Interview questions for Junior Associate

We analyzed 645 interview reviews for Junior Associate from various job sites, social network groups and forums.

Here are the most frequent job interview questions asked by HR managers during initial phone or onsite interviews. This list does not include technical or factual questions.

10 frequent non-technical questions for Junior Associate:

What is your greatest weakness?
Tell me about yourself
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What were your responsibilities in your last job?
What are your long-term goals?
Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment
Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job
Why did you leave your last job?
What are your drivers? What motivates you?
Tell me about a time you had a poorly performing team member

According to our research, hiring managers looking to fill Junior Associate role ask soft skills interview questions 20% more frequently than for other roles:

Junior Associate interview question statistics

1. What is your greatest weakness?top question

How to answer

This question ranks as the most challenging for many people. Fortunately, Mr. Simon is here to help!

Interviewers ask this question to gauge your level of self-awareness, your honesty and openness, and your capability for self-improvement.

  1. About Yourself

    No one is perfect and your interviewer doesn't expect you to be perfect either.

    While it is good to be honest and open, it will not help you to put yourself down.

    What's important is to find a weakness that you have overcome or something that is not related to the position for which you are applying.

    For example, one of our clients admitted that he is not very good at public speaking and that he has recently become a member of Toastmasters International to improve. What a respectful answer and approach, in my view!

  2. About The Company

    Research the company (website, social media, etc) to learn about the company culture.

    What personal and professional qualities do they value?

  3. About The Fit

    It is important that the weakness you decide to talk about is not one that will prevent you from performing the job for which you're applying.

    For example, if you're applying for a front-end developer position, do not talk about how you are struggling to understand HTML code.

Pro Tip

Use this question to sell yourself!

It's important to show how well you've overcome a weakness by motivating yourself and learning a new skill to grow professionally.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Which of the following would be the best answer:

ASometimes I just work too hard

BI have trouble saying “no” when a colleague asks for help and I have my own work to finish

CI am a perfectionist

DI cannot think of a single thing

2. Tell me about yourself

How to answer

This question may sound vague, but it actually requires a matter of fact, concise and relevant answer. Here’s how you can approach it.

  1. About Yourself

    What is your current occupation? Define yourself professionally in one statement.

    Pick 3 key skills that make you great at your work (your Key Selling Points). How have you applied these skills?

    Try to give some numbers to support your statement.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company.

    Based on what you know about the company and the job description, why are you interested in the position you are applying for?

  3. About The Fit

    • Based on your Key Selling Points and your knowledge about the company, why do you think you are a good fit for this position?
    • Can you support your statement with relevant examples from your past experiences?

    Try to be concise and stay within 1-2 minutes.

Pro Tip

You can also end with a question like:

Do you know what the current needs in the company/department are, where my skills and experience can help?"

That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

Read our blog post to learn more about how to answer this question.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Pick the best answer:

AMy name is Andrew Franklin, I am 28 years old, and I am looking for a job that pays well.

BHello, my name is Natalie Price. I have two children and I love playing billiards and travelling. I am 33 years old.

CHi Mr. Simon, my name is Stanley Clark and I am a certified Project Management professional known for completing projects on time and on budget. I am passionate about building agile work culture and delivering results.

DHi Mr. Simon, my name is Dorothy Hanson. I have previously worked as an accountant in retail, but currently I am trying to transition into the field of healthcare.

3. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

How to answer

This question belongs to a family of behavioral, or even more precisely, reflective questions.

The interviewer wants to see whether you are reflective about yourself, whether you are ambitious and strive to grow as a professional, whether you like to learn and develop your skills.

They are also looking for your ambitions to fit the career path opportunities related to the position you are applying for.

  1. About Yourself

    Presumably, you are interested to grow professionally.

    Think about the possibilities that may lie ahead for you: take a personality test (I recommend 16Personalities which is based on Myers-Briggs test), research the internet on what career paths are possible with your skills and current job.

