12 Open-Ended Job Interview Questions (With Answers)

By Chris Kolmar
Aug. 4, 2022
Articles In Guide

Find a Job You Really Want In

You just got a call about an interview for your dream job. Your resume is outstanding and caught the hiring manager’s eye right away. But do you really have the right stuff?

How can you show recruiters that you are the perfect candidate for this role? Your future boss wants to know if your skills, experience, and personality are a fit for the role. Asking open-ended interview questions is the best way for them to see if you are a fit.

Key Takeaways:

  • Interviewers ask open-ended questions to see how you think on your feet and how you sell your relevant skills and experiences.

  • Know the difference between open-ended questions and closed-ended questions, and make sure to answer each the correct way.

  • Make sure to use the STAR method when answering any open-ended questions.

12 Open-Ended Job Interview Questions (With Answers)

12 Sample Open-ended Interview Questions And Example Answers

  1. What was it about this job that interested you?

    Example Answer

    When I heard about this role I was really excited because it was the perfect match for my skills and experience. Your company is looking to gain more national media coverage. In my experience at my last job, I developed a PR campaign that gained national television coverage and led to many feature interviews in major print publications too. Plus, my experience within the alternative rock genre has helped me develop media contacts that could help me make your record label a household name.

  2. Why do you feel you are a good fit for this role?

    Example Answer

    With ten years of experience in nonprofit, I understand the challenges your company faces. I have a proven track record of increasing donations and planning successful fundraisers.

  3. Tell me about a situation where you had a disagreement with a co-worker and how you handled it.

    Example Answer

    There was a situation where I was cleaning and inspecting a customer’s jewelry. One of my coworkers showed them a watch that they ended up buying. After the customer left, I spoke to my co-worker. He didn’t realize I was working with the customer before. He offered to split the commission. It was handled fairly and discreetly after the customer left.

  4. Tell me about a time when a co-worker was struggling. How did you handle it?

    Example Answer

    There was a new part-time employee. I saw he was struggling with how to sign up credit card applications with clients. The next time a client came in asking about store credit, I asked the new employee to walk through the application process with the customer so he could learn. He split the credit application with me. So it was a win/win.

  5. What do you feel are some of your biggest strengths?

    Example Answer

    One of my biggest strengths is that I am a really prolific writer. Once I was given a long-form blog post to write that was 6000 words long. My boss was thrilled that I completed the assignment in one day. It brings his relief knowing he can rely on me for more difficult, longer writing assignments.

  6. Tell me what you feel your biggest weakness is.

    Example Answer

    Recently I was working on a social media project that required posting on Instagram. Admittedly while I had lots of experience in other social channels, Instagram was new for me. While I was able to share daily posts, I wasn’t driving the results I was hoping for. So I used this as a learning opportunity and purchased an Instagram Success program on Udemy. This gave me some great tips that helped me generate better results. My boss was happy that I took the initiative to learn and improve.

  7. What really motivated you about this position?

    Example Answer

    I love that your company is devoted to creating wow customer experiences. At my old job, I loved being able to really connect with customers and make them feel special. Every element of the buying process matters. I love asking about their customer story. Then really listen. I love that your company culture is based around that same sense of extreme customer satisfaction.

  8. Tell me about a challenging situation at work and how you handled it.

    Example Answer

    There was a security situation at the store. A gentleman came in a few weeks ago and used a stolen credit card to make unlawful purchases. Then he came in a second time right before close and tried to do distraction theft. Before he left he said he was coming the next day. My boss wasn’t going to be in the store that day. It was just three female employees. So I took matters into my own hands. I wrote the security phone number down and posted on the phone. I talked with the head of mall security. He pointed additional security cameras at the store. Finally, I spoke with the head of the police at the mall. It felt good to know that the extra measures were in place to keep our employees safe and secure.

  9. When is a time that you faced a problem? How did you solve that?

    Example Answer

    One time we were editing a client commercial that was due to air at the television station in just a few hours. We made the duplications of the spot as quickly as we could. Then I offered to drive the spot to the tv station myself to make sure it arrived on time. It was a little scary driving my boss’s brand new Lexus in downtown Chicago to get there. But I took a deep breath and did it! It felt amazing to know the commercial aired on time. The client was happy. My boss was thrilled that I went the extra mile to save the day.

  10. What goals would you like to achieve in the future?

    Example Answer

    My short term goal is to use my sales skills in a job like this one. As I meet and exceed my sales goals, I would love to expand and manage a team of salespeople to drive sales for the region.

  11. Tell me about your previous work experience.

    Example Answer

    I have 7 years of experience in accounting. During that time, I saved time and money for clients with more accurate books. Then when I became a senior staff accountant, I supervised all areas of the company’s financial operations. I supervised a team of 4 junior accountants and a bookkeeper. Together, we were able to cut expenses by 15%. As your senior staff accountant, I would provide a superior competitive advantage and keep your finances and on track.

  12. What are your salary requirements?

    Example Answer

    My salary requirement is in the $55,000 — $60,000 range.

  13. Opened-Ended vs. Closed-Ended Questions

    An open-ended question requires you to speak freely about your thoughts, feelings, and knowledge about a certain topic. It forces you to think on your feet.

    A recruiter wants to see how you handle stress and pressure. Will you fumble or crack a sweat? They want to see you sell yourself with confidence.

    Potential employers love to ask open-ended questions. That way you can’t just recite a canned response. When you answer an open-ended question, it reveals what you are truly made of.

    1. Open-ended interview question: When an interviewer asks an open-ended question, it’s your chance to tell a story! Now’s your time to tell stories that share why you are the perfect match for their position. Examples of these unclude:

    2. Close-ended interview question: These are usually answered with a “yes” or “no” answer. They don’t require much explanation and are typically short. Examples of these include:

      • Did you find out about this job on Indeed?

      • Did you have trouble finding where our office is located?

      • Do you have a degree in (field applying to)

      • Do you work well under pressure??

    Most Common Topics Hiring Managers Will Ask About

    So you are probably wondering exactly what a hiring manager will ask about. That way if you know in advance, you can prepare. Fortunately, the company leaves behind excellent clues to help you.

    Carefully look at the job description and review the company website, blog, and social media to gain an understanding of their company values, mission, and future direction. Think about who you are, your experiences, your personality, and your strengths, and how you are a fit for their needs.

    Below are common open-ended question topics they will ask about. Be prepared by crafting a short sound byte for each of these areas. You may wish to write down the answers on notecards. Do a mock interview with someone to practice delivering your answers.

    Open-Ended Question Tips

    • Be aware of non-verbal cues. During a job interview, human resources will assess other cues. They will check your body language, eye-contact, and other nonverbal cues. They are determining if your personality is a fit for the team. They are gauging your soft skills like motivation, determination, communication, or other skills. So sit up tall and smile. Employers like to see confidence.

    • Tell a story. Open-ended questions allow you to tell stories that show potential employers why you are the perfect match for their position. Use the STAR method when telling a story. Star stand for situation, task, action, result.

    • Do research. Look at what’s really needed in the role. Anticipate the questions they might ask. Then craft compelling stories that show how you can make a real difference in their organization. Acing the interview will land you the job offer of your dreams.

    • Be concise. When giving details about a story, keep it short and concise. You don’t want to spend a long time describing colors and what a room looked like. Keep the interviewer engaged but keep it to the point.

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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Topics: Get The Job, Resume