Interview Questions & Answers for 2020

interview questions and answers

Having job interview questions and answers in advance can be helpful for both the job seeker and hiring manager. For the job seeker, it can help you prepare better responses to common questions and be more clear with your interviewer.

For the hiring manager, having a list of interview questions and answers gives you insight into what you should be looking for when searching for top-tier candidates.

Below are the top interview questions and answers that you should be asking this year.

Top Interview Questions for 2020

The top interview questions for 2020 are as follows:

answering interview questions effectively

Top Interview Questions & Answers

1. Tell me about yourself.

Answer: “I’m the kind of employee who knows how to execute very hard and tedious tasks with precision. I pay attention to all the details of a project for the best results. I make sure that every aspect of a task to be completed is just right, and that it is completed in a timely manner.”

2. How did you hear about this position?

Answer: “I'm actively searching right now and found your job posting on LinkedIn while searching for Senior Engineer positions. I reviewed the job description on LinkedIn before applying and it seemed like a great potential fit so I wanted to apply and learn more about the opportunity to see if it’s a good match.”

3. Why do you want to work here?

Answer: “I read a write-up a few months back on the outreach your company does within the local community. Giving back and volunteering is an important part of my own personal core values, and I remember feeling happy that a company values this community as much as I do. That happiness grew when I saw there was a job position opening in my field here. I would really enjoy coming to work each day with the knowledge that I am helping to make a difference in the community through my work in this position.”

4. What is your greatest strength?

Answer: “My greatest strength has to be my solid leadership skills. I’ve been the lead in several productions and they’ve all turned out to be successful, and I was really able to get through to my team so we could work together properly.”

5. What is your greatest weakness?

Answer: “I’m not very good at visualizing how long a task will take me to finish. I quite often underestimate the time it will take to do smaller, less detailed jobs. The result is that I don’t allow enough time to larger and more important projects. I have to rush to get things done, and it’s a very bad habit that makes me miss deadlines. To address the problem, I’ve started taking time management courses at my local college.”

6. How would your coworkers describe you?

Answer: “My past coworkers have told me that I am very organized and quite good at time management. During one specific project, my team members gave me praise for developing and sticking to a timeline for all the different aspects of the project. We ended up successfully completing the project ahead of time, and it went really well! I’d love to have a similar relationship with my team members in this position.”

7. What gets you up in the morning?

Answer: “What gets me up in the morning is the notion that every day is a brand new day to grow. I’m one who loves to beat my own personal records. Especially with health and wellness. Being able to wake up, challenge myself and see the rewards of succeeding is extremely gratifying. More so than any monetary exchange.”

8. How do you like to be managed?

Answer: “One of my favorite managers went by the name of Sam. Sam was incredibly talented at communicating to us in ways that resonated on a personal level. This means that Sam clearly took the time to think about each of our lives and how to best speak with us. His communication felt like guidance. And because of this guidance, myself and many other team members felt like any challenge was possible to overcome. That’s just one of the qualities I look for in a manager.”

9. What are your career aspirations?

Answer: “When I think of my career aspirations, I think of a timeframe maybe 10 years from now. I have more tactical career goals that are 5 years from now, but aspirations I think of longer-term. Ideally, I aspire to be exposed to a broad set of skills that help me learn how to run enterprise businesses. I hope to have been exposed to operations, marketing, and sales more fluently. And aim to have been part of highly collaborative environments that developed me as a professional and person.”

10. What motivates you?

Answer: “On a personal level, I am motivated to show the value of a good work ethic to my children. No matter how difficult the project, I want them to see that it is important to show up with enthusiasm every day, ready to give your best. That translates nicely into what motivates me as an employee. I am driven by the sense of accomplishment that comes from knowing you’ve given your best to your team each day.”

common interview mistakes

All Interview Questions & Answers

Below are interview questions that can be used for hiring managers or job seekers. As a hiring manager, you should always use structured interview questions to gauge your candidate's skill levels and comfort with the position. This interview question list should supply you with enough inspiration to complete an effective interview session. As a job seeker, the answers provide you a framework to apply your own background and passions toward the role.