    What challenges do you like overcoming?

    For example, if you are applying for a software tester position, you may find it fascinating to master automated testing in full and eventually become a software engineer, or you may be a natural trainer and love coaching other people which may lead you to become a QA team or department lead, or you may be more interested in understanding business aspects of requirements which may logically lead you into a Business Analyst position.

    However, if you are happy just where you are and want to further your current skills, that is also fine as long as there is a growth path for you that can be imagined and described.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company to learn what career opportunities may be available in the department you are applying to, and what the trends are in the company in general.

    • Is the business expanding, are they opening new locations, or starting new projects?
    • Or are they heavily automating and cutting staff?

    Let’s say you are applying for a UX designer position for a brand-new product.

    In the future, if the product becomes a success - which is what the company hopes for - the company will hire more designers and you may become a lead designer, or you may become a product manager.

    On a side note: If you train your mind to be open to opportunities you will be amazed at how much this world has to offer to you!

  3. About The Fit

    And, of course, try to see where the perfect fit lies between your own potential and aspirations, and the company’s trends and hopes.

    However, beware of the risk of showing too much excitement for future opportunities compared to your attitude towards the current position.

    If you aren’t really excited about the position you are applying for and you demonstrate this lack of enthusiasm, the interviewer may conclude that you are not a good fit for the current position.

    Try to find a source of excitement in the current position as well, otherwise, you may be doing yourself a disservice by applying to a position you will find boring in 2-3 months.

Pro Tip

This question gives you a good opportunity to showcase your Key Selling Points (e.g. “As I am very good at delegating tasks, I can easily see myself leading a team of software testers in the future…”), and end your statement by asking about current initiatives and goals at the company.

It is generally NOT a good idea to say something like:

“Oh, I cannot imagine what happens to me tomorrow, let alone in 5 years”.

This will show you as a person who is unimaginative and not forward-thinking enough to grow with and be a good fit for the company.

4. What were your responsibilities in your last job?

How to answer

This is a good opportunity to demonstrate that you have experience or knowledge suitable for the job you are applying for.

Even if you have never done exactly this specific kind of job, usually you should be able to name a few “transferable” skills that you used in your previous work assignments that are quite easily applicable to the position you are applying for.

  1. About Yourself

    Remember your last (or current) job and compile a list of things you had to do while working there.

    If you don’t know where to start, picture your typical working day at one of your previous jobs, or college day if you are applying for your first job ever.

    Describe the categories of tasks in bullet points. Then, try to remember the less ordinary tasks you had to do as well, and add them to the list.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company and the job description.

    • What do you expect to be doing in this job?
    • How would your performance be measured?

    List a few items in bullet points.

  3. About The Fit

    Choose a few task categories that seem like a match between your experience and the requirements of the current position. Think of a couple of relevant examples to illustrate your experience.

    Craft your stories using the STAR method.

Pro Tip

Optionally, you can end with a question like “Does this correspond with the expectations for this role? Could you give me an example of what is expected from a successful candidate within the first, say, 3 months?"

That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

5. What are your long-term goals?

How to answer

Even in this age of the so-called Gig Economy, employers are always looking for people who can become their strong and loyal “soldiers,” a part of their “army” to help them conquer their market share against their competitors.

So, even if at this moment this job may be a temporary contract, you never know what opportunities may present themselves to you in this company.

Trust me, your hiring manager doesn’t know either!

So, be open to opportunities and use this question to emphasize how your personal goals correspond with those of the company.

  1. About Yourself

    Start with honestly assessing yourself. (At this moment, you are not sharing these thoughts with anyone, so be as open as you can).

    Imagine that you have all the resources in the world and that all roads are open for you.

    • How would you use them?
    • Which road(s) would you choose?
    • What do you see on the horizon in that direction?

    Be audacious and don’t limit yourself. There is no longer a perspective than “long-term,” so be as futuristic as you possibly can.

    List a few “road” options that you would be enthusiastic about going down.

