Answer These 10 First Interview Questions Like a Pro

Answer These 10 First Interview  Questions Like a Pro
Rachelle Ennson November 18th, 2021

In this guide, MockQuestions walks you through 10 of the most commonly asked first interview questions. We show you the best approach to answering each question and discuss what to avoid when responding. We also provide answer examples and links to additional resources, ensuring you give the best impression in your first interviews!

Answer These 10 First Interview Questions Like a Pro


Why did you apply for this position?

Now is the time for you to express your enthusiasm for the company and the position of interest. Avoid general statements like, 'I applied for this position because I need a job.' As simple as that may sound, it's a response that interviewers commonly hear!

Show a passion for your field of work and talk about how this role will provide you with the career opportunities you desire. Be sure to compliment the company and offer a compelling reason as to why you applied.

Answer Example

"I've been looking to join a high-growth startup company in the aerospace industry, and Company ABC is exactly that. The organization also offers what I've been seeking in a work environment. After looking through the company website, it's clear that the leaders here value their people and have created a healthy culture centered around achievement, growth, and accountability. Company ABC is disrupting an industry that could use a fresh approach. The energy in here is contagious, which increases my enthusiasm toward this opportunity, and I am eager to contribute as your next Compliance Manager."

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What are your top responsibilities in your current job?

What are your top responsibilities in your current job?

The interviewer wants to see evidence that you have the knowledge and skills required to succeed. Prepare by reflecting on the primary tasks and responsibilities present in your current or most recent job. Then, comb through the job description of the new role, and find a connection between this opportunity and your current/most recent position.

Think about how the skills you actively apply will help you succeed in this new position. Then, be prepared to verbally express how your skills, knowledge, and range of experiences will make you successful on the job.

Answer Example

"Some of the most critical duties I perform in my current role as HR Manager include succession planning, strategic planning, and talent reviews across three departments. I work closely with other HR leaders to drive the key talent acquisition initiatives that help our company grow revenue while gaining market share. Company ABC mentions KPI tracking and strategic planning as primary accountabilities for this role. I am well versed in those areas of business and am ready to make an immediate impact on Company ABC's metrics, should I be hired."

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How has your education/training prepared you to succeed in this role?

Regardless of your experience level, it's essential to assure the interviewer that you have the required knowledge to fulfill the role's accountabilities.

If you are interviewing for your first-ever job, tailor your answer to what you see for your future. You can talk about how your existing education, training, or certifications will help you meet specific job requirements outlined in the company's job posting.

Suppose you have some years of work experience. In that case, you can focus your answer on the specific ways your education, training, or coursework has added to your success and accomplishments so far. Target your response to the company, industry, and job as much as possible.

Answer Example

"I recently graduated with my Bachelor's Degree in International Business. This education has significantly elevated my understanding of various organizational structures and the range of issues businesses face in today's challenging economic times. This training will help me look at our customers' most significant business challenges with a 360-degree view, allowing me to assist them by presenting unique solutions."

View more answer examples for: How has your education prepared you for this career?


Are you actively interviewing with other companies?

This question is commonly asked in first job interviews because the interviewer wants to know if their hiring timeline fits your current situation and overall availability.

Depending on the job title or industry, your skills could be a hot commodity. In that case, the hiring company knows they need to move fast, or they could lose you to a competitor.

Your answer will also help the hiring company determine if they will engage with you based on their hiring process and timeline. For instance, let's say that you are in the first interview with Company ABC. The interviewer asks if you are actively interviewing with any other companies. In response, you tell them that you're in the final interview stage with Company XYZ. In this case, Company ABC may not ask you to attend another interview, knowing their timing likely isn't on par with the pace of your job search.

Answer Example

If you are interviewing with other companies:

"Yes, I am very active in my search and have had multiple invitations to interview. Currently, I am in the second interview stage with one company and the third interview stage with another. I expect to have a job offer in the next ten days or so. Could you share with me your expected timeline for making a hiring decision?"

If you are not interviewing with other companies:

"I just started my search, so I am not in final interviews with any other company. I am actively seeking a new role and am thrilled to be considered for a role with this reputable organization."

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When are you available to start?

Before your interview, make sure you have a start date in mind for the new employer. You may need to give two weeks' notice to your current employer. If you are unemployed, perhaps you can start right away. Regardless of your situation, be prepared to give an affirmative answer. If you hesitate when answering this question, the interviewer could see this as a hesitation to join their organization.

You should always show professional courtesy by offering two weeks' notice to your current employer if you are currently working. As exciting as this new opportunity is, no hiring manager wants to hear a candidate say, "I can quit my job today and start tomorrow!" Show your potential new employer that you are professional and reliable in all situations.

Answer Example

If you are currently working

"I will be giving my current employer the professional courtesy of 2 weeks' notice. I must help to backfill my position and transition client accounts properly. Considering this, I could likely start in this new role by December 1st."

If you are currently not working

"I am eager to start in this new role as soon as possible. I am between roles and can make myself available as soon as it's convenient to Company ABC."

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Tell me about yourself.

Many interviews begin with the question, 'Tell me about yourself.' This question can turn any well-prepared candidate inside out. Why? Because it's open-ended. Where do you begin, and where do you end?

A great place to start is to understand the reasoning behind the question. Primarily, the interviewer will use this question as an icebreaker. However, to you as the candidate, it can feel like being put in the hot seat.

The Past, Present, Future interview answer framework is beneficial for this question.