What do people in this job do?

Answer: Be sure to review the job description or job posting online in full detail. With this interview question, you want to answer according to how that company treats the position. Some positions at companies will vary from the baseline job description you would see online.

What do you know about this company?

Answer: State your understanding of the companies past. You should review the company about page and research the company origins before answering. Take your time to understand the companies overall direction. Use tools like Finviz or other Press Releases that can be found online to help reiterate where you believe the company is heading.

Why do you want to work here?

Answer: State supportive cultural reasons as your passion. Reference why you feel the environment will help you develop as a professional and person. For example, "The way the company embraces innovation makes me feel like every day I'm here will be a new learning experience."

What can you contribute to this company?

Answer: State your previous work achievements in prior roles that are either similar or identical to the role you're applying for. For example, "It was clear you want to see a growth in revenue you this year. Last year I was able to 4X inbound leads which ultimately led to more than 10X revenue growth. I'd like to bring those skills and talents to this business."

What is the name of our CEO?

Answer: Be sure you familiarize yourself with the company about page before attending your interview. It will protect you against trick questions like this which challenge how prepared you are.

How did you find out about this job?

Answer: Your answer should be straight forward and clear. If you found the job by an online job listing, don't hesitate to mention that. Honesty goes a long way here.

If you were hiring a person for this job, what would you look for?

Answer: Be sure to reiterate to your interviewer the qualities or qualifications that you read in the job advertisement or job description. For example, "I noticed this job requires a lot of cross-team collaboration. I would be looking for an adaptable candidate who is humble with their work."

What interests you about this job?

Answer: Mention four to five supportive reasons for why you feel you'd be interested in the position. These should be reasons that align with your own personal passions. For example, "I'm interested in being exposed to the marketing department, being exposed to this type of industry, being exposed to SaaS products, and being able to apply my sales abilities to drive success."

Who are our competitors?

Answer: If you feel companies are potential competitors, you should list them. If you aren't exactly correct, that is okay. Be sure to spend time reading Press Releases and being familiar with the business category before you join the interview. For example, an interview at J.P. Morgan, your answer would be Chase Bank and Bank of America.

Why do you want this job?

Answer: It's okay to have some fun with your answer. If you want to say, "Why wouldn't I want this job?" That's okay. Just be sure you and the interviewer are sharing chemistry in the conversation before doing so. List your supportive reasons and passions for the job. This interview question is similar to what interests you about the job.

What other jobs are you looking at?

Answer: Never mention competitor names in particular. Mention your generic reasoning. For example, "I'm looking at other positions that expose me to marketing and sales opportunities."

What do you hope to get out of this job?

Answer: Your answer should be structured in a way that supports your potential career development opportunities. Don't focus your answer on what you may personally gain for the position. For example, a bad answer would be, "I would gain an income." A good answer would be, "I get to learn more about marketing and sales automation."

What would you do in the first 30/60/90 days on the job?

Answer: Your answer should be structured. For the first 30 and 60 days of your employment, you should be focused on learning. For example, you would say, "For the first two months, I want to learn what's working and what isn't. That's going to take me some time." Then say, "After that, around the 90 day mark, I expect to be more involved in the role and not only be picking up where the previous colleague left off but advancing forward and optimizing my performance."

What do you think we could do differently or better?

Answer: Your answer should be structured against competitors. For example, "I see your competitors are focused on sales automation. But we aren't. That's an area where I think we could use some improvement."

How have your interviews been going?

Answer: Be honest and humble. An example answer would be, "I'm excited to be here. The interviews have been going great and I hope I've been answering questions in an informative way for my interviewers."

What is the difference between us and our competitors?

Answer: Mentioning some qualities would be great here. For example, "I see our branding is much better than our competitors." Or, "We seem to comprehend marketing better than our competitors."

calming nerves before an interview

What do you think you’ll be doing on a daily basis?

Answer: A good answer will contain a reiteration of the job requirements and duties. For example, "A lot of my role will be around collaboration, communication, and ensuring that the expectations and outcomes of the role and being facilitates."

Ask for their views on an industry trend.

