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Working Wise - Common Job Interview Questions

Dear Working Wise,

Do you have a list of common questions that I can use to help me prepare for an upcoming job interview?
Signed, Wary

March 16, 2016

Dear Wary,

Preparing for your next job interview is the best way to impress a potential employer, but there are hundreds of potential questions you could be asked—too many to list here although the ALIS website does list some typical questions to expect.

You can find a comprehensive list of potential job interview questions on various web pages, in job-interview books found at your local public library, or at your nearest Alberta Works Centre.

These lists are a great way to prepare for difficult questions like: “Tell me about a time you had a conflict with your supervisor,” or “What’s your greatest weakness?”

But most interview questions are designed to help the employer answer 3 basic questions:

  1. Can you do the job (skills/experience)?
  2. Will you do the job (attitude/enthusiasm)?
  3. Will you fit into the team and culture (people skills/working style)?


Can you do the job?

Scan the job posting closely and create a list of desired skills and experience. Then, brainstorm high points from your career when you have used these skills with success and be ready to talk about these examples to illustrate what you have to offer.

You should know what your greatest weakness is and what you have done to improve on it. You should also be ready with a 20-second “elevator speech” that explains why they should hire you over all others. And, bring proof of your skills and accomplishments to the interview.

Will you do the job?

The interviewer might ask what you know about the organization, what research you did to prepare for the interview, or how often you were absent from your last job. They want to gauge your interest and enthusiasm. Be ready to show your excitement for the job and how you see yourself adding value. Picturing yourself in the job and talking about past successes will help draw out your passion for what you do and what you have to offer.

Will you be a good fit?

You might be asked about your leadership style or working style, why you left your last job, or what you didn’t like about your past supervisor or co-workers. You might even be asked about a time you had a conflict with a co-worker or your supervisor. The interviewer is trying to figure out how you work with others and spot any red flags. Examples of how you have used your people skills effectively will go a long way toward reassuring the employer that you work well with others.

Understanding why interviewers ask specific kinds of questions will help you anticipate and prepare answers and anecdotes that work to your advantage. The time you spend researching and practicing your answers will build your confidence and improve your performance in the interview.

For more articles on job interviews and common questions, visit the ALIS website.

Good luck!

Photo Credit: © iStockphoto/g_studio

Working Wise is a syndicated newspaper column prepared by the Government of Alberta to answer work-related questions from Albertans. Do you have a work-related question? You can send it to Charles Strachey (charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca), a manager with Alberta Community and Social Services.

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