    For example, this list may be as broad as the following:

    • writer
    • choir director
    • software engineer and architect
    • CEO of a unicorn startup company,
    • entrepreneur.

    As William Shakespeare once said, “We know what we are, but we know not what we may be.”

  2. About The Company

    Now, look at the company.

    • What is the industry they operate in?
    • What is the position you are applying for, and what are potential career growth possibilities within the department, company, and industry?
  3. About The Fit

    Which of your “road” options correspond best with the opportunities presented by this company?

    Highlight this option and focus on it. Imagine, in as much detail as you can, going down this road.

    What would be the major milestones for you, in order to move towards your goal?

    Describe the chosen option by focusing on the first 1-2 milestones, and by presenting it in light of company goals and current initiatives.

    For example, if you are applying for a project manager position in a corporation engaged in the education industry, and your “road” option is “CEO,” your next career step may be a program manager, or an innovations and research manager.

    Explain why you are enthusiastic about reaching these goals, and what makes you think you have the necessary traits and skills to reach them.

    How can the company benefit from these traits and skills of yours already today, in the current role you are applying for?

Pro Tip

Framing your answer in the same terms used by the company will help ensure the interviewer can easily understand your language and help both of you to be “on the same page.”

The easier you make it for the interviewer, the better are your chances they will “vote” for you over other candidates.

6. Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment

How to answer

Of all your accomplishments (and I am sure you’ve had a great many of them!), you should choose the one most relevant to this job position.

  1. About Yourself

    Write down your Key Selling Points - your top 3-5 skills that make you a strong professional.

    Write down a list of your top 3-5 professional accomplishments that you are most proud of. No need for lengthy descriptions, just 1-2 words for each one to help you recall each situation.

    Make sure you have developed the story behind each accomplishment and have a strong command of the details of what happened so that you can tell the story clearly and distinctly.

    Along with each accomplishment, mark which of your Key Selling Points they showcase. How exactly?

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research of the company, what are their current needs?

    • What are the major projects going on?
    • What are the expectations for the position you are applying for?
  3. About The Fit

    Try to imagine yourself being an employee of the company you are applying to, say, at your 6th month into the job.

    • Which of your Key Selling Points and accomplishments would be most relevant to the company?
    • What “have you accomplished at your new job?”

    Choose the most relevant accomplishment from your list and then practice telling your story.

Pro Tip

Most enterprises are now going through major transformations, often called Digital Transformation.

Do your research on what it means and what is often involved, to get a better idea of the current goals and environments in companies. But one thing that definitely characterizes this transformation is striving for agility.

In particular, for startups (if you are applying to a startup or a small business), agility is their middle name, in order for them to survive among bigger sharks in the market.

So, demonstrating qualities like agility and adaptability should generally be helpful and quite a safe choice in most circumstances today.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Why do interviewers ask this question?

AThey want to know why you think the accomplishment you chose is your greatest, to give them an idea of what you think is important

BThey want to hear a specific example of your work to see if your problem solving skills fit in with the issues and problems their company might be experiencing

CThey want to know if you are a great multitasker who can get 10 different things done by the end of the day, no matter how long you have to stay at work to complete it all

7. Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job

How to answer

This is a tough question because you’re forced to talk about a difficult time with a complete stranger. Fortunately, it’s also a great opportunity to turn a big challenge into a great accomplishment.

This question is designed to help the interviewer discover what type of problem-solver you are.

Why do employers ask this question?

It’s because they want to know that they’re hiring someone who can think on their feet and who is resilient when facing challenges.

  1. About Yourself

    It’s your chance to show that in tough times you turn to your inner strength and possess skills to find the right solutions.

    You probably had to solve many problems daily at work. It’s high time to remember them.

    If you do not prepare examples in advance, this question will get you off guard and you will find it difficult to remember all the details on the move.