Framing your response using the Past, Present, Future method helps you keep your thoughts on track, allowing you to deliver a well-organized answer with impact. If it feels more natural to you, you can also frame your answer as Present, Past, Future.

Answer Example

"(Past) I have worked as a Patient Care Coordinator for over five years, consulting with patients and determining their needs. I have always enjoyed delivering patient care with compassion and empathy. (Present) Currently, I work for a private functional medicine clinic developing care plans and coordinating patient-care services. This role helped me to expand my knowledge of program development while meeting unique patient needs. (Future) Now, I am looking to broaden my experience to include actively educating patients and working with an established care team to evaluate interventions. Your organizations' focus on care plans is one reason why I was thrilled to apply for this career opportunity."

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Learn more about this question: How to Answer: Tell Me About Yourself.


What do you know about our company?

Recruiters and hiring managers often receive hundreds of applications per job. Suppose you are lucky enough to land an interview. In that case, it's essential to put in the effort by researching the opportunity and going to your interview well-prepared.

You don't need to be an expert on the company's history. Still, you should be knowledgeable about the company mission, its goals, the position requirements, and the role's key accountabilities.

Start by searching the company website and noting recent news articles, events, or stand-out contributions the company has made. Identify the organizations' mission and values, and familiarize yourself with the job description.

Answer Example

"I have thoroughly researched the organization and see that your team recently earned an industry innovation award for a new ABC Software rollout. Congratulations on this amazing achievement! As an IT professional, I understand that this award came with immense competition. This achievement tells me that your team is incredibly dedicated and focused on industry disruption and highly targeted customer solutions. I look forward to learning more as we continue this interview process."

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Why are you looking for a new opportunity?

Be honest about your current situation, but be careful not to overshare or speak negatively about your current company or position. It is best to focus primarily on your future wishes vs. dwelling on what is going wrong or what went awry in the past.

The three most common mistakes candidates make when answering this question include:

When forming your response, clearly outline how this new opportunity aligns with your professional goals. Make the connection between your desires and how the hiring company will benefit from choosing you.

Try building your response using this 4-step framework:

  1. Set up the situation and mention the challenges you faced/currently face.
  2. Outline the positive actions you took/have taken to overcome these challenges.
  3. Highlight the transferable skills you have developed despite the situation.
  4. Discuss the benefits of these transferable skills and provide measurable examples of how these skills will ensure your success in this new role.

Keeping a positive, opportunity-focused mindset is the most effective approach to answering this question.

Answer Example

"For 15 years with Education Company XYZ, I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside brilliant leaders and earning promotions based on my positive performance. I worked my way up the ranks in traditional education and met many exciting challenges. However, the seniority I earned made me vulnerable to a layoff when the education industry experienced a dip during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Overall, my experience with Company ABC was incredibly positive, so I use discernment while exploring new career opportunities. My career desire is to utilize my communication, leadership, and curriculum-building strengths to approach a career in the ed-tech industry. I appreciate that this industry is ever-changing while remaining strong during economic challenges. I researched Company ABC. It appears the organization has earned steady and consistent growth through a recession and the COVID-19 global pandemic. The prospect of joining the ed-tech industry and lending my transferable skills in traditional education is fascinating. I believe my background in curriculum-building will be especially beneficial for your team."

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What are your salary expectations?

The best way to approach a salary question is to have a clear idea of the following points:

Thoroughly understanding your compensation needs will give the hiring company a solid idea of what you want to see in a competitive job offer.

If you are new to your career and are unsure of a fair salary, take the time to learn using a salary calculator. You can find many reliable resources online like LinkedIn Salary and

Answer Example

"I am very interested in learning more about the details of this role and what an average day or week entails. From research, I understand that similar positions in the area pay a base salary in the range of $45,000 and $50,000 per year. With my skills, education, experience, and achievements, I would expect an offer in that range. I am also interested in discussing the overall compensation offering, such as benefits and vacation time. Could you share further details with me?"

Learn more about this question: How to Discuss Salary in a Job Interview.


What questions do you have for me?

At the end of most interviews, the hiring authority will ask if you have any questions for them. Candidates often believe that having zero questions shows they are actively listening or completely understanding the role. However, this isn't the case. If you fail to have questions prepared, this can give the hiring manager the impression that you aren't enthusiastic about the opportunity.

A great interview will go far beyond a question/answer drill session. After all, the opportunity at hand is a two-way street. As much as the hiring company needs to know that you are the right person for the job, you should also feel comfortable knowing that you are making a smart career move.

Having insightful queries prepared will require research. Start by visiting the company's website and its social media profiles. You should also comb through the job description. Then, develop at least 3-5 insightful and customized questions.

Consider Asking

  • How can I begin to prepare myself for success in this role?
  • What is the most critical function of this position?
  • What is the company's biggest challenge right now?
  • How would my success be measured in this role?

View more answer examples for: What questions do you have for me?

View our full list of questions to ask the interviewer: 35 Questions to Ask the Interviewer

If you'd like to learn more about preparing for a first interview, check out our 30 Telephone Interview Questions (with answer advice and answer examples).

If your first interview is with an agency recruiter, we have a guide to get you started: 7 Things to Know When Working With an Agency Recruiter.

First interviews can generate a lot of nerves! If you're feeling uneasy about an upcoming interview, read our guide 6 Helpful Tricks to Calm Nerves in a Job Interview.

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