Answer: A good answer for this would be an opinionated one. Something like, "I feel like sales automation is the new normal. And we should expect it to stay"

Ask for their views on a product or service for which you are well known.

Answer: A good answer would be one that outlines a product or service and why it is "good". For example, "The iPhone is an incredible tool. We use it daily. It is our lifeline to information and knowledge. It changed our world."

Who have you spoken with at our firm?

Answer: An answer to this is one that is affirming the interview process. Simply mention the names, if any, of the people you've spoken with at the business or firm.

If you were running the firm or business, what direction would you take it in?

Answer: This answer should be made carefully. Be sure to speak to the qualities that you feel the CEO is doing well. For example, "I'm very proud of the fact that your company embraces diversity. That would be a quality I would keep. Aside from that, I might focus more on small and medium sized businesses."

What applicable attributes/experience do you have?

Answer: Your answer should contain a reiteration of achievements that align with the job duties and responsibilities. For example, "I'm great at driving revenue. I see that is a big part of this role."

What changes would you make if you came on board?

Answer: Your answer should tread carefully. It is impossible to know what you would change without being in the role for at least 90 days. An example answer would be, "It's very hard to know what's working well and not working well. But I would hope I can improve communication, as there's always room for improvement in that department."

How would you go about building business relationships within the company once hired?

Answer: You answer should follow this one, "I would aim to meet with department heads and employees who I will have close contact with. Then I would aim to meet with executives to learn more about their vision for the company and how I could drive that forward."

Tell me something negative you’ve heard about our company.

Answer: An example answer would be the following, "I have heard that the environment can sometimes be difficult for those who can't perform. And that they feel they might be let go because of it."

Are you overqualified for this job?

Answer: An example answer would be, "Absolutely not. My qualifications and the potential for me to learn in this role are separate from one another. And you've shown me what I can learn and gain from this role and that's why I'm here."

Is there anything I haven’t told you about the job or company that you would like to know?

Answer: This is a question where having at least one to four questions prepared to ask when the interview is complete is important. You might have questions regarding the role. Be sure to ask them when you hear this question.

What challenges are you looking for in a position?

Answer: It's important to mention your own personal desired challenges. For example, "I'm looking forward to being exposed to marketing automation, sales automation, and sales goals. These will be healthy new challenges for me."

Tell me a time when you faced a major challenge or obstacle. How did you handle it?

Answer: It's important to mention an obstacle that is related to the job function. For example, learning to program. Or learning what content marketing means. Mention a story that relates to the type of desired qualities you might picture your hiring manager wanting to see.

Describe a major change at work. How did you adapt?

Answer: A great major challenge is when the team changes. For example, "My team was disbanded last year and it was a big change. We had worked together for a long time and it required me to rethink my approach to work. But later, I realized this change helped me to become a better employee."

Tell me about the most boring job you’ve ever had.

Answer: Your answer should contain a reference to what aspects of the job you found boring, not the job itself. For example, "I was never bored with any job. But when I was working at a Coffee Shop, it was hard not to have customers to talk to and make an amazing experience for."

What would you do if a fellow executive on your own corporate level wasn’t pulling his/her weight and this was hurting your department?

Answer: Your answer should look like the following, "This can be a difficult situation. For the most part, I have to trust that if I am feeling this way, it may be me. Or if it a quantitive piece of feedback, that I should bring it up to our CEO. But when or if I did, it would not be in an attacking way. I would aim to learn from the situation and ensure we're on the right track."

What’s some feedback that you’ve received that was difficult to hear, but ultimately has proven really valuable?

Answer: An example answer would be the following, "It was difficult for me to hear that it was hard to take criticism and feedback. Though, it is vital to my work. When I accepted what I was doing, I advanced as a professional."

Would you rather finish something late and perfectly, or on-time and imperfectly?

Answer: This is a difficult question and one that should be answered like the following, "I would rather deliver something on-time and imperfectly because it will have initiated the project. You have to get the ball rolling. Nothing is perfect."

Give examples of ideas you’ve had or implemented.