    Start with recalling a few examples of real obstacles you coped with. For each of them, think about:

    • What was the project or task you were trying to accomplish?
    • What was the obstacle? This can be a specific problem related to your job or a higher-order issue across the organization.
    • What steps did you take to address the issue?
    • What decisions did you have to make?
    • How did the company benefit from your decisions?
    • How would you describe your approach, or what lessons have you learned?

    Be careful how you respond to this question. Make sure that you select a difficult work situation where you were not the cause.

  2. About The Company

    When you research the company, try and find out what kind of challenges they are facing. Try to find out what they need in terms of problem resolution.

    Search for online reviews, complaints and any other useful resources. What problems and obstacles can the employees face with this position?

  3. About The Fit

    This is your opportunity to showcase your problem-solving skills, resilience, and strength of character. Talk through your problem-solving process and show how you can think on your feet.

    Pick an example relevant to the position you are aiming for.

    Let’s say, you are applying for a blog writing job. The job description mentions that a successful candidate must have experience working “in a dynamic environment.”

    You could mention a situation in which you had to write an article on short notice because your coworker failed at the last moment to complete the assignment. You were short of time but worked extra hours to prepare the article successfully and on time.

    This answer would show your experience in blog writing, your sense of responsibility, ability to achieve results under stress, your willingness to go the extra mile, your problem-solving skills.

Pro Tip

This question is not about your past, it's how you deal with things that will happen in the future, so try to keep your answer short and focused.

After all, the interviewer is really looking for what you took away from the situation and doesn’t need to know the full backstory of what happened.

Use the STAR method to prepare your story and practice it so that you can stay within 1-2 minutes.

Make sure to show that you remained positive when overcoming a hurdle at work. Positive attitudes lead to positive outcomes.

8. Why did you leave your last job?

How to answer

This question may be a little touchy for some people, but it's a question asked by interviewers, to find out why you left, in order to better understand how you may or may not make a good fit with their company.

Remember, never speak ill of your old company (this will not go over well).

  1. About Yourself

    Most likely, there are three possible reasons you left or are leaving your last job:

    • You are looking for a career change
    • You are unhappy with your current employment
    • You were let go.

    Whatever the reason, it's best to always speak in a positive light.

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research about the company and the position, what do you like most about the company?

  3. About The Fit

    If you are looking for career advancement or a career change, you can be very upfront and honest. Be as enthusiastic as you can about the position.

    If you were unhappy with your previous job, focus on the positives. Talk about the ways that you will best fit in with the company, in the role for which you're applying.

    If you were let go, focus on the positive. Share your accomplishments at your previous employment.

Pro Tip

Whatever the reason you are looking for a new opportunity, always turn things around to show how you are the perfect fit for the job for which you are interviewing!

9. What are your drivers? What motivates you?

How to answer

Motivation is what we use to drive ourselves forward to complete tasks and bring results.

Why do hiring managers ask this question?

They want to get a sense of your personality. But more importantly, they want to see your resiliency and determination.

They do not want to hire someone who will quit when encountering difficulties, whose focus will be elsewhere, or who will just waste their time.

Enthusiasm ranks very high on the list of qualities employers are looking for in a candidate.

If you can demonstrate that you are genuinely passionate about your profession and interested in the position you are applying for, your chances of getting hired will improve significantly.

  1. About Yourself

    This question requires serious self-examination; you should be asking it yourself long before the interviewer does.

    Look back on everything you’ve done in your life, job, and career so far.

    • What was it about your best days that made them the best?
    • Can you take those feelings and apply them to specific moments from your life and past work experiences?
    • Are you ready for tough projects or for being asked to do something that isn’t quite on your job description, or for having to stay at work till late instead of another team member?
    • Will meeting deadlines, learning new things, finding a way to solve problems or overcoming a challenge inspire you and make you want even more?
    • What gives you a sense of accomplishment when you can look back on and say "I achieved that"?

    Look deep inside.

    Analyze your experience by types of tasks, by type of environment, type of feedback, level of responsibility and stakes? Do you prefer independence, or being part of a team?

