You’re past the hard part. 

You already know the most common job interview questions, and can probably deflect whatever the interviewer throws at you.

Depending on your specific situation, though, you might also need to learn how to answer these situational job interview questions…

1) Why haven’t you gotten your Master’s Degree/Ph.D.?

As a start, keep in mind that the interviewer isn’t judging you for your decision.

After all, if they were looking for someone with a better degree, they wouldn’t have invited you to an interview. The degree is not the dealbreaker here, but your answer to the question might be.

When asking this question, the interviewer is trying to see your reasoning for pursuing a career instead of getting another degree.

Heck, there’s a chance that if you give them the right answer, they’re even going to like you more than someone with 3 Phds!

So, simply explain why you didn’t think that another degree was the right thing for you at the time.

Don’t say you were lazy or didn’t feel like it, or that it’s a waste of money (even if that might be the case). 

Instead, give compelling arguments, such as…

  • You wanted to see whether your field was the right one for you.
  • You didn’t have the financial resources at the time.
  • You wanted to get some practical work experience before committing to another degree.

Possible answers:

  • Sample Answer 1:

At this stage of my life, I decided to pursue my career instead of further education. On the one hand, I want to make sure that Marketing is what I want to do with my life.

On the other hand, I believe that in my field, practical work experience is a lot more valuable than academic.

So far, my decision has paid off pretty well – I’ve already gotten a lot of experience doing online marketing for 3+ companies and delivering awesome results to boot.

I might eventually decide to pursue a masters, but at this point, I really don’t see the point in that.

  • Sample Answer 2:

Because it’s not in sync with my future career path. I believe that for software engineering, practical experience matters a lot more than having a degree.

I’ve already done an internship as a Junior Javascript Back-end Developer, and I believe that it gave me a lot more knowledge than my B.A. in Computer Science.

While I am eventually planning on getting a Masters, it’s going to be in a more theoretical field, such as Artificial Intelligence.

2) Why have you switched jobs so many times?

If you’ve switched jobs in a very short period of time (2 or more full-time positions in 1 year), the interviewer is bound to ask about it.

After all, job-hopping is one of the biggest red flags for HR managers.

True, you might have had a reasonable cause. Maybe the second company you got hired in just wasn’t a good culture fit for you.

Well, you’ll have to communicate that.

Companies tend to be skeptical because of the following reasons…

  • You might be a job hopper. Some people tend to switch jobs the moment they get a better salary offer.
  • You might be unqualified for the job and you quit because you couldn’t deliver.
  • You get bored easily and your solution to that is quitting.

So, your job here is to convince the interviewer that you don’t belong to any of those 3 categories. 

You need to make them realize that you will not jump ship a few months after getting hired just because some recruiter PM’d you on LinkedIn with a better offer.

The best way to answer this question is to explain the reason you switched jobs. It could be one of the following:

  • The company culture wasn’t a good fit. This happens to the best of us – sometimes, the company just isn’t the right one.
  • The job description was misleading and you ended up doing something you either didn’t enjoy, or were not qualified for.
  • You learned that you simply didn’t enjoy the job, and are not willing to try out something different. While this isn’t the best potential answer, it’s honest and chances are, the HR manager will understand.

Possible answers:

  • Sample Answer 1: 

The last company I got hired in just wasn’t what I expected. The hiring manager didn’t communicate the role well enough.

As you already know, I’m a copywriter – I write sales copy. I work with:

-Landing pages

-Email marketing

-And sales pages

Around a week after I started work at the company, I realized that they were actually looking for something completely different. They asked me to write generic blog and social media posts, which is pretty far off from what I do.

This was really not what I expected, and not something I find interesting.

  • Sample Answer 2:

Well, as a start, my first job was in a big corporation straight out of university. While I did learn a lot there about Software Engineering practices, I also learned that a huge company with lots of regulations, rules, and the like isn’t for me.

So, at the end of my internship there, I decided to try working at a startup. I enjoyed that job a LOT more, as it gave me a lot of freedom when it comes to problem-solving. I wasn’t told HOW to do it. Rather, I was given the option of coming up with my own solution.

Unfortunately, the company went belly-up after failing to raise money, putting me back on the job market. 

