Tackling Different Types of Interview Questions

There are three common types of interview questions:


1. Behavioural. These questions are aimed at helping interviewers use past behaviours to predict future behaviours.


E.g. “Tell me about a time…” or “Give me an example….”


2. Situational. These questions are aimed at testing your analytical and problem-solving abilities.


E.g. “How would you…” or “What would you do…”


3. Resume-based. These questions are meant to confirm items that you have included in your resume.


E.g. “You mentioned in your resume that you have HTML experience, can you tell me…”


In general, every question aims to assess you in two main areas:

  • Whether you have the right skills for the role
  • Whether you are the right cultural fit

Knowing the different types of questions and the reason they are being asked can help you prepare for them and tailor your answer to make it relevant.

 

Based on the job description, you can make a good guess about what skill-based questions they will be asking you. Refer to the case study below.

 

Case Study: Answering skill-based questions


For a job advertisement for a Software Engineer, the minimum requirements are:

  • At least three years of software development experience
  • C, C++, Objective C, C#, Java, or Javascript programming experience


Based on the requirements, the interview questions could be:
Behavioural: Tell me about a time when you have to use C++…
Situational: How would you use Java to…
Resume-based: You mentioned in your resume that you have software development experience, can you tell me more…

 

These questions are aimed at deciphering if you have the skills involved. To answer them, you can use the STAR technique:


Describe the Situation
Describe the Task involved
Explain your Action
Let them know the Results


For example,

Question: You mentioned in your resume that you have software development experience, can you tell me more…


Describe the Situation: Early this year, a client engaged my company to
develop a software for their XXX.


Describe the Task involved: I was assigned the project which involved these
steps…

Explain your Action: I took up the challenge to lead the team in developing the
software. During the process, I encountered XXX challenge and proceeded to
take measures to…


Let them know the Results: I managed to resolve the issues and delivered the
project to the client on time and within budget.

 

Important things to note during an interview:


Don’t do these:

  • Speak ill of third parties
  • Go into an interview without preparing for it
  • Make jokes, especially against the interviewers
  • Lie
  • Fill in your answers with redundant words “to be honest”, “if that makes sense”, “you know what I mean” and “uh, um, like”

Do these:

  • Make your answer relevant to the interviewer and job
  • Be genuinely interested in what the interviewer is saying
  • Keep an open mind

 

Common Interview questions and how to answer them


1. Tell me about yourself

While the question may sound vague, do not go on to blabber about your family, hobbies or pets. Focus on your skill sets, recent work-related experiences and important achievements. You don’t have to include too much details here. Imagine your answer to be like a movie trailer – you want to reveal just enough details to keep your interviewer wanting more but not bore
them with too much details. As this is usually one of the first questions to be asked, used this question to your advantage!


2. Why do you want this job?

Interviewers want to know your motivations for applying the position. Do not give answers like you didn’t get the other jobs you applied for or you’re just trying your luck. Create a compelling and true story that explains what inspired you to join the industry and your plans if you do get the role.


3. Tell us about your greatest weaknesses.

This is a tricky question. Avoid mentioning a weakness that is crucial for the role you are applying for, especially if you have yet to combat it. If you do mention a weakness, make sure you show that even though you had an issue with it in the past, you have taken steps to become better. Do mention a genuine weakness and not things like “I’m a perfectionist”. Such answers are overused and do not come across as sincere.


4. What would you like or dislike about the job?

This question aims to test your understanding of the job scope, your willingness to adapt and your personality. Remember to keep your answers positive and avoid ending things on a negative note. If there are things about the role that you are not sure of, this may be a good chance to ask.


5. Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

The interviewer is trying to understand your commitment to the job. Research about the career progression pathways typical of that role within the industry and company. You can use this chance to talk about skills you would like to build within the company.


6. Tell us about a time when you handled a major crisis.

The interviewer is trying to understand your problem-solving skills and what sort of a person you are – Are you resilient? Are you able to work under pressure? Show your logical thinking skills, organisational skills, interpersonal skills and leadership skills through your answers.


7. What do you know about my company?

Your answer to this question will show how interested you are in the company. Research the company by visiting their website. The “About Us” page typically provides quick facts about the company. For the company’s latest news, you can visit the “Media” page to see where the company has been featured recently.

 

Visit these pages for more tips on tackling your job interview:

Understanding and Preparing for Different Interview Formats

Acing your interview - Making a Good First Impression

Understanding Different Assessment Methods

Hired or Fired: Using the Right Body Language

 

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