt. Stay away from negatives and complaints too. Don’t bad-mouth your current company or boss. Focus on the positives of the company you’re interviewing with.

Why are you looking to leave your current company?

Good sample answers:

  • I’m looking for more ____ (leadership opportunity, project management, technical challenges, exposure to new products/services, etc.)

Bad sample answers:

  • My company doesn’t have enough ______. (same topics as above)

This interview question and answer example is incredibly simple but it’s important to notice the difference. You can highlight the same reason in both ways, but only one will be seen positively by the company you’re interviewing with. That’s why you should stay positive and say that you’re looking for more of something. Is your current boss an idiot and you hate him? Say that you’re looking for a strong boss and mentor that you can learn from. See how it sounds more positive than complaining that your boss is missing half a brain?

Tell us about a challenge you’ve faced and how you handled it?

Good sample answers: 

  • Talk about a tough deadline at work
  • A tough organizational challenge
  • A tough personal challenge or learning experience

Bad sample answers:

  • I had trouble getting along with so-and-so
  • I had a disagreement with my boss
  • I had a disagreement/argument about ____

See the difference? This is so important in terms of what to say in an interview! Not just for this one question but for all interview questions.

So, focus on a specific work-related challenge and talk about how you overcame obstacles, used it as a learning experience, used the resources around you (including people/colleagues if applicable), and ended up with a positive result! That’s how to answer this interview question, every time. Keep it work related, not personal.

How did you hear about us?

Good sample answers:

  • I found your website while doing some research and noticed ____ (pick something specific that you liked)!
  • I heard about you through ___ and was very interested by _____.

Bad sample answers:

  • I don’t remember
  • I saw you had a job opening

For this interview question, the interviewer just wants to know if you’ve taken the time to research the company and if you have a genuine reason for wanting to talk with them. Mention a product, a mission statement on the website, a reputation for talented employees, or whatever else seems applicable to that specific company. Come up with a great reason. Don’t make it seem like they’re just one company among many. Or that you’re sending your resume out to them for no particular reason other than wanting a job.

This is one of the simplest question and answer scenarios in any interview, but that doesn’t mean it can’t ruin your chances at the job if you answer incorrectly.

What are you looking to earn?

Good sample answer: I’m mostly focused on finding a job that’s a great technical fit. I’m not sure what salary I should be targeted in my search at this point, it’s relatively early in the process. I’m pretty wide open and willing to consider any offer that you feel is fair.

Bad sample answer: I’m hoping for $____ .

DON’T say a number. Why? you have the least amount of leverage possible at this point, assuming you’re early in the interview process. You haven’t finished interviewing with them, they don’t know if you’re any good or if they even want to hire you. So you can’t command a high salary right now. If you go too low with your price, they’ll hold you to it later. Go too high? You’ll scare them off before they even know what you’re worth!

It’s a lose-lose. Don’t do it. So remember… when you’re preparing what to say in a job interview, especially an early stage interview, salary goals should not be a part of it!

How would you describe your approach to challenges?

This is a typical behavioral interview question. They want to understand your thought process.

I don’t have specific examples of answers, it depends on you. But try to give the interviewer an honest insight into how you think and operate. Give a specific example, that’s my best advice. And give an example with a good outcome. “I struggled with XYZ and overcame the challenges by doing ___, and the end result was ____. Here’s what I learned from it too…”

And try to pick a challenge similar to what you’d face in this company. Make it as relevant as possible.

Tell us about a time you’ve failed at something

Similar to the scenario above. Definitely a common behavioral interview question that you’ll have to answer at some point in your career. Tell a specific story, and be sure to own up to the failure and not blame others. Don’t say that your boss was the reason, or that other people messed you up. Just tell the lesson you learned, what you could have done differently, etc.

BONUS POINTS: Want to really impress the interviewer? Continue your story by sharing an example of another time you encountered a similar challenge, and how you handled it much better and got a great outcome the second time around. So you’re demonstrating you failed once, learned a lot from that failure, and used that knowledge at the next opportunity. They will LOVE this, trust me!

Do you have any questions for us?

Good sample answer: Yes I have a couple of questions.

FYI here are 10 great questions you can ask in any interview. 

Bad sample answer: No, I don’t.

How do you know you want the job if you don’t have any questions for them? Why would they hire someone who just wants any old job?

You need to have some questions. It can be about the work, the training, the challenges you’d face, the overall direction of the company. Don’t ask about salary, benefits, time off, or anything that isn’t related to the work. You can ask that later, but in an interview focused on your skill set and experience the worst thing you can do is seem too focused on money and vacation.

Bonus content: 5 Questions Every Job Seeker should be Prepared to Answer.

Have you faced other interview questions that have stumped you? Leave a comment below and let me know.

 

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16 Perfect Answers For The Top 8 Interview Questions

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  • 16 Word-for-word answers you can copy to get job offers
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