Have you ever found yourself stumbling over your answers during a job interview, unsure of what to say? If so, you’re not alone. According to a 2020 survey from JDP, 93% of job seekers have experienced interview-related anxiety.
To get over those interview jitters, as the saying goes, practise makes perfect. We’ve included scripts for six of the most common questions below. Customize them as you see fit, and then practise, practise, practise!
Whether you’re interviewing for a role in construction, IT, marketing, HR, administration, or finance, you’re bound to be asked these common questions. (Still trying to land an interview? Check out our Job Board—we’re currently hiring for roles in these fields and more!)
The Common (and Dreaded) Question: What’s your biggest weakness?
If even reading that question made you cringe, we get it. Talking about your strengths in an interview is easy (who doesn’t love to humble brag?) but sharing weaknesses can lead to sweaty palms and fumbled answers. That’s why this is one of the most important questions to prepare for.
Here are three tips to help you ace your answer:
- Be honest and authentic. People tend to answer this question with something they think the interviewer wants to hear (we’re looking at you, “I’m a perfectionist”). But the truth is, the interviewer is simply trying to understand how you approach your own development. It might feel scary to share a real weakness, but the interviewer will be able to tell whether you’re being authentic. That’s where our next tip comes in.
- Tell them how you’re addressing it. Now that you’ve told them a real weakness, it’s time to tell them how you’re overcoming it. This is your chance to show the interviewer that you are committed to self-improvement. See our scripts to understand how you can apply this tip!
- Don’t pick something unrelated to your profession. This is tempting and we get the logic—if you pick something unrelated to the role then it won’t affect your chances of being hired. But remember, this is an interview so it’s important to share something work-related. Even if your latest home reno project is testing your patience, it’s best to find another answer.
Here’s how you can breakdown your answer:
- [specific example] I’ve always struggled with public speaking.
- [feedback you’ve received] It’s something my previous manager had mentioned to me, and with their guidance, I’ve been taking steps to improve.
- [solution you’re implementing] I recently signed up for a workshop on public speaking to improve my skills and have been taking on more projects where I can apply these skills. These steps have already helped with my confidence, and my manager and colleagues have commented on the improvements they’ve seen.
- I noticed [specific type of experience] in the job posting. While I haven’t directly worked on a project in that area, I’ve taken several courses to bolster my knowledge. I have the insights and I’m ready to turn them into direct experience. I’m happy to submit an assignment showing how I would turn my knowledge into action.
- I can sometimes get distracted when new tasks come up. To stay on track, I create daily checklists and block time in my schedule. This allows me to focus on core work while maintaining flexibility. Since doing this, I’ve noticed a significant increase in my productivity and focus.
The Common Question: Why should we hire you?
This is your chance to openly pitch yourself for the role, and unlike the dreaded, “What’s your biggest weakness,” it plays to your strengths and achievements. When preparing your answer, remember your goal is to stand out from the sea of candidates, all of whom likely have similar work experience. Here’s how you do it:
- Emphasize soft skills. These traits make you unique and they’re not easy to train for. Are you an expert in communication? Are you lauded for your ability to build relationships? Have you been recognized for your top-tier organization skills? Make sure you mention it!
- Use numbers and past wins. Instead of sharing a basic summary of your experience, share HOW you’ve delivered results with your experience. Instead of saying, “I have experience with data management,” try, “With my data management skills, I successfully implemented a new system that has improved our analytics by 15%.”
- Keep it short and memorable. Think of this answer as your elevator pitch. Be concise and stick to your main points. By keeping it short and focused, your interviewer is more likely to remember your main points.
- What sets me apart is my personal connection and passion for what you do. I’m a loyal customer of your brand and an excellent relationship builder with [xx years of] experience delivering [results] in [field]. I’m confident this combination makes me the right candidate for this role.
- Based on my experience delivering [xx results] in [field], I’m the person you’re looking for to fill this role. I listen carefully, craft a plan and get things done. When in doubt, I ask questions. I’m willing to take on new responsibilities and learn as I go. Plus, I welcome feedback as I think it’s something that keeps me growing and learning.
- When you have minimal experience: I’m motivated and eager to build my portfolio. I’m a fast learner and am not afraid to ask questions or search for solutions independently. I have always excelled academically and in previous volunteer positions [elaborate], and I would bring the same positive attitude, attention to detail and passion to this role. I’m confident I’d make a great addition to your team.
The Common Question: Why are you leaving your current job?
Depending on the reason you’re looking for a new role, answering this question can be challenging. If you’re leaving because of a difficult manager or a toxic work environment, how honest should you be? If you’re leaving because you don’t feel like you’re being fairly compensated, should you mention that?
Our approach to this question is twofold:
- Be respectful of your past (or in some cases, current) employer. It might be difficult depending on the circumstances, but you can be open without being disrespectful (see our examples).
- Bring your answer back to the excitement you feel about this new opportunity. At the end of the day, this interview is about why you want to join their team, so try to keep that at the centre of your answer.