And here we are – [Company X] is pretty much THE place I’ve always wanted to work in. I’ve heard a lot about your company culture, and thought I’d really belong there.

3) Why did you change your career path?

If you recently changed your career path, the interviewer is sure to ask about it.

Don’t worry – there’s nothing wrong with this. 

A lot of people go through a career change. Some even do it several times in their lifetime! 

As long as you’re good at what you do, no one cares if you were a pediatrician in one year, and a professional chef in another.

When asked this question, all you have to do is answer truthfully. Explain how your old job just wasn’t for you, and how the job you’re applying for is so much more interesting.Possible answers:

  • Sample Answer

I realized that being a doctor is not for me. While I did enjoy my 3 years in med school, the 6 year study period was too much.

I wanted to start making money and help out my family way before that, so I dropped out of university and started taking online courses in accounting.

At this point, I’m pretty good at it, having done 2 internships so far in [Company X] and [Company Y].

  • Sample Answer 2

Simply because I enjoy doing sales much more than accounting. After 5 years of working as an accountant for Firm X, I decided I wanted to try something new.

I asked my boss at the time to let me transition to the sales team, and I ended up liking it AND being pretty good at it.

4) Why did you decide to leave your previous/current job?

When asking this question, the interviewer wants to learn:

  • Did you have a good reason for leaving your last job? The HR manager doesn’t want someone that just jumps ship the moment things go bad.

Incorrect Example:

“Oh, well, the company started bleeding cash and was on its way to bankruptcy.”Correct Example:

“I felt like it was time – I got to a point where everything I was doing felt monotonous. I learned as much as I could at this position while delivering amazing results. It was, however, time to switch to something new.”

  • Did you leave on good terms? Meaning, did you go through the offboarding process, instructing your coworkers on how to take up your responsibilities? Or did you just say “Adios” and stopped showing up at work?

Incorrect Example:

“Things started to get really boring, and the boss man was kind of mean. I totally deserve better, so I just ghosted them and now I’m looking for a new company. Hi!”Correct Example:

“I didn’t feel like the company’s values coincide with mine. The management was too controlling and micromanaging. I prefer to have some control over my work, and being able to contribute by going above and beyond my requirements.”

Of course, I went through the off-boarding properly. Meaning, gave a timely resignation notice, and transferred all the essential company knowledge to my replacement.”

  • Did you leave voluntarily, or were you fired?

Incorrect Example:

“I got fired for missing work for a week without an excuse.”Correct Example:

“I was fired, actually. The fault was in my communication skills at the time. I misunderstood my supervisor’s instructions and ended ended up setting a higher monthly spend on ad account for the client. The losses were not more than 3-figures, but apparently, the relationship with the client was already strained, so they ended up leaving.

Of course, I really took this to heart and worked very hard on improving my communication skills, to ensure that I don’t make any mistakes of this nature ever again.”

5) Why is there a gap in your work experience?

In most cases, a gap in your work experience doesn’t really mean anything. You probably have a very good reason for it.

The interviewer, however, will definitely ask about it, and you should answer adequately.

There’s no secret sauce to answering this question, just let the recruiter know about your situation, whatever that may be:

  • Maternity leave
  • Health issues
  • Caring for a sick family member
  • Time off to pursue further education
  • Relocating to a different city
  • Working on a personal project

Whichever the case may be, just explain the situation in brief and move on.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that if you were laid off at work, or you quit and had trouble getting a new job, you should be very subtle about it.

If the interviewer knows that you’re struggling to find a job, you’re going to give them the upper hand in salary negotiations.Possible answers:

  • Sample Answer 1:

“I had a baby and had to take maternity leave.”

  • Sample Answer 2:

“My father was sick, so I had to be the one to take care of him full-time over a few months.”

6) Why were you fired?

Now this is a tough one.

Getting fired is pretty much never good.

Keep in mind that we’re talking about getting fired, not getting laid off. There’s a huge difference between the two:

  • Getting laid off means that you got let go for something that had nothing to do with your competence. I.e. budget cuts, company down-sizing, etc.
  • Getting fired, on the other hand, means that you got let go for a reasonable cause. And chances are, it’s probably your fault.

If you got fired and the interviewer asks you about it, you should be honest. After all, they can easily check-in with your previous employer.

