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Entry Level Interview Questions: 10 Questions With Explanation & Sample Answers

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It is no secret that the job market continues to change.

With more people leaving college or high school with work experience or internships, it is getting more important to stand out in interviews for entry-level positions.

So, if you are getting ready for an entry-level position interview and want to anticipate the questions and prepare, keep reading.

10 Common Entry Level Interview Questions

Though the positions may be for someone just beginning in a given industry, most entry-level positions will ask questions for specific skills.

They might ask you to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the company and industry, your anticipated role, and your future career plans.

This may seem unfair to some because of the “entry-level” label.

But you can get around the interview to a degree by preparing for questions like these and framing your past experiences, no matter what they are, as preparation for this career:

  1. Why are you interested in this role?
  2. How has your experience prepared you for this role?
  3. What do you know about our company?
  4. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
  5. Describe a professional challenge you faced and how you handled it.
  6. Describe an academic challenge you faced and how you handled it.
  7. How would you handle criticism from your supervisor or superior that you find unfair?
  8. How would you present a problem or criticism to your superiors?
  9. What courses have you enjoyed the most? Why?
  10. What courses have you enjoyed the least? Why?

If you want to be more prepared, you can check out these other common interview questions.

The warehouse industry is expanding, so you could be faced with warehouse interview questions and you will almost always be faced with attention to detail interview questions.

What Should I Say in an Entry-Level Interview?

What you say depends on the industry, company, and interview context.

But you should anticipate these questions and try and align your answers with the company and the traits they are looking for.

Avoid salary questions, avoid looking desperate, and avoid exaggerating.

What Skills Are Entry Level Interviewers Looking For?

Once upon a time, it was okay to be inxperienced when interviewing for an entry-level position.

That time has gone; interviewers will usually expect you to have a couple of years under your belt or training related to your degree.

They will not expect you to know the industry inside and out but they will expect you to demonstrate a few things regarding your experience and future.

  • Balance: Companies will expect their entry-level employees to demonstrate initiative and an ability to start working on projects of their own, but also expect them to fit into a team dynamic and bond with their co-workers.
  • Efficiency: While work ethic matters, efficiency matters more. If you can get a task done quickly without breaking a sweat while others take significantly more time, it will make you more attractive to interviewers.
  • Willingness to Grow and Listen: Even if you are experienced in your industry because of your degree or internships, there is still more you can learn and be coached on. Interviewers want to see your willingness to embrace this.
  • Longevity: Though the positions may be for those just starting, interviewers want to see that you will be with their company for some time, taking advantage of opportunities to climb their ladder and accomplish more, because it also benefits them.
  • Principles: There are plenty of people who are skilled, experienced, and efficient – but who lack the ethic that the new American workplace is trying to foster. The interviewers will want to see evidence that you have a code of values that you stick to and that aligns with their ethics.

What Traits Are ENTRY-LEVEL Interviewers Looking to Avoid?

Other than the obvious red flags, there are other traits entry-level interviewers pay attention to that get applicants disqualified.

There are many more beyond the three traits listed below.

But with the rise of the latest economic and professional trends – these are the three you will want to frame yourself as the opposite of.

  • Too Independent: Companies and interviewers want to see initiative from you. But if you demonstrate that you only work best alone, or often proceed without consultation of your team or boss, it is undesirable.
  • Entitlement: If you come in expressing that you hope for a quick promotion, detest early mornings, or make any other comments that indicate you think you deserve the position, interviewers will not give your application a second look.
  • Distracted: There is one leading cause of workplace distraction right now and it is the cellphone. Your interviewers will want to make sure you will be focused on your job during hours and not distracted by videos, text messages, or phone calls.

Sample Entry Level Interview Questions and Answers

Each interview question has a specific logic behind it, and if you are to prepare for your interview, you will have to understand that logic and answer the question in a manner that demonstrates you are a good fit for the company.

1. Why are you interested in this role?

Why This Question is Asked

Companies know why most applicants apply for roles – for money, for benefits, or self-esteem.

This question is asked to separate candidates who apply for those gains rather than for the development of their professional capacities.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

You should track down the company’s mission or vision statement if you can, and frame your answer by putting your values in line with the company’s and the roles.

Frame the role as a chance to develop your capacities while giving back to the company and its mission.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Salary or benefits should never be a part of answering this question, and you should also avoid sensitive topics such as politics, religion, etc.

Example Answer

My interest in this role stems from my belief in the value of technology for improving people’s lives and challenging the status quo.

