5 common interview questions -- and how to answer them

An essential part of interview preparation is formulating answers to specific questions. And there are some standard questions that frequently come up during an interview. Here are five of the most common interview questions, as well as what the employer is looking for in your response.

1. Tell me about yourself
This is the most predictable yet sometimes the most frustrating of all interview questions. The interviewer has a copy of your résumé in front of her so why ask the question? This is simply your opportunity to present yourself in the best possible light.

For best results:

  • Focus on three or four areas within your résumé that are relevant to the job opening.
  • Be concise. Limit your moment in the spotlight to two or three minutes maximum.
  • Show enthusiasm. Hiring managers love a genuinely interested candidate.
  • Don’t get personal. Focus solely on your professional achievements. 

A vital element to interview preparation is researching the company, including its background, structure and current industry trends. Employers are most impressed by candidates who have taken the time to thoroughly investigate their brand. To stand out from the competition, always check current press releases or company updates on the morning of your interview to reiterate your enthusiasm and interest in the role.

2. What do you know about the company?
A vital element to interview preparation is researching the company, including its background, structure and current industry trends. Employers are most impressed by candidates who have taken the time to thoroughly investigate their brand. To stand out from the competition, always check current press releases or company updates on the morning of your interview to reiterate your enthusiasm and interest in the role. 

3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
This is another favorite from the lineup of interview questions and answers. Responding to the strengths element of this question should be relatively straightforward if you have thoroughly analyzed the job posting and identified the key skills needed. By highlighting your personal strengths that most closely match the company’s needs, you are emphasizing your suitability for the role. When it comes to weaknesses, restrict it to just one. It’s not a trick question; everyone has weaknesses. The key is to demonstrate your willingness to work on improving them. Admitting to a weakness also shows a level of self-awareness.

4. Why do you want to leave your current position?/Why do you want this job?
Most candidates typically respond to this question by outlining what benefits they will gain from accepting a particular job. The employer ideally wants to know not only what the company can do for you but what you can do for the company. What aspects of your qualifications and experience will add value to the organization if you are offered this job? If you are currently employed but miserable in your present role, it is essential to focus on the benefits of joining the employer, rather than how terrible your predicament is. A negative attitude is one of the principal reasons that new employees fail to succeed in a new job.

5. Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Unless you’ve been peering into your crystal ball recently, it’s impossible to give an accurate answer to this question. What the employer is looking for is an indication of long-term commitment. If you are the preferred candidate, will their investment pay off? Your response should imply that you intend to stick around and grow your career with the company. You may also want to turn the tables and ask the hiring manager where she sees the company in five years’ time.

I’ve been asked all of these in interviews. Something I’ve also been asked is if I knew what the agency’s mission statement was. This is something many people overlook. Every law enforcement agency has a mission statement (usually found on their website) and you should take the time to memorize it. Sometimes crime labs will have a separate mission statement than the one for the main agency. Keep this in mind! This can also apply to jobs outside law enforcement. Be sure to look into whether the place you are interviewing for has a mission statement or not. It’s also good to know general history of the company (example: when it was founded and by who), know who the current CEO or president is, etc.

Good luck out there!


Over a year ago, I (positivelypersistentteach) suggested we make a list of questions that Tumblrs are asked on interviews in order to help each other prepare for our job hunts.  World-shaker in turn made this google doc. I’ve seen a lot of requests for interview questions to practice on Tumblr lately, so I am posting this again because it seems a lot of you have missed it.  Please reblog even if you are not job hunting this year.

The only things I ask is that when you go on an interview, if you are asked a question unlike any on this list please come back and add to it.  Also, please do not delete anyone else’s questions or put links to outside sources.

Learning to Listen

There are many important lessons to learn in medical school.  Of course there is the science of physiology and pathology.  There is the nuance to taking histories and performing physical exams.  We have even been given lectures on cultural awareness.  But some lessons are not spoken.  Some lessons are more or less subliminal, and if you pick them up it will change not only how patients see you but how you interact with the world.