Your best shot here is to be critical about your mistakes, and explain what you’ve done to improve.Incorrect example:

“None of it was my fault. My boss is a total tool, and he hates me for no real reason. He yelled at me for no real reason!”

In the example above, the interviewee gets defensive. That’s a pretty huge red flag for the HR manager.

Instead, try saying something that shows that you’re aware of your mistakes.”Correct example:

“The main fault was in miscommunication. The interviewer was unclear about the job responsibilities – from what I understood, they were looking for a senior-level marketer to oversee their email marketing operations.

At the end of the day, though, it turned out that the company was looking to experiment with email marketing, and specifically for someone to set it up from scratch.

While I did my best to deliver, in the end it turned out that their niche doesn’t actually need email marketing. This was against the management’s vision, so that decided to let me go.”

7) How do you feel about working weekends or late hours?

You’re gonna get asked this question in one of the following 2 cases:

1) You’re applying for a job that requires working odd hours.

In this case, your answer is pretty straightforward – since you’re applying for such a job, you probably don’t have any problems working odd hours.Sample answer:

“Sure! I’m OK with working late hours or weekends, as long as you let me know about it at least a few days in advance.”

2) You’re applying for just about any other type of job.

Now, you should look at this as a red flag. Is the employer just checking your dedication, or are they looking for someone that’s going to work 24/7 with no overtime pay?

In this case, ask them to clarify what they mean.Sample answer:

“Given enough warning, sure. Is that something I’ll be required to do often? Do you offer overtime pay for this kind of situation?”

8) How would your boss or coworkers describe you?

This question is pretty much the same as “what are your greatest strengths” the only difference is that it should be from the point of view from your boss or coworkers.

Here, you want to focus on your traits and achievements that you’ve previously been praised for (After all, the interviewer might ask for a reference!).

There are at least 2 ways to answer this question:

1) Describe a specific situation where you excelled at work (and received praise from your boss and coworkers)Sample Answer

“They’d say I’m super hard working. During my weekend-off, not one, but three of my coworkers got sick, and I had to spot for them.

The weekend was peak season in Nantucket, so the restaurant was getting seriously overwhelmed. All of a sudden, we went from being very prepared for the season, to complete panic.

Had to jump between serving, bussing, and line-cooking, but overall, managed to survive through the weekend successfully.”

2) Quote a performance review

If you’ve previously worked in an office job, you’re probably all too familiar with these.

Did your boss give you a glowing performance review? Make sure to mention it here!Sample answer:

“Well, in my last performance review in September, my boss described me as someone who takes initiative.

My position as a PR manager involves constantly keeping track of our clients brand reputation, and if something goes wrong, dealing with it as fast as possible.

In a lot of cases, you need to be very proactive – if you wait for your entire team to have a meeting on how to deal with the issue, it might already be too late.

There were 4-5 different situations where I had to take charge and react to problems literally the moment they arose, whether it was during my work hours, or not.”

9) Do you have any serious medical conditions?

When asking this question, the interviewer wants to learn if you have any medical conditions that could impair your ability to do the job correctly.

In most cases, you’re not obliged to give an answer. If you do have a health condition, and it doesn’t have anything to do with your career, you can simply choose not to answer, or to say “No.”

However, you might want to disclose anything that could potentially have an impact on how you perform.

For example, if the job requires you to lift heavy boxes, for example, and you’re not able to do so because of a condition, you should let the HR manager know.Possible answers:

  • [Sample Answer 1]

“I don’t have any serious medical conditions”

  • [Sample answer 2]

“I’m unable to lift heavy objects because of issues with my back, but it won’t have any impact on how I perform at an office job”

10) What would your first 30, 60, or 90 days look like in this role?

If you’re applying for a senior or leadership role, you’re probably going to get asked this question.

Chances are, at this stage of the interview, you already know a lot about your future position and the company.

Now, it’s time to show off your knowledge in your field, and explain how you’re going to start making things happen at the company.

So, here’s how to answer the question:For the first 30 days:

You’re probably going to need to get to know the company first. You’re going to be learning as much as possible, including information on:

  • What does the company do?
  • What are the key processes?
  • What does your department do?
  • What are the current problems and challenges?
  • Where can you help?