In this role as a junior software engineer, I can engage in that work to help people enjoy a better user experience while helping foster the changes this company is trying to lead in this industry.

2. How has your experience helped you prepare for this role?

Why This Question is Asked

This question is to make sure that you are up to the tasks of your job.

Applicants will be asked to demonstrate responsibility, capability, and a wish for more future responsibility.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Think long and hard about the specific responsibilities of your intended role before going into the interview.

You will want to mention them specifically and prove that your past experiences have made you into someone who can benefit this work community and who will not need extra training.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid mentioning too much when answering this question.

Some applicants will try and mention every experience when the company can see them on their resume.

Try and pick specific experiences that answer the question well.

Example Answer

My time as an intern helped both learn that company’s specific coding languages and endowed me with the ability to learn other languages quickly, a capacity that will ensure I can adjust to any new requirements quickly.

Challenges also honed my ability to work with my administrators and peers, which I will certainly bring to bear against problems once again.

3. What do you know about our company?

Why This Question is Asked

Interviewers want to see that you did not just apply to look at the role.
They want to see that you considered the company, what they do, and where they stand within their industry.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Demonstrate that you’ve done deep research.

Focus on the company’s goals if you can find them and what specific part of their industry they are in.

Focus too on where they stand – such as if they are growing or if they are established.

Try and track down info on the CEO or administrators too.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Once again, avoid talking about too much, as a few well-chosen facts that typical interviewees do not give as answers will do the job.

Example Answer

I know the company’s CEO started it out of his spare bedroom, and it has grown significantly since then due to its expansion into adjacent industries, which is why it is looking for junior software engineers.

4. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

  • Why This Question is Asked: As mentioned before, companies and interviewers are looking for longevity. They ask this question to see just how serious you are about joining the company and its vision.
    They also want to know what your long-term professional goals are, and if you have looked into what opportunities their company can afford you in the future.
  • What to Focus On When Answering This Question: Of course focus on aligning your future with the company if you can, and any goals you have for projects, education, mobility, etc. that future employment and promotion with the company can grant you.
    Try and strike a balance between specificity and ambition.  
  • What To Avoid When Answering This Question: As is with all things, read the situation and avoid things that could potentially offend your interviewer, such as wanting to work their position, and avoid mentioning other companies as potential routes of employment.

Example Answer

In 5 years, I plan to have used the firm’s continuing education opportunity to get my master’s while working and expand my capacities in skills that the company will eventually need, and I will have moved up to a more senior position at this other branch of the firm.

5. Describe a professional challenge you faced and how you handled it.

  • Why This Question is Asked: Workplace culture is becoming progressively more important and interviewers want to make sure your habits and means of dealing with adversity do not disrupt the culture they are trying to foster.
  • What to Focus On When Answering This Question: Focus on your means of coping with professional challenges and try to demonstrate that you are willing to bring work home if you must, but that overall you keep a healthy balance that helps you deal with challenges.
    Focus on the soft skills that got you through the challenge, such as communication.
  • What To Avoid When Answering This Question: There is a line you will need to toe with this answer too. While you will need to sell yourself, you also do not want to make this question all about you: avoid focusing too much on I and make sure you show you consider others in how you cope with challenges.

Example Answer

In my internship, the administration assigned me a task that a full-time worker failed to complete and gave me less time than usual to do it, with no flexibility.

OR

After trying my best to complete it quickly, I came to see the limits of my capacities and realized that a less than stellar performance on this task would reflect poorly on my colleagues.

So, I came to lean on them and ask for help so we could all produce something to be proud of.

6. Describe an academic challenge you faced and how you handled it.

  • Why This Question is Asked: In addition to professional skills and an ability to cope with difficult tasks, firms, interviewers, and companies want to see their applicants’ abilities to learn, especially under pressure.
  • What to Focus On When Answering This Question: No matter what your academic challenge was, you will want to focus on your ability to learn a target skill under pressure.
    It also does not need to be an instance where you invented a brilliant solution to a problem; instead, it should demonstrate your ability to persevere.
  • What To Avoid When Answering This Question: Some interviewees may fall into the trap of mentioning times when they procrastinated and how they responded to a situation they put themselves in.
    Avoid mentioning such challenges or occasions because your interviewer will not see your resilience; just your lack of work ethic.

Example Answer

Despite our grammatical classes being cut due to budget cuts, my senior level German literature classes nonetheless pressed on expecting us to write sophisticated analyses in German.