Answer: Your answer should contain not only example ideas but ways that your ideas made an impact or created a work achievement for you. For example, "I was able to bring awareness to our sales team that we need a CRM. Once I did, we were able to turn over more than 25% of our client base through this change."

Describe a time when you worked as part of a team.

Answer: Your answer should contain a mention of how you collaborate with others. Think of this as an opportunity to present your teamwork and collaboration skills. For example, "I loved working with the innovation team. We would never say no. It was always an opportunity to improve an idea. We embraced the notion that all ideas needed to be improved until we felt comfortable deploying it."

How would you go about establishing your credibility quickly with the team?

Answer: Your answer should contain verbal communication tactics. For example, "I would sit down with each team member individually and understand what they felt could be improved in the role. Then make my assessment from there."

What type of work environment do you prefer?

Answer: Your answer should describe their work environment. For example, "I prefer a work environment that strives for the best outcomes and that focuses on our customers. Doing this through collaboration and driving success is what fuels the passion for the work."

Tell me about a time when you motivated others.

Answer: Your answer should contain a brief summary of the work situation, what action you took, and the outcome that occurred from your actions. For example, "Our team went through a lot of changes last year. And it wasn't until we decided to embrace solving one particular problem for our customer that fueled our inspiration. We didn't focus on ourselves, but our customers. And I was happy to be the one to place emphasis on how we needed to do that."

Tell me about an experience speaking in front of/presenting to a big group.

Answer: If you don't have the experience to share, you should mention that. But if you do, describe the feeling you had. The uncertainty and the need to be prepared. And then what the outcome was for you after the event.

What assignment was too difficult for you, and how did you resolve the issue?

Answer: An example answer would look like the following, "I was tasked with increasing revenue through one of our online portals. It was something I was unfamiliar with. I tried a few times but failed. Eventually, I realized that I needed some guidance. So I looked internally to seek an apprenticeship with one of our better colleagues. From there, I learned, and overcame the information that I needed in order to succeed for the business."

If you had to choose one, would you consider yourself a big-picture person or a detail-oriented person?

Answer: Detail-oriented person. Companies don't need big-picture people unless you're the CEO.

Give an example of a goal you set and how you achieved it.

Answer: Your answer should contain a reference to either a personal or work goal that shows commitment. For example, "I wanted to be able to run a marathon. I decided to train for more than a few months. I started small, kept a track record of my results, then moved upward. It took me only a few months to realize that starting small, tracking my success was the key to success."

Give an example of managing multiple tasks and projects/responsibilities at once.

Answer: "We were nearing a deadline and one of our colleagues fell ill. I decided to jump in and fill their responsibilities during this stressful time. I focused on only what was important to accomplish out of that other role. And I was reminded to keep things moving forward instead of trying to be perfect. Ultimately, we stayed on track, delivered our results and retained the client we were working with."

What do you do when work interferes with your personal life?

Answer: Your answer should be honest. An example would be, "Sometimes I have a difficulty separating the two. Because I'm so passionate about my work I'm constantly thinking about. For me, the way to resolve this is to be passionate about my work so that it feels close to home."

Tell me about a time when you had to make a split-second decision.

Answer: Your answer should contain a work situation, your challenge, the action you took and the resolution that occurred from it. For example, "I had to make a decision to cut advertising spending when our website went down. By doing so, I knew we would lose sales but I also knew the website could be down for a long time. It was the right thing to do. In the long run, we lost sales but saved nearly $15,000 that day in advertising losses."

Tell me about a time when you anticipated potential problems and took measures to prevent.

Answer: Your answer should contain a work situation, your challenge, the action you took and the resolution that occurred from it. For example, "I was prepared for our market to make a change when I realized we were at all-time highs. When our market changed, I knew that our business models would as well. So I decided to start expanding our models of doing business and get out of just a single revenue stream. The idea was to stay hedged and protected."

Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.

Answer: Your answer shouldn't brag about your achievements. But it should reference one. For example, "I'm most proud of my accomplishment of increasing revenue for Apple last year. It's not just about the success I was able to create but how it returned revenue back to our company and keep jobs available. This is what made me proud, happy, and humbled to be part of the business."

Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.

Answer: Your answer should contain a work situation, your challenge, the action you took and the resolution that occurred from it. An example answer would be, "I remember one of our clients was asking for feedback on their project. And we didn't really have the time to do so. But I decided to stay late one night, get the work done quickly but effectively. Then deliver it to our client. They were so happy that they referred us to another client for business. That was impactful for me and the business."

Have you ever mentored anyone?

Answer: Your answer should be made with honestly. If you have, mention why it was impactful to you. If you have not, mention why you would love to do so.

What are some of your leadership experiences? Tell me about a time you were in a leadership position.

Answer: Your answer should contain a work situation, your challenge, the action you took and the resolution that occurred from it. For example, "The time when our team needed to be recalibrated after a team member left was important. I could have felt sad and disappointed. But instead, I focused on work and rallied our team around the problem and customer. It helped."

Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision with imperfect or incomplete information.

Answer: Your answer should contain a work situation, your challenge, the action you took and the resolution that occurred from it. For example, "I remember making a decision about stopping our advertising revenue when the website was down. I wasn't sure how long it was going to be down for. If I stopped spending money on advertising, it would take a day to get it back up and running. But I knew if we kept it live, we would lose a lot of money. I decided to cut the advertising spending and it proved to be effective. The website was down for 24-hours and we saved nearly $15,000 in advertising spend."

Tell me about a time when you learned something new in a very short amount of time.

Answer: Your answer should contain a work situation, your challenge, the action you took and the resolution that occurred from it. For example, "I remember having to learn about content marketing. It was because our traffic was dropping on paid acquisition channels. I spent nights reading, and decided to invest my time in writing articles versus anything else. It proved to be fruitful over the next 6-months as our traffic and customer acquisition evened out."

What do you do when priorities change quickly?

Answer: Your answer should be made with honesty and with your own personality in mind. For example, "I try to keep a level head. Focus on the customer. Focus on our customer's problems. Not my own."

How do you set priorities when you have multiple urgent deadlines?

Answer: An example answer would be, "I try to think through the potential outcomes and prioritize not based on time but on impact. Both positive and negative impacts."

What is the most competitive work situation you have been in? How did you handle it?

Answer: An answer should contain a work situation, action you took, and positive outcome from that action. For example, "I recall competing with a colleague over an internal hire position. One thing I wanted to do was make sure we didn't lose chemistry working together when only one of us would receive the job offer. I recall sitting down with him/her and discussing that and agreeing we wouldn't lose our working relationship over the desire to fill the role. It was the right thing to do. And tested my verbal communication abilities."

How do you keep a work-life balance?

Answer: I try to remind myself that there will always be another day tomorrow. And try to stay focused on prioritizing the most important work, first. This is where my prioritization and research skills become a value to my own work.

What are your long-term career goals?

Answer: I aspire to be a leader. In whatever way that comes to fruition. Being able to serve our customers through hard work, dedication, research, and seeing their needs be met. For me, that's the form of leadership I see myself being in. As to what position that means, that's hard to predict.

Interview Questions by Job Title

Below are interview questions and answers that are specific to job titles:

See more interview question and answer guides in our database.

interview session preparation tips

Interview Question FAQ's

Common questions and answers related to preparing for an upcoming job interview and understanding job interview questions.

What are common interview questions for bookkeeper positions?

Bookkeeper positions are financial professional roles. Because of the focus on finance and accounting, you should expect to receive a variation of the above interview questions during your job interview session, along with questions related to an accounting role in particular.

Those questions would be like the following:

What are common interview questions for electrical engineers?

Electrical Engineering positions will have multiple interview questions that surround critical thinking, analytical abilities, research methods, qualitative and quantitative research methods and more.

In addition to the interview questions mentioned in this article, you may be asked questions like the following:

What are common interview questions for teachers?

Teachers often receive interview questions surrounding their planning abilities, comprehension tactics, strategic thinking abilities, and ways to connect with children on a one-on-one basis.

Questions that you might see asked to teaching candidates would be:

What are common interview questions asked to interns?

