Originally, written by Dana Sitar (@danasitar) a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more.
In about 14 years of working, I’ve sat through a dozen or so job interviews.
While every job may be unique, the interviews often are not.
Some companies may throw you a curveball or even engage you in a candid conversation — but most job interviews will simply guide you through the same series of basic questions.
It sounds boring (and it can be), but you can actually use this repetitiveness to your advantage!
Before heading to your next job interview, arm yourself with answers to these common questions:
1- Walk me through your work history, Let’s review your resume:
Why is the interviewer asking for your work history with your resume sitting inches away?
They may just want to hear how you frame your work history.
Or maybe they want you to explain any gaps in employment or frequent job-hopping.
This is your chance to paint the picture of your work experience in a more useful and interesting way than the mundane list on your resume.
2- What are your strengths:
Time to show off!
You applied to this job because you believed you could do it. Why was that again?
Prepare ahead of time, and think carefully about this question.
Every interviewee is going to tout their strong work ethic, ability to be a team player, experience in the field and other generic traits necessary to do the job well.
Stand out by showcasing your unique strengths.
What do you bring to a team that most people don’t? What made you shine in previous jobs? Why do your friends love being around you?
Also make sure you know what the company is looking for. Read the job description carefully.
It tells you exactly what they’re looking for — and even includes some buzzwords they might want to hear!
3- what are your weaknesses:
What you really want to say is, “I didn’t come here to talk about that.”
What you might think you should say is, “Sometimes I’m just too excited about my job.”
What you actually should say is… something real.
Everyone enters a job with some kind of weakness. Let the interviewer know you recognize yours, and explain how you’re working to eliminate it.
4- Why are you interested in working for this company:
I’ve had to bluff my way through plenty of food service job interviews asking me to explain what was so special about the giant, hamburger-slinging corporation I was trying to work for.
If I could conjure an answer other than, “You pay money and don’t do drug tests,” you can prepare a few reasons you’d love to work for your potential employer.
What do you love about the company’s mission and the work it does? What about its culture appeals to you? Do you have any special connection to their services as a customer or community member?
5- Where do you see yourself in five years ? ten years?
You might have your life together better than I do, but at 30 I don’t know how to answer this ubiquitous question.
In an interview, I’m not afraid to say, “I don’t know,” and it hasn’t disqualified me from a position yet.
If you want to be (or at least appear) more decisive, mention your future dreams and aspirations. What the interviewer really wants to hear is you have goals and working here will help you achieve them in the long run.
6- Why do you want to leave your current Job/ Company?
Your answer to this question should be pretty straightforward.
But if parting with your current or latest job wasn’t amicable, expecting this question in advance can help you prepare the, er, most “flattering” way to present the truth.
7- Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of?
This is your chance to brag!
Take a breather: This is one of the more simple job interview questions.
You can probably even tell the whole truth this time.
8- Tell me about a time you made a mistake?
Gah! I’ve been blindsided by this one.
It’s not a problem to acknowledge past mistakes in a job interview — but it can sting to be surprised by this one.
Present a mistake, then follow it up with what you learned or how you fixed whatever problem you might have caused — at work, school or in life.
9- How would your boss and co-workers describe you?
Can you guess the best way to prepare an answer for this question?
Ask your boss and co-workers!
If your job doesn’t offer feedback while you work, ask for it. It’ll help you improve in your current position and prepare yourself for the next one.
10- Describe yourself
I don’t know about you, but I’m a Midwest-raised introvert.
I don’t excel at explaining my special tics to a stranger — without sounding like a weirdo.
But that’s sort of the point. This is a chance to showcase your personality and why it’s a good fit for the company.
You don’t have to lean too hard on your qualifications yet — save that for the next question.
11- Why should we hire you?
By this point, an interviewer knows your work history, experience, qualifications and even a bit about your personality.
What they want to know now is Why should they hire you and not someone else?
Explain what you alone bring to the position and why no one else can do it like you will. Explain how you’ll uniquely fit into the team.