While this was difficult, and time-consuming, there was simply no other way to learn than to sit with a dictionary and push on through boredom and frustration.

Not only did I actually learn to communicate my own personality and thoughts in another language; I learned how to bear down when there is no new solution to be invented.”

7. How would you handle criticism from your supervisor or superior that you find unfair?

  • Why This Question is Asked: Once again, the key here is fostering a good, productive workplace culture. Interviewers want to make sure you have an idea of an appropriate response when you are treated unfairly and know how to handle problems without disrupting the entire workplace.
  • What to Focus On When Answering This Question: Focus on demonstrating your problem-solving and conflict resolution skills.
    Show that you understand that you can try to resolve the problem first by sitting down to talk with a superior and that if the problem continued, you would use the company’s resources to your advantage.
  • What To Avoid When Answering This Question: Avoid saying that you would go straight to Human Resources unless it were an emergency.
    Try and demonstrate your communication skills instead of saying you will go straight to filing a complaint – this may reflect an undesirable entitlement.

Example Answer

Well of course, it would have to start with honesty and I would see if my superior had time for a coffee break or conversation so that we could both comfortably speak and express ourselves.

That way we can both give each other the benefit of a doubt and a chance to right a perceived wrong.

8. How would present a problem or criticism to your superiors?

  • Why This Question is Asked: The interviewer wants to make sure you are not a cog in the machine and can also keep your superiors accountable and help them foster a good culture.
  • What to Focus On When Answering This Question: Focus on how you would utilize “I feel” statements in speaking to your superiors and balance the problem with statements that show your appreciation for your superiors, as they show your interviewer that you are focused on perception and communication rather than being right.
  • What To Avoid When Answering This Question: Avoid saying that you would go any other route than directly presenting the problem to your supervisor or superiors.
    Routes such as going to human resources or “picking your battles” and ignoring the problem show that you do not want to foster collaboration in problem-solving.

Example Answer

I would establish rapport with that superior first and use an opportunity to address the problem directly with them, and I would tell them I feel that this certain procedure they engage in could actually be done more productively.

Thus, it is less criticism and more framed as me trying to help them help the company.

9. What courses have you enjoyed most and why?

  • Why This Question is Asked: Companies want to gauge how you are as a person outside work and how you think.
    They also want to know more about your interests, and thus, this question gives them that opportunity.
  • What to Focus On When Answering This Question: Focus on the learning aspect of this question.
    A proper answer will reflect your hobbies and interests outside of the office and how they help you learn new things.
  • What To Avoid When Answering This Question: Do not use this as an opportunity to sneak into another discussion about problem-solving or facing challenges.

Example Answer

Though it was not for my major, I enjoyed my Western Civilization class because it showed me new ways of thinking and new ways of perceiving the world that I have taken forward into my own life outside of school.

10. What courses did you enjoy least and why?

  • Why This Question is Asked: This question is meant to gauge your ability to persevere through adversity and get a better sense of your interests.
  • What to Focus On When Answering This Question: Focus on what you did not enjoy and try to frame it as a matter of dissonance with your principles or values.
    Show how you still persevered through the course, particularly if you succeeded in the said course.
  • What To Avoid When Answering This Question: Avoid questions about the course being unfair or “difficult.”
    Use words like “challenging,” or “demanding.”

Example Answer

“ naturally thought Economics would appeal to my analytical side but I found myself in a fundamental disagreement with its principle: that you could apply math and science to human interaction.

Consequently, it proved to be more demanding for me, but I finished the course with a better sense of my perspective and a better understanding of this field.

Other Common Interview Questions You Could Be Asked

1. Why Should We Hire You?

Why This Question is Asked

This question gives you a chance to pose yourself as a unique fit for the job and to show them what you and no one else can bring to it.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Focus on what is in the job application to show you have read it thoroughly and know what they are looking for and how you are the best fit for what they describe.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid repeating the features you list on your resume.

The interviewer will likely have read your resume thoroughly and does not need to hear it again.

Example Answer

Having looked at the description of your opening, I know I am the best fit for the position, the most willing to learn, and the ablest to immediately contribute to the company’s culture and its goals.

2. What Do You Like to Do For Fun?

  • Why This Question is Asked: Like asking about your coursework, this question is meant to examine who you are as a human being and not just an employee.
  • What to Focus On When Answering This Question: Focus on the hobbies and free time activities that relate to the job position.
    These can also count as a sort of experience and show the interviewer you are passionate about the field.
  • What To Avoid When Answering This Question: Avoid being disingenuous and avoid things that bear two risks: being written off as a waste of time, such as video games, or exclusive, such as religious practice.