One such lesson is listening. 

Last night I met two wonderful women who sat next to me on a plane trip. One was almost 40, with two kids.  The other was young and in her 20s.  We talked of work, life, goals and relationships.  Eventually the 20-something left for the bathroom and the mother and I were left alone.  

She entered into a cathartic rant of all that she has been through in the last few years.  A divorce from an alcoholic husband.  Entering her kids into counseling over the ordeal.  Trying to balance being a mom and working while her company sent her around the U.S.  I listened, taking in all that she said without judgement or thought.  I just listened.  When she was done I offered no advice.  I merely made myself present in the moment, offering what little comfort I could.  Then the 20-something returned and the moment was over.

This might seem unusual.  But for me it is not.  The more I learn to deal with patients the more people seems to seek me out.  I have been told I “give off a vibe.”  Whether that is true or not, I do think people pick up on how well you listen.  They can see in your face and body language when you are disinterested or when you are being judgmental.  They know when someone hijacks the conversation or seems weary to tread into certain conversational waters.  For that reason I have been trying to practice my conversational and listening skills.

As you can imagine from this blog, I love to give advice.  But I have been learning lately that advice is not always appropriate, so I withhold it in personal matters unless it is asked for.  I have practiced my poker face for when patients tell me shocking or surprising things.  The surveys we give when doing HIV tests really helped develop that skill (I have heard about sexual acts you have yet to imagine).  I have also started learning how to properly comfort and offer empathy, attempting to stay away from clichés and bland responses.

For us, these things were not explicitly taught.  But if you plan to truly be an exceptional doctor, they are things you should learn.

I think that woman on the plane just needed to talk.  I was someone she could rant to and never see again.  That was fine, I was happy she could get that out.  As this happens over and over, strangers sharing personal parts of themselves, I feel very privileged to have their trust.  I also feel like it gives me the ability to develop those listening skills that I will rely on in my practice.

You can’t heal a patient without truly listening to their concerns.  That is where the art and science of medicine meet.



Bryanstars Interview- Black Veil Brides Andy Biersask ft. Danny Worsnop Asking Alexandria
  • Bryan Stars:What is the worlds worst animal?
  • Andy Biersack:....who cares?
  • Bryan Stars:Have you ever looked at nature and ever thought that animal was really stupid looking?
  • Andy Biersack:Yeah....all the time.
  • Danny Worsnop:It's what we do.
  • Andy Biersack:We get angry...we go to parks, like national parks, and just....
  • Danny Worsnop:We go to the zoo and...
  • Andy Biersack:Meh.
  • Danny Worsnop:We go to the zoo and heckle at funny lookin' ones.
  • Andy Biersack:Yeah, we just sit with beers and.... Look at that f*ckin' deer.
  • Danny Worsnop:Hey deer! You're fuckin' duuuuumb! That was my America.

nslayton said:

What are your tips for interviews and finding sources? That always seems to be the toughest part of journalism, and it's nothing they teach you in journalism school.

Hi there,

I’m going to be a bit all over the place with this one so hope you’ll bear with me. And the reason I’ll be a bit all over the place is because interviewing is really hard, and it requires different techniques depending on the purpose of the interview.

For example, your questions and interactions with a profile subject are going to be different than those you ask of people when reporting on public corruption. In the first, you’re trying to get at who this person is, what makes them tick why are they interesting. In the second, you’re investigating truth and lies, facts and figures and people who very much would like to dissemble and lead you astray.

Also, take into account your medium. How you interface with a subject for a two minute live broadcast is going to be very different than when writing a long form article.

Aside from the obvious (do your research, know your subject, identify what it is that you’re trying to get out of the interview), I want to focus a bit on the “softer” side of the process.

But first, lets start with something Chip Scanlan wrote at Poynter a few years back.