Then, during the 60 days:

You’ll start start making things happen. From all the info you gathered, suggest a handful (3 to 5) initiatives you could take on:

  • You’d audit the company email marketing strategy and suggest improvements
  • You’ll help come up with better ad copies for Facebook marketing
  • You’ll help the team with their ongoing marketing initiatives

Within the first 90 days:

You’re already have started making an impact. Describe several things you think are going to be functioning better:

  • Online ads are going to be performing better by 10-20%
  • Email marketing operations are going to be more streamlined, taking significantly less manpower

11) Are you a team player?

Wherever you’re applying, the answer to this question should be a “Yes!”

Even if you’re applying for a completely solo role, chances are, you’re still going to have to work in a team occasionally

We’d recommend being very specific about your answer here – don’t just say yes. Give the interviewer an exact example of when you excelled at working with a team.Possible answers:

  • Sample Answer 1:

“I’m much better at working in a team than alone, actually. That’s what I love about working in advertising – everyone has their own specific type of a creative spark, and when you combine it all, magic happens!

I’m good at both leading and following in terms of creativity and brainstorming. I’m also super receptive to others ideas, and do my best to help them execute it without nay-saying or criticism.”

  • Sample Answer 2:

“Yep, definitely. I excel at team-work. 

This one time while working at [Company X], I was assigned to an existing team working on a web application for a business process management company.

They were working on a tight deadline, and needed help on the API side.

I optimised their development cycles and oversaw a team of three developers while collaborating with the other two dev teams.

Everything went pretty well, and we managed to finish the project on time.”

12) Are you a risk-taker?

This one’s pretty tricky, as the answer here depends on your profession and field.

Ask yourself – is risk-taking a valuable skill for the job?

If you’re a pilot, for example, the answer should be a strict “No!”

If, on the other hand, you’re a day trader, then risk is an essential part of your job.

So, depending on how valuable risk is for your job, answer accordingly.

You could also give a more strategic answer. Let’s say, for example, you work in investment banking. You need to be a risk taker to an extent, but being too risk-friendly might make the entire company go bankrupt.

The strategy in such a case would be to show that you’re all about calculated risk. You’re willing to take chances, but only when the odds are in your favor.

As with most interview questions, you should give examples of situations where you had to take risks, and what the end-results were.Possible answers:

  • Sample Answer 1:

“Yes, I’m a risk-taker. I believe that to achieve real results, you always need to be willing to take a certain level of risk.

Pretty much any marketing initiative you launch is tied to risk. You can plan everything from beginning till the end, but no matter how well you plan it out, things might just not work out.

It’s just part of the job – in order to succeed, you need to take launch risky campaigns on a regular basis, and hopefully, one in every 5 is going to bring you massive results.”

  • Sample Answer 2:

“I’m not a risk-taker, I’m more of a risk-manager. As someone who’s been in finance for years, I can say with a lot of confidence that there’s risk in everything.

The most important things are to one, minimize your risks, and two, minimize potential damages if everything goes very, very wrong.

While working at Investment Bank X, we had a very interesting policy for investing in new fintech projects. We used to avoid moon-shots, high-tech projects, as well as anything that had an experimental business model.

Our strategy was to invest in proven tech. As in, proven product-market fit, business model, etc. In most cases, these were runner up companies. We wouldn’t invest in that one innovative company that was all over the news – we’d instead invest in their latest competitor. More often than not, this ended up being more profitable, and significantly less risky.”

13) How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?

If you’re applying for a high-stress job, you’re guaranteed to get asked this question.

The aim of this question is to see if you’re the type of person who’d survive working at the job, or fall through the cracks when the first signs of trouble show up.

Obviously, you wouldn’t answer with the following…

“Well, I end up having a panic attack, crying, and running away from work.”

Instead, answer as follows…

  • Say that yes, you do tend to perform well during stressful situations
  • Give 1-2 examples of a situation where you had to perform well under pressure

Now, let’s go through some real-life examples:Possible answers:

  • Sample Answer 1:

“Though I can’t particularly say I enjoy stressful situations, I AM very good at working under pressure.

During chaos and panic, I tend to take a step back, think, plan, and prioritize.