Interns are often asked aspirational questions or questions related to their passion for the business category and industry. This is a way of gauging the intern's interest and making sure that the candidate is going to apply themselves to the role versus facilitating a university requirement or career requirement.

Questions that you might see asked would be:

What questions can my hiring manager, interviewer or future employer not ask me?

Some interview questions are illegal to ask. If you'd like to know more about which questions are permitted or not permitted by law, we recommend the Betterteam.com resource.

The general topic area's that your interviewer should avoid are mentions or questions surrounding:

What interview questions will test critical-thinking?

Critical-thinking is a very employable talent. Behavioral questions are those that start with "tell me about a time" and present the candidate with an opportunity to describe a previous work situation and how they resolved that situation through their own efforts.

When looking to test critical-thinking, behavioral questions are best. One of the following will be the most effective:

What interview questions reveal character?

Interview questions that reveal character are ones that allow the interviewer to tell a previous work scenario. Those are considered behavioral interview questions and often start with, "tell me about a time." Some of the questions below may assist you in being able to decipher the candidate's core competencies or their work characteristics.

What interview questions should I use to test a candidates knowledge about our company culture?

Company culture is more important than anything. The chemistry you and your colleagues have together is what causes you to produce great outcomes and work well. Business care about this more than anything. Bad chemistry between employees can mean too much time spent communicating and not enough time executing.

How do you ensure candidates comprehend your company culture and are going to fit in? Below are interview questions that may reveal information useful to you.

What interview questions should I use to test a candidate's problem-solving skills?

Bahavioral questions will be the best in informing hiring managers on a candidate's ability to solve problems. These questions often start with "tell me about a time" and allow the candidate to present a work challenge and action they took to overcome it.

Here are some example interview questions that will present you with an opportunity to measure your candidate's ability to solve problems:

Why do employers ask, "What is your dream job?"

Employers ask this question for two reasons. The first is to learn more about who you are and what makes you unique. The second is to see how you'll answer the question. For job seekers, they often answer this question with a job title that is not the one they are applying for. Or an answer that contains a job title that shares no similarities with the one they are applying for. And that is a critical mistake. The candidate's answers should contain some similarities in "dream job" or passions as the one they are applying for.

Answering, "This is my dream job." is not recommended. It lacks honesty and the interviewer or hiring manager won't respond well to the lack of honesty.

How can I be prepared for all interview questions as a candidate?

The reality is that you'll never be able to fully predict what interview questions your interviewer will ask. You should go through a few mock interview sessions, where your friend or family member is pretending to be the interviewer and asks you a multitude of questions. This gives you the opportunity to practice your delivery. All interview questions should be answered with under 90-second responses. And done so with clarity and with thought behind the answer.

If your interviewer asks you a question you haven't prepared for, don't try to answer their question quickly. Take a pause, collect yourself, focus on how you might answer the question, then deliver your message. Be sure to ask, "Does this answer your question?" at the end of the response. This gives you the opportunity to clarify if the interviewer feels you didn't deliver your answer with the kind of structure they were expecting.

Why do interviewers ask, "What are your strengths?" and "What are your weaknesses?"

Interviewers ask these questions about your strengths and weaknesses to gauge your understanding of your own professional development. Every employee has strengths and weaknesses. Though, when you answer this question as a candidate, you should align both your strengths and weaknesses in a way that shows you're qualified for the position. For example, you would not want to say you lack mathematical skills if you're applying for a position as a bookkeeper.

What if my interviewer asks me about salary?

If your interviewer asks you about salary, be sure to have your answer in mind. The best way to be prepared with an answer is to know your past salary amount, then add 12%, that will be your answer. Secondarily, be sure to research the national average salary for your position. You can use tools like PayScale or Salary.com to determine this information. If you'd like to reference that information while delivering your answer, you can do so.

What if my interviewer asks me to walk them through my resume?

This is a typical interview question and can help the interviewer get an idea of who you are before they interview you. When the interviewer asks you to review your resume, you should promptly ask where they'd like to begin. Then focus on your previous job history and talk through the achievements you were able to make while employed in that position.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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