    1. Task type: if you were given a whole day or even week at work to focus on just one of your tasks, without interruptions or multitasking, which one would that be? Why?
    2. Environment: do you feel motivated in a dynamic environment with lots of action, communications, deadlines? Or would you rather disconnect from the outside world and immerse into a single task, with your headphones on?
    3. Feedback: are you better motivated by positive feedback, or by healthy criticism? Or maybe by customers’ smiles and “Thank you” messages?
    4. Responsibility and stakes: are you motivated to do your best when you know that the stakes are high and your contribution will make a great impact on the bottom line? Or do you feel better in a more safe and relaxed environment when someone else is responsible for making big decisions?
    5. Financials: what is the salary range that makes you feel comfortable and respect yourself? Let’s be realistic, this is one (although definitely shouldn’t be the first) of the drivers.

    Be creative, this list is not exhaustive.

  2. About The Company

    Take a long look at the job you’re applying for.

    • What kinds of tasks will you be responsible for?
    • What will the environment be?
    • What do you know about the possible kinds of feedback you will be receiving?
    • What is the level of stakes in this role?
    • What do you know about the salary they can possibly offer?
  3. About The Fit

    How comfortable are you with the drivers the company can offer, comparing to those of your own? Pick those that have a match and give some examples.

    For instance, if you’re applying for a software engineer job, describe how you are motivated by solving complex technical challenges.

    If the job involves teamwork, give an example showing that you love collaborating and accomplishing big things as a part of a team.

    That is what drives you to do your best each day. You can say you enjoy meaningful work creating products that change people’s lives, if this is relevant to the company.

Pro Tip

Be enthusiastic. The more enthusiasm you have for what motivates you, the more enthusiasm the interviewer will have for you!

10. Tell me about a time you had a poorly performing team member

How to answer

Underperforming employees can appear at any job.

Each person performs his/her tasks on schedule, and the entire team works together to get the project done, but there may be times when one team member is exhibiting low or poor performance and generally displays a lack of motivation. It can affect the entire team.

This question addresses your collegiality and your ability to work on a team. The interviewer would like to know if you can successfully motivate others without it coming across as condescending.

  1. About Yourself

    Ask yourself the following questions based on your own experiences.

    • Do you like working on a team?
    • How well do you work in groups, and what role do you tend to take on in a team project (for example, leader, mediator or follower)?
    • Are you easy to get along with?
    • What can you do to support other team members?
    • How do you act to help to minimize the damage of poor performance to the project?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company ahead of time so that you can present yourself as someone who would fit seamlessly into their team culture.

    The example you use to respond to the question should be relatable to the company you are applying to.

  3. About The Fit

    You need to demonstrate to the interviewer that you are both enthusiastic about teamwork and that you get along with colleagues.

    Be ready to provide a viable solution to this common work situation. Use a scenario when your encouragement was well received and resulted in a positive change or outcome. Emphasize that you always try to create a friendly environment with your team members.

    Here is a simple and honest example:

    "As a server at “ABC,” I was working with a difficult coworker who refused to contribute to the preparation for a holiday party. She decided to sit and watch while we worked. I took this opportunity to speak with her in a calm and friendly manner and asked her to do the small odds and ends. She agreed and worked on the place cards and seating cart, which played an important role in the fluidity of the event. Sometimes, people have hidden strengths and weaknesses, you just need to identify them!"

    Indicate how you’ll handle future challenges if they happen.

Pro Tip

Teamwork is important, but when you have one member who isn’t positively contributing to the team, the tone of the team can shift.

Keep your answer upbeat and avoid complaining about previous managers or team members, speak about your actions and approaches rather than theirs.

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This page has been updated on November 4, 2020.

You can practice answering this question, as well as over 160 other common job interview questions for Junior Associate by engaging in a mock interview with Mr. Simon. As an artificial being, his undeniable benefits include:

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