The Most Common Interview Question and How to Answer Them (Part 1)

The Most Common Interview Question and How to Answer Them (Part 1)

We’ve all been sitting in an interview and been asked an open-ended question that causes our minds to go blank. 

“Tell me about a time…”

“Describe an instance…”

“Give an example of…”

If you’re unprepared, these can be panic-inducing questions. For most of us, it’s almost impossible to think of something on the spot. Not to mention those silent moments don’t make us look great to our potential employers. 

However, if you know the most common behavior-based questions interviewers ask, you’ll be able to craft your answers beforehand, averting disaster (or, at the least, panic).

I’ve listed some of the most common open-ended interview questions below. If you have an interview coming up, I recommend writing down your answers to each scenario.

As you’re doing so, each of your answers should follow this simple rule: C.A.R. Challenge, Action, Result. 

Challenge: What was the issue you faced?

Action: What did you do to tackle the issue?

Result: What was the result of your action(s)?

With this framework, you will be able to answer each question with confidence and ease.

This is not an all-inclusive list of potential interview questions. But even if the interviewer doesn’t ask one of these specific questions, you’ll still be able to draw upon your preparation to conquer whatever comes your way.

  • Describe a time you dealt with a difficult customer/co-worker. Be specific. 
  • Give a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic to solve a problem.
  • Describe a time when you faced problems or stresses on the job that tested your coping skills.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to use your written communication skills to get an important point across.
  • Talk about a specific occasion when you conformed to a policy with which you disagreed. 
  • Give an example of an important goal you set in the past and how you reached it. 
  • Describe the most significant or creative presentation you have made.
  • Tell me about a time when you were told to stop what you were doing and take on a new assignment. How did you handle the change?
  • Give an example of how you maintain a balance between work and home life.

Not all of these questions have immediate answers, and that’s okay. If you’re feeling stumped, talk to your coworkers, family, friends, or even a career coach to see if they can help you think of relevant experiences that show you in your best light. 

Happy interview prepping!