The dictionary defines a question as, “a sentence in an interrogative form, addressed to someone in order to get information in reply.” Notice that the root of the word is quest, which is a “search or pursuit made in order to find or obtain something.”

So let’s agree that interviews are formal encounters for asking questions, and the act of asking a question is part of a quest that we want to successfully complete.

Marc Pachter, who created and hosted an interview series for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, gave a TED Talk once about the art of the empathetic interview. One important thing he had to say — and I think this holds true for all types of interviews — is that we need to break through people’s external shells:

But it comes down, in the end, to how do you get through all the barriers we have. All of us are public and private beings, and if all you’re going to get from the interviewee is their public self, there’s no point in it. It’s pre-programmed. It’s infomercial, and we all have infomercials about our lives. We know the great lines, we know the great moments, we know what we’re not going to share…

…I was trying to get them to say what they probably wanted to say, to break out of their own cocoon of the public self, and the more public they had been, the more entrenched that person, that outer person was. 

Towards the end of a 2000 profile with the American Journalism Review, John Sawatsky talks about how people who are interviewed a lot have a “message track.” Simply, stock answers to questions they’ve answered over and over again. If you follow sports, you see this all the time as athletes give rote, cliched answers about their latest successes and failures.

Call it a “shell” or a “message track” and you basically have the same thing: something you need to penetrate in order to get something worthwhile out on the other side. It can be difficult, of course.

Savvy sources are on to all of us, spinning back, all heat and no light, precisely because “we’re asking the wrong questions,” [Sawatsky] says. Under attack, journalists are conceding defeat to well-oiled propaganda machines without really understanding why they’re losing. In the last decade, media trainers have become such a growth industry, “you can even find them among small businessmen in Newfoundland,” Sawatsky says, teaching politicians and executives “how to run circles around journalists.”

Sawatsky, a former investigative journalist, has spent years exploring, understanding and formalizing interviewing techniques. ESPN hired him in 2004 to run training programs for its journalists and producers. As Jason Fry describes it, the sports network has become “his laboratory for deciphering the science of interviewing.”

Outlining Sawatsky’s method is too long for this space but if you click through to the links above, you’ll start finding great advice. Like the Smithsonian’s Marc Pachter though, there are empathetic techniques that draw answers out. These generally fall along the lines of asking “open” rather than “closed” yes-no questions, of listening rather than conversing, of asking a single question that the subject must answer as opposed to bundling a few together that lets the subject choose which path is easiest.

From the AJR profile:

Sawatsky applies the same discipline to interviews that E.B. White commended to writers—make every word tell. Using Sawatsky’s approach, the journalist is no longer a sparring partner but more like a therapist, a professional listener who leads the source down a path toward a goal, staying in control, giving up nothing.

Now, onto finding sources.

One of the hardest things about journalism programs is that you’re asked to report stories on all subjects under the sun. This week it’s science, next week it’s business, the following it’s local politics. Unless you’re very strange, you most likely don’t have an address book filled with sources you can talk to about these things.

So you start your research and start making some telephone calls and cobble together some sort of story that meets a deadline before rushing off to do it on a completely different topic all over again.

This gets easier once you’re on a beat. It’s a primary reason journalists develop beats. If local government is your thing you’ll start to know the players and know exactly who to call upon for particular stories.

A few things though: once you develop your source list, call on them just to check in. Make yourself familiar to them. Pick their brains about what they’re finding interesting and important. Some won’t take your call but many will. This can be a great lead generator. It will also lead to scoops because you’re proactively seeking things out rather than reactively following up on what you’ve read or heard reported elsewhere.

Second, never leave an interview without asking the subject for the names of people you should also talk to. Expand on this a bit though since you don’t just want an echo chamber. Ask them who disagrees with their thinking about the topic. For example, if we go back to local politics, ask who their adversaries are on a piece of legislation.

And finally, work your social networks, especially Twitter. Create lists of subject matter experts in the beat(s) you cover. Interact with them. It’s a great way to expand your source list as well as your overall understanding of whatever subjects you choose to cover.

