Updated: Oct 10, 2018
You've been selected for a job interview and your excitement has quickly turned to anxiety when you realize you need to be prepared if you're going to win over you interviewers.
In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the first part of the interview preparation process. Now that you've done the ground work of researching the company and the people who will interview you, it's time to move on the next phase: interview questions.
This part is really the meat and potatoes of your whole interview experience. Sure, anyone can put on a crisply dry-cleaned suit, flash their best smile, and give a firm handshake. However, if you fail to impress your interviewers with meaningful responses that showcase your experience and talents, then all the rest doesn't matter.
Before you sit down and start writing out your responses to every possible interview question out there, take a moment to identify exactly what questions could be asked of you during the interview. There are standard interview questions, but many can vary depending on the industry, specific job, and specific company you are interviewing for. This is where your preliminary research on the company can be leveraged. By knowing a little bit about the company's mission and values, you can begin to anticipate what types of questions they may ask you that are related to their culture.
Common interview questions can be divided into four different categories:
•Fact based questions: These are your straightforward questions based on actual information, results, etc. These questions are used to gather data. (Example – What is your major?)
•Behavioral questions: These questions focus on past experiences to assess specific skill sets required for the job. Remember that "story" you started to rehearse in Part 1? Now is the time to apply the skill of storytelling. (Example – Tell me about a time when you faced opposition and had to influence someone to. . .)
•Situational/case based questions: These are hypothetical situation questions such as “What would you do if you had multiple assignments from different managers? How would you prioritize?” Questions from this category test your analytical skills as well as your ability to solve problems and think on your feet. These questions allow the interviewer to get a feel for how you think.
•Projective questions: These questions may seem silly, but they are very valuable at revealing your personal brand attributes. When you explain the “why”, it reveals a lot about who you are and how you see yourself. (Example - If you were a car, what type of car would you be and why?)
Remember that interviewing is your opportunity to see whether this is a good fit from your end as well. Not only that, but interviewers look favorably at candidates who ask questions during an interview. It shows they have an interest in the organization and aren't just interviewing for any job. Here are a few examples of the types of questions you could ask:
Ask about industry trends: For example, "Considering the changing business environment, what’s the impact on this organization over the next 3 to 5 years?"
Ask about market differentiation: For example, "What makes your company different from your competitors?"
Ask about growth: For example, "What is driving the need to fill this position?"
Ask about a day in the life: For example, "What does an average day look like in this position?"
Ask about upward mobility: For example, "What is the career path for this position in your organization?"
Ask about motivation: For example, "What is your favorite thing about working here?"
Ask about development: For example, "What is the greatest challenge for you or for others in my job area?"
You certainly don't have to ask all of these questions, but having 2 or 3 ready to ask when the infamous line comes "So, do you have any questions for us?" will have you looking like a rock star candidate. Remember, people love to talk about themselves and their organizations, so don't be shy to ask. Saying that you don't have any further questions doesn't make you look like you have all the answers - it makes you look like you're not truly interested in the job or organization!
Now that you've spent time anticipating what types of questions you'll be asked, and what are the best responses to these questions, it's time to put on the finishing touches to your big day. Part 3 of our Preparing to Interview Effectively series has you covered with the final steps to making a lasting impression in your interview. For a more in depth look at interviewing, check out our Interview Preparation series where you'll have access to common interview questions used by Fortune 500 Companies along with the strategies to answer them effectively.