Common Interview Question Categories
These questions are just designed to get you talking and clear the way for future questions. Background questions work as icebreakers to get to know you. Sometimes they can be lighter questions such as “Did you have any trouble finding us?” or “Tell me a little about yourself” but at other times they can be deeper such as “Tell me about a project that got you really excited” or "why are you leaving your current position". Try to answer these honestly with an answer tuned to the job you are applying for.
These are targeted to determine your actual behavior in past situations to predict your future behavior. These questions can easily be spotted as they usually start with “Describe a time when…” Use the STAR method found in the interview tips section. Give a real honest example and always end on a positive note. These questions are typically followed up with more specific questions about your story. If you don’t have an experience directly related to the question say so and then describe a related situation that has happened. Don’t hesitate to draw upon your personal experience in addition to professional experience.
These questions are tuned to discover if you would fit into the company culture and environment. These questions are targeted at personal preferences and expectations of your job or company. There is no universal right answer to these questions, but by researching the company’s values you should be able to determine the expected answers. These questions often ask you to rank various options by importance, or to describe your ideal job, work environment, or leadership style. Remember, you are interviewing the company as well to see if you would like to work there. This is a time where you would get a feel for the company culture.
These questions relate to the skills and attributes you will need to complete your job. These questions vary greatly from field to field but fall into 5 major categories; Individual, Managerial, Analytical, Interpersonal, and Motivational. Check the job description to see the responsibilities and duties of the job. The competency questions typically revolve around those responsibilities. For example, if you will be working in a team setting, they may ask what qualities you possess to efficiently work in a team environment. If you're applying to be a software engineer, they will typically ask you technical questions and may require you to answer problems on the spot.
These questions attempt to discover your individual code of ethics. These are difficult for all sides and typically boil down to a behavioral question targeted at an ethical topic, such as “Describe a time you were tempted to take an ethical shortcut but did not.” Try to present a real, but innocent situation.
These questions are usually tuned to see how you react or think and are generally open ended puzzle questions such as, “How many street lights are in New York City?”. They are designed to test critical thinking. You are not expected to work out the actual answer, but rather to give a reasonable process for determining the answer. (Btw, it’s about 300,000).
The last questions in an interview. These include “Do you have any questions for me?” or questions like “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. This is your last opportunity to be remembered in the interview. Make sure to have meaningful questions prepared that you wish ask, and be honest responding to the rest.