Example Answer

Well, I like to write in my journal in my spare time and read because my passion is the possibilities of the written word. It’s the same reason I am applying for this position.

3. May We Contact This Employer?

  • Why This Question is Asked: This question is asked to assure you are telling the truth about your references and employment history.
  • What to Focus On When Answering This Question: Focus on tailoring your employment history to the position you apply for. That way you can answer yes when they ask this.
  • What To Avoid When Answering This Question: Avoid listing employers you are not comfortable having as references.

Example Answer

Yes, of course. My supervisor there and I are still friends.

4. How Do You Prioritize Your Work?

  • Why This Question is Asked: This question assures your experience has taught you how to balance your life and your job and that you can manage tasks by splitting them up.
  • What to Focus On When Answering This Question: Focus on showing that you have a schedule and prioritize working efficiently because your health should be the priority.
    This way they can see that your priority is to work well.  
  • What To Avoid When Answering This Question: Avoid saying that work is your number one priority because this can make you look desperate or make an implication about your inability to meet your deadlines.

Example Answer

My first task is sorting the day’s needed tasks into high and low priority so that I can take care of the necessities efficiently.

Sometimes before the start of the week, I will do this at home so I can get ahead.

5. What makes you stand out from other candidates?

  • Why This Question is Asked: This question distinguishes candidates from each other and gives them a chance to demonstrate a factor others may not possess.
  • What to Focus On When Answering This Question: Focus on what other people might say or how they might frame themselves in light of the position’s description – and do the opposite.
  • What To Avoid When Answering This Question: Avoid trying to prove you fit the position description perfectly here.
    The interviewer wants to see what makes you different here.

Example Answer

All candidates have work experience, but my volunteer experience show this is not just for a career; this work is the thing I live for and seek to continue engaging with as long as I can.

Additional Tips for Entry Level Interviews

Preparing for interviews is stressful, especially for entry-level positions.

Read on to learn more about how to prepare for your interview.

How Do You Prepare for an Entry Level Interview?

The best way to prepare for an Entry Level Interview is to read the job opening thoroughly and anticipate questions based on it.

You want to demonstrate that you took the application seriously.

What Should You Wear to an Entry Level Interview?

Any job interview will likely require business dress.

That generally means button-down shirts, slacks, and blazers for men, while it means blouse and pants or dress for women.

How Should You Introduce Yourself In an Entry Level Interview?

The context will change and the person interviewing you will change, but you can count on these rules of thumb:

  • Shake the hand of anyone who converses with you.
  • Look them in the eye.
  • State, “It’s nice to meet you” to everyone.  
  • Stand at your full height and resist the temptation to pull your phone out or give into nervous tics.

What Questions Should You Ask at the End of an Entry-Level Interview?

Questions at the end of an interview give you a few opportunities.

They allow you to use your interpersonal skills and productively talk about weaknesses in an interview.

They also allow you to show you have thought about your future and if you will be happy working for them.

So, we suggest you use these questions to ask an interviewer.

1. What do you like most about your role?

This question lets the interviewer discuss the best parts of working for the company.

It also shows you have thought about the motivating factors for current employees, which they will appreciate.

2. What do you like most about working here?

This question will show that you have thought about being a fit in the workplace culture, which is an increasingly important factor.

It also gives you a sense of what your best benefits will be.

3. What is the biggest challenge you faced in this role and how did you overcome it?

This question shows that you would like to gain a realistic view of life in this role and therefore be prepared for its best and worst aspects.

It also shows you if this job will be worth taking on.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some candidates applying for jobs straight out of college may have lesser experience and for those applicants, there are certainly still questions.

What do you say in an interview if you have no experience?

If you have a college degree and you are applying for an entry-level job, you do not have “no experience.”

Talk about your education as training and preparation for the job and use specific classes as your experiences.

How do you sell yourself in an interview if you have no experience?

Your academic record and references are proof of your excellence and that you are a fit for the company.

Therefore, you can use them to sell yourself.

You will just have to be specific.

Wrapping Up

Job interviews can be very stressful.

But they still have a common goal, no matter their level: to see if you are the fit for the opening they have.

Using the preparation from this guide, you can successfully sell yourself as the piece to the puzzle in hiring a new entry-level employee.

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