12- What are your salary requirements
If you’re intimidated by the idea of talking about money, you’re not alone.
But ultimately, your job comes down to money, so you can’t avoid it.
Research your industry and position before you start to interview, and determine your comfortable salary range.
Keep that number in mind, along with any accompanying benefits — and be prepared to explain why you deserve them.
13- Describe a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project?
If you have a long work history, bragging about your work ethic might be easy.
If you’re interviewing for your first job — or your first professional job — this could take some digging.
Consider any experience in which you took impressive initiative on a project — in a volunteer role, on a class project, as a part of a student organization or even in a church group.
If you can’t think of one now, start taking some initiative!
14- Describe a time when you disagreed with your boss?
When an interviewer asks about a disagreement with your boss, what she’s really asking is, “How do you resolve a disagreement with your boss?”
Don’t harp on the details.
Focus on how gracefully you handle tricky situations.
15- What are your co-worker pet peeves
This question is less about selling yourself to a company — finally! — and more about determining whether you’ll jive with potential co-workers.
If you can’t stand a Chatty Kathy and hate Happy Hour with the staff, mention it (kindly).
Explain what kind of team you’ll excel with, so you can avoid being stuck with a group you can’t stand.
16- What are your hobbies?
Why does your future employer care whether you’re into basket-weaving or kickboxing on the weekends?
I can’t say for sure.
But I suspect this is just one more way to get to know you and your personality.
Use it to showcase your passion — an employer wants to know what gets you up in the morning, and what lights a fire under you.
17- Describe your ideal workday
Like talking about your preferred co-workers, describing your ideal workday can help the interviewer understand how you’ll fit in — or not — with the company culture.
Go beyond your preferred schedule for the day.
Explain when and how you work best, so they understand you know how to capitalize on your (and, eventually, their) time.
18- How do you work under pressure?
Some people thrive on looming deadlines and a packed-to-the-minute schedule.
Some shut down the second the pressure’s on. Which are you?
There’s not a set right way to manage under pressure, so you don’t have to bluff.
Instead, consider this pending question motivation to learn how to keep your cool and stay productive when work gets tough, so you can brag about your skills in an interview.
19 – What questions haven’t I asked you?
We love this one in journalism, too.
It may sound like a cop-out — Excuse me, but aren’t you the interviewer here?
Actually, asking what questions we haven’t asked is a smart interviewer’s way of learning what’s important to an interviewee.
Take this opportunity to point out uncommon successes and relevant experiences that they wouldn’t think to ask about.
20- What questions do you have for me?
The most common interviewing advice I hear across industries is, “Have something to ask them.”
It didn’t always make sense to me when I was first starting to work. It felt forced.
And, anyway, what questions was I going to ask? I did my research before applying for the job.
But showing your curiosity and interest in the company is important. Ask away!
Prepare for your next job interview by right-clicking the full checklist to save it.
Your Turn: What job interview questions have surprised you? Share them in the comments to help other readers prepare!
The time line represents the generations, is a very subjective to opinion of different sociology scientists, and differ wildly among different countries as it is related to incidents affected the Americas and Europe.
(Born: 1966-1976 – Coming of Age: 1988-1994 – Age in 2017: 41 to 51)
Sometimes referred to as the “lost” generation, this was the first generation of “latchkey” kids, exposed to lots of daycare and divorce.
Known as the generation with the lowest voting participation rate of any generation, Gen “X”ers were quoted by Newsweek as “the generation that dropped out without ever turning on the news or tuning in to the social issues around them.”
Gen X is often characterized by high levels of skepticism, “what’s in it for me” attitudes and a reputation for some of the worst music to ever gain popularity. Now, moving into adulthood William Morrow (Generations) cited the childhood divorce of many Gen Xers as “one of the most decisive experiences
influencing how Gen Xers will shape their own families”.
