Are you about to interview for an important position, and you’re curious about what the interviewer might ask you? Though the prospect of being asked difficult questions about your work history and education may make you nervous, as long as you’re well-prepared, there’s nothing to worry about! One way to prepare is by conducting video interview practice online. You can do this by using the Interview Simulator on our website to formulate responses for questions you may be asked. Take a look at these mock job interview questions and answers to get a taste for what may be coming your way:
Question: “Why do you want to work for our company?”
One of the most open-ended questions that your interviewer might ask you is why you want to work for the company you are applying to. While you both know that you wouldn’t be signing up if it wasn’t for that nice paycheck, the company obviously wants employees that enjoy their work, have goals, and aren’t just in it for the money.
Possible Answer: “I’m trying to grow and develop in this field, and your company is a leader in the industry.”
Before you interview, you should be pretty clear about why you want to work for the company that you applied to. If you have no idea, ensure that you do your research and formulate a response. Try to think of how the company will benefit you, as well as what you have to contribute. Do your values align? For example, if you want to work for Company X because they are leaders in renewable energy and you’re an environmentalist, definitely mention this. If you think that your company has great resources that can help you better yourself—training, a positive company culture, a fast track to leadership positions—then let them know that. The key is to let them know that you share their values and that you are a good match for them.
Question: “What are your weaknesses?”
This may seem like a trick question—and that’s because it is. Few people are objective enough to be able to fully evaluate their weak points, which is why your interviewer is asking this question. With enough time to think it over, you can probably come up with a few weaknesses that would be perfect for a question like this. That’s what these mock job interview questions and answers are for, after all. The answer will be unique to your situation, but you might try something along the lines of:
Possible Answer: “I’m currently trying to improve my public speaking skills [or other common skill]. I’m not the most confident public speaker, but I’ve been practicing and taking on many speaking opportunities to improve. I even joined Toastmasters International (Public Speaking Organization), which has helped me immensely.”
The key is to not mention a weakness that is totally irreparable or a weakness you have no intention of fixing. Don’t just say something like, “My biggest weakness is that I’m antisocial. I really don’t like talking to people.” Instead, think of a weakness that that you’re working on improving and one that would not greatly hinder your ability to fulfill your job requirements. That fact that you are self-reflective enough to recognize the problem and take another step to do something about it will win you a lot of points.
Question: “Tell me about a time you made a mistake. What did you do to fix it?”
Nobody is perfect, and your interviewer knows this. What he/she is looking for is whether you are a problem-solver or someone that does not take accountability for their mistakes. One thing to avoid mentioning are mistakes that show a complete lack of judgment or a disregard for safety. “I ran over my boss accidentally with the forklift at my last job,” is something you do not want to be telling the interviewer. The best way to answer this question is to think of a time when you made a rather innocuous mistake, especially if you had a brilliant way of making up for it. Try to turn it around if you can to showcase how resourceful you are.
Possible Answer: “I underestimated how long it would take to finish a small project that I was going to complete by myself. A few days before the task was due I knew that I would not be able to finish it on time. I explained the situation to my manager and then recruited help as quickly as possible. A few of my colleagues and I stayed late and although the extra pressure was not ideal, we were able to deliver the task on time.”
You want to show that you take responsibility for your mistakes, that you’re not afraid to admit them, and that you can find a solution to them through teamwork. Try to think of an example in your working life where you had the humility to solve a problem caused by your own mistakes. Just make sure that it has a happy ending and that you’ve learned your lesson.
Question: “What are your strengths?”
As with weaknesses, a lot of people have trouble evaluating themselves objectively when it comes to strengths. When your interviewer asks about your strengths, they are not just asking what you’re good at—they want to know how these attributes will contribute to the company. One approach is to show that you’re flexible. Companies love individuals that can adapt to ever changing roles. For example, you could try something like:
Possible Answer: “One of my biggest strengths is that I’m a lifelong learner. I’m self-taught when it comes to a lot of my skills, and I pick up new concepts very easily. [Insert an example of this here]”
With an answer like this, you’re letting them know that your strengths are adaptable. You will be easy to train and whenever the company needs to move in a different direction, you will be on board.
Question: “Why do you think we should hire you over other qualified candidates?”
Put yourself in the employer’s shoes and think about what you could contribute and what qualifications you have that match the job position. Of course, it’s not enough to just be qualified. To stand out over the other applicants, there has to be something unique about you, something that is hard to come by that you can bring to the table. Try to balance your answer by showcasing a core of respectable skills, but add a little bit of a twist with some unique strength that you have. For example:
Possible Answer: “I have a lot of experience in this field and I have a strong educational background in [your chosen field]. In addition, I helped launch a start up in [relevant market], and that really showed me what this business is like from the inside.”
The key is to show what you bring to the table in an objective way, while still making yourself seem unique. One thing you want to avoid is talking too much about subjective traits that you have. Telling them that you’re a “go-getter” or that you’re a “people person” doesn’t do much to give them an example of what you’re really like—those are just words and they mean nothing to the interviewer on their own. Focus on what you can contribute and talk about examples of ways you have contributed in the past.
Question: “What are some of your hobbies?”
You should answer this (and every question) as honestly as you can, but think about which hobbies you want to discuss. Try to stay away from anything that could be a hot button issue, unless you really want to polarize the interviewer. For example, if your favorite hobby is collecting guns, you may want to avoid mentioning it. People can have very emotional responses to some hobbies. Instead, keep things light and simple, and try to mention a hobby that communicates something good about you. For instance:
Possible Answer: “I’m an avid reader. Lately I have been reading a lot of self-help and motivational books but my favorite genre is science fiction. I also love sports. I can watch any kind of sport on TV and really like learning and playing new sports.”
If you can tie the hobby into your job, even better. For example, if you are interviewing for a position as a computer programmer, you could mention how you love to learn about new technologies, or talk about a new platform that you’re learning to code for.
Question: “What was the reason that you left your last position?”
The interviewer is going to naturally wonder why you left your last job or why you are planning to leave the company you are currently working for. At the very least, never, ever talk badly about your previous employer. Even if it was a bad break-up, try to think of the company’s good points and paint your leaving as a drama-free event. Sometimes interviewers will try to induce you to talk badly about your last company to see whether you can keep a professional demeanor. Stay serious and tell them the truth, but with a positive slant. You could say something like:
Possible Answer: “It was a great company, but I just felt like we were growing in different directions and we weren’t a good match for each other. I didn’t see an opportunity to grow there so I left.”
Alternatively, if you were laid off, you could mention that you were let go simply because your company couldn’t pay for the extra resources anymore. Try to work in that the lay-offs were inevitable, or that it was difficult for them to let you go.
These are some popular mock interview questions and answers that we picked out. You’ll likely encounter these questions in one form or another – your interviewer might ask them in a slightly different way, but the spirit remains the same no matter where you go. Make sure that above all, you know what the company is looking for in an employee. With this knowledge, you can present yourself as the kind of candidate they want.