For example, there have been times I’ve had to juggle multiple university projects and assignments at the same time. I would break up large assignments into small, individual tasks, and prioritize based on:

  • How fast I could complete each task
  • Figuring out which task would take the longest
  • Which project had the earliest deadline

This way, my work became a lot more manageable. The most times I had to experience such situations, the better I performed overall.”

  • Sample Answer 2: 

“I actually prefer working under pressure. I look at it as a challenge – a situation where I really have to up my game to succeed.

As a cook, working under pressure is pretty much part of the job. I’ve been in several situations where the restaurant was understaffed for the occasion. Heck, it’s pretty much a constant thing during peak season.

When there’s a ton of orders coming in and we can barely keep up, I tend to get significantly more productive than usual.”

14) Do you prefer hard work, or smart work?

By definition, hard work is when you, well, work hard. It’s when you’re willing to put in a lot of work to get the job done.

Smart work on the other hand, means doing the work efficiently. If you manage to get the job done in 2 hours instead of 5, with the same end-result, you’re doing smart work.

Keep in mind, though, that by asking this question, the interviewer is looking to understand what your work ethic is like. Meaning, they’re looking for a healthy combination of both, not just one.

That is, they want you to be the candidate who not only thinks smartly but works hard as well. 

So, your answer here shouldn’t be one-sided…

“Oh, I looove smart work. That’s when you come up with what to do, and make other people do it, right?”

Instead, explain how you excel at both:Sample answer:

“I don’t particularly have a preference – I believe that both hard and smart work is important to get the best results.

Smart work, on one hand, lets you figure out the best and most efficient way to get things done.

Hard work, on the other hand, means that you’ll do the job right. Even if there’s no way to do it smart or efficiently, you’ll be willing to put in long hours of work to get it done.

I’m the type that does both. 

For an example of smart for, during my time at [Made Up Corporation], I was in charge of the sales department. As a process improvement initiative, I migrated from an outdated, in-house CRM, to Pipedrive. This improved the department’s productivity by around 20%.

On the other hand, the whole migration process took around 3 months of hard work. As the software we were using was outdated, trying to learn how to map and migrate our data was a lot more complicated than we’d expected.”

15) How quickly do you adapt to new technology?

Today, whether you’re applying for a software engineering job, or as a cashier in a supermarket, you’re going to need to use technology at least on some level.

It’s very common for a company to adopt new tech – new point of service system, self check-out kiosks, customer management software, and whatever else.

So, you should be able to pick up new tech ASAP. Any new change shouldn’t completely disrupt your work.

So, when answering this question, you should talk about how tech-savvy you are.Possible answers:

  • Sample Answer: 

“I’m pretty tech-savvy. I’ve worked with a lot of different Point of Service systems so far, and have zero difficulties learning how to use new ones.”

As a given, I own a PC, have used Office 365, and all the usual stuff.”

  • Sample Answer 2:

“I’ve always been interested in tech. In fact, I’m the type of person to actively seek out new software to help solve business problems at work.

I’ve worked with 3 different Customer Management Software in the past, such as PipeDrive, SalesForce, and Zoho CRM.”

16) Do you have any interests outside of work?

If the interviewer asks you this question, take it as a good sign!

It means that they liked your professional background, and now they’re just trying to get to know you and see if you’re a good fit for the company culture.

It’s pretty hard to go wrong here, unless you’re going to answer something like:

“I have literally no hobbies.”


“All I do is play video games all day.”

Just talk about your hobbies and interests, and you’re all set!

Bonus points if you can mention something that’s also relevant to your job (creative writing if you’re applying for a copywriting job, for example).Possible answers:

  • Sample Answer 1

“I’m a big fan of creative writing. I have my own personal short-story blog, and contribute actively to several online writing communities (such as Writing Prompts on Reddit).

Oh, and I’m also a huge fan of the New York Giants.”

  • Sample Answer 2

“Well, I’m very interested in all sorts of sports. I like to keep active, as it really helps keep me productive. Over the past 2 years, I’ve done a bit of everything – fencing, archery, hiking, and several other things.”

17) What do you think our company/organization could do better?

Well, this one’s interesting!

While not too common for most organizations, it’s a favorite amongst tech companies.

How come? Well, answering this question shows a couple of things…

  • That you’re really passionate about the organization, and have done your research
  • Are not afraid of giving feedback

Obviously, you should be very political about your feedback. You can’t just say that:Incorrect example:

“Well, a lot of things really. I’m not enjoying this interview right here, for example.

