3 Types of Questions You Can Expect During a Job Interview
If you’re preparing for a job interview, you’re probably playing out different scenarios in your head and wondering what types of questions you’re likely to be asked. A job interview could alter the entire trajectory of your career path, so it’s only natural to obsess a bit, but do try not to overthink it as this could increase your anxiety. If you approach things carefully and analytically, you can make a rousing success of your interview.
Having to talk about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, and future plans with a complete stranger can be intimidating, so try to remember that it’s just a conversation, not an interrogation. Even though it’s a professional setting and they’ll be assessing you throughout the interview, being at ease will help you navigate your way through it and focus on answering the questions.
If you’re calm and confident, not only will you create a more favorable impression, but you’ll also be able to better understand what the interviewer is really asking and offer well-thought-out answers. Don’t forget that a job interview is also your chance to assess them, so make sure to prepare some queries of your own—asking insightful questions signals interest and engagement, so it’s always recommended. Let’s be real, though: The spotlight will be on you. So, how do you get ready for this important event?
One of the best ways to practice for a job interview is to rehearse the answers to common questions. You can record yourself on your phone, do it in front of a mirror, ask a friend to act as the interviewer, or, best of all, set up a mock interview with an expert, who will give you constructive feedback to help you improve your communication skills and boost your confidence, both of which are key to a successful interview.
Recording and rewatching your mock interview is a great way to analyze your body language, tone, and style of speaking, enabling you to improve the way you talk about yourself. Sometimes, an objective third party sees us very differently from how we see ourselves, so recordings truly are invaluable.
Before you run off to practice, let’s take a look at the kinds of questions you can expect at a job interview.
1. Behavioral questions
Behavioral questions are usually the most common type of questions in job interviews as they allow an employer to determine how a candidate might function on the job. Heavily based on your employment history, these types of questions usually revolve around examples that highlight your problem-solving, time management, and leadership skills while revealing your character. They often require careful thought and practice to answer effectively, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the most common ones and prepare your responses in advance.
The way you handled difficult situations in the past is often a good indicator of future behavior and can speak volumes about who you are as a person and as a worker, so expect multiple questions about your employment history. Be thorough yet concise in your answers and remain mindful of what the interviewer might conclude from your story.
It’s important to practice so that you’re not caught improvising on the day and revealing more than you should. Confidence is also important here—oversharing is a common symptom of frayed nerves, but in a job interview, it can be fatal.
Often, a good way to handle behavioral questions is to lean on your achievements in previous jobs. If you describe successes you’ve had, including what you did to accomplish these things, your answers will be more impactful because they’ll have real-life backing, not just you presenting hypothetical scenarios.
2. Personal questions
First, let’s clarify what we mean by “personal.” An interviewer shouldn’t be asking for intimate details about your life; if they do start firing inappropriate personal questions, that’s a red flag, and you may want to reconsider working for that company.
However, they probably will ask questions about you as an individual. Many of the traditional interview questions aim to give the interviewer a chance to get to know you as a person. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are your goals? What do you expect to achieve if you’re hired for the position? What is your ideal work-life balance? Where do you see yourself in five years?
You should be able to answer these questions honestly, clearly, and pointedly, giving the interviewer the chance to make a fair assessment of your compatibility and motivation. Answering these types of questions with ease also demonstrates confidence and preparedness and will make you stand out from other candidates. Discussing these details about yourself with a total stranger is uncomfortable for most people, so being able to field such questions calmly and confidently can truly give you an edge.
While your answers should always be honest, the way you present the information can make a huge difference. You shouldn’t necessarily answer in the same way you would if a good friend asked these questions. Tap into your positive and ambitious side and make sure you’re projecting the right demeanor through your responses, regardless of their content.
3. Technical questions
These are questions designed to test your knowledge and confirm that the skills and experience listed in your resume correspond to the truth. If, for example, the role requires a working knowledge of a specific software tool, you’ll probably be asked about your experience and ability to use it, or you might be presented with a hypothetical scenario in which you’re faced with a problem you must solve on the spot.
Technical questions can be intimidating because it’s easy to lose focus and blank out in a high-pressure situation such as a job interview. Moreover, since the details of technical questions will vary wildly between jobs and companies, you can’t prepare an answer in advance, as you can for personal or behavioral questions. However, you can brainstorm the sorts of technical questions that may be relevant to the position and consider how you may field them.
Technical questions usually focus more on assessing how you process information and approach problems, so be sure to explain your reasoning and thought process clearly. In this way, it’s sometimes less about your actual answer and more about how you use your technical skills to solve problems typical of the job. Think of it as “showing your work” as you were always instructed to in math classes.
Each employer will ask a different set of questions depending on the position and their specific needs, which makes anticipating their questions impossible. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare. For one thing, all employers generally look for the same sort of information with their behavioral and personal questions, so practicing your answers to the most common ones can help you identify what the interviewer is looking for and provide a fitting response.
Another major benefit of ample preparation is that it allows you to build your confidence. The more confident you feel when answering common questions about yourself, your work history, and your goals, the more prepared you’ll be to answer any unexpected or unusual questions on the day of the interview.
If you think you might benefit from rehearsing with a professional, don’t hesitate to set up a mock interview with one of our experts!