Gen Xers are arguably the best educated generation with 29% obtaining a bachelor’s degree or higher (6% higher than the previous cohort). And, with that education and a growing maturity they are starting to form families with a higher level of caution and pragmatism than their parents demonstrated. Concerns
run high over avoiding broken homes, kids growing up without a parent around and financial planning.
(Born: 1977-1994 – Coming of Age: 1998-2006 – Age in 2017: 23 to 40)
The largest cohort since the Baby Boomers, their high numbers reflect their births as that of their parent generation. The last of the Boomer Is and most of the Boomer II s. Gen Y kids are known as incredibly sophisticated, technology wise, immune to most traditional marketing and sales pitches…as they not only
grew up with it all, they’ve seen it all and been exposed to it all since early childhood.
Gen Y members are much more racially and ethnically diverse and they are much more segmented as an audience aided by the rapid expansion in Cable TV channels, satellite radio, the Internet, e-zines, etc.
Gen Y are less brand loyal and the speed of the Internet has led the cohort to be similarly flexible and changing in its fashion, style consciousness and where and how it is communicated with.
Gen Y kids often raised in dual income or single parent families have been more involved in family purchases…everything from groceries to new cars. One in nine Gen Yers has a credit card co-signed by a parent.
(Born: 1995-2012 – Coming of Age: 2013-2020 – Age in 2017: 5-22)
While we don’t know much about Gen Z yet…we know a lot about the environment they are growing up in. This highly diverse environment will make the grade schools of the next generation the most diverse ever. Higher levels of technology will make significant inroads in academics allowing for customized
instruction, data mining of student histories to enable pinpoint diagnostics and remediation or accelerated achievement opportunities.
Gen Z kids will grow up with a highly sophisticated media and computer environment and will be more Internet savvy and expert than their Gen Y forerunners.
VRIO is a business analysis framework that forms part of a firm’s larger strategic scheme. The basic strategic process that any firm goes through begins with a vision statement, and continues on through objectives, internal & external analysis, strategic choices (both business-level and corporate-level), and strategic implementation. The firm will hope that this process results in a competitive advantage in the marketplace they operate in. 
VRIO falls into the internal analysis step of these procedures, but is used as a framework in evaluating just about all resources and capabilities of a firm, regardless of what phase of the strategic model it falls under.
VRIO is initials for the four question framework asked about a resource or capability to determine its competitive potential:
Once the analyst has realized the value, rarity and imitability of the company’s resources and capabilities, the next step is to organize the company in a way to exploit these resources. If done successfully, the company can enjoy a period of sustained competitive advantage.
The competitive advantage:
In general, a firm has a competitive advantage when it is able to create more economic value than rival firms. Economic value is simply the difference between the perceived benefits gained by
a customer that purchases a firm’s products or services and the full economic cost of these products or services.
HR executives must start their functions with a eye on the bottom-line and address a primary question “How can HR aid in either decreasing costs or increasing revenues?”.
In today’s time when everyone is talking numbers; the HR department has to prove its worth and show that it creates value for the organizations. HR can help a firm achieve sustainable competitive advantage by creating value.
Example: FedEx, which are the market leaders in the courier business, believe people are the primary link in the value chain, and thus, value is created by focusing on employees first. HR practices should be related to employee attitudes which would be consequently related to customer satisfaction.
Only value alone cannot help the HR department to achieve sustainable competitive advantage for organizations. HR executives must examine how to develop and exploit rare characteristics of the firm’s human resources to gain competitive advantage. If the same characteristic of human resources is found in many competing firms, then that characteristic cannot be a source of competitive advantage for any one of them. In order to drive the strategic decisions, HR executives should being the ‘rare’ factor in the talent they recruit.
Example: Nordstrom is one of the most reputed brands in the retail sector. The recruiting process, compensation practices and culture at Nordstrom’s have helped the organization to maintain the highest sales per square foot of any retailer in the nation.