- When you have a difficult boss: I’m grateful for my time with [ORG] and all that I’ve learned here. I’m exploring new opportunities because the work environment and culture no longer align with my values, which are based on respect, innovation and open communication. I noticed similar values listed in the job description for this role and that’s what led me to apply!
- When you are ready for something new: I’ve appreciated the opportunities I’ve been given in my current role and have enjoyed working with my team. However, I think it’s important to always be learning and growing. [Organization name] has been on my list of dream companies for as long as I can remember. When I saw this position come up, I knew I would regret it if I didn’t apply!
- When you’re looking to advance: Over the past year in my current role, I’ve found myself taking on more leadership-level projects, which has enabled me to build my skills and encouraged me to look for a new role that will unleash my potential. I know I can bring the skills you’re looking for because of these additional responsibilities I’ve excelled at in my current role.
The Common Question: How do you respond to feedback?
Feedback is a part of every job, no matter the role you’re interviewing for. When preparing your answer, remember this is a behavioural question.
The interviewer is looking for two things:
- What your approach is when receiving feedback: Do you take feedback personally? Do you push back against constructive criticism? Do you use these insights to spark conversations?
- How they can support you if they become your manager. For leaders, it’s important to understand people’s unique needs when it comes to receiving feedback. Some may prefer 1:1 in-the-moment conversations, while others are more comfortable receiving feedback over email. This question allows them to get a feel for what suits you before bringing you onto their team.
Prepare for this question with examples of feedback you’ve received and implemented to improve in the past. Our tip? Leverage this question to show the interviewer you are committed to growth.
- I look at feedback as a tool for growth. It helps me see the work I’m doing through someone else’s eyes. Recently, I worked on a big project related to [XX] and shared it with a colleague outside of my team. Their feedback highlighted a completely different perspective. By implementing their suggestions, our project was designed in a way that was more accessible to our customers.
- I think diverse points of view are key to professional growth and delivering the best work possible. I see feedback as an opportunity to learn. When I worked on [project], my manager gave me feedback on [example]. Thanks to their insights, our project led to [results] and I’ve applied their advice in other areas of my work ever since.
The Common Question: Why do you want this role / Why do you want to join our team?
Remember that rush of excitement you felt when you saw this job opportunity and decided to apply? Use that to fuel your answer to this question. Part of the interviewer’s job is to find someone who will find fulfilment in the role and at their workplace. This question helps them understand what you’re looking for from this opportunity.
There are two things you want to make sure you focus on:
- How your experience and passions align with the role. Make sure you read over the job description ahead of time and highlight the skills and experiences that they’re looking for. Then link those things back with examples from your own history (if you don’t have direct experience, share volunteer experience or related professional development courses you’ve taken).
- Prepare your “why”. Whether it’s a personal connection, a passion for their mission, or excitement about their corporate culture. You should be able to concisely explain why this organization is your dream employer. (And to find out more about them during the interview process, check out our blog on questions to ask during an interview.)
- When I read the job description, I knew I had to apply. This role aligns perfectly with my experience while offering room for continued professional growth. I have the background you’re looking for in [XX] and I’m excited for the growth opportunities in [XX] highlighted in the job description as well. I’ve also long admired your company’s commitment to [XX] and I would love the opportunity to contribute to your mission.
- [XX] years ago, I was personally impacted by [org name]’s work when [include a story]. Since then, I’ve dreamed of supporting your work. When I think about my career goals, being part of a team that is [insert their mission] tops the list. When I saw this role come up, I knew I had to apply. I have the experience that you’re looking for and a personal connection to your work. I’m excited for the opportunity to bring my best to your team.
The (Most) Common Question: How are you?
This is a question you are guaranteed to get asked in every interview – no matter what role you’re interviewing for. It’s also your first chance to make an impression and build rapport with your interviewer. Our advice? Skip the generic, “I’m good!” and use this opportunity to tell the interviewer a tidbit that helps you stand out. Share something interesting that will spark a conversation or tie your answer back to your excitement for the job.
- I’m great! I just finished a fascinating book on productivity and I’m excited to start implementing some of the key takeaways into my day-to-day.
- I’m honestly excited to be here speaking with you! Working with your company has been a goal of mine for the past 5 years, so being here today means a lot to me.
- I’m well. I recently had a big win in my current role [elaborate] and it’s been fulfilling to be part of the success of that project.
What if they ask you a question that you don’t know the answer to?
The best approach is to share honestly AND use this as a chance to highlight your problem-solving skills. Say something like, “I’m not sure I have the right answer, but this is how I would go about figuring it out [EXPLAIN]. Honestly, I’m excited for the chance to learn!”
That’s it! You’re officially ready to ace your next interview. And remember, while preparation will bolster your confidence, try to avoid sounding scripted. Make sure you know your skills, experience, and your general answers to these questions but don’t feel like you need to read a script word-for-word to be successful. You want to sound authentic and leave space for the natural flow of conversation between you and your interviewer.
Good luck and happy interviewing!