Interview questions and answers for a first job
Applying for your first job is an exciting time. Even if you’ve had interviewing practice at school or with family members, the first-ever interview can be nerve-racking! Reviewing this job interview questions and answers sample section can help you create answers that nail any interview.
Interviewer👨🏼💼: “Tell me about yourself”
“I’m a junior year at the local high school and a member of the varsity golf team. Last year I was on Homecoming court and I’ve been tutoring middle school students in math for the last two years. In my free time I like to play guitar, rollerskate, and hang out with friends. Right now I’m looking at different colleges and hoping to attend a four-year university after I graduate.”
Why this works:
When answering this question, the goal is to give the interviewer a lot of things to talk about. Ideally, your answer should include something about your professional life (school counts as professional life for students) . You should also include something from your personal life to let the recruiter or hiring manager get a feel for your personality.
Interviewer👨🏼💼: “What is your greatest strength?”
“I am incredibly driven. When I set a goal for myself, I do absolutely everything in my power to accomplish it. As soon as I started on the golf team, I knew I wanted to make it to the state-level competition. In addition to our daily practice after school, I worked on my putting every day before school which helped lower my average and I’ve made it to the State Championships the last two years.”
Why this works:
When it comes to interviews, your English writing teacher was right — it’s not about telling, it’s about showing. Instead of just saying your greatest strength is X, make sure to give an example.
Interviewer 👩🏽💼: “Why do you want this job?”
“I know I would be a great fit for your company and team. I’m hardworking, driven, and friendly so I know I could provide your customers with outstanding service while gaining valuable work experience.”
Why this works:
Your first job is likely not your last job. Even McDonald’s, with approximately 200,000 employees in the United States alone, bills itself as “America’s Best First Job” and offers benefits that help employees achieve and afford higher education. That said, reasonable employers are not expecting you to stay working a part-time or first-time job forever. The key to answering this question is explaining why you’re a good fit (due to your strengths) and why you’re interested (other than a paycheck).
Typical interview questions for experienced professionals
While inexperienced jobseekers might get inundated with general questions about their personality and soft skills, those who are seeking advanced roles in a field can expect to get more detailed questions.
Here are some sample interview questions to prepare for if you are experienced in your field.
- “Imagine I just time-traveled here from the 1700s. How would you explain [job function or responsibility] to me so that I could understand?”
- “If you logged on for work and had 2,000 emails, but only had time to read 300, how would you decide which ones to prioritize?”
- “What’s the biggest decision you’ve made over the last year, how did you make it, and how did it turn out?”
Just like you’d expect different qualifications between a first-time jobseeker and an experienced professional, the interview questions for these roles are also different. An experienced professional should be well-versed in their profession so they can easily explain concepts in basic ways to various audiences. They also should have a framework in place for delegation, time management, and prioritization, and should be able to take decisive action while weighing the pros and cons of that action.
Good interview questions for leadership & management
Occasionally, the tables are turned. While many companies strive to promote leadership from within, it’s not always possible or the path isn’t always linear. In these cases, sometimes it’s the employees who get to help select their managers or leaders. Here are some of the best interview questions to ask a potential manager or supervisor.
What is your management style?
This isn’t the most original or creative question. However, as a potential subordinate, this could be one of the most important questions you ask. Finding someone who is as hands-on, hands-off, authoritarian, or collaborative as the role and team culture requires is one of the most basic qualifications for an employee-manager-team fit.
What professional advice would you give yourself if you had the chance to go back in time?
Asking someone what advice they’d give their former self is a great way to find out a few things about them. You’ll find out more about where they come from, what they value, and whether they see missteps as failures or learning opportunities. Plus, you might just get some good career tips!
Do you think we have a good company culture? Would you change anything?
Airbnb co-founder and CEO, Brian Chesky, famously wrote a blog post after closing a Series C funding round. It highlights advice that major investor Peter Thiel gave him regarding company culture. In short, Thiel told Chesky not to mess it up. Company culture can be hard to define from the outside, but having a good company culture is largely responsible for less turnover, more job satisfaction, and better productivity and is largely influenced by the decisions made at the top. So, it’s important that any new leaders fit the culture.
Top interview questions for customer service positions
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 25% of occupations in the United States required customer service skills in 2016 — a number that was projected to grow during the decade ending in 2026. As more jobs add “customer service” to their list of qualifications or search for a Customer Service Manager, here are some common interview questions and answers you should prepare for.
“What does customer service mean to you?”
Things to discuss:
- How you define customer service
- An example of a time you gave or were given outstanding service
“To me, customer service means proactively taking care of a customer’s current and anticipated needs. For example, I like to provide outstanding service to all of my clients by offering them a beverage before we get started. I find that it puts them at ease which then lets us get down to business in a more relaxed manner.”
“How do you keep motivated when dealing with difficult customers?”
Things to discuss:
- Speak to your customer service skills/soft skills
- Share an example of a time you’ve dealt with a difficult customer
- Explain the actions you took to deescalate or resolve the situation
“One of my biggest assets to keep positive when dealing with upset or difficult customers is empathy. I know that most of the time an upset customer is just frustrated and that they want to feel heard and seen. In my last job, I was responsible for checking guests in at a hotel. There was one time were a guest came back after checking in and was upset that he didn’t get a room on the top floor. In speaking with the guest, I found out that he was sensitive to sound and was concerned about hearing someone in the room above him all night. While I couldn’t switch him to a higher floor, I was able to move him to a room on another floor that didn’t have any neighbors to the sides or above helping him get what he needed without affecting our other guests or costing the hotel anything.”
“Tell me about a time when you had to make a choice, but there wasn’t a clear policy so you had to make a judgment call? What happened and how did you make your decision?
Things to discuss:
- What happened
- How you decided what to do
- What the results of your choices were
“In my previous role as a bank teller, our branch had a coin counter, but not a coin sorter. Typically this wasn’t a huge issue as most people came in with normal-sized piggy banks, so there wasn’t any policy about what to do when one gentleman showed up with several 5-gallon buckets filled with change. That amount of coin was going to take at least a few days to sort through. I knew that we had a good relationship with the guy and there weren’t any other places to exchange coins for many miles, so I came up with a solution. I told the man we would be able to help him out, but it would take some time. We offered to sort and count the coins during slow periods and downtime at work and then just deposit the value of the counted coins into his account each evening. This allowed us to keep this customer happy while not impacting other customers or losing productivity and was a win-win for everyone.”