Preparation is essential for a successful interview. You want to ensure that you are able to convey to the employer that you are the most suitable candidate for the position. You are the interviewer’s main source of information concerning your qualifications. Do not assume that the interviewer knows all of your qualifications and accomplishments; you must clearly describe as you answer the questions during an interview.
Introductory questions give you an opportunity to describe yourself and your accomplishments as they pertain to the job you are applying for. These questions are used to assess your background, your experience, and your organizational fit. Being that they are open-ended questions, they give you an opportunity to sell yourself.
Examples of common introductory questions include:
- Tell me about yourself.
- How has your education prepared you for this role?
- What do you know about our organization?
- Why are you interested in working for our company?
- What experience do you have that relates to this position?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
Behavioral questions will ask you to describe a specific situation or experience and require you to provide an example of how you handled it in the past. Behavioral interviews are founded on the idea that the best predictor of future behavior is based on evaluating past behavior. The key is not to get the “right” answer but to demonstrate how you came to an appropriate result. To answer these questions well and completely, you need to be prepared with specific examples or experiences.
Examples of common behavioral questions include:
- Give an example of a situation where you had to deal with conflict, either with a customer or coworker. How did you handle it?
- Describe a situation where a coworker or supervisor had expectations that you felt were unrealistic. How did you deal with that?
- Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
- Describe a stressful situation at work and how you handled it.
- Tell me about a time when you made a mistake? What did you learn from it?
- Describe a situation in which you had to balance multiple priorities.
- Provide a situation in which you managed a tight deadline?
- Give an example of a time when you collaborated as part of a team.
- Give an example of an occasion when you used logic to solve a problem.
- Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or coworkers.
- Tell me about a time you have gone above and beyond the call of duty? If so, how?
The KEY to Answering Behavioral Questions, S.T.A.R. Technique
When answering behavioral questions, you should use the STAR technique to ensure you have included the appropriate amount of information and detail.
- Situation – Briefly describe the event or situation and include information on the who, what, where, and when.
- Task – Give a clear explanation of the task you had to complete and any challenges that accompanied it.
- Action – Speak about the actions you took to complete the task, purposefully mentioning qualities or traits that the interviewer is looking for.
- Result – In summary, emphasize what the result of your efforts was and quantify it when appropriate.
Situational questions are focused on hypothetical scenarios and they require you to demonstrate sound judgment with a response or solution to a problem that you may not have experienced before. Sometimes these questions require you to think outside the box, and carefully consider what is really being asked.
Examples of situational questions include:
- If you discovered your supervisor was breaking the company’s code of conduct, what
would you do?
- As the team leader, you are faced with a situation where two team members are arguing, how would you deal with the situation?
- If you had two important deadlines coming up, how would you prioritize your tasks?
More unconventional questions an employer may ask:
- If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
- If you had to sell this pen, what would you say?
Job knowledge or technical questions
These questions typically assess the particular technical or professional skills and knowledge you will need to perform a job. Hands-on tests, simulations, and questions are phrased to find your level of experience with specific equipment, software, processes, procedures, etc.
Examples of technical questions include:
- What is the order of operations used when evaluating formulas in Excel?
- What are the key PivotTable “sections” into which users can drag columns?
- How do you properly use a blood pressure monitor?
- What is the process in which you enter an invoice into SAP?
- Show me how to wire these two three-way switches.
Your turn! Questions to ask the employer
When an employer asks you at the end of the interview, “Do you have any questions for us?” you want to avoid saying, “no.” Having a lack of questions prepared may suggest to an employer that you are uninterested in the opportunity. It is your responsibility to come up with some well thought out and engaging questions. The questions that you ask can be about the roles and responsibilities of the job, the organizational structure of the company, general interest, or the next steps in the hiring process. Be conscientious of the interviewer’s time, choose no more than three questions to ask.
Examples of questions you SHOULD ask include:
- What skills make the most successful employees here?
- What is the top priority of someone who accepts this job?
- Can you describe recent projects of someone in this position?
- What does a typical day/week look like in this role?
- How large is the team I would be working with?
- Is there any advice you can provide that would help me prepare for my first three
months in this role?
- What is your favorite part about working for this organization?
- What are the next steps in the hiring process?
- When should I expect to hear back?
Examples of questions you SHOULD NOT ask include:
- How much will I get paid? What is the salary? Is this negotiable?*
- How many weeks’ vacations will I be entitled too?*
- What does the benefits package include?*
- How long until I can become a manager?
- Can I apply to other jobs once I am working here?
* You will talk about salary and benefits if you are offered the position.