And your product kinda sucks, no offense. But hey, there’s always room for improvement, am I right?”

Instead, you want to show off the research you’ve done. Talk about anything that might seem off about their product or business:Correct example:

“I actually went through your resume builder before coming to the interview, and found several things that seemed kinda counter-intuitive.

Not to say that it’s too hard to understand, or something, but it took me a while to figure out some stuff.

If you want, I can open up my laptop and show you what I mean.”

How to Answer 3 Most Common Behavioral Questions in an Interview [w/ Possible Answers] 

Finally, behavioral job interview questions are questions that focus on how you’ve performed in the past, or how you’d perform in a specific situation.

They’re used to understand your thinking patterns, and whether you can think on your feet.

Remember the STAR interview method we discussed all the way up? Well, it can be used to answer just about any behavioral interview questions.

To brush up your memory, the main idea behind the STAR method is that each answer should involve the following:

  • S: Situation – Set the scene and context.
  • T: Task – Describe what your challenge or responsibility was.
  • A: Action – List and dwell on all the actions you took towards addressing the challenge or responsibility.
  • R: Result – Explain what the outcomes were and how they fit with the overall goal of the project or company.

Here are 3 of the most common behavioral interview questions (with sample answers):

1) Give an example of how you have handled a challenge in the workplace before.

What the interviewers want to know in this case is how well you handle conflict and difficulties.

So, the answer here should be pretty straightforward. You should describe a challenge you faced at work, and explain how you solved it.Possible answers:

  • Sample Answer 1

“During my last job as a Google Ads expert, one of the company clients had accidentally butchered their own ad account. I noticed this over the weekend and saw that they were basically wasting money on nothing.

I took the initiative and immediately got in touch with the client to let them know about the issue. Then, we set up an impromptu meeting on the same day, and fixed the account before any real damage could be done.”

  • Sample Answer 2

“During my last job, I was managing the creative and web dev team in charge of creating an online store for a client. Two days before deploying, we found a major bug that messed up the whole front-end user experience.

Now, we could have pushed the deadline a bit, but that would have messed up the relationship with the client. The project was already postponed once because of unforeseen circumstances, so this one was a do or die.

I assembled a task force consisting of web developers from my team, as well as some software engineers from another department. We focused 100% of our time on fixing the issue, and actually managed to launch on time at the end.”

2) Give an example of when you performed well under pressure.

For any high-stress work environment, you’re guaranteed to get asked this question.Possible answers:

  • Sample Answer 1

“I actually perform a lot better when under a lot of pressure. The sense of urgency and importance really motivates me to up my game and make sure everything works out right.

When I worked as a Financial Analyst at [MadeUpFinanceCompanyInc], most of the work was very high pressure. I had to go above and beyond the line of duty to make sure we met the tight deadlines set by our clients. This often meant working 12 hour work days, and sometimes, working over the weekend.”

  • Sample Answer 2

“As a seasonal worker, my entire career is high-pressure, haha… My last position was as a line cook during the summer at the SomeRestaurant in JacksonHole, Wyoming.

Around 3 out of 4 of the months were super high stress – there was a LOT of work, and the restaurant was pretty much always full. Heck, I’ve even had to skip breaks just to make sure we wouldn’t be understaffed.”

3) Give an example of when you showed leadership qualities.

Applying for a leadership position? You’ll definitely get asked this behavioral interview question.

Keep in mind, though, that this question doesn’t necessarily mean that you should have held a managerial position.

What the interviewer is asking for is a situation when you took the initiative and led a project or an initiative.Possible answer:

“As an entry-level marketer, there was not much expected of me at SoftwareCompanyInc.. My main to-dos involved doing research, and completing whatever tasks were assigned to me.

During a content marketing brainstorming session, I came up with an awesome idea to market the company. The gist of it was, we’d interview company clients who were very successful at using the software, create case studies on what exactly they’re doing, and include it in our email marketing strategy.

The Chief Marketing Officer loved the idea and put me in charge of executing the project, which I did with flying colors.”

[BONUS] Job Interview Infographic

Now, it’s time for a quick recap! Check our our new infographic on some of the most common job interview questions (and how to answer them):

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.