Top interview questions to prepare for in the job search

Whether you hear it’s an “employer’s market” or “job seeker’s market,” looking for a job is tough. After you find one that works for you, the application seems daunting. And then, if you get called for an interview, you get asked a whole bunch of questions that you never thought people would ask. But it’s ok – most of the top interview questions are ones you can prepare for ahead of time. And studies show that a little bit of preparation helps you get “PEI” (positive, interested, and engaged) in the interview, which increases your chances of getting the job.


If you’ve got an interview coming up, or you want to apply for a new job, keep reading. We’ve tallied up the top interview questions you should prepare for when applying for a new job. 

Why are you leaving your previous job?

When you’re applying for a job, you’re almost guaranteed doing it to leave a different job. There could be many reasons why you’re leaving, but that’s usually the case. Maybe you hated your old job and want to get out. Or maybe this new job is the perfect next step for you. Maybe it’s just about the money (which is totally fine). If you’re applying for your first job ever, this question may still come up in an interview.


What the question REALLY means: When a recruiter asks you this question, they are trying to find any red flags. If you have a job and are already making money, why would you want to leave? There are many legitimate reasons, but also a few that the recruiter might be concerned about. For example, if you were asked to leave your current job for breaking the company’s code of conduct, the recruiter would be concerned about hiring you. They may also be looking to weed out candidates who they don’t think match the company’s core values. For example, if you are leaving your current job because you hate your boss giving you feedback, you may not fit at a company that has a culture of giving feedback.


How to prepare for this question: Start by being very honest with yourself – why are you leaving? Whatever it is – money, friends, better work, better hours, better life, anything – be honest with yourself. It could be multiple reasons as well. Write them all down. The more honest you are with yourself in this step, the better. Don’t worry, though. You don’t have to show the real list to the recruiter.


Once you know the real reasons why you’re leaving, frame the problem in a productive way. For example, if you want to leave your current job because your boss is a horrible person, that can be framed as you not feeling like your boss could support your career. It’s true – if your boss is horrible then they likely won’t support you – but you don’t have to say that you hated your old boss. This way you can be honest with the recruiter without setting off any red flags.


Where does this job fit in your career path?


Gone are the days where everyone only worked at one company for their whole career. Studies show that people now have over ten jobs throughout their working life. That means whatever job you’re applying for will likely not be your last job. There are even people working part-time in retirement. Recruiters know these facts, and also know that you’re probably not going to stay with them forever. So they want to know more about your motivations for applying – namely, how it fits in your career path. 


What the question REALLY means: When a recruiter asks this question, they are testing to see if you will quickly get bored and leave the company. They are trying to figure out if you will stay long enough for the company to get value from hiring you. If you want something the company can’t offer you, then chances are you won’t stay long. On the other hand, if you don’t have any goals then the company won’t have many ways to motivate you to work hard, which the recruiter will likely be concerned about. 

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