Job Interview Preparation: 7 Common Interview Questions (And How To Answer Them)

Job Interview Preparation: 7 Common Interview Questions (And How To Answer Them)

I’ve been on so many job interviews that it borders on insanity and has made me feel as though I’ve heard every possible interview question out there.

While there are some wildcard questions thrown around every so often that will catch you completely off-guard (and trust me, there are some really strange questions that can be asked), there are a certain set of questions that are a common go-to place for interviewers trying to unravel your potential and see how much you fit into the company.

Here are 7 common job interview questions that you will most likely encounter during your job application process.

Why did you leave your last job?

This one is so common, I’ve heard it each and every single time without fail. The most important thing to remember when answering this is to NEVER talk about your crazy boss, or the endless hours you have to work, or annoying colleagues that drove you to leave - no matter how true it may be. Focus and confine your answer on your quest for more opportunities to learn or grow and develop yourself.

You can say: “I was looking for bigger opportunities or more ways to expand my current role, knowledge, and skills.”


Do you know about the type of work we do?

It goes without saying you need to know about the company you are applying to. If you don’t know where to start, you can check out our article on the 5 things you need to know about the company. In case you know someone in that company personally, talk to them and get insider information.

You have to say: “Yes, I do” or “Yes, I am familiar”. Then briefly relay any information you gathered about their company and if possible, your understanding of what your job role will entail.


Why have you been unemployed for so long?

This one is not always applicable to everyone but if they do see a long gap between employment they will ask. Talk about how you spent that time being productive - did you take online classes? Learn some new skills? Joined seminars and training? Did you pick up some freelance work? Did you volunteer at NGOs or do community work? But be sure you’re honest about it because there will most likely be follow-up questions about what the experience was like and the things you did during that time.

You can say: “I wanted to take some time off so that I can take online classes and attend seminars” or “I was given the opportunity to do community work and wanted to volunteer my time before pursuing a full-time job again.”


If the reason you were unemployed for a long time was personal such as family or health issues, you can mention it but try not to go into too much detail. Just give enough justification as to why you were gone a long time.

What type of work did you previously do?

Most of your time during the interview will actually be spent talking about your previous work experiences. This is so the interviewer can check if the things you know how to do actually align with the things they want you to do.

What to mention: Talk about your daily tasks, your different roles, responsibilities, or any big/long-term projects you had to work on. Try to be specific, and if you can give numbers on your KPIs/KRAs or on how you’ve helped grow your company - even better.


What is a problem/challenge you encountered and how did you overcome it?

For this, you must really look back and look hard at the past few years. Sometimes they’ll even ask about challenges you’ve faced in your personal life and not just work. You’re going to have to give concrete examples of things you’ve actually been through.

Examples: “It was a challenge growing our online reach and engagement as a startup so I did as much market research as possible to know who I was talking to so I can effectively communicate with them.” “During one of our events, a supplier backed out last minute so I had to find a replacement immediately. I did this by {fill in the blanks}.” Focus on your solutions and the steps you took to overcome the challenge.

Sometimes the question can be reversed - if it’s not a problem they ask for, they may ask for what successful project/task you completed and how you did it. The same suggestions apply.

What do you do outside of work?

This sometimes accompanies the question, “tell me about yourself”. For this question, just be truthful. Talk about your hobbies or interests. If you can, mention hobbies and interests that show how you are trying to develop some kind of skill. But keep it short.

Don’t talk about: How much you love and spend hours and hours watching your Korean Telenovelas.
Instead: Simply state that you watch them or better yet, focus on hobbies and interests that help build your skills or showcases you as a well-rounded person.


Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

Ah, one of those million dollar questions. The reason interviewers ask this question is because they want to see what your future plans are and if they align with the company or if it is something that they can help you with. Try to keep your answers relevant to the objective line written on your resume or at least to the position you are applying to or the company.

You can say: "I see myself leading my own team/department" or "In five years I want to be able to master my craft so I can better contribute to my company".