If the competitors in the business can easily imitate what you offer, then you are at loss! The HR executives must attempt to develop and nurture characteristics of the firm’s human resources that cannot easily be imitated by competitors. This essentially means leveraging on organization’s unique history or culture that helps in gaining competitive advantage. In any organization, the culture is nurtured and developed via the HR Department. Hence, by restricting and developing unique culture, executives can help firms in gaining competitive advantage.
Example: Even after purchasing the safety training programs, DuPont’s competitors are simply unable to match DuPont’s safety record. DuPont’s superior safety performance stems at least partly from its unique history that competitors find impossible to imitate.
In order for any characteristic of a firm’s human resources to provide a source of sustained competitive advantage, the firm must be organized to exploit the resource. Organization requires developing the systems and practices that allow human resources characteristics to bear the fruit of their potential advantages.
Example: Both General Motors and Ford recruit assembly line workers from the same basic labor market. But, Ford has been more successful at developing a cooperative, team-based culture than General Motors. Clearly the HR function, through either directly controlling or strongly influencing the characteristics of human resources in organizations plays an important role in developing and maintaining a firm’s competitive advantage.
The VRIO framework enables business people in HR to transform the HR function into a contributor to firm performance rather than a drain on firm resources. Today, HR is not merely a burden on the organization and HR executives should communicate the ‘economic reason’ which compels the organizations to invite HR Executives to the strategic planning “table”.
 (Strategic Management Insight | SMI)
Barney, Jay B and Hesterly, William S. Strategic Management and Competitive Advantage: Concepts. 2005 Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 07458 (Barney, 2005)
 (Barney, 2005)
 (Sharma, 2012)
 (Sharma, 2012)
The process of defining HRM leads us to two different definitions:
The first definition of HRM:
The process of managing people in organizations in a structured and thorough manner.
This covers the fields of staffing (hiring people), retention of people, pay and perks setting and management, performance management, change management and taking care of exits from the company to round off the activities. This is the traditional definition of HRM which leads some experts to define it as a modern version of the Personnel Management function that was used earlier.
The second definition of HRM:
Encompasses the management of people in organizations from a macro perspective. i.e. managing people in the form of a collective relationship between management and employees. This approach focuses on the objectives and outcomes of the HRM function. What this means is that the HR function in contemporary organizations is concerned with the notions of people enabling, people development and a focus on making the “employment relationship” fulfilling for both the management and employees.
Human Resource Management (HRM): The policies, practices, and systems that influence employees’ behavior, attitudes, and performance.
Figure 1, emphasizes that there are several important HRM practices that should support the organization’s business strategy: analyzing work and
designing jobs, determining how many employees with specific knowledge and skills
are needed (human resource planning), attracting potential employees (recruiting),
choosing employees (selection), teaching employees how to perform their jobs and
preparing them for the future (training and development), evaluating their performance (performance management), rewarding employees (compensation), and creating a positive work environment (employee relations).
An organization performs best when all of these practices are managed well.
At companies with effective HRM, employees and customers tend to be more satisfied, and the companies tend to be more innovative, have greater productivity, and develop a more favorable reputation in the community
Human resource management: It is designed to maximize employee performance in service of an employer’s strategic objectives
Human Resource Management (HRM) is the function within an organization that focuses on the recruitment of, management of, and providing direction for the people who work in an organization.
HMR is the process of hiring and developing employees so that they become more valuable to the organization.
Human Resource Management includes conducting job analyses, planning personnel needs, recruiting the right people for the job, orienting and training, managing wages and salaries, providing benefits and incentives, evaluating performance, resolving disputes, and communicating with all employees at all levels. Examples of core qualities of HR management are extensive knowledge of the industry, leadership, and effective negotiation skills, formerly called personnel management.
Human resources are almost always at the heart of an effective response system.
Here are a few examples of how HR policies can help or hinder a firm grappling with external change:
Global recruitment, however, is no panacea because good employees everywhere are in high demand, and there may not be as much information available to make the appropriate selection decision.
Individual Challenges: human resource issues that address the decisions that affect individuals.