Hope this helps. — Michael

Have a question? Ask away. Our inbox is open.

First of all a big thank-you for your help! :)

The radio documentary is basically a little history of Cosplay/wearing costumes for fun; interviews about people’s experiences/what they like best about cosplay; vox pop’s saying whether they prefer to buy or DIY their costumes (and why); and finally any tips or advice they’d have for beginners/people wanting to get into cosplay.

My script gets approved at the end of this month; so I’d have the whole of February and hopefully the first few weeks of March to collect recorded stuff and stick it together. :)


Hey Fanatics! This cool person needs cosplayers to interview for her final 


I definitely know I have cosplayers who follow my blog yo, so ya put two n two together…..and etc..



reblog this post, like this post, and or send it to any cosplayer you know who might be interested 

and like click that there link up thar

like now




25 sample Questions to help you with the “What question should I ask if the interviewer asks if I have any questions? “Question


A question that is particularly worrisome and troubling for a candidate interviewing for a job is the “what  question(s) should I ask if the interviewer asks if I have any questions?”

As anyone who has been on an interview knows, the employer, at times, usually while wrapping-up the interview,  inquires “so, do you have any questions for me?”

This seems harmless enough; a simple open-ended, general, softball inquiry after finishing with grueling, intrusive, difficult, probing job-specific questions.

For some reason this issue seems to deeply bother job seekers.  It is so troubling to some that he/she can’t focus, actively participate and engage in the interview process as they are too busy worried about what questions to ask.

To help with this predicament, here are  25 just-in-case,  fallback questions to alleviate your worries.

Who  would be the ideal candidate for this position?

How do I compare with other candidates that you have met with?

What type of backgrounds did the other candidates have that previously interviewed for this position?

Was someone in this position previously or is it a new role?

If the employee left, could you please tell me why the person left your firm?

What are your expectations for me in this role?

Do you provide any training, mentoring or guidance?

Will you offer feedback either positive or negative so that I may improve?

Are there growth opportunities within the company?

Do you enjoy working here?

What made you decide to work here?

What did you do before this?

What is the typical day like, if there is a typical day in this job?

Do you have certain measurements or expectations so that I could judge my performance?

Why would I need to do to succeed in this role?

How could I make your job easier and help you?

What is the corporate culture like?

Who else will be involved in the interview process?

Can you offer an interview timeline?

Do you know how many people I may meet with?

Will I be able to interview with peers, support staff, other business people that I will interact with, executives, human resources?

How long will the interview process take?

How do you compare to your competitors?

I noticed some articles about the firm in the news, how are you dealing with the current matters?

Are there any questions I should ask but did not?

Please note, these are just a sampling to help get you started.

Also, the above questions may read cold and direct. Feel free to embellish upon them, add a human touch and view them as a starting point to cultivate your own questions.

I hope this helps, best of luck interviewing.

I know a number of people, as I suspect we all do, who are currently looking for jobs. And I have received emails or seen posts on their social media pages asking for help with preparing. What types of questions should the interviewee be prepared to answer. But perhaps not as much, if any, of the time is being spent considering what questions they should be asking as the interviewee.

Interviews are a two-way conversation … or at least they should be. This part is really hard for people, particularly those interviewing from a place of unemployment. They really want a job and are so focused on getting it that they overlook the fact that they need to ensure they and the company are a good match. They may limit their questions to things like benefits, which, while important, are not the only things that you would really want to know about if you had the time and piece of mind to think about it.

Marc Cenedella from The Ladders posts, and updates, a list of 20 questions you need to ask. Click through for the full list, but even just considering the following few will get you started:

What’s the biggest change your group has gone through in the last year? 

What type of people are successful here? What type of people are not? 

What’s one thing that’s key to this company’s success that somebody from outside the company wouldn’t know about? 

How did you get your start in this industry? Why do you stay?