Interviewing 101: Interview Questions

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the interview stage of the hiring process. Taking some time to think through how you might respond to potential interview questions will help you feel prepared and confident the first time you meet your prospective supervisor and coworkers. While the exact questions you’ll hear depend on both the position and the person doing the interviewing, there are some general topics you can expect to be brought up.

  • Tell me about yourself.
    Make your answer short and sweet. Stick to experiences and goals that relate to the specific job for which you’re applying. Talk about your skills and achievements that show you can deliver. Emphasize your flexibility and positive attitude.
  • Why are you looking for a job?
    Keep it brief. A straightforward answer is best. For example, “My organization was forced to downsize.” Avoid negative statements about yourself, your work, or your ability to get along with others. Never criticize former employers or coworkers.
  • You haven’t worked for a long time. Why not?
    You may have gaps in employment for many reasons. Be honest. Speak confidently about your experiences during the gaps. Some could transfer to on-the-job skills. For instance, if you were a caregiver, you managed complex financial issues. As a volunteer, you might have worked with diverse groups and on flexible schedules.
  • What’s your biggest weakness?
    This is a reverse invitation to toot your own horn. Do it with an answer that puts you in a good light. For example, “I’m too detail-oriented, but I work hard to control that.” Keep it simple — and smile.
  • What are your salary requirements?
    Try to postpone this question until a job offer has been made. Prepare by knowing the going rate in your area (sites like can help). If you don’t know the range and the interviewer persists, reply, “What salary range are you working with?” The interviewer may tell you.
  • Do you have any questions?
    Show your interest and initiative by asking specific questions about the organization and what you can expect in the job. Use your questions to demonstrate how your skills can contribute to the organization. Answering “no” to this question says